There are many benefits to multichannel retail. There are also some risks to look out for.

Multichannel requires an investment in a computer system and website. One of the biggest problems in multichannel retail is when retailers invest in bits of a system and then find out they don’t connect together. This means that stock control is much harder, also customer accounts are not centralised. The computer system should allow the website and shop to work together seamlessly. It can make the difference between a successful or unsuccessful multichannel venture.

The problem is much worse for big retailers, but independents have to watch out as well. Independents sometimes feel that the larger retailers have it easier as they have specialist people and big budgets. But the reverse can be true, change can be much harder and time consuming for larger retailers as they have huge investments in existing IT infrastructure and making big changes for hundreds of staff is very challenging. Smaller retailers can be more nimble and invest relatively quickly in a decent multichannel system.

It’s important the retailer does not go down a Cul de sac with their computer systems, ie. Go down a path that does not lead to a multichannel experience for the customers, because they may well have to come back out and start again.