It’s the age of high tech. Who would have imagined just a mere 10 years ago that we’d be able to do just about everything on a cell phone? I still remember when everyone balked at the prediction that everyone would have a home computer!

With cell phone ownership outnumbering land lines and computers, tablets and wi-fi in nearly every major store, restaurant and coffee shop, we have become tethered to multi-media and social networks. It’s no wonder that shoppers no longer only go to brick and mortar stores for shopping. Information is at our fingertips 24/7 and taking that into account, the most successful retailers know that they must capitalize on every possible means of customer interaction.

Having a website as part of your business strategy is not enough. Mobile apps, mobile-friendly websites with the ability to buy with a simple click, targeted coupons arriving via text and emails and even tracking customers while they are in-store to immediately offer a special for products they are looking at are not scenes from a futuristic science-fiction movie; they are our reality! Enter omni channel! Omni channel strategy, at its foundation, means offering 2 or more sales channels to engage with and sell to your customers via multiple touch points – this is certainly something that retailers need to be paying attention to.

Is omni channel selling important? Absolutely!   If you aren’t working on getting your business up to par, your competitors are. Worried about showrooming? Let your customers find YOU when they google the products they are seeing in your store. Better yet, catch them via the beacon technologies before they even have the chance to check others on their phone. The easier it is for consumers to find you and buy in whatever way they prefer, the more business you will get.

How do you start? There are multiple companies that can help you get started or tweak what you may have already started. Read through this past e-Bulletin article that shares some quick tips on how you can get started. However, before you begin investing, consider these 7 points noted in the article “The 7 Habits of Successful Omni-Channel Business Transformations

  1. Define proper goals and outcomes before you start.
  2. Appoint a “Product Owner in Chief” and a “Change Owner in Chief”
  3. Protect your talent.
  4. Select partners for the right reasons
  5. Your roadmap should address your weaknesses and not someone else’s strengths
  6. Architecture should define timelines, not vice versa
  7. Bring innovation and IP in-house

Yes, that’s a lot to consider. However, stop for a moment and consider how often you have researched products and services online and how often you hear your friends, family and co-workers talking about what they saw online – be it via social media or simply googling. This is not going away. Invest in your future profitability. That’s what you’ve always done before. It’s just a new game. Play it well.

Sue Warfield is the Director of Member Relations at ASTRA. With more than 30 years of experience in the retail and toy business, Sue offers insight into industry trends and tips and works to connect the retailers, sales representatives, manufacturers and affiliates in the specialty toy retailing arena.
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