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  If you are a business owner, an entrepreneur or a startup founder in Nigeria, the past three years – the years of COVID-19 and the global economic meltdown – must have taught you vital lessons about being adaptive and agile in your distribution channels.
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During COVID-19, we saw massive porting to online purchases. Studies stated that in 2021 there was a 53% (over 300 million) increase in active e-commerce purchasers in Africa alone. The percentage is projected to rise by over 25% (518 million) by 2025. These projections have created a new challenge for retailers and e-commerce businesses in Nigeria. Therefore, the necessity is laid upon founders to develop an approach on how to blend both offline and online retail channels for their customers. Before COVID-19, leading retail businesses built chains of retail stores across cities of the country where buyers visit showrooms to buy goods. However, post-covid-19 has presented many challenges as many are already addicted to online purchases caused by the lockdown. Many buyers have switched to online purchases and perceive glitches from brands can be costly. In this article, I offer five strategies on how retailers can integrate both offline and online retail channels successfully.
  • Simplify Strategic Vision

In a post-covid world, buyers are sticking to brands that have clearly defined what their business stands for. By clearly defining your strategic vision, business operators can easily understand how to design the distribution channels that make them stand out from their competitors.
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For example, brands driven by the need for speed and efficiency in distribution readily adopt the available tools and talents that can help integrate a successful omnichannel. Hence, having a strategic vision behind your channel integration adoption might inform you if you need to operate both offline and online channels.
  • Align Consumers’ Preferences With Service Outputs of Each Channel

Another thing business founders and leaders must contemplate before consolidating their offline and online distribution channels is to consider consumers’ preferences for service output. Not all consumers are suited for specific distribution channels. In Nigeria, WhatsApp has proven to be one of the most effective purchase channels. Regardless, this medium may not be favourable to retailers selling high-end products. Therefore, businesses must understand what online channels can do for their customers and know how to deploy them effectively. Founders and business leaders must realise that Nigerian buyers are fast becoming more sophisticated in their buying options than ever. Accordingly, do not disconnect buyer choices from the service outputs of your distribution channels. Some brands have employed e-commerce for specific products and purposes, such as launching and promoting new products, while maintaining their offline channel for existing products. 
  • Institute The Right Talents To Manage Channel Integrations

It takes great upskilling, training and retraining to transition to an omnichannel business. Therefore, having the right set of talents that can guarantee successful transitioning and continual operation in your workforce is super-important.
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This will require instilling in existing talents or employing those with the necessary technological know-how, such as analytical, insight creation, cost management, emotional intelligence and trust-building skills. Studies have shown that transitioning in a post-pandemic world can be challenging. Hence, employing and retaining the requisite human resources to initiate a seamless process is advisable. 

Final Words

Creating an omnichannel retail business requires visions and strategies to drive, develop and execute change. It also requires understanding buyers’ preferences and aligning them with their preferred channels. Lastly, retail-designed and operated businesses must either retain or employ the right talents to help transition to omnichannel businesses.  Featured Image Source: Sage
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This article was first published on 8th October 2022

nnaemeka-emmanuel

Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.


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