This W3bstore review assesses not only its omnichannel capabilities but also other it’s ecommerce features that would be critical to online stores. It does not access it’s POS (point of sale) or multi-store back office. All three are required for omnichannel retail where orders, inventory and fulfillment must be managed across multiple channels and locations.
You’re surfing for a specific product on your PC. Then you end up in an ecommerce site that happens to operate a parallel local store or stores.
From your end, you’re able to see the product’s availability not only at their shipping warehouse but also at the local store. Plus, you can choose whether you’d like to pick it up in-store or have it delivered to your exact location.
Delivery sounds good, but it turns out the merchant has a local store is positioned midway between your workplace and home. So, to expedite things, you decide to pick it up in-store as you head home.
Now, have you noticed anything out of the ordinary yet? You chose the fulfillment method AND location.
That right there is a relatively new concept we like to call omnicommerce. And that’s how I came across W3bstore.
Want to see how it works?
W3bstore Review: Overview
I guess you’ve already seen numerous offline-based businesses establishing separate versions of their stores on the web. Or alternatively, the vice-versa- online-based enterprises finally setting up local stores.
Well, both are considered good strategies for increasing sales. But, it can be better. Much better.
You see, the problem here is that whole “separate” notion.
But, don’t get me wrong. Of course, stores in both frameworks will always be physically detached. Nonetheless, instead of operating as two distinct elements, they can be synced in real time to run as a single, integrated unit.
Or can they?
Synchronizations occur when two (or more) disparate systems share data, usually on a pre-set schedule. In between these events, these systems are not in sync. Murphy knows that’s exactly when your online customer orders an item that just walked out the door. The only way to avoid this is if both your online and retail store operates on the same inventory records. In other words, your online store and POS are the same system accessing one set of records, NOT multiple synchronized records.
The other issue is data reconciliation when things do get out of sync, if only for a few minutes. After all, there’s a lot of moving parts between disparate services, like networks, servers, software and humans. Check the user forums. This happens more often than you ’d think. Imagine discovering that your monthly sales reports don’t match your inventory. Backtracking through the last month (or longer) is not fun when you have no idea what was missed and when.
And what happens when you have two or more retail stores? Your shopping cart must now direct orders to the customer selected store and possibly stage the order for pickup in the next thirty minutes. When was the last time you saw an eCommerce platform offer a choice of inventory locations? Offering customers the choice of shopping location, also means your back office must now handle complex orders. Imagine ordering a drill for pickup and the out of stock drill bits from a remote warehouse. Even if you didn’t lose the sale, how would you process the order for pick, pack, ship AND in-store pick-up. Are you starting to see the difference between ecommerce and omnicommerce?
You can’t merge a sports car and a semi-truck to create an SUV any more than you can merge eCommerce and retail to create omnicommerce! This is why W3bstore created a new platform from scratch, architected for this new way of serving customers. Retail and eCommerce are not platforms, but rather sales channels for one platform that operates on one real-time copy of data for orders, inventory, and fulfillment. Every store is simply a new sales channel.
This essentially means that a shopper’s interaction with a business whether in-store, via its main site, on a mobile version of the site or even social media is consistent, regardless of channel or store location.
According to a recent survey, large enterprises that have adopted this omnichannel framework continue to attain annual customer retention rates that are 91% higher than their counterparts who don’t.
And you know what? Omnichannel customers have 30% greater lifetime value than other types of shoppers.
And that’s why the team at W3bstore decided to build this platform in 2011. Instead of taking the standard route syncing platforms they created a native omnicommerce platform for a trend that has been increasingly taking shape in the online business world.
Back then, only a handful of business owners understood the whole omnicommerce idea. It later grew to become a buzzword and has since developed exponentially across all industries. Currently, only 55% of enterprises run without any cross-channel strategy.
But small and medium-sized merchants are being left out due to the cost and complexity of deploying omnicommerce. W3bstore levels the playing field by simplifying omnicommerce and bringing costs down where even cash-strapped startups can participate. Only businesses leveraging effective omnichannel tools are able to achieve good results. Their counterparts running on weak systems can only manage a 33% average customer retention rate.
Well, if you intend to do it, at least plan to do it right. And it all depends on the capabilities of your foundational ecommerce platform.
W3bstore comes as a cloud-hosted service for streamlining in-store and online retailing across multiple brands or stores. It markets itself as a system that essentially provides a unified, real-time view of orders, stock, and fulfillment across online, retail stores and warehouses.
Sounds interesting. But, how good is it at that?
That’s something we’ll establish as we proceed. This W3bstore review assesses not only its eCommerce capabilities but also briefly describes it’s omnichannel POS that would be critical to retailers.
So, let’s get to it.
W3bstore Review: Features
Designing Your Ecommerce Store
First things first. You’ll need a well-optimized online store if you intend to engage omnicommerce. Thankfully, W3bstore comes in handy with an array of web-design functionalities.
Among them is a theme editor that can work on page elements like links, backgrounds, text, images, logos without extra coding. Even a complete novice in programming can comfortably use it to design web pages.
And speaking of images, W3bstore has stocked quite a solid collection of thousands of images in its gallery. However, if none tickles your fancy, you can still upload custom ones from your PC or mobile device.
Now, when it comes to secondary devices, you’ll notice that W3bstore is optimized for mobile right from the design stage. Your store’s pages will adapt to any mobile device, and still manage to respond accordingly to offer a smooth shopping experience.
This feature alone is particularly critical to the omnichannel strategy, considering current mobile usage trends among consumers. In the U.S, for instance, 98% of them switch between devices on a regular basis.
To further boost your sales, W3bstore automatically generates relevant in-store product details on your web pages. This should be extremely useful to about half of online shoppers, who, in general, look forward to buying online then subsequently pick up their products in-store.
Managing and Selling Products
Then comes the most fundamental stage- managing and selling products.
As one of the principal challenges of omnicommerce, inventory tracking and management is one thing I was exceptionally keen about.
W3bstore, to begin with, has addressed what is, by far, the biggest complexity in multi-channel selling. To avoid those awkward cases of underselling or overselling, the software employs a real-time tracking system that keeps tabs on stocks across all retail stores, warehouses and third-party logistics providers.
But that’s not all. It goes ahead to provide information on all shippers, warehouses, suppliers, and stores on a single, centralized dashboard. And if you’re a company with lots of brands each with their own online store, well W3bstore does that too from a single dashboard!
Well, that should help you notice when you’re low on stock. On the other hand, however, let’s face it. It’s possible to overlook even some of the most obvious details from time to time. So, I was pleased to see that W3bstore supplements inventory tracking with threshold emails for notifications when the stock is a bit on the lower side.
Now, moving onto the selling process, you’ll notice that W3bstore comes with a considerably rich array of product categories. You can even offer personalized items by capitalizing on your store’s virtually unlimited product options, variants. accessories and subcategory nesting levels.
And when you feel like offsetting shipping and inventory management, you can expand your store’s reach with Amazon Products. This would be a thoughtful strategy for assessing new markets without worrying about the possible risks.
Come to think of it, you bet customers would love such a huge selection of products. Unfortunately, that’s barely enough to effectively drive sales.
So, W3bstore also throws in customer engagement features to optimize the conversion process. You can take advantage of cart abandonment reminders, flash sales, wish lists, and coupons to convince leads to proceed to checkout.
Now, combine that with customer reviews on products, and you have yourself a potentially effectual conversion framework.
Then get this. You can take orders from pretty much anywhere. W3bstore’s interface is flexible enough to fit into any web-connected PC or mobile device. And to top it off, the payment system covers credit cards, cash, debit cards, plus invoiced payments stretching to more than 190 countries globally.
After payment comes yet another complicated stage- shipping. And W3bstore provides notable features for simplifying and streamlining the entire process, in addition to expanding your store’s potential reach.
Customers, for instance, are able to choose from numerous delivery locations, shipping times, and the corresponding costs. Consequently, they can specify how, where and when they want their products.
Marketing Your Store
Fact is, there will be no selling if prospects don’t learn about your brand or store.
So, to help you with this, W3bstore prioritizes on Search Engine Optimization, Google Product Listing Ads, social media marketing, and email marketing.
The SEO strategies are embedded deep into the system’s engine to promote not only your overall site but also the individual products. This increases exposure to potentially warm leads searching for products on Google.
You can also leverage Google Product Listing Ads to hunt for more buyers- complete with item description, image, and pricing.
Then, to go for prospects exactly where they predominantly hang out, W3bstore supports Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook integrations.
W3bstore also hosts the POS (Point of Sales) for each retail store. We’ll save this evaluation for another day, but W3bstore reportedly works with credit card terminals, barcode scanners and printers. Unlike mobile app based POS systems, W3bstore’s uses a web-based POS to guarantee real-time inventory.
This also means the POS can be deployed on any mobile device with a connected browser. Retail stores don’t even need a WIFI network. Any hotspot will serve as a reliable data connection. Bringing on seasonal staff? Hand them a tablet (any brand) and login credentials and they’re ready to start selling.
Even the interface should look familiar for any cashier that’s purchased online. Here’s a quick snapshot of what your cashiers will be looking at during the final stage of checkout. It’s designed to scale to any screen size and provides all the flexibility needed to operate in a retail environment. Product returns and exchanges, restocking to any store, price adjustments, digital coupons, shipping, and over-the-counter fulfillment in one order are all supported in this eCommerce-like interface.
W3bstore Review: Pricing
If you’ve checked out W3bstore, you might have noticed that its pricing information is not readily available right off the bat. The main site doesn’t even have a “Pricing” tab.
So, beginners are pretty much forced to mine the entire site for elusive details that should have been obvious right from the start.
Now, fortunately, I was able to ultimately uncover all the info after minutes of extensive research. So, here’s the blurb…
W3bstore comes in four principal subscription packages, whose prices are based on the number of channels supported, plus the corresponding functionalities.
To test them out and get the feel of the whole platform, you can take advantage of W3bstore’s 30-day free trial offer, which is essentially open to all pricing plans. And most importantly, you don’t need credit card information to get started.
That said, here is the overall pricing structure, and the corresponding plan details:
Starter Plan- $25 per month
- Setup and Conversion Services
- Automated Notifications
- Fulfill Over the Counter, Delivery or Pickup
- Secure PCI Hosting
- Sell Amazon, Dropship or Branded Products
- Unlimited Categories & Sub-categories
- Unlimited Products & Options
- Mobile Optimized Website and Shopping Cart
Standard Plan- $79 per month
- All Starter Plan features
- Print Online Orders Direct
- Cross-sell Related Products
- Accessorize Products
- Etsy Uploads
- eBay Uploads
- Amazon Uploads
- Google Shopping Uploads
- Customer Marketing (Email & Text)
- Customer Profiles & Wishlists
- Customer Reviews
- Tiered Quantity Discounts
- Content Managed Blogs & Pages
- One-click Coupons
Pro Plan- $129 per month
- All Standard Plan features
- Unlimited Role-based Users
- Card Terminal, Scanner, Printer Integration
- Receipt Printing & Cash Drawer Management
- POS works on any Mobile Device
- Real-time Reports & Detailed Transaction History
- Multi-Destination Orders
- Shipping Discounts & Label Printing
- Wholesale Catalog
- Kitting (Product Bundles)
- Lot Based Inventory Management & COGS
- Robust Order Management
Enterprise Plan- $99 per month for each store location
- All Pro Plan features
- Multi-state Nexus Tax Automation
- Re-stocks and Transfers to any Store or Warehouse
- Multi-Location Inventory Management
- Multi-Brand Marketplace Management
- Multi-Source Selling & Fulfillment
Who Should You Consider Using W3bstore?
To recap, here are W3bstore’s principal capabilities:
- Complete Order management across all stores and warehouses for online and in-store channels
- Real-time inventory management across all locations, accessible via online and in-store channels
- Robust fulfillment model including all major carriers and pick-up from any store location
- Web-based POS deploys on any device in seconds
- Unlimited blogs and custom pages
- Every brand, warehouse, and store location managed from a single dashboard console
- Role-based user management including custom role assignment
- Simple to build and manage with 24×7 technical support
- Custom design, setup and product import services
- Robust selling features include customer profiles and reviews, customer re-marketing, related products, product bundles, coupons, and tiered discounts.
- Free setup and/or hosting for qualified merchants
- Supports Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook integrations.
- Prioritizes on Search Engine Optimization, Google Product Listing Ads, social media marketing, and email marketing.
- Payment system covers credit cards, cash, debit cards, plus invoiced payments stretching to more than 190 countries globally.
- You can take advantage of cart abandonment reminders, flash sales, wish lists, and coupons to convince leads to proceed to checkout.
- Customers, for instance, are able to choose from numerous delivery locations, shipping times, and the corresponding costs.
While W3bstore is evidently well-optimized for omnichannel selling, it fails to provide the same scale of functionalities on other ecommerce components.
Take marketing, for instance. The platform comes with basic marketing capabilities that can only be ideal for startups and retailers. Advanced marketing for eCommerce, on the other hand, requires specialized tools, which are not yet available on W3bstore.
All in all, W3bstore is a pretty decent platform for individuals, startups, and retailers running multiple sales channels across one or more physical locations.