Modern Multi-Channel Commerce – 5 Key Things
It doesn’t matter what you are selling, unless the shopping experience on your site feels natural and easy, your business will not take off to the levels you want. The ease with which they can surf and shop will draw your customers back time and again, and drive further traffic through organic publicity. As we slowly move more towards the online shopping phenomena, away from the brick and mortar stores, there is an imperative need for a seamless and cohesive consumer experience across channels – right from the brick and mortar and catalogs to the mobile and internet stores.
For some, multichannel is perfectly defined by the above combination while for others multichannel selling today means only the various online channels. It means the individual and main websites that sell the products and brands as well as the shopping-comparison sites and all the public marketplaces. It could be any or all these avenues, but once you tap into multiple sales channels you are laying down the foundation for additional sales, increased business opportunities and finally expansion of your brand’s recognition.
As early as 2014, a Forrester research report stated that 71% of customers expected the in-store inventory to be available online. Even then, 50% of customers were inclined to buy online and pick up in store. The numbers have clearly increased since then and this trend shows the imperative need to integrate multiple retail channels. With this increased demand for omnichannels there needs to be a holistic support for the entire sales process. One coherent ecommerce platform that allows one manage all sales channels cohesively is the need of the hour. Here are some of the key features to look for in a winning ecommerce partner.
#1 – Personalization – We all know about understanding the buyers’ persona and what they want. An innovative and advanced platform that can create unique and personalized experiences for your customers will be a game changer for your business. Using advanced analytics and big data they will garner relevant information about your target and existing customers, and then use that knowledge to personalize shopping experiences as well as cater unique content to your customers. It is important that brands quickly adopt this new level technology and leverage this machine learning advantage, whether it is a B2B or a B2C business. The latter of course, is ahead in the e-commerce personalization game and have paved the path for customizing shopping experiences to consumers’ individual tastes. This drives higher customer loyalty, creates more cross-sell and upsell opportunities leading to higher ROI.
#2 – Seamless supply chain – Businesses are realizing the need to optimize their supply chain operations in order to effectively compete in an omnichannel world. Now that we have established the need for omnichannel presence, you need to an ecommerce partner that will offer agile and flexible supply chain management. You will need a platform that will successfully align the inventory management with order delivery and fulfillment with the customer demands. This can only be done when there is absolute agility and flexibility across the entire supply chain, from the destination stores, the three distribution centers right down to the point of purchase. Effective cross-channel fulfillment will help in better stocking, distribution, in managing forecasting and replenishment across the multichannel network, in better meeting customer expectations and in tailoring assortments to each channel.
#3 – 360 degree view of customer for CRM – In order to ensure the success of the multichannel network, companies need to have a 360-degree view of the customer across media. A strong ecommerce platform comes equipped with predictive analytics tools, effective social media listening tools, customer relationship management suites and marketing automation software. This will help them understand what customers are saying and determine what customers may research or purchase next. All teams, from supply chain and distribution, marketing to sales to customer service need to capture, share and analyze this data. This is possible through an actionable 360-degree view of the customer that will help them respond to it on real time, and deliver an engaging and personalized customer experience.
#4 – Even and seamless customer experience across channels – Once you have the earlier features set up, this should follow through easily. This is an extremely important aspect of the multichannel experience for customers need to feel the same comfort factor every time. The sense of familiarity will strengthen the brand presence and set the stage for enhanced personalization across platforms. According to a Gartner report, B2B companies that work on effective e-commerce personalization will successfully outsell their competitors without these strategies by 30% before 2018. In simple terms, integration across channels will help businesses provide their customers the same experience online as in their stores. Developing a viable cross-channel capability will allow customers to easily move between the channels without friction.
#5 – Listening to voice of customer from social media – As we have seen, customers are looking at products via multiple channels and voicing their say in multiple platforms. It is important to capture every bit of this customer interaction so that enterprises of all sizes can respond to customer needs and demands right away. They need a powerful solution to help them listen to the “voice of the customer” across every touch point. What your business will need is an automated solution that will include customer survey, speech and desktop analytics, and overall social media analytics. This is imperative if you want to identify and understand the customer interaction every time, and handle them well. This effective automation all of your enterprise-wide customer touch points will help you better optimize your business, lower costs, meet customer expectation and most importantly build on customer loyalty.