Omni-Channel Commerce: What it is and why you need it

Omni-Channel Commerce

What does Omni-Channel Commerce mean?

Put simply; it means engaging with your customers, for sales, marketing, and customer services, across multiple channels, in such a way that they have a consistent experience of your organization, regardless of channel or device.

However, my customers are tradespeople or other businesses, not consumers.

Please read on. Research by Forrester shows that B2B customers’ expectations have shifted: they expect the same level of omnichannel service from their business suppliers as they get from consumer retailers.

Isn’t this just a new name for multi-channel?

Good question. There is some debate about this. However, we see the difference as being:

Multichannel: Using more than one channel to engage with customers. For example, selling online as well as having a trade counter, or having a social media presence as well as using direct marketing. A multi-channel approach is more tactical and reactive than an omnichannel approach: the channels are discreet, and there is no attempt to give customers a seamless experience.

Omnichannel: Using more than one channel to engage customers, and having an overall strategy that ensures that customers have the same experience, regardless of channel AND regardless of the device they are using to engage. Where a multichannel approach can be seen as supplier-centric, omnichannel puts the customer at the center.

For example, a customer could search your inventory and order online from their mobile device, log in later and amend the order from a PC, receive delivery tracking information via text message, and message your customer service department via Twitter to report a problem with delivery. The customer would expect their account and order information to be updated in real time and to be accessible across each of these platforms.

Sounds complicated. Why do I need this?

Three reasons.

1. Your customers want it: Two-thirds of B2B suppliers surveyed said that their customers are expecting omnichannel capabilities. The study showed that B2B buyers want the same fulfillment capabilities, inventory visibility, convenience and functionality they are used to as consumers.

2. It will increase customer loyalty and drive profit: 72% of B2B companies surveyed said omnichannel customers are worth substantially more to them, and 51% said these customers have a higher lifetime value. 83% agreed that ‘we will drive more sales and profit by becoming an omnichannel company.'

3. Your competitors are doing it: 87% of B2B suppliers surveyed agreed that ‘to serve today’s customers we have to improve our omnichannel capabilities.' 86% agreed that ‘becoming an effective omnichannel company will be critical to our long-term success.’

OK, I am in. Where do I start?

The research concludes that suppliers must leverage technology to serve savvy buyers. The companies surveyed were installing or upgrading e-Commerce systems, investing in order management and using data and analytics to understand how best to provide personalized experiences for their customers. Building an omnichannel strategy requires an integrated approach across all touchpoints in the B2B buyer journey, as well as the right platform to provide that integrated approach.

 

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