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Mastering Omnichannel Strategy: A Guide for B2C and B2B Leaders

 

In recent years, both consumer and B2B purchasing habits have undergone a profound transformation. For example, 73% of retail shoppers utilise multiple channels for their purchases, and they are almost 20% more likely to buy from suppliers that offer pick-up options. (Source: Future of Commerce)

Both consumers and B2B buyers now expect a seamless omnichannel experience. Whether they are researching and buying products online, in brick-and-mortar stores, or via social media apps, everything needs to function flawlessly.

So, how can B2C retailers and B2B businesses meet these expectations? How can they deliver personalised, seamless experiences that enable customers to engage with them anytime, anywhere, on their preferred channel?

 

How B2C Businesses Can Get Omnichannel Sales Right

Here are three core fundamentals for an exceptional B2C omnichannel experience:

  1. Personalisation
  2. Effective order management
  3. Flexible fulfilment

 

1. Personalisation: Omnichannel Experiences Need a Personal Touch

Modern consumers expect brands to understand their needs. A personalisation strategy should ensure a tailored experience across all touchpoints. This approach allows businesses to communicate the right message to the right customers at the right time.

When executed effectively, this strategy answers key customer questions: How can the product or service solve their problem, and why should they remain loyal to the brand?

However, research from SAP Emarsys reveals that 40% of businesses struggle to provide relevant product recommendations (Source: SAP). The best omnichannel experiences are built on customer insight. With the right technology, businesses can leverage customer data from both online and offline channels to develop comprehensive customer profiles. Understanding customer interactions across channels allows businesses to personalise product recommendations and promotions for optimal outcomes.

Today, AI is instrumental in creating personalised experiences that foster loyalty. By analysing customer data, including browsing habits and purchase history, AI can provide deeper insights for relevant product placement and promotions across channels.

 

2. Order Management: Order Orchestration's Starring Role in Omnichannel CX

Effective order management is crucial for delivering omnichannel experiences that keep customers returning. Accurate order fulfilment is fundamental to success, but the variety of purchasing channels can complicate the process.

Modern order management software helps businesses manage this complexity by connecting multiple frontend sales channels to backend systems, ensuring product availability, order accuracy, and efficient returns processing. Advanced systems offer real-time inventory visibility to both staff and customers, routing products from the optimal location.

This technology provides a unified source of truth and coordination across systems, resulting in improved agility and operational efficiency, which boosts customer satisfaction and profitability. For instance, Canac, a hardware and furniture retailer in Canada, uses SAP solutions to offer seamless omnichannel experiences, making it easy for customers to modify their orders.

 

3. Flexible Fulfilment Experiences

With American shoppers expected to spend $154.3 billion on BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-Up In Store) purchases, up from $95.8 billion in 2022, flexible fulfilment is a priority (Source: Future of Commerce). Advanced systems help businesses manage supply chain and fulfilment processes to meet the demands of consumers who expect no delays.

AI can optimise inventory management by predicting future buying trends and aligning stock with demand. Automation reduces manual tasks, speeding up processes and enhancing fulfilment capabilities.

AI also helps streamline delivery logistics. AI-driven route planning can reduce transit times and avoid service disruptions. Efficient returns management is another crucial aspect of omnichannel experiences that brands must master to retain customers.

New technological solutions utilise AI to improve returns management, making it easy for consumers to return items, optimising the handling of returned goods, and detecting trends and fraudulent behaviour.

 

How B2B Businesses Can Get Omnichannel Sales Right

During the early stages of the pandemic, many B2B companies considered remote interactions as a temporary patch, a way to stay in touch with customers while sales reps were confined to their home offices. Now, it’s becoming clear that omnichannel is here to stay, and many businesses aren’t prepared for this permanent change.

B2B buyers are enthusiastic about omnichannel interactions but clear about their expectations from suppliers, and they are willing to switch if “must-haves” are not offered. For example, 82% of B2B decision-makers will actively look for a new supplier if a performance guarantee is not provided (Source: Harvard Business Review). Those who get omnichannel right can attract new customers and retain existing ones, leading to higher revenues, lower costs, improved customer satisfaction, and reduced churn rates.

 

A Comprehensive View of Each Customer is Key

B2B buyers expect the same level of omnichannel service and flexibility as when they shop in their personal lives. They want to move seamlessly between channels throughout their buying journey. They might start by researching options on a supplier’s website or a social media platform. When questions arise, they expect to open a chat, call a sales representative, or receive a callback within a few hours, with the sales rep being well-informed about their history (given customer consent to data collection). They may also want a specialist to visit their site to select the perfect product or solution.

Many B2B players struggle with omnichannel implementation because they treat channels as silos rather than interconnected tools that a customer may use at different stages of the decision journey or relationship with a supplier. To enable seamless end-to-end omnichannel journeys, B2B players must create a comprehensive view of each customer and deliver consistent messages across channels. Successful omnichannel sellers use CRM tools that provide visibility on the entire customer journey. Such tools enable them to combine leads from different sales departments and channels, creating a seamless experience and rewarding sales representatives regardless of where the final purchase is made.

 

Five Success Factors for Moving to Omnichannel Sales

  1. Customer Centricity: Pioneers put customers and their needs at the centre of their omnichannel offering. They conduct extensive primary research to understand customer decision journeys, build comprehensive customer profiles, and manage relationships across channels.
  2. A Holistic Approach: B2B companies redefine the role of each sales channel in their go-to-market strategy. A holistic approach includes setting up distinct sales channels and supporting functions that span all channels, enabling a seamless experience.
  3. Proactive Channel Conflict Management: Omnichannel outperformers address channel conflict proactively, using segmentation to match channels, customers, and products/services perfectly.
  4. Digitally Enabled Sales and Marketing: Successful transformations have strong digital foundations, involving significant investments in technology and close collaboration between sales and IT. Marketing automation and digital analytics drive personalisation at scale.
  5. Agile Cross-Functional Collaboration: Businesses implement agile ways of working across commercial and growth functions. They attract the right talent and foster collaboration across different backgrounds.

An Omnichannel Maturity Assessment

Companies should assess their omnichannel maturity level to prioritise investments in their transformation efforts.

Level 1: Omnichannel Launch: Companies at this level aim to offer a more integrated experience but currently have siloed channels. Focus on customer-centric reimagination and end-to-end journey implementation.

Level 2: Omnichannel Acceleration: An omnichannel model is in place, and the company seeks to leverage analytics for growth. Consider the benefits of marketing/sales automation and data-driven insights across channels.

Level 3: E-commerce Launch/Acceleration: Effective e-commerce/digital channels are integrated with other channels. Use state-of-the-art platforms to integrate customer data in real time and redefine sales roles.

Getting omnichannel right is complex but worth the effort. A company-wide commitment to omnichannel excellence can be transformative for companies. Early movers can fend off competition, capture cost savings, increase customer satisfaction, reduce churn, and grow their businesses.

 

Staying Ahead with Omnichannel Excellence

Consumer habits are ever-evolving, and the key to staying ahead in retail and B2B is agility. By investing in new technologies and leveraging AI, businesses can create seamless, personalised omnichannel experiences that not only meet but exceed customer expectations. This enhances customer satisfaction and drives loyalty and profitability.

Langia, with its extensive expertise in e-commerce, is ideally positioned to assist both B2B and B2C companies in realising a seamless omnichannel experience through SAP Commerce Cloud. Leveraging advanced features and robust capabilities, Langia enables businesses to integrate various sales channels, providing a unified customer journey. By utilising SAP Commerce Cloud, Langia helps companies harness real-time data, personalise customer interactions, and optimise inventory management across online and offline platforms. This comprehensive approach ensures that businesses can meet the evolving demands of their customers, enhance operational efficiency, and drive sustained growth in an increasingly competitive market. Contact us to learn more. 

 

FAQs

What is omnichannel retail?

Omnichannel retail refers to a seamless and integrated shopping experience across multiple channels, such as online stores, physical shops, and social media platforms.

 

Why is personalisation important in omnichannel experiences?

Personalisation helps create a customised experience for customers, increasing their engagement and loyalty by delivering relevant product recommendations and promotions.

 

How does AI improve omnichannel experiences?

AI enhances omnichannel experiences by analysing customer data to provide personalised experiences, optimising inventory management, streamlining delivery logistics, and improving returns management.

 

What is BOPIS?

BOPIS stands for ‘’Buy Online, Pick-Up In Store’’, a shopping option that allows customers to purchase items online and pick them up at a physical store.

 

How can businesses ensure effective order management?

Businesses can use modern order management software to connect multiple sales channels to backend systems, ensuring product availability, order accuracy, and efficient returns processing.

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