E-commerce 2.0: 3 Tips for Creating an Omnichannel Strategy

Omnichannel is a buzzword often used to benchmark customer experience success in the retail industry. While businesses continue to invest in e-commerce and digital marketing today, omnichannel customer experience has become the “next step” in the e-commerce roadmap – but few know how to achieve it.

Let’s explore how omnichannel can bring financial and marketing benefits and three important steps to achieve your company’s omnichannel strategy.

Benefits of Adopting an Omnichannel Strategy

A customer-centric omnichannel strategy is beneficial to consumers and businesses in many ways. As for the consumers, they are likely to develop brand image and trust when they receive a positive and consistent shopping experience at multiple touchpoints. This positive psychological effect helps save time and effort in their decision-making process. They also benefit from instant gratification with extended flexibility regarding how they shop and when they shop. Consumers will find their shopping experience more fun, convenient and efficient.

An omnichannel customer experience can bring marketing and financial benefits to the brands. As omnichannel requires back-end system integrations between channels, brands will leverage the data to capture the opportunities and gaps in operations efficiency, system integration and customer behaviors. Creating customer segmentation and personas leveraged from data analysis will help create more targeted campaigns towards consumers, thus generating long-term positive conversion and revenue performances. More importantly, having an excellent omnichannel system could boost brand competitiveness in the industry. It enables broader domestic and international customer reach, optimizes business demand planning and improves management efficiency.

3 Tips for Creating Your Company’s Omnichannel Strategy and Goals

#1: Market, Competitor and Customer Analysis

Omnichannel enables retailers to create more customer value, requiring significant financial and resource investments. Therefore, before considering rolling out an omnichannel project, it is essential to assess your company’s competitive standing against the macro-market environment. Evaluate whether your omnichannel investment could bring more opportunities and reduce potential threats to your company. Leveraging both quantitative and qualitative analysis would provide a holistic view of the industry, competitors, substitutes, customers and suppliers that serve as the foundation of your next-step evaluation.

Here are some key questions to consider during your evaluation:

  • Industry Competition: What is the current state of the marketplace and its marketing landscape? How do you envision the future condition of the overall industry? How are your direct and indirect competitors investing in establishing brand equity and personalizing their customer experiences offered?
  • Barriers to Entry: What is the level of time and resource efforts required to establish an omnichannel strategy for potential direct and indirect competitors? How are people, processes, and technology influencing the barriers to entry?
  • Substitutes: Is omnichannel a must-have or nice-to-have strategy for your company? How easily can your competitors, customers and suppliers switch to a substitute product or service that will potentially pose a threat to your omnichannel investment?
  • Suppliers: How could your suppliers influence the critical decisions of your omnichannel goals? What are their elasticities and typical reactions to modern technologies and processes? How are those translated to the cost level?
  • Customers: What is the size of your current customer base? Which customers would your potential omnichannel strategy want to attract and retain? What is their expectation regarding receiving personalized customers’ experience from your brand?
#2: Internal Alignment

As omnichannel can unify and streamline various aspects of the business into one consistent strategy, there must be an equally consistent set of optics and willingness-to-change across all departments. Omnichannel enables better influence across all business departments, whether in Planning and Strategy, Marketing, Supply Chain and Logistics, to Warehouse and Operations. Departments must all understand their current day-to-day strengths, weaknesses and intricacies to other departments and the future states of their roles in the omnichannel-enabled business roadmap. Internal stakeholders may strive for different objectives or see different beneficial motivations for an omnichannel approach. Therefore, there need to be steering committees and sessions to align all stakeholders into a shared and future vision.

#3: Omnichannel System Setup

Aligning on a company-wide vision will drive how far an omnichannel system can be set up. Navigating through a landscape where many factors may be uncontrollable is complex. The ability to corral different departments into following a single operational and marketing endeavor will be the key. Understanding how other teams come together and which technology platforms can best serve the company in unity would best complement an omnichannel system to fruition.

For example, a system that maximizes technology readiness can be one that:

  • Supply Chain and Logistics: Enables faster delivery speed and order fulfilment when different business channels are optimized in the background.
  • Planning and Strategy: Creates insights and business intelligence for the planning and strategy teams to improve the accuracy of the supply and demand forecasts.
  • Warehouse and Operations: Empowers operational departments to understand how to allocate inventory in distribution channels best.
  • Marketing: This allows the customers to receive timely and consistent promotional messages no matter which marketing channel they are viewing.
  • Finance: Maximizes cost savings due to reductions in business inefficiencies.

Each omnichannel vendor provides various features and levels of support for companies of varied sizes – whether small, mid-market, or large and global enterprises. An omnichannel system will incorporate many aspects of the business into one combined step forward. It is, therefore, paramount to research, evaluate, and test which method may potentially be the next step forward. An unfit technology stack can lead to frustration and internal misalignment, posing more harm than good to a business. To maximize any benefits of a new system, knowledge, and expertise into what truly may be compatible are the most important for selecting and setting up the omnichannel system.

In conclusion, an omnichannel customer experience can provide an opportunity to both be more efficient while maximizing areas of opportunity and growth. As it is a major endeavor that influences every level of a business, it also requires much planning and strategy when preparing to put an omnichannel strategy.

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