In 2019, adopting an omnichannel business strategy is critical. Now that buyers have experienced a unified ecommerce experience in B2C, they expect a similarly seamless and consistent experience in B2B. According to Sana Commerce’s 2019 B2B Buying Process Report, nearly one-third of B2B buyers expect to make 90% of their professional purchases online.
Yet, that is only one aspect. Why? Because buyers choose brands based on trust, not on channel options. A B2B buyer journey is not a straight line but rather passes through several touchpoints, and buyers will naturally expect their favorite brands to cater a personalized experience. Only an omnichannel strategy can fulfill the above buyer demands and therefore adopting one is non-negotiable.
Let’s take a look at the six key factors that ensure the success of an omnichannel business strategy.
1. Shunning the Cookie-cutter Approach
Providing personalized experiences to customers is powerful for two reasons: Practicality – the value a product or service brings to a customer will be better when tailored to meet their unique needs; and psychology – the joy a customer receives when they know that they’re treated as an individual and not as a number.
Customer engagement should be maximized using social media platforms where they are encouraged to share their physical experiences with one another. The collected information should be utilized to send personalized messages, product recommendations, and offers to customers.
2. Omni-channel Payment Methods
With more and more customers demanding multiple payment channels, businesses today are challenged to provide new and convenient payment methods that include three capabilities – online, offline, and through smartphones. Mobile wallets and other applications are gradually overtaking cash and credit cards.
In order to keep up with this trend, a lot of businesses offer multi-channel payment methods, but is that enough? Today’s average customer expects a unified ecommerce experience, which means businesses need to employ omnichannel payment methods.
The key difference is that omnichannel payment methods will fuse both offline and online channels in order to deliver a single ecommerce experience. Businesses can save time that is otherwise lost in managing duplicate systems while customers can enjoy a frictionless checkout.
3. In-store Technology
Employing advanced technologies should not be reserved for the online realm. Today’s customer wants the online features of convenience, ease of use, and personalization in their in-store experiences as well. A warm greeting by a reliable staff member and having someone remember preferences via past buying patterns can go a long way in personalizing the in-store experience.
4. Coordination Across Teams
Omnichannel strategies require a number of key teams extending throughout the organization. For strategies to be implemented in an effective manner, there must be proper coordination among all teams and their members.
Any division or miscommunication among any team will lead to disruption, thereby sabotaging the whole process. Therefore, appoint a single project manager to head all teams and monitor the omnichannel business process pipeline from start to finish.
5. Customer Feedback
For a business, customer feedback is a goldmine and therefore should not be considered an afterthought. A business can gain a better understanding of their customers’ demands through tracking their buying habits and patterns, and also through understanding social media channels.
The buying experience should be viewed from the customer’s eyes in order to ensure that it is frictionless and user-friendly. Retailers can make use of apps to scan a product’s barcode and view all customer reviews related to that product.
6. Cross-channel Security
With the advent of new customer engagement channels, new security measures also need to be adopted. Ensuring secure transactions (both card-present and card-not-present) is vital for a successful omnichannel strategy.
For card-present transactions, end-to-end encryption coupled with tokenization and EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) will ensure transaction security. For card-not-present transactions, a strong SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) with tokenization and a Hosted Payment Solution will provide protection against hackers.
Formulation of a strong B2B omnichannel strategy will allow a business to create one of its most important assets – customer loyalty. Therefore, creating a single ecommerce experience where customers can engage holistically is a must.