We are still to meet a retailer that wants to be "just like everybody else." Humans, as a species, thrive on diversity, and businesses are not an exception to this rule. One of the ways to incorporate differentiation as part of a broader competitive strategy, thus making yourself stand out from the competition and shooting the growth of your retail stores to the next level, is omnichannel.
What does omnichannel mean for an e-commerce business?
According to the Cambridge dictionary, omnichannel is: "...used to refer to a way of selling products that are the same and equally good for the customer whether they are buying from a computer, a mobile phone app, etc., or in a physical shop."
Roughly translated, quality of service, customer co-creating the value, and trust in your brand are the most important currencies in the new era of retail.
Omnichannel: a strategy that blurs the line between B2B and B2C.
Here's a hard pill to swallow: customers don't care about B2B, B2C, or D2C. They care about what they want.
Merchants must strike the right balance between physical and digital services, and they need to find a way to build a hybrid CX. More often than not, that means that the line between your business-oriented services and your customer-oriented service is not clear.
For our client, Montana Silversmiths, that meant leveraging the power of Magento 2 Commerce. Initially, we extended their Product Builder platform to allow end consumers the ability to customize Montana Silversmiths products for B2C customers' style or events, awards, rewards, and recognitions. The same experience is now expanded into their B2B environment, allowing resellers to control how customized products are built for their consumers.
We have also been able to use their B2B channels to expand on-site personalization for rodeo and show events, where awards can be filled on-site and the order submitted versus traditional paper forms and ordering after the event with customer service on the phone. This has allowed them to get a jump start on producing these one-of-a-kind items and getting them in the hands of the winners faster, with less friction, and with a clear understanding upfront about the unique treasure they are about to receive.
While all of this sounds great (mainly because results accompany it), one vital thing to notice is how unique this case is.
And that's the point: there is no one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter solution when it comes to omnichannel. You shouldn't be too busy predicting what your end-customers want. Be busy trying to understand what they need.
Omnichannel is just the beginning. Consider unified commerce.
Unified commerce takes omnichannel much further. By replacing disconnected IT systems (e-commerce, mobile commerce, order fulfillment, inventory management, customer relationship management, to name a few) with a single, centralized platform, companies can rid themselves of internal channels that are operating in their silos.
An omnichannel strategy links digital and physical channels to give your customer a seamless experience. Where unified commerce differs is that it eliminates the possibility of leaving out a section of data. Rather than merely connecting the different systems in use, as omnichannel does, a unified commerce strategy leverages a centralized business platform to enable consistent, accurate information across every organizational channel.
Omnichannel is often held together with manual processes and complex integrations, which can create data silos, hinder efficiency, and grow quite expensive. Unified commerce, on the other hand, is designed to ensure systems are communicating and data is freely moving.
As Gartner puts it: this endgame goal is to achieve the successful unification of customer-facing processes and dramatically improve customer experiences.
What are the few steps you can take NOW?
- Review how much of your current technology already speaks to one another. Before you take steps toward investing in any new platforms, you'll need to investigate the potential impact on your other operational areas and discover where your silos are.
- Audit your current customer experience journey and ideate improvements. Don't dive into unifying experiences across your business without first understanding what each of those experiences is. Take this time to also think critically about what their optimal design would be.
- Start taking data seriously. Data integrity is crucial to the success of unified commerce. But if you're not already collecting, analyzing, and leveraging insights learned from customer data, then you need to take a step back, take a breath and focus on that first.
- Ensure you have the necessary technological foundation. We know from working with our clients that many retailers still don't even have a point of sale systems in place. This is the first foundational stone in a sound technological plan.
Want to dive deeper?
This article is meant only to give you a short and comprehensive overview of the importance of omnichannel and one of the ways to implement it. For a more technical deep dive, check out this podcast with our dear partner, JetRails. In it, you'll be able to learn how to create omnichannel and unified commerce experiences by leveraging Magento technology: everything from the platform itself to Magento Order Management. Podcast also covers the main challenges of implementing an omnichannel strategy, touches on the hot topic of PWA, and lets you in on a few other secrets too!
In case you still need more info, or you'd like one of our expert consultants to help, please, reach out. We are here to advise and assist.