Driving sales should be an enriched experience, where your role as a brand is not only to make popular ‘core’ and ‘expected’ products, but also to provide the best purchase options for your customers.
Is omnichannel an expensive ‘pet project’ implemented to offer a nice user experience? Or is there something bigger at play?
The problem many brands face
Many present-day brands have built their organizations on a now-ancient notion. One where departments have their own targets and profit and loss (P&L) balances. On a higher level, this should all come together and generate profit for the enterprise. However, this method is outdated and inefficient. It used to work well when consumers purchased products based on the ‘core product value’.
But as markets mature, so do consumers. Competitors are constantly offering newer and better ‘core/generic products’. But differentiation on the product alone has been a thing of the past for a few decades now. Customers today want the ‘new’ and the ‘now’ – and the experience to go with it.
Innovation literature distinguishes five levels of customer needs when it comes to purchasing products. The first two (‘core benefit’ and ‘generic product’) are pretty much considered hygiene requirements. Then there’s the ‘expected product’ (attributes buyers expect) and the ‘augmented product’ (additional features, benefits, or attributes) – both deeper layers when it comes to differentiating between competing brands.
It’s at this level that brands are now waging all-out tactical ‘wars’ to get the attention and engagement of consumers. In essence, these product layers embody features, benefits, services, and other intangible characteristics that make the difference.
So what are brands doing about it?
There are many D2C brands that have a loyal following. But with all the choices offered today, loyalty can disappear as soon as a customer realizes they can get the same product from another brand. Add to it five years warranty, highly personalized services, and a tasty cappuccino while waiting to boot. That being said, ‘experience’ has become the golden child in boardrooms across the globe as the ‘thing’ that prompts consumers to buy.
So, more often than not, some lucky C-Level board member gets the glossy task to start ‘piloting’ and ‘testing’ customer-centric projects with the idea of creating an omnichannel experience. But, here’s the catch…It’s only since very recently that these ‘pet projects’ began getting taken seriously as a key requirement for future commercial success. And even so, (digitally) transforming (yep, there it is!) a decades-old organization into an ‘agile’ and ‘customer-centric business is not an easy task.
The reality is that actual people are working in actual departments. Working hard to provide the best product or service to customers while having to achieve department-specific targets and goals. Regardless of any omnichannel strategy, in many companies, the departments are not sufficiently aligned with one another. This leads to internal friction and competition and makes the customer less of a priority.
Omni-channel becomes a minimum requirement
Thankfully, many businesses have noticed this. Some were forced by competition to take action and invest heavily in their internal alignment. All to be able to put the customer first. But, how have they gone about this?
Omni-channel is a wide construct and generally also includes subjects like customer service and delivery. If we zoom in on the commercial side, we’ve noticed brands offering an omni-commerce buying experience show greater conversion.
Integrating online and offline
There are various routes brands can take to make this possible. One of the obvious ways is integrating the online and offline consumer experiences. Brands that nail this can expect to see more offline customers because they know they’ll receive highly personalized service in-store.
They’ll be able to touch and feel products in-store and go online to find any missing information, receive support, and make repeat purchases for products they already know and love. When a brand’s online and offline shopping experiences become aligned, customers receive the same level of service no matter how they choose to shop. That’s true omnichannel.
Integrating your indirect channels
Another method is integrating retail partners and marketplaces into brands’ digital touchpoints. Most brands realize that if they choose to go direct-only in their online channels, they are limiting the purchasing options for their customers. By that, missing out on revenue, and potentially damaging relationships with their retail partners.
With the right technology in place, brands can offer a seamless buying experience and enable customers to purchase from any digital touchpoint. Be it a website, online campaign, or through social media platforms – essentially, putting customers at the center.
In 2021, driving sales should no longer be done via a silo-channel approach. No more limited choices and incomplete data insights. Driving sales should be an enriched experience. Your role as a brand is not only to make popular ‘core’ and ‘expected’ products but also to provide the best purchase options for your customers. Allowing them to buy whenever, wherever, and however, they want!
About the author
With a degree in Innovation Management, Marc Haseth has over 14 years of experience in B2B marketing and marketing automation in small and large international corporations.
In 2018, he joined Hatch to fuel the relentless growth ambitions of the scale-up with the goal of creating a world-class marketing department.
Hatch offers top-notch Where-to-Buy e-commerce technology to global A-list brands such as Intel, Philips, Samsung, Akzo Nobel and Microsoft to enable omnichannel capabilities on their websites.