Omnichannel – a question of survival
It’s no longer a matter of whether a company should opt for an omnichannel strategy, but rather what form that strategy should take in order to best meet the needs of their particular customers.
“Omnichannel has become a question of survival. Customers expect their suppliers to understand and to deliver on their needs. As a consequence more and more players are adopting an omnichannel strategy. In the past you only needed a decent online store or physical store with a good product range. But with global competition and constantly growing customer expectations, that’s not good enough any more,” says Johan Hallgårde, Avensia’s expert in this area.
Johan has over ten years experience of combining physical stores with e-commerce and is one of Sweden’s foremost Omnichannel experts.
Omnichannel can be described as the vision of optimising the customer’s experience, based on the individual customer’s needs and expectations. The experience must be satisfying, regardless of which channel the encounter takes place in.
“To be able to deliver an omnichannel solution, you need an extremely good digital ecosystem with a well-designed architecture. So any modern retailer or B2B company needs to collaborate with someone who understands not only the technical challenges, but also consumer behaviour and your particular company,” says Johan Hallgårde.
According to him, the term ‘omnichannel’ has become so wide-ranging that it has now lost some of its meaning. It’s important that each company defines what an omnichannel solution means for their particular business, work methods and customers.
“Few companies have performed a thorough analysis of their current status. Where are they now, where are their customers heading and what is most important to have in place in order to meet customers’ expectations? Performing an analysis of customers’ needs and deciding how to satisfy them is a top priority,” says Johan Hallgårde.
Omnichannel an internal challeange
Once you have a good idea what your customer wants, one thing you must do is review your own digital infrastructure and ensure your company has the right employees and culture to make the necessary changes.
"You can put in a lot of work on omnichannel, but if the basic conditions don’t exist behind the scenes, it won’t be good enough. The challenge is to get the whole organisation to understand and adapt in order to be able to meet the modern customer’s expectations,” says Johan Hallgårde.
Hallgårde believes that in order to get it right, the way that business is runned needs to be changed. You can’t just purchase a stack of expensive new systems. The real challenge is to start working and doing business in a very different way than before.
But you don’t need to do it all at once.
“It’s often a good idea to bring about the change in stages, as long as there’s a clear route to follow and you have a good infrastructure to guide you. Omnichannel involves a lot of stages and is difficult to manage. But all companies can become better at meeting their customer’s needs,” says Johan Hallgårde.
B2B is going Omni
Omnichannel solutions have for a relatively long time been important among companies in the B2C segment. B2B companies haven’t previously been affected by buyer’s changing needs, but the global competition within B2B has changed that.
It’s a good idea to remind yourself that B2B customers also are consumers. Purchasing behaviour and expectations from their private lives affects how they want to make their B2B purchases. But at the same time, the complexity of a B2B transaction is usually greater and other kinds of needs have to be satisfied.
“In the field of B2B, customers are often professional buyers, spending much of their time at work buying things. If you can make things easier for the customer, you can have a major impact on their everyday lives. You have everything to gain from being a good business partner,” says Johan Hallgårde.