Smart brands have always aimed to reach their target audience where they are. Decades ago, a retail store may have moved from the main street to the shopping center. The idea was to have a store in populated areas with higher footfall. After all, higher traffic will increase the likelihood of sales for the store.
More recently, it meant setting up shop online. Brands aimed to complement their brick and mortar store with an eCommerce website. Spreading your brand across multiple channels has become the new objective. The goal is to target customers on as many channels as possible. Better yet, be available on their preferred shopping platform.
Now, selling through a website was revolutionary, but, of late, even this feels a little inadequate to close sales targets. Neither a B2B or B2C company, can grow and succeed from just a single touchpoint. “Everywhere commerce” is the new catchword. Sell everywhere and monitor every sales point from a central location.
Shopping habits have changed drastically in the last decade. Consumers are gravitating towards smartphones for their shopping requirements. Millennials have a hard time dealing with brands that don't offer convenient shopping ways. They want their shopping experiences to be as seamless as possible.
Mobile millennials are reshaping the consumer landscape. They are more reliant on their phones for researching and buying products, than any other generation. All brands are heading towards frictionless commerce. They hope to create the smoothest experience for customers, regardless of where they shop.
Thus, came the need to create an integrated selling experience. Manage sales across multiple channels, then connect and consolidate all the channels. Due to this, sales representatives and customers receive a consistent and unified sales experience. Brands now aim to offer the entire product catalog on-site, online, on mobile technologies, and apps.
Brands need to jump out of their predictable old school model. They need to develop new-age strategies that help to connect better with Millennials. It is crucial to create a calculated marketing campaign to engage and keep up with Millennials. That is why you must align your products and messaging and incorporate participative strategies to engage with Millennials.
The Importance of Omnichannel in M3
Perhaps the whole point of considering an M3 approach for your business is to enable your business's true omnichannel potential. When your online business is optimized for each aspect of the M3 factor: Mobile, Marketplace, and Millennials, the result is a streamlined omnichannel. This enables your potential customers to access your product regardless of the medium or device used, which is, in fact, the need of the hour.
In omnichannel, businesses look to give their customers a seamless and unified shopping experience across all channels. What your customer experiences on one channel matches what they experience on the other. It's about creating consistent experiences for customers. In omnichannel, everything revolves around the customer.
The customer could shop online from a mobile device, tablet, or follow the analog channel, and yet, the experience is consistent. Customers receive the same engagement and experience across all channels. In B2C, customers can purchase online, then pick up the product from a retail store, or have it delivered to their home.
Omnichannel allows the customer to use the channel that is convenient to them. Since the brand is positioned on various channels, customers can choose to transact with them anywhere. All channels are well-coordinated, and there is a constant flow of information happening between all of them. This allows brands to track customers wherever they are.
Benefits of Omnichannel Selling
1. Customer Experience
Being able to research and buy from any touchpoint, eases the buying process of customers. They can opt for the interface that brings them the most convenience. Buyers can transition from one channel to another when needed. If you don’t want to stand in long lines at a retail store, then shop online.
B2C buyers could even buy on these devices and then pick-up the parcel from a nearby store. The BOPUS selling model allows customers to collect their orders from retail stores. This model enables easier returns, and customers get to save on delivery charges. Plus, the time saved in not having to wait for the order to arrive.
In B2B, procurement officers browse and research products on phones. In B2B, too, there is a growing dependency on phones. Buyers expect chat support, product catalogs, spec sheets, order placement options, imagery, tracking, and other services to be available on phones.
2. Customer Loyalty
The repeat value you derive from consumers by adopting omnichannel is also higher. Buyers are more likely to return in the future- giving you a higher customer lifetime value. Getting a consistent experience and not having to remember what they did on the last touchpoint means buyers get a seamless transition. The simplification of their shopping makes buyers return for another purchase.
An omnichannel approach enables companies to earn buyer loyalty throughout all channels. Also, the marketing efforts are more aligned and unified. Thus, companies will not require separate marketing efforts for each channel. This prevents possible loss of information. It also elevates the quality of customer service and rewards customers no matter where they shop.
3. Sales and Traffic
Being on multiple devices increases the traffic to your store and elevates the likelihood of conversions. When you are on more touchpoints, there would be more visitors to your store, which would increase the probability of order placements. Buyers can buy from a marketplace, official website, or even on the phone from an app. As such, the sales that were earlier bleak would escalate in no time. Such flexibility and cross-platform compatibility increases buying opportunities. It gives buyers many ways to access and purchase the products.
Cross-platform data helps the brands to provide a more personalized experience. Brands are now aware of the exact touchpoint used by the buyer to access the website. Smart insights and smart decisions provide sophisticated, delightful, and engaging customer experience. You could even deflect customers from one touchpoint to another. This can be accomplished by creating offers that persuade customers to try other touchpoints.
Businesses use superior and personalized features to access a large volume of data and analytics. The algorithm in place checks the customer trail from start to finish, 24/7. Traditional brands that rely on medieval practices need the same approach to overhaul their revenue and profits. The data collected is then converted into actionable insights to give the consumer a better buying experience.
5. Customer Support
A grievance or query can be addressed better and far more quickly. Presence across all devices aids almost instantaneous 24/7 solutions from customer care. Ease of communication with buyers is one of the reasons why brands merge all of their channels. A question that could only be resolved at a physical office can now be handled on mobile chat and with an AI bot.
Not only did you minimize human intervention, but you also resolved the problem sooner. No matter the origin, the support staff will be able to stitch all the data to determine the buyer's needs. A ticket for an issue can be raised at several touchpoints. So much so that, many B2B customers are now taking the social media route to resolve their problems. Another place that sellers should look to establish their presence.
6. Inventory Visibility
Due to the interconnected touchpoints, each of the seller's processes is centralized. Thus, it can be accessed from anywhere. This ensures seamless data exchange across touchpoints. Each department is aware of the stock and other prevailing concerns. Centralization of orders and inventory means every touchpoint knows about the availability of SKU's. Now fulfillment is far more simplified. As a result, businesses are able to monitor inventory in real-time and improve warehouse processes.
An order that is acknowledged, but not fulfilled, can have far-reaching consequences. This is why companies need to have a know-how about the available quantity. Then accurately inform every touchpoint about out of stock items before accepting orders. Beyond this, a seller can calculate freight, taxes and duties to determine which location will be cheapest to ship from. Due to accurate inventory management and increasing warehouse productivity, companies don't have to go through the hassle of manually tallying anything.
7. Demand Sensing
Overstocking creates losses, as a result of poor forecasting. The failure to exchange inventory info across touchpoints means other channels miss out on sales data. The leading cause of overstocks is improper planning from poor data collection. More accurate sales forecasts indicate reduced wasted inventory. The costs associated with overproduction - warehousing items that do not sell, are reduced.
With the centralization of data, sellers can avoid overstocking and save money. Accurate demand sensing is imperative to determine expected sales. If your inventory is too low, you would be likely not to have enough stock, so you lose sales. In case you decide to overstock, then you lose money on spoiled inventory. Thus, companies need to establish comprehensive data sharing and robust workflows between all touchpoints.
The Role of Mobile in Transforming eCommerce
Mobile is increasingly becoming the go-to source for all information in both B2B and B2C. Buyers are relying on smartphones to research and purchase products. Consumers expect an excellent mobile experience, and so do the procurement officers in B2B. Surprisingly, mobile is picking up in older generations as well. They were otherwise not too keen to shop on mobile.
Local searches mainly happen on smartphones. When people are outside and wish to find a coffee shop, they'll likely use a phone. "Near me" searches are more prominent on phones. Once completed, they may divert to your website, which must then be mobile-friendly. If it isn't, then expect to lose that eager customer.
Mobile speeds and mobile compatible themes are essential for all eCommerce store owners. Google's Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) themes help ensure a faster loading time of your mobile website. Google even penalizes sites that fail to give an optimum mobile experience. Thus, your website's ranking would fall on search engines.
A lower ranking on search engines would reduce the visibility of your brand's web pages. Lower awareness would result in fewer clicks and then lesser traffic to your website. As a result, in the coming days, your website's conversions would fall severely. Lowered conversions, would then result in depleted revenue and profits.
Mobile social channels have the potential to double the use of self-service. This will reduce the role and cost of customer service representatives. It's worth noting that the mobile and social media combination can have customers share their experiences and concerns faster. A phone chat or an email exchange would've taken longer to resolve the issue.
A mobile-first approach to omnichannel can enable brands to engage with customers better. Beyond the initial sale, a mobile-first approach supports follow-up marketing, personalized location-based offers, and 24×7 customer support. Mobile has never been more significant in the omnichannel setup.
The accelerated shift to mobile content consumption among users has triggered a significant change in their shopping patterns. Many of your buyers are more likely to discover a blog or social media post on their mobile, rather than on their Desktops. Buyers tend to transact immediately on mobile websites, right after receiving a discount code on the email they just checked on their phone.
Mobile has also modified the marketing approach of various brands. Companies these days are looking to focus on mobile marketing. Since most users spend more time on their phones, brands are more likely to direct ads for mobile devices. Even promotional offers, discounts, and coupons can be used to tempt users into installing and transacting on your brand's mobile app.
Augmented Reality (AR) is being adopted, as well. Consumers seek crystal clear information about the products they are about to purchase. Augmented Reality is capable of delivering a better understanding of the product. Mobile and AR do a brilliant job of enabling this. Millennials who wish to view the product in their surroundings will be able to do so with brands that offer this functionality.
In B2B, millennials as procurement officers are becoming the new normal. The retiring Gen X workers have paved the way for millennials to take their place. These millennials are more likely to use mobile for researching and browsing products. Such millenials are closing deals on the move. The ability to do so comes from being on the phone even while commuting.
Evolution of Marketplace and Its Effects
If we are going to discuss omnichannel, then marketplaces cannot be ignored. Whether or not it is B2C or B2B, buyers at some point in their purchase cycle will consider reviewing the products on a marketplace. It could be to know if the rates, cashback, discounts, shipping, and more are comparatively better than the channels they would visit regularly.
As such, brands having a presence on marketplaces is valuable. B2B brands must set up a storefront on Alibaba, Amazon, and more to coordinate and sell to other businesses on the same portal. Register, create a profile, add products, content, imagery, and turn it into a mini-website. Customers will navigate and place orders on the profile like an eCommerce website. Plus, the ability to chat and message means you can quickly resolve any questions.
Similarly, B2C brands can also target customers on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and more to maximize their sales. Customers, for the sake of better offers, will jump to a marketplace. If a brand can create profitable deals, expect their revenue to climb exponentially. Consumers usually anticipate good deals through occasional sales events that happen here. Black Friday, Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday, and more are known to yield the highest profits for brands available on Amazon.
Marketplace orders can also be picked up from a nearby store, and easy returns are also available. What this does is, get additional foot-traffic to the brick-and-mortar locations. Once customers show up to the store, brands can easily persuade them to buy more. In essence, it creates an opportunity to increase sales. Provided brands create an in-store experience that tempts customers to spend more.
During the pandemic, closed stores meant that consumer purchases shifted online. To ensure that customers could find everything, retailers relied on marketplace sellers. During the crisis, sellers were contacted to verify that they would continue to provide the products that customers needed. The retailer also worked with its sellers to ship products directly to home. This ensured that customers would get the products they ordered as quickly as possible.
How Millennials are Shaping the New eCommerce Landscape?
Up until the early nineties, the shopping demographic was dominated by boomers. They would dictate how things went. Primarily, it was limited to shopping at retail stores, catalogs, and phones. Go to the nearest brick-and-mortar store. Order from a catalog via cash, cheques, demand draft, and more. Even see a commercial on TV and dial a number to place an order. Things went well until, the mid-to-late nineties, when Amazon and eBay emerged and redefined shopping habits.
The same period coincided with the arrival of computers. As more homes started possessing a computer with an internet connection, it was only a matter of time before online shopping became a reality. Shoppers realized that they no longer needed to navigate the crowd in a retail store. A favorite item could now be delivered to their residence. Around this time, millennial shoppers started becoming the most powerful consumer segment in the market.
They were the best demographic to exploit the potential of eCommerce. Their growing reliance on websites made more brands take notice. Now, shopping was happening online, and millennials were the reason for this change. Soon, with the arrival of smartphones, the power of eCommerce was shifted into their hands. The tech-savvy and better informed millennial shoppers changed the shopping landscape for good.
Millennial shoppers are revolutionizing shopping habits as a whole. The emphasis on technology has never been more critical for brands as it is today. Millennials orchestrate the rules in the eCommerce market. Due to the millennial generation's growing expectations, only tech-savvy businesses will be able to survive the impact of online shopping.
Businesses, too, can gain a ton by aligning their selling model towards millennials. Millennials, for instance, tend to be impulse shoppers. If businesses offer the right experience, they can easily trigger some spontaneous shopping. Despite the drawbacks of impulse shopping, millennials aren't held back. They tend to be impulsive with their purchases, but only with brands that create captivating experiences.
Unlike previous generations, millennials aren't hesitant to associate with a particular brand. If they are satisfied with the shopping experience on your website, retail shops, mobile, then expect to receive a positive word of mouth. Brands can quickly leave a profound impact on this generation and, in return, receive loyalty and more buyers. If millennials find a product appealing and feature-rich, they are quite likely to endorse it.
Social media platforms like Facebook, eBay, Pinterest, and many others are slowly integrating eCommerce capabilities. If your target audience is already on these platforms, then expect to convert them even more effortlessly. All they would have to do is click on a buyable pin - as done on Pinterest, or visit your brand's shop - like you can on Facebook.
Millennials are also not going to settle for a workplace with outdated technologies. They demand a working space that simplifies and catalyzes their tasks. The use of automation will do precisely that. It makes your workers more competent. The ability to accomplish goals while being assisted by a software makes them more productive. They are more likely to continue with a company that offers state-of-the-art tools.
The omnichannel concept offers brands a 360-degree view of how customers are interacting with their brand. Every forward-thinking brand will need to embrace omnichannel. To create customer satisfaction, increase conversions, and elevate revenue, omnichannel is required. Omnichannel customer engagement has reached a point where brands can't afford to overlook the same.
Millennials will not limit their shopping requirements to one channel. Any channel can become a trading ground for their needs. All they would want is a smooth transition between each channel. By establishing a presence on marketplaces, mobile, or elsewhere, you give buyers the power to shop on any touchpoint. Empowering customers in this way is the key to winning their loyalty.
The "always connected" millennials demand a digital restructuring of selling practices. They can no longer afford to continue doing business with brands that offer a restricted eCommerce model. Millennials instead grow closer to brands that provide the liberty to shop anywhere. Such brands have embedded new-age practices and shunned their legacy model. Thereby turning into a brand that delivers seamless shopping experience to reap consistent rewards.