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Business dynamics are changing and manufacturers must keep up with the increasing customer demand for personalized shopping experiences. From anticipating pre-purchase experiences to tracking post-purchase activities, the quest for improving customer experience is almost endless.
Today’s savvy customers expect a seamless, personalized experience everywhere they shop. Within this personalized experience they are essentially looking for the 4Cs—Comfort, Convenience, Credibility, and Customization—the key deciding factors when purchasing goods/services. This need for contextual personalization blurs the line between the online and offline worlds, and introduces the concept of ‘omnichannel customer experience’.
The omnichannel approach focuses on delivering integrated, consistent customer experiences across every touchpoint. It refers to a marketing and selling strategy where unified brand experiences are delivered on every channel imaginable. Nearly 50% of customers switch between four channels for buying products and services. A customer can be shopping in a physical store and switch to a mobile or a desktop site. In order to be successful in an omnichannel marketplace, a brand must ensure that its customer experience remains cohesive and frictionless across every touchpoint.
Omnichannel in Manufacturing: Supply Chains Stand at the Forefront of Change
In today’s disruptive landscape, customer experience is critically important to a brand’s success. To maintain a competitive edge, manufacturers must develop a well-balanced omnichannel strategy and deliver experiences designed to meet specific customer needs. The application of an omnichannel strategy in manufacturing largely involves bringing together suppliers and vendors under a consolidated ecosystem that encourages collaboration. Smooth supplier-vendor collaboration increases total sales and margins and optimizes inventory management.
As global manufacturers prepare to enter the omnichannel marketplace, new trends are evolving to improve the customer experience. One such trend, involving the introduction of subtle digital elements at physical stores to increase customer engagement, has been employed by Timberland and serves as a pioneering example of the positive evolution in customer experience.
Although manufacturers are adopting omnichannel platforms at an accelerated pace, many lack the ability to maximize the value of their investment. Most manufacturers have failed to integrate things such as manufacturer-warehouse relationships with their omnichannel platforms and are instead focusing on building omnichannel strategies without leveraging the benefits beyond the mere availability and reliability of supplies. Keeping warehousing out of the loop hinders scalability and makes it tough for enterprises to keep up with the demand. As with every technology, the adoption of integrated customer experiences is incremental. As manufacturers begin to see the business benefits, they will start to adopt a more comprehensive approach to their omnichannel strategy.
Steps to Successful Omnichannel Transformation
Companies that adopt omnichannel engagement achieve 89% customer retention, compared to 33% of those with weak omnichannel engagement. Therefore, every company that is currently relying on a conventional brick-and-mortar model should embrace omnichannel retail as an inevitable step towards growth. Yet, navigating the novelty of omnichannel transformation can be tricky. Here are four key steps to help manufacturers ensure success.
- Strategy and Design Principles
Businesses must rethink their business strategy to ensure that it takes into account the nature of their business, its target audience, and the channels that best align with their customers’ interests. The objective shouldn’t be limited to how to deliver the right experience, but should also take into consideration how the interactions are influencing the customer’s buying behaviors. This holistic, personalized approach will help enterprises apply different funnels for different customer journeys. Creating an optimal omnichannel design experience is also vital. Having a responsive design, clean interface, intuitive menus, and faster loading times will substantially improve brand perception and are critical to omnichannel success.
- Map Service Journeys
It is commonly known that customers migrate across several touchpoints during the product/service lifecycle before making a final purchase. Their journeys reflect their evolving interests and are influenced by many factors including income levels and demographics. Companies can use these insights to map service journeys and build strategies to improve the end-user experience and help them meet and exceed customer expectations. Additionally, embracing a ‘test fast and learn’ methodology encourages iterative change. Principles such as “Design Thinking” can dig into real-world challenges and facilitate a better understanding of the market. Industry-leading practices such as ‘customer-experience labs,’ also referred to as ‘customer rooms’ can also help companies gain a better understanding of their customers’ needs and expectations, facilitating decision-making and accelerating the implementation of new design ideas and the development of live-test prototypes. Quantitative research, on the other hand, can offer a comprehensive view of customer groups and reveal information about detailed personas, pain points, moments of high customer satisfaction, and additional touchpoints.
- Invest in Analytics
The ability to collect and analyze customer experience insights is critical to developing and planning for the next business idea. Switching to omnichannel platforms requires the same analytical understanding of, not only the customers, but also the platforms, the market trends, the industrial psychology, and more. Investment in analytics enables companies to optimize their inventory based on data collected at every touchpoint. The ability to fine-tune omnichannel engagement successfully to drive business value relies heavily on the company’s ability to collect and analyze data effectively.
- Build IT Architecture
Technologies are always changing, and in such a fluctuating market scenario, moving to an omnichannel marketplace requires the reinforcement of the IT infrastructure. Companies can start by incorporating systems such as an Omnichannel Desktop, an Omnichannel Platform, and Backend Interfaces, which will provide the backbone for managing customer requests, storing and retrieving data, and driving synchronized communication. Agility with scalability is the goal. In order to achieve it, organizations must align their omnichannel business systems across five critical elements—seamless customer experience, unified commerce model, product and price consistency, organizational alignment, and market changes.
Finding the Right Stimulus
Although the concept of “omnichannel customer experience” is fairly simple, companies are having a difficult time embracing it and manufacturers are no different. Manufacturers who wish to transform their business models with an omnichannel presence are faced with challenges such as legacy infrastructures and disjointed processes which make transitioning to an omnichannel marketplace difficult. The key to omnichannel success is finding the right hybrid set of skills, technologies, and most importantly, the right partner. Kellton Tech has extensive experience in facilitating omnichannel transformation for an array of industries, including manufacturing. We leverage advanced edge-to-edge technologies to help companies integrate their sales channels, both vertically and horizontally, and channelize seamless customer experiences. Learn how we facilitated omnichannel success for a leading US-based furniture manufacturer, inspiring unprecedented market growth and brand recognition.