If you’ve been hearing more lately about the importance of an omnichannel commerce strategy but are still struggling to effectively implement one don’t worry, you’re not alone. For B2B companies, the challenges of such a strategy can be huge — especially when you feel like you’ve just mastered a multichannel strategy. But the shift from multichannel commerce to omnichannel commerce is important in order to stay competitive in today’s ever-evolving marketplace.
More and more, both retail consumers and business buyers are expecting a seamless experience from sellers across multiple touch points. Delivering that experience can boost conversion rates. If, like many companies, you’re still struggling with what an effective SaaS omnichannel commerce strategy should look like, you’re in luck, because we break it down for you below.
So, What Is Omnichannel Commerce?
Omnichannel commerce is the updated version of multichannel commerce. Multichannel commerce was all about being visible and available for your customers no matter how they’re searching for you or shopping. Whether it was via social media, Google search or an ad, they could get to your checkout and buy your products.
However, in the multichannel approach, each channel is treated as a separate entity and all too often, individual channels do not communicate with the others. The result is a disorienting customer experience that varies from device to device and platform to platform. From a consumer’s perspective, this doesn’t make much sense and can cause friction during the purchase process.
Omnichannel commerce, on the other hand, is about providing the customer with a consistent experience regardless of the channel. This is becoming especially important as buyer preferences continue to change, and purchasing decisions are atomized and distributed across multiple channels. Today, it’s not uncommon for a lead to start the purchase process by viewing your company’s page on their mobile Facebook app, move to a desktop computer to dig deeper, and then complete the transaction on their iPad.
Econtent Magazine recently wrote an article where they described the difference between omnichannel and multichannel by saying that omnichannel commerce “looks more similar to a spiderweb than a racetrack.”
Why Should You Care About Omnichannel Commerce?
Your customers are demanding an omnichannel approach and will continue to do so far into future. While much of the conversation around omnichannel revolves around uniting in-store and digital experiences, the concept is just as important for B2B SaaS companies. According to a recent Forrester study, “B2B buying expectations already mirror consumer demand for omnichannel options and flexibility.” While a buyer may not be looking at your products in a physical store, it is just as important to provide that buyer with a seamless experience across multiple touch points.
And in fact, as Business2Community points out, omnichannel for B2B companies does often include offline touch points: conferences, trade shows, and other events where a lead might first be introduced to your product. An omnichannel strategy would take those into account when further interacting with a lead, and seek to gain insight into the role and importance of those channels within the overall customer journey.
As commerce continues to evolve and shopping behaviors continue to change, creating an omnichannel strategy now will enable your business to stay connected to buyers and deliver a better user experience over your competitors.
What an omnichannel commerce strategy provides to your customers is consistency and convenience. When all of your channels are synced up and delivering the same messaging, offering the same deals and pulling from the same data sources, your sales process becomes smoother and more efficient and your customers make purchases more quickly.
Omnichannel Commerce Delivers a Seamless Experience
Delivering an omnichannel experience to your customers is about more than just increasing the number of places where they can click the “Buy” button. It’s about making sure that you’re consistently delivering the same information and messaging, whenever and wherever they’re gathering the data that informs their purchasing decisions. The Forrester report showed that 74% of B2B buyers said that the ability to look up product information across any channel was important or very important in the purchase process, and 68% said the same about being able to view their activity across any channel.
With so many channels through which buyers can engage with your company, it is crucial to offer them an interconnected, convenient research and buying process that eases them toward conversion with minimal friction. This means studying customer behavior more closely and breaking down silos between different channels to deliver a seamless experience.
Although this is just a brief introduction to the omnichannel commerce discussion, the bottom line is that digital goods and services companies must learn to meet buyers where they are — and not only that, to recognize that buyers are often in multiple places and using multiple channels at once. Although the definition of omnichannel commerce may only differ slightly than that of multichannel commerce on paper, when it comes to the user experience, the two couldn’t be further apart.
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