Partner Post: The Omnichannel Advantage in Digital Business

Partner Post: The Omnichannel Advantage in Digital Business

This is a guest post by Michael Dunne of Apttus.

The Need for Omnichannel Strategies in Sales and Marketing in Digital Business

Digital business has disrupted how companies operate, including how they market and sell their products and service customers. The oft-cited example of Amazon upending retail is now extremely relevant to a shocking number of sectors in the economy.

With digital business, technology is used to support business processes online by enabling self-service environments for e-commerce, Partner Commerce and Mobile Commerce. In an ideal situation, a product or service could be researched and purchased online, with a “touchless” order then automatically routed to the appropriate warehouse or production facility.

However, technology needs to manage information and activities between the online and offline worlds (in-person contact, either face-to-face or over the phone) as well. And that’s where the concept of Omnichannel comes in – to effectively integrate systems so that customers receive consistent experiences at each point of contact, with a business as well as partners.

The importance of Omnichannel is clear when considering trends like the following:

  • 40% of the world’s population is online

  • 26 billion connected devices are expected to be in use by 2020

  • 82% of consumers research purchases online

While many companies have sold through multiple channels for years, few have truly mastered the Omnichannel practices that maximize the customer experience as well as corporate profits.

Making Omnichannel a Reality

For example, customers buying an array of goods, from computers to heavy equipment, may browse products online before visiting a dealer to complete their purchase. They may buy an extended warranty from the same dealer, but renew the warranties online. Spare parts and accessories may be purchased from local stores.

Ideally, each of these experiences should be connected, and no matter how customers engage with a brand, the company should get a complete 360 view of what customers care about and how they want to interact with the company across channels. The benefits of such efforts include greater business agility, a lower cost to serve from comprehensive automation, and the ability to win over customers more quickly and gain higher customer loyalty.

So great digital experiences need to be matched by service at the brick and mortar level (or with a personal relationship in business-to-business models). In addition, support for mobility is critical since consumers extensively use mobile devices in both their professional and personal lives.

Integrating Data Across Channels

A key area to address, then, is data integration from multiple sources. Quote-to-Cash applications that support all channels are needed to consolidate and reconcile various ways to present and configure products, as well as generate quotes, contracts and orders. And such application suites should also ensure that billing, collections and renewals are done right on any channel.

Well-managed integrations improve the speed and accuracy of the process by which information is collected and used in each process and channel. Moreover, superior handling of data improves decision making, getting the best insights into the hands of staff, partners and customers. For instance, providing recommendations on products based on buying trends, delivered both online and to salespeople, can turn insights into profits.

Integration technology needs to be easy to set up, reliable and scalable, and allow for bi-directional data flows in real-time. And a long-term view is needed, to ensure that integrations are manageable and can be easily changed as business evolves to include emerging Digital Business technologies and customer touchpoints. Vendors like Jitterbit provide such streamlined integration software capabilities today and are poised to meet integration needs in the future.

Our Tips for Omnichannel Focus

When it comes to technology investments in Omnichannel strategies, enterprises should focus on the following areas:

  1. Evaluate Product Portfolio. Categorize products based on how easy it is for customers to buy online through other channels (say partners).

  2. Map the Customer Journeys. Trace customer buying behaviors and anticipate how channels may be traversed, from brick-and-mortar to online, or partner to direct, to understand customer preferences.

  3. Match Buying Phases with Channels. Look at key customer steps for marketing, sales and service, to determine the best channel by buying stage for gaining mindshare, lowering cost-to-serve and generating sales.

  4. Proactively Address Channel Conflict. Put in place the right communication, education and ground rules to curtail uncertainty, anger and doubt among partners and direct sales.

  5. Anticipate Data Integration Needs. Get ahead of the problem and make sure all systems can talk, not only to improve process efficiencies and accuracy of data, but also to make sure the right data is in the right hands for superior decision making.

Intensive investment in digital business is necessary to modernize commerce through every channel. An Omnichannel strategy is critical in delivering the right buying experiences at the right time across channels. Success in this endeavor will help deliver the superior end-to-end automation, business agility and user experiences that drive new ways of doing business.

Continue Your Omnichannel Journey

To learn more about pursuing Omnichannel marketing and sales, please come by to see the Apttus session on “Achieving Omnichannel Sales and Marketing Success on Salesforce” at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel, Club Room, at 11:00 am on September 17. Hear how industry leaders have built branded, online channels on Salesforce that can accommodate all the channels required to run a modern digital business.

Register for the Session

This guest post comes from Michael Dunne, who works in product marketing and analyst relations at Apttus. Prior to Apttus, he served as Research VP at Gartner, where he advised companies on technologies for improving sales and marketing processes and CRM strategies.

Images in this post are from Apttus and Salesforce.