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Modern omnichannel - to be wherever the customer is

Driven by technology, pandemic reality and the need for individual treatment - consumers are setting the bar higher and higher every day.

Today, the term omnichannel has taken on a much broader meaning than just a few years ago. Back then, entrepreneurs sought to expand sales opportunities and while this issue remains constant, it no longer takes first place.

Over the years, we have started to take more and more notice of customers, their expectations and to ensure their maximum satisfaction. Driven by technology, pandemic reality and the need for individual treatment - consumers are raising the bar higher and higher every day. To catch up with their ideas of the ideal shopping process, businesses are exploring new opportunities for omnichannel activities.


Omnichannel / integrated trade - what in fact does this term mean?

Apart from the classic use of the term omnichannel, i.e. offline and online sales, this division currently has a much more detailed distinction. Offline channels are classic stationary stores but also showrooms, and online sales take place simultaneously through online stores, mobile-commerce, social-commerce, marketplaces or slowly emerging video-commerce. Another important point of contact between the customer and the brand are the communication channels with customer service.

Consumers want to decide for themselves whether they will choose a form on the website, a partially automated chatbot, a helpline, a communicator in corporate social media, or a traditional consultation with customer service at a stationary point of sale. The most important thing is that, regardless of the chosen communication medium, it should receive a uniform, satisfactory level of service.

Nevertheless, various forms of payment are also important. Providing potential buyers with a range of options such as cash on delivery, bank transfer, credit / debit card or the increasingly popular contactless payments, and even the use of cryptocurrencies, installments or deferred payments is the right way to meet their expectations. The trends in effective omnichannel sales are undeniably determined to a large extent by the devices and technologies used to implement the purchasing process.

The maximum satisfaction of consumer expectations is a common goal of both the potential customer and the seller. Even so, the benefits both sides hope to achieve in the meantime are more diverse. From the user's point of view, multi-channel sales are an opportunity to meet their needs wherever they need it with access to the same shopping and service capability. On the other hand, the entrepreneur is looking for newer and newer abilities to improve the service of every used sales channel, managed from the level of the smallest number of systems in one place.

Consistent purchasing experience through all sales channels - focus on the diverse needs of customers

A contemporary, potential customer is aware of the shopping opportunities available on the market thanks to numerous sales channels. They want to save time as much as possible, so when using social-commerce shopping for the first time, they expect an intuitive transition through the entire process, consistent with the experience they already know, e.g. from the seller's online store.

Multichannel sales must strive to deliver a uniform and complete CX (Customer Experience) across all used sales channels. In order to get to know the customer and their individual needs, the entrepreneur must listen carefully. Big Data is still an irreplaceable source of information about consumers. It is also worth observing discussions on company profiles in social media, or drawing conclusions from inquiries in the local store's search engine. The omnichannel policy gives the opportunity to get closer to the client and by adjusting the content to his individual preferences - gaining his loyalty.

The key to the omnichannel strategy is the awareness of the existence of various principles of effective communication, applicable in various sales channels. These will be separate requirements for the length of product information, dimensions of graphics, visual appearance of the website or shop display, and the style of promotional content. An entrepreneur who wants to deliver a uniform and satisfying experience regardless of the channel needs the support of the right tools. Optimization of the process of adapting the content and its form to the appropriate sales channels is possible, among others, thanks to numerous IT solutions." - suggests Marcin Wojtoń, Sales Director at Ideo Software.

The research concluded by PWC company, implies that right next to the already known in trade ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems or CRM (Customer Relation Management), grows the potential of PIM (Product Information Management) platforms.

Currently only 20% of companies owns a PIM-type system, however the progressive digitalization leaves marks, because succedent 30% of researched companies plan to implement PIM in the coming years.

This tool is responsible for importing all necessary technical data from suppliers, managing the structure and beautifying product information, taking into account the differentiation of the catalog card depending on the target sales channel or target group.

"Considering the complex structure of managing omnichannel trade, many entrepreneurs are faced with the question - how to avoid mistakes leading to the loss of potential customers? They certainly cannot take the liberty of providing the consumer with cross-channel, incomplete or misleading information. A unified pricing policy is necessary, as well as all information regarding the offered products, that should be updated on an ongoing basis. For example, the level of availability or the real delivery date." - adds Anna Wolanin, e-Commerce specialist at Ideo Software.

Pandemic vs new customer habits. How does omnichannel evolve in the face of market changes?

Post-covid trends in the retail sector continue to develop. The report of the Chamber of Electronic Economy prepared by the Mobile Institute "Omni-commerce. I buy comfortably ”shows that as many as 62% of respondents admit that they could have increased their online purchases as a result of the pandemic. For this reason, more and more stores operating in online channels are investing in modern logistics solutions, such as delivery to parcel machines, Click&Collect (collection at gas stations, RUCH points, cooperating retail chains and other points convenient for the consumer, the number of which is still growing). As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the interpenetration of offline and online channels is growing, and phenomena such as show-rooming and web-rooming are still gaining popularity. The customer now more than ever feels the need to forget about the existing limitations, so the use of visualization tools in online channels - virtual fitting rooms, visualizations of the planned interior, etc.

The pandemic has forced both customers and entrepreneurs to pay more attention to online sales. It soon turned out that this channel allows you to sell almost everything from vegetables, fruit or flowers to furniture, cars or even apartments (online sightseeing, talking to the developer via video chat, etc.).

One may be tempted to say that the omnichannel policy has no flaws. Observing the development of the possibilities offered by the omnichannel activity will be a priority for the commercial sector for a long time to come. This solution is beneficial both for enterprises with a stable position on the market and for companies that are taking their first steps on the market. It should be emphasized that it is often the debutants who have the advantage. By building trading strategies based on the omnichannel policy from the beginning of their activity, they have a chance to quickly outclass the competition. With the current level of customer requirements and expectations, it is even hard to imagine running a business without multi-channeling." - summarizes Wojciech Szymański, CEO of the Ideo Force - eMarketing Agency.

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