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Omnichannel has been widely adopted within the consumer front for good reason. Consumer buying behaviours are changing. How they investigate products, how they communicate, and how they purchase products. And the same is true for Business-to-Business. It’s time for the B2B space to adapt as well.
From a Route to Market (RTM) perspective, there are numerous touchpoints across the entire channel that span from the principal, manufacturer, distributor and sometimes last mile specialist. Each of these touch points operate within different companies, cultures and systems and often the focus is on pushing product and volume. By primarily focusing on product, the key differentiator often boils down to price – not a great point when operating in competitive markets.
One thing is for certain, however, the way business operates has changed over the last couple of years. New ways of optimizing need to be incorporated. Shifting the sales focus away from the product and greater emphasis on the customer has never been more important.
Omnichannel relies on a multi-channel sales approach that provides the customer with an integrated customer experience. Every channel is connected so the customer can move between them seamlessly.
Each link in the sales channel, although separate and independent entities, work together allowing the customer to pick and choose how and when they prefer to engage. An example of this is in action:
1. Principal Sales Rep calls on Merchant and takes a pre sales order
2. Merchant log onto self service app and places an order for deliver
3. Merchant calls in to the call centre to discuss an issue and places an order for a call & collect
4. Distributor delivers all orders to the Merchant, and takes care of any returns or faulty products
5. A last mile agent calls on the Merchant and makes a quick top up Van Sale.
Traditionally, all of the engagements run on separate systems, databases and cycles, relying on different communication mechanisms. However, with an omnichannel approach these are fully integrated and automated, relying on each other to fulfil and delight the customer.
Now that you understand what RTM Omni-channel is, you may need to gain some insight into the benefits in order to motivate changes within your business and channel.
B2B customers interact with your brand through a variety of channels and they expect the same level of consistency and convenience in their work-related transactions as they find in their personal shopping experiences.
In doing so, you can offer a better buying experience for your customers generating stronger sales opportunities for your business in addition to customer loyalty. your business is capable of reaching the following goals:
1. To Deliver Easier Buying Experiences
2. To Develop A Competitive Advantage
3. To Strengthen The Supplier-Distributor Relationship
4. To Appeal To Changing Audiences
5. To Increase Customer Loyalty
First, we need to start at the beginning and understand how the business and its partners are connected in the sales channel and the extended value chain. Gain a true and complete view of the current Route to Market. Map out all the players, from independent distributors to wholesalers to RTM specialists and merchandisers.
Plot how every customer actually engages across the channel, learn which processes work and which delights the customer. Even go so far as to gig deeper and identify:
Who – review all customers and understanding where they fall in the 80:20 split
What – research their buying behaviours, their products offering preference and timing
How – which methods of engagement or communication they prefer
When – figure out a rhythm that works best for each segment
Where – try align these engagements along your RTM channel to make better use of each resource
Identify which areas of the business and channel that can be connected to the customer to make their engagements with you as smooth as possible. Build a Sales & Support network around the customer.
Build seamless centres of excellence around those touchpoints, connecting the dots. Offering a connected sales channel that operates as one, regardless of where they are in the link. Shifting reps to key account managers that foster loyalty, incorporating empowerment through self service B2B mCommerce, all while being supported by a sales call centre.
Build on the processes that work. Use the power of technology to make the day to day easier, while always optimizing for improvement.
Adopting new technologies can be challenging. So, find solution partners that understand your business intrinsically (from the warehouse and distribution to rep movements and tracking) and can offer sound consultation during the process of rollout and adoption.
Change management can be tricky, especially when dealing with separate and independent entities within the channel. Each link in the RTM value chain needs to be onboard with a shift toward an omni-channel approach in order to ensure success.
The best way to gain collaboration and partnership is to reward every step of the cycle for focusing on what matters most, the Customer. With each win, you can slowly build and reinforce a Customer First culture.
Built from the perspective of an entrepreneurial fast-moving Consumer Goods route to market, FIELDForce was developed specifically to cater for an agile work environment with the customer at the heart of the process. As a platform, it is able to run an entire CPG sales & distribution business while enabling and mobilising key customer touchpoints.
For more information or to find out how we have helped multinational principals and distributors leverage their touchpoints feel free to get in touch with us for a FIELDForce demo.