How to Align People and Technologies in an Omnichannel Strategy
Omnichannel is a buzzword that has been around for quite a while in the retail market in recent years. It is known to be a strategy that enables consumers to purchase products from a certain brand using any channel or device, along with the option to buy from the brand in a physical store. Sales can be done through the website, telesales, or on the app with access to the same information and experience.
A variety of examples are possible for these kinds of scenarios. For example, the customer can make a purchase through telesales and exchange it at the physical store. At the same time, the customer can speak to the salesperson in the store for more information and they can receive direct attention, which may lead to details about another product they may be interested in purchasing. If the customer is interested in returning the product they purchased via e-commerce, they may have the option to use the credit from the return in the physical store.
If we think like consumers, these procedures should be second nature for companies, since it doesn’t matter where the customer is making the purchase or communicating, company X will always be company X. This leads us to conclude that consumers and, consequently all of us, are already operating in Omnichannel.
And therein lies the challenges and opportunities for improving processes, increasing sales, and creating customer loyalty, as we focus on the need of becoming companies that serve all channels with the same experience.
Tools that help to implement an Omnichannel culture
Quite often we ask ourselves which systems, technologies, and tools are needed to make our company Omnichannel. Which ERP will be capable of controlling inventories, sales, and fiscal aspects on all channels? Which tools will we use to have customer information available on all channels for salespeople to consult? How will we manage orders if they are all placed through different channels?
Technologically speaking, the market provides a lot of options for dealing with these problems. The most important points include ensuring all of your processes are mapped, having a clear idea of how you contact customers of each sales channel, knowing how to identify overlaps between these channels, and looking for solutions that resolve and automate each process to the maximum.
But it is not about technology alone
Companies and brands are created by people! It is they who set the entire process in motion, putting the brand positioning into practice and providing the customer with an experience that is incredible, or not. That is why people are fundamental so that everything you have designed and planned works out.
It’s common to hear salespeople say that the online store competes with the physical store; major franchise companies or industries are very concerned about “channel conflict,” cannibalization of prices between channels,” etc.
However, there are important cases in the Brazilian market that show that when omnichannel strategies are well-planned, the companies and teams engaged in this change stand to benefit greatly.
At C&A, a big fashion store, from 20% to 30% of the customers who go to the physical store to pick up a purchase made on the online store end up purchasing other products. At Tenda Atacados (a self-service retail), customers often place orders on site and pick them up at the physical store of their choice – for them, this functionality is excellent, since many of its customers are Food Truck owners, for example, and it is quite convenient for them to pick up their order at a store that is on their way.
At Pague Menos (drugstore), all orders from the online store are distributed to the nearest physical store to the delivery address of the customer. In this manner, the company enjoys considerable savings in cost and delivery time, in addition to maintaining stock turnover. Yet another example is Shoulder (another fashion store); when a customer wants a product which the physical store doesn’t have in the size and color they want, the salesperson makes the sale in the physical store and the customer receives the product (dispatched from the e-commerce inventory) at their home – this avoids inventory rupture and the store doesn’t lose the sale.
These are examples that demonstrate that it is possible to have workable Omnichannel strategies without creating channel conflict, with the entire team involved and working together!
Even so, how can we get a team to support and help the company integrate all the channels with an Omnichannel strategy that works and where everyone is satisfied with this?
Tips for adapting your team to your Omnichannel strategies
Communicate, inform, and explain as often as is necessary
Cultural changes and changes in work processes and concepts are usually difficult and somewhat painful, but when people work towards a purpose, the chance of acceptance, of working happily and with a high level of satisfaction is much greater.
That is why it is very important to keep the entire team in the loop about the changes, primarily about why they are going to happen. Showing figures and cases, explaining the reasons, making sure the objectives and goals are clear and demonstrating the benefits that the changes will bring to the company and for the professional growth of each of them is a very efficient approach to reducing uncertainty and proving, using hard facts, that the chances are for the benefit of everyone.
Leave no question unanswered
During the ongoing phases of the change, many conceptual and technical questions may arise about how to use the tools, or even whether the changes are for the better. All these issues must be addressed rapidly and as often as necessary.
People need to engage with the entire project, therefore no question should be left unanswered. There should be no uncertainty as to whether this or that will actually work and be good for them. Creating trust is very important for getting everyone onboard.
Deploy Omnichannel ambassadors in each area
Just knowing what is going to happen is not enough. The team needs to pull together, “rowing” in the same direction with a desire to achieve the same objective. That is why having someone as the focal point of this new strategy in each area to disseminate the project, someone colleagues can turn to with their doubts, to help with the new approaches and to be a multiplier of enthusiasm can be very helpful.
After all, it is much more reassuring for a team member to open up to someone with whom they are in day-to-day contact, than with someone with whom they don’t have as much contact.
Cut out red tape and any overly manual processes
The more automated and less bureaucratic the day-to-day processes, the easier and more agile the work of your team will be. So, it is important that integrations and processes are well structured because working with as few manual interventions as possible and only when they are necessary, they can then be attributed to just a few people. Besides making day-to-day aspects easier, this will also afford more control while keeping the possibility of errors and unnecessary operating costs to a minimum.
Train as much as necessary
If your Omnichannel project involves lots of new tools, a well-trained team is essential. People need to feel certain about applying the tools they will use on a daily basis.
Sometimes we think that everyone will find it as easy as we do to use new online tools, systems, computers, and various devices. But even now, in 2018, not everyone feels comfortable around advancing technologies. That is why it is essential to invest in training and to have leaders as focal points to whom employees can turn to ask whatever they need to, without feeling embarrassed.
Show the results of the changes
Things are already happening, the systems are working, and the team has adapted to the new routine. But, is the entire team already seeing the results?
If involving everyone is essential for bringing about change, it is even more important for the team to have proof that the effort and dedication has been worth it. Moreover, this is also the moment for identifying improvement points and adjustments that are still required.
Asking for help and involving the team in the solutions is excellent but ensuring that they all know that the results are being achieved, as a direct result of their help, makes the success even better.
Acknowledge everyone’s involvement
After a few months, you will see consistency in the numerical results of sales, customer satisfaction, repeat purchases, greater store traffic (on and offline).
This is the time for bringing the team together again, to demonstrate the growth and extend gratitude to all those involved for the excellent results. This doesn’t necessarily mean financial rewards or promotion. Why not a team lunch, a happy hour, a team talk or even a one-on-one session? It is important to show that with the help of each person, their commitment and trust, the company is growing and moving ahead.
A successful Omnichannel strategy is built with a benchmark, mapping of lows, planning, the choice of tools, and the training and engagement of the entire team.
So, one can say that when people feel they are part of the solution and when they are properly and adequately trained, the difficulties with processes and tools are resolved at a stroke during the process. Innovative ideas arise when the team is encouraged to drive the company to achieve a higher, common objective for everyone.
So then, involve your team and show them that they are all an active part of the solution. Inspire people so that they work for a purpose, not for a salary. By doing so, both the Omnichannel project and your company’s other innovations and initiatives will succeed.