All of our clients are having OMNI channel discussions these days. Why? Because OMNI Channel is the front end of the supply chain and has a significant impact on supply chain optimization. These discussions are fraught with a lot of misunderstanding of what OMNI channel is and how it supports the company’s Market Effectiveness. Googling OMNI Channel delivers dozens of interpretations which can drive a strategist mad. From our perspective, OMNI Channel can be defined as follows:
“Giving your customer the ability to research your products and services, buy from your company anything they want, anytime, from anywhere with the added ability to know the status of their order at all times”
OMNI Channel requires that you attract, educate and interface with your current and potential customers. Amazon, Wal-Mart and many other big box retailers have this nailed and they have set the customer expectation bar. Said another way, the easier it is to do business with a company the more likely they are going to do business with it. Why do you think so many consumers love Amazon?
OMNI Channel is becoming a required core capability just like automatic windows are now a standard on 94% of new cars. A successful OMNI Channel strategy significantly differentiates a company from its competitors. As a differentiator, it is now as important as cost, service and product offering.
Given that definition, it is easy to see why OMNI Channel strategies are so difficult. They require the following components:
- Integration into the company’s strategy – OMNI Channel changes the way a company does business. It can be transformational and requires that the company’s strategy properly emphasizes that transformation. With no strategy in place, OMNI Channel will fail to deliver its intended ROI. Without a plan it will be a mess as well. (See our blog on CRM to get some insight on what we are talking about)
- A plan on how to leverage the cloud in the marketplace – you would be surprised with how many companies don’t know how to do this! With many clients we support, the hardest part of this is figuring out how to digitally communicate with their current and future customers. For many companies it is far easier to develop new products and automate production lines that it is to figure out what communications and interface their customers really want. They struggle with how to reach them and what to tell them. Selling air compressors or bedding doesn’t require the same feature set as retail…. Or does it? The reality is that it requires portions of the same feature set that need to be molded to the product and the industry.
- An understanding of the required technologies – This isn’t as simple as putting up a website. OMNI Channel strategies require integrated infrastructure that is capable of providing the information a customer wants from customer service, finance, manufacturing and distribution, product engineering, sales, marketing, etc. Middle market companies really struggle with this because their IT systems are typically a bunch of standalone systems bolted together and they don’t have OMNI Channel experts on staff.
- The proper mix of capabilities – OMNI Channel requires the right mix of interfaces in order to be successful. They include but are not limited to: CRM, Website, online ordering and payments, online chat, personal portals, 24-7 customer support, product information, order status, routine emails with updates, supply chain, sales, marketing and finance. OMNI Channel systems need to communicate internally and externally and be instantaneous. Properly done, OMNI Channel provides your supply chain with an instantaneous view of demand.
These four components are mutually inclusive and giving the appropriate amount of attention to each will provide a more robust result. It is critically important that you define what your customers want and provide them with an interface to your company that can grow as their needs change. Perhaps you don’t provide a phone app in the beginning, but you need to make sure that your implementation can support that because it will be needed in the future. OMNI Channel is so important that this is not where you want to scrimp on creating the strategy and doing the fundamental work necessary to get it right the first time. It is part of business transformation and the front end of your supply chain. It is critical to your success in the marketplace and in your operations.
If you would like to discuss OMNI Channel Strategy with us, please call (909) 949-9083, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or request more information here. If we can’t provide you with the insight you need, we will direct you to someone who can.
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