The landscape of retail and eCommerce is shifting, as many of
the major headlines of 2017 have shown. Amazon’s latest foray
into brick and mortar with the acquisition of Whole Foods is
just one example of the disruption that is taking place.
Customer expectations are shifting and commerce business models
will also need to shift to satisfy them and remain competitive.

B2B retailers may be inclined to think that this disruption
applies more within the B2C realm, but that just isn’t the
case. B2B customers interact with your brand through a variety
of channels (e.g. your website, social media, visits to your
physical location), and they expect the same level of
consistency and convenience in their work-related transactions
as they find in their personal shopping experiences. The CX you
provide must not only set you apart from your competitors, but
also bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds to
create a seamless omnichannel experience.

While companies like Amazon show us that brick and mortar is
far from becoming obsolete, it’s clear that purchases coming
through digital channels will continue to grow steadily. In
fact, Forrester predicts (as shown in the figure
below) that online retail sales will make up more than 11% of
total retail sales in the US by 2021, with more than $60
billion coming from mobile alone.

3 Ways to Improve Your Omnichannel Efforts

Start by working to connect your in-store and online technology
to create a more seamless customer experience. Leverage the
information you already have about your customers, such as
their past purchases and account information, to improve their
next interactions with you.

For example, use information on customers’ past
purchases
to send relevant promotions and coupons to
their emails. You can also provide your in-store and online
customer service teams with customers’ purchase histories and
information on any past issues. This will enable them to
approach new questions and issues with the context of the
customer’s overall relationship with your brand, which will
help them provide effective, personalized solutions for that
customer.

Another opportunity for an improved B2B omnichannel experience,
if you’re not doing it already, is to make your
inventory visible to your customers
. No one likes to
receive the notification that the product they just finished
ordering is actually out of stock. By adding inventory
information to your product pages, you can not only help
customers avoid that possible irritation, but also lend a sense
of urgency that can help nudge customers toward the “Checkout”
button. For customers who like to browse online and then shop
in-store, this added inventory information can also help them
make sure beforehand that the store they visit will have their
desired products in-stock.

On the fulfillment side, customers expect you to deliver the
product or service in the fastest, most convenient way
possible. Coordinating the back end of your fulfillment
channels is essential. Be ready to deliver your
products, regardless of how or where the purchase originated,
with options like buy-online-pick-up-in-store and
ship-from-store
. Anticipating these types of needs and
omnichannel expectations from your customers will help you
create a seamless, pleasant experience that will keep them
coming back.

Omnichannel in Action

A global leader in the HVAC industry since 1902, Carrier Enterprise (CE) chose to incorporate an
improved digital experience into its omnichannel efforts by
launching a brand new B2B commerce website. CE had been
successfully managing more than 200 brick-and-mortar locations,
but recognized that it needed to reinvent its digital presence
to better serve customers and streamline back-end processes.

The new CE commerce site featured a robust database of
information on more than 300,000 individual products and
seamless integration with fulfillment systems, all in a
completely mobile-responsive platform. This new and
improved experience enabled contractors to easily find accurate
product information, make purchases, and choose from flexible
shipping and pick-up-in-store options, regardless of the device
they were using
.

Only nine months after CE’s new B2B commerce website had
launched, the company’s daily online sales had increased by 2.5
times and the number of online transactions had tripled.

About Steve Gatto and Perficient
Digital

Steve Gatto (@stevegatto) is a Partner Specialist with 25 years
of digital experience and is responsible for strengthening
Perficient Digital’s Commerce practice in North America as well
as establishing a presence in key European markets. He imparts
a wealth of knowledge to help clients merge customer
experience, technology, media, and intelligence to drive
business transformation. Perficient Digital blends the strategic
imagination of an agency with the deep technical acumen of
Perficient’s established consultancy background to deliver
exceptional customer experiences for the world’s biggest
brands. Visit us online or on Twitter @PRFTDigital.