June 30 by Michael Dunne
For years people fervently expounded how “the Internet will change everything.” Analysts, consultants, pop business books, executives, intellectuals and “thought leaders” debated at great lengths on the impact of the Internet and Web, and the potential advances that would arise. That hype is now a reality. These technologies have provided people worldwide unprecedented access to information, transforming lifestyles, business models and economics in the process. An entire generation is thoroughly accustomed to socializing, educating itself and purchasing goods and services online, from any device. Think of all the record shops and book stores that have disappeared from main street or the local mall. The result is that the balance of power between sellers and buyers is shifting towards consumers as a result of more market transparency and expanding avenues for executing transactions. And, these trends are disrupting Business-to-Business relationships.
For instance, Forrester Research found “74% of all relevant product information for B2B transactions has been collected by the customer before they actually contact the sales team of the vendor.” Moreover, Forrester predicts that “1 million, or just over 20% of all B2B salespeople, will be displaced by self-serve eCommerce by 2020.”
That is what one would call an IMPACT, in CAPs, from a business perspective. Of vital importance then is the ability to use technology to manage relationships through multiple channels, that is, through different touch points for advertising, educating, selling to and servicing clients.
And multichannel selling is becoming a leading priority for corporate management teams as a result of the maturation of the Web, in combination with major unfolding trends.
The Top Multichannel Selling Trends to Know
New Ways of Doing Business
Customers have more ways now to get information and make purchases. In fact, the pendulum has swung towards buyers as a result of greater transparency into products and pricing on the Web. These advantages extend to corporations too, who are becoming more informed on potential vendors and refining their procurement processes.
Increasing integration of the world economy is permitting new innovations to appear abruptly from unexpected quarters. Disruptive products and business models are often originating from outside of domestic markets with sudden speed, as consumers and corporations increasingly shop around worldwide.
Barriers to entry are dropping in many sectors, making it possible for an excess number of suppliers to emerge, while partner channels have become more mercenary in selling competing products. Success also attracts new market entrants as well as rapid ripostes from direct competitors.
Product differentiation, intellectual property advantages and margins are increasingly vulnerable to the rapid emergence of alternatives. Pricing often overshadows other criteria in purchasing decisions too, at the expense of value or brand loyalty.
Speed of Doing Business
New trends now unfold at unprecedented speed. Enterprises are experiencing shortening product lifecycles and rapid changes in customer preferences. Brands, products or services can gain sudden popularity and just as quickly fall out of favor. – So what to do? Enterprises large and small need to map out a digital commerce strategy. With digital commerce, technology is intensely applied to support business processes online, notably with self-service environments with e-commerce, Partner Commerce and Mobile Commerce. Technology is also used to coordinate activities and information between the online and off-line worlds. So future states for managing multiple channels for all stakeholders in a two to three year period of time require attention. Emphasis should be placed on improving buying experiences and ease of doing business across channels.