The explosion of digital commerce has created more shopping opportunities than ever before, and today’s consumers are constantly exposed to brands and retailers competing for their attention.
In order to thrive in this landscape, companies must be able to reach customers across multiple channels — and adapt their sales strategies and supply chains to provide a frictionless experience. The best way to do this is through a “sell anywhere” strategy, which requires integration of the following five components.
Sales channels: Even digitally native brands have recognized the need to expand into new channels. Your sales strategy should incorporate mobile, social media, e-commerce, marketplaces, brick-and-mortar and any other places customers shop.
Geographic reach: Although an ongoing U.S.-China trade war is presenting challenges, it’s important to have a worldwide presence and global shipping and delivery capabilities. If your current infrastructure cannot support international sales, identify ways to broaden your geographic reach as your operation allows, or look for a global third-party logistics provider.
Customer mindset: It's important to gain customers at every stage of the sales journey. Instagram and Google dominate the “discovery” stage, where customers are researching various products. Amazon wins at the “purchase” stage, where customers know what they want and are ready to buy.
End-to-end supply chain: Traditional supply-chain models aren’t equipped to meet today’s customer expectations, and digital commerce is driving new strategies as their demands continue to grow and evolve. Rapid, accurate and cost-effective fulfillment and delivery require a strong end-to-end supply chain that can adapt and evolve.
Supporting technology: Maximizing product availability requires a level of sophistication that many retail technology solutions have not yet mastered. In addition to providing an amazing customer experience, companies must be able to deliver products as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Therefore, it’s important to select a technology stack that can handle the complexities and demands of today’s retail environment — and provide customers with a seamless experience across all channels and stages of their sales journey.
As e-commerce giants continue to set the bar for customer expectations, companies will need to identify new ways to create customer delight. Expect to see a continued increase in product and service offerings, from loyalty programs to delivery options. As fast, free shipping continues to grow in popularity — and commercial real estate remains scarce — more companies will begin embracing micro-fulfillment and distributed logistics strategies to get products closer to customers.
Jim Tompkins is chairman and CEO of Tompkins International.
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