The two most important investments retail businesses can make right now
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The path to growth: How your business can implement an omnichannel approach
In 2022, webshops account for up to 21 percent of global retail trade. By 2026, that share will have risen to a whopping 27 per cent, according to figures from Morgan Stanley.
Paw Steffensen, General Manager at AlfaPeople, believes that these numbers clearly communicate the message that the future belongs to those retail companies that effectively and smoothly exist on multiple channels.
“Retail’s move towards omnichannel is largely about being able to deliver the convenience that the buyer has become accustomed to. That you can place an order whenever you want. That the seller is always available. This also applies to B2B. Those companies that make it easy to be a customer are the strongest. And right now we see a big difference in how far retail companies have come in implementing an omnichannel approach,” explains Paw Steffensen.
The most successful retail companies are transforming their business into omnichannel. Read how in our latest e-book: Transformation in B2B retail: 5 challenges and how to solve them.
How does a company become omnichannel?
The last point is particularly interesting: although e-commerce is far from being a new phenomenon in 2022, B2B retail companies are still at very different places in their omnichannel journey.
According to Paw Steffensen, there are two factors in particular that companies need to control before they can become omnichannel: their employees and their IT system.
“If you are to go truly omnichannel, you will need to have specialists on board who know how to run a webshop, market a webshop and ensure a good online customer experience. In addition, there are some completely natural technical challenges when connecting a new channel to the existing warehouse and physical stores. I am convinced that it is a good investment to get help to establish this new setup correctly from the beginning,” says Paw Steffensen.
Critical review of IT systems in retail business
In addition to a renewal of competences, Paw Steffensen points to the importance of taking a deep look at existing IT systems.
Not all legacy systems have what it takes to support an omnichannel retail business. Many of the systems were designed in a completely different era. In a modern context, legacy systems are inflexible and do not support e-commerce or omnichannel as effectively as they should.
“You can, in principle, establish an omnichannel business on legacy systems. The challenge is whether it will be any good. If the systems in any way result in a poor customer experience; disruptions in the customer journey or delayed deliveries for example, you run the risk of customers switching to a competitor,” explains Paw Steffensen.
His recommendation is to begin the journey towards omnichannel by replacing legacy systems with a 365 solution. That is an IT system that can unite the back office, supply chain, marketing, physical stores and e-commerce in one platform.
“I am convinced that it pays to make an investment in a solution where the company can gather all of its functions. You avoid the complications that arise when trying to get a lot of different legacy systems to work together in an omnichannel strategy that they were not designed to be a part of,” says Paw Steffensen.
Companies that replace legacy systems with Dynamics 365 Commerce have, according to a report from Forrester, recouped the investment within 17 months. And the investment’s total ROI within the first three years is 58 per cent.
Read our latest e-book, which gives you answers on how to solve the 5 biggest challenges in B2B retail: Transformation in B2B retail: 5 challenges and how to solve them.
If you are interested in reading more about digital transformation in B2B retail, visit our blog.