Across industries, the popularity and success of omnichannel e-commerce strategies is growing significantly. Agriculture is no exception and the industry as a whole is shifting to gain a greater online presence with a growing focus on data-driven decision making, digitalization and connectivity. For each member of the agribusiness value chain, it is important to have the right products, services and expertise available when it is needed. These basic principles are driving the move towards online agribusiness in retail, as well as for farmers. While precision ag tools may provide new levels of data and tracking for farmers and growers, they do not necessarily provide the connectivity that can be gained by accessing omnichannel e-commerce sites or the security of utilizing an omnicommerce strategy to create a simple and stress-free option for making online payments.
Omnichannel retail, also known as omnichannel commerce, is a multichannel approach to sales which focuses on providing a seamless customer experience no matter how the customer is accessing the information. Omnichannel allows all members of the ag supply chain to shop and network from mobile devices, computers and even in brick-and-mortar stores. This diversity in options is more important now than ever before; the Harvard Business Review reports that more than 70 percent of all customers utilize multiple channels when making a purchase. Gathering information and establishing price-points from multiple sources allows customers to make educated purchasing decisions and consumers enjoy that confidence when they spend money. Additionally, omnichannel efforts focus on the entire customer experience – not the customer’s individual experiences on difference channels.
Within omnichannel strategies comes the opportunity to utilize omnicommerce. Omnicommerce is an integrated, all-channel retail approach that seeks to deliver consistent, seamless, personalized experiences that culminate in secure, frictionless payments. For agribusiness and across industries, the growth of omnicommerce reflects the rising importance of payments as a cornerstone in each customer journey. Omnicommerce focuses on organizing the business’ retail strategy toward the goal of creating simple, positive, personalized shopping experiences that benefit the bottom line. A popular current example of utilizing omnicommerce is the buy online and pick-up in store option that many retailers are now using. This option allows customers to use any online option to make a purchase, but then to take advantage of the convenience and speed of a brick-and-mortar store for picking up the item purchased.
Understanding the Options
There are many advantages specific to agribusinesses within an omnichannel and omnicommerce approach to business. In a time when margins are shrinking and competition is stronger than ever before, creating a profitable, competitive advantage is a game changer for members of the agriculture value chain. Investing in online services will help keep agribusinesses ahead of the curve as the industry continues to evolve. For example, many traditional ag retailers today are examining omnichannel strategies to differentiate and better serve their customers. Exploring options for online interfaces that include chat, e-commerce, service scheduling, video calls and data storage is the wave of the future.
Before considering an omnichannel approach within agriculture, it is important to understand what other options are available and what makes each one different. The main types of online commerce delivery include:
- Single-channel commerce. This approach involves selling a product through only one sales channel. The one avenue for sales could be a brick-and-mortar store, a website or an online marketplace, such as eBay; the important component is that this one sales channel stands alone. This approach can be successful, but it is limited it the ability to scale. The customer’s experience with the brand, customer service efforts and content will be limited in scope by the single channel delivery system.
- Multichannel commerce. Utilizing this approach means selling a product to customers across different channels, both online and offline. This strategy allows the business to interact with customers through social media, by phone and inside a physical store. Because there are multiple options for connection and the customers have an increased number of opportunities to interact with your brand and your content, the multichannel approach offers a more complete customer experience and a greater reach with customers.
- Omnichannel commerce. This approach takes place on multiple channels, just like the multichannel commerce strategy. However, the difference is that omnichannel commerce connects all channels. This integration creates a seamless customer experience across all platforms. Omnichannel commerce creates opportunities for increased customer loyalty, greater brand awareness, personalized customer experiences and increased market share.
Another benefit to an omnichannel commerce approach is the opportunity to leverage omnicommerce options. Agribusinesses recognize that customers today want a simple, easy buying experience and the actual act of transferring funds is part of that experience. If a customer has a poor experience making a payment, that impression will impact the customer’s feelings about the entire purchasing process. When payments are fast, easy and accurate, the entire process ends on a positive note and is more likely to leave an overall positive impression with the customer. Because of this, omnicommerce approaches have huge implications for payments and how an agribusiness should organize its enterprise strategy. Offering simple, reliable payment experiences across every relevant customer touchpoint is foundational to a successful omnicommerce retail strategy.
Setting the Standard
Once an omnicommerce strategy is selected, it is important to follow best practices in order to gain the most value. Common best practices include:
- Ensure mobile service is strong
- Maintain rapid social media response times
- Create an option for self-service
- Implement live chat options to improve customer service response times
- Continue to invest time and talent in maintaining an email marketing strategy
Preparing for Success
When considering an omnicommerce solution, it is important to make sure it is the right fit for the goals and business strategy of the agribusiness. Because omnicommerce is not a single, established set of tools, the business utilizing it must be flexible with its organizational approach in order to gain the most benefit. While some practices within an omnicommerce strategy, such as accepting smartphone-based mobile wallets for payment, are often useful across many businesses and industries, it is important to align the goals for the agribusiness with its established payment partner to determine if the business is suited for omnichannel options.