Smartphones and Millennial sensibilities have created an interesting consumer dynamic: Businesses now are expected to act like friends. This is an important dynamic for consumer product distributors, one that strikes at the heart of customer satisfaction and ongoing business growth.
Consumers know the difference between a business and a friend, of course, but commerce has woven its way into every facet of social interaction to the point that consumers now want these interactions to feel less like commerce and more like just another social interaction.
This trend plays out across a business, from wanting stories instead of hard sells to extremely personalized customer service and greater access to the people behind the products that are purchased. But one area that is particularly affected is how consumers connect with a business. Consumers want to reach businesses on any channel they use to communicate with friends, and they want the business both to have a memory of past interactions and a single brand voice. Just like a friend, in other words.
This is why omni-channel communications matters for consumer products distributors, and one of the reasons why cloud ERP for small businesses is so important.
One Voice for Consumer Products Distributors
The number of communications channels that distributors must support has exploded. There’s Twitter, Facebook and the other social platforms, chat, text messaging, forums, product review comments, and the traditional phone and email channels. And others.
Almost all businesses have adopted a multi-channel approach because consumers demand that firms communicate on these channels (avoid a customer channel at your firm’s peril).
What not all businesses have done is make this multi-channel experience a unified one with a single voice and a good institutional memory. This is understandable because each new channel is glommed onto the biz, and a number of personnel service these channels for all but the smallest firms. The cost of having a multi-channel approach instead of an integrated omni-channel approach is getting costly, however, as consumers expect this more friends-like omni-channel approach and businesses begin delivering it.
Consumer products distributors aren’t there quite yet, but having an omni-channel approach pays dividends today in terms of sales and the customer experience, and soon this omni-channel approach will be table stakes for any firm that is serious about engaging with customers.
Multi-channel is cold, impersonal businesses as usual. Omni-channel is business as friend. And business as friend is what consumers now want.
Cloud ERP Required (Especially for SMBs)
The trick is that consumer products distributors need a unified system of record to make omni-channel work.
To speak in one voice and remember past interactions, all these interactions must be stored in a central repository and accessible by everyone within a company who interacts with the customer. Personalized marketing messages, sales questions, order history, customer service inquiries, contact details and everything else involving the customer must be aggregated and easily accessible so the experience feels unified from a customer perspective.
To truly make a business feel personal, consumer products distributors also must be able to switch among the various channels easily just like a real person might read an email and then respond by chat.
Large firms usually have this unified system of record in place through their ERP system, but many smaller firms do not. These businesses are too big to remember each customer by name, but they are too small to have an end-to-end system in place for delivering omni-channel communications the way a Fortune 500 company might.
What these firms need is cloud ERP for small businesses.
Read a related Blog Article: Fix Your Multichannel Sales Headaches with Cloud ERP
We Have the Technology
Consumer products distributors of all sizes can speak with one voice and support omni-channel communications. Cloud ERP is not only essential for omni-channel communications, it also is accessible to firms of all sizes unlike the older on-premise ERP solutions that cost millions.
As with other areas, the cloud has given smaller firms the same tools that Fortune 500 firms use. ERP is no exception.
Navigator’s Consumer Products Distribution Set, for instance, is an ERP solution purpose-built for small to mid-sized consumer products distributors that uses the same SAP ERP foundation used by larger firms worldwide.
The solution helps distributors quickly set up a true omni-channel environment by serving as an end-to-end backend system for the business and connecting with more than 270 web services and 70 software solutions frequently used by distributors, including Shopify, Magento, Amazon, eBay and popular hubs such as CommerceHub. With this customized cloud ERP for small businesses in the consumer products distribution space, firms can keep track of every interaction with customers on every channel and connect these channels for a true omni-channel experience.
Consumers are looking for business that doesn’t feel like business. That’s where omni-channel comes in. And to make that possible, businesses need cloud ERP. Thankfully, cloud ERP is now accessible to all.
Read more about Omni-Channel and EDI Integrations