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Bringing Omnichannel Experience to Electronics Customers

Omnichannel is the latest buzzword for brands when considering their customers, and it has complex implications in particular for the high-tech/electronics industry.

Literally meaning “all channels,” omnichannel is more than just a fly-by-night concept. Companies are facing increased pressure and demand from consumers to transform the traditional shopping experience into one that transcends dimensions and challenges traditional expectations. While familiar to the high-tech/electronics industry, this trend is permeating all aspects of the experience, from browsing to purchases to making a return. Consumers want access to a seamless cross-channel shopping experience that tests the capabilities and innovation of high-tech/electronics manufacturers and developers. This, coupled with the short product lifecycles of high-tech/electronics products, creates an environment of significant challenge and opportunity.

The UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study conducted in early 2013 by comScore highlights what customers want from their pre-purchase, purchase, delivery, and post-sales (or reverse logistics) experiences, revealing that mobile and social platforms are increasingly influencing consumers' preferences, behaviors, and expectations.

According to the study, in a typical three-month period, half of online shoppers who use a smartphone and nearly 60 percent who use a tablet make purchases on these devices. And seven out of 10 online customers use a digital channel to purchase a product like a new cellphone, computer, or gaming console when there are multiple purchasing options. Most significantly, additional comScore data shows that, in the last quarter of 2012, online sales of mobile phones and portable devices themselves were more than 40 percent higher than in 2011, making digital devices and channels an important area of focus and growth for the industry.

The growth of e-commerce, along with shopping from mobile devices, is aimed at simplifying the shopping experience for customers buying that new phone, computer, or tablet, but it can complicate things for high-tech/electronics companies — especially when you keep in mind how important the fundamentals of the shopping experience remain in the mind of the shopper.

Along with increased demand for an omnichannel experience, consumers continue to value an easy checkout process (81 percent), a variety of shipping options (73 percent), and ease of returns/exchanges (62 percent). It's important for high-tech/electronics companies to bear these essentials in mind when building their omnichannel offering, along with their shipping and reverse logistics plans.

Having a robust reverse logistics plan is vital for the high-tech/electronics industry, where products have a high value and can often be refurbished or recycled to regain some of that value. The ability to return an item in-store or have free return shipping encourages 81 percent of the online shoppers to make a purchase when debating completion. Electronic equipment is one of the top products returned by consumers, so having a flexible and convenient return policy is important.

The capacity to cater to the ever-evolving expectations of the modern phone, computer, or tablet customer is becoming essential to success and a differentiator among competitors. As emphasis on the omnichannel experience grows, incorporating these priorities into the electronics purchasing experience will be increasingly important.

Even more so, the recovery and gradual shift of the economy back to a consumer-driven market will place a greater focus on the ability of the high-tech/electronics manufacturing industry to keep pace with these trends.

7 comments on “Bringing Omnichannel Experience to Electronics Customers

  1. dalexander
    August 8, 2013

    I use Amazon Prime as a single channel of purchasing personal and business goods. I say “single” not Omni because it is one step, one click, one registration, and one satisfying experience. They handle the background logistics which include reverse logistics and I just decide if I want to pay the prices offered. Also, when I go to Best Buy, they match Amazon pricing so Amazon's reach into my commerce life goes even deeper than an online experience. I like to think that Amazon is keeping the brick and mortars honest. I just purchased an inspection microscope from Amazon that carried a significant discount. It was on my doorstep two days later with no freight cost added. You can call it Omnichannel if you want to. I call it my single most favorite shopping channel. There are too many fancy smancy acronyms and marketing catch words employed accross industry sectors today. Just call it like it is without a catch word. One stop, hassle free shopping. Amazon is one great EDI increasing my ROI while decreasing my COGS. Even the ease of handling for RMAs and RGAs can't be topped in the real world where human-OIDS extend the process steps and sometimes disallow a return altogether. When that happens, I am SOL.

  2. _hm
    August 8, 2013

    This is a good news. Amazon can be good in reducing price a little. But can they provide value added service? Can you talk to a person about product purchased? These are very improtant aspect of owning product. In many caes, it may be preferred to pay little extra and get premium customer service.

    Also, we are part of society and need to contribute to society where we are grown-up. I prefer to contribute to fellow neighbour in giving him opportunity to do business.

     

  3. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    August 8, 2013

    @Douglas, “Amazon is one great EDI increasing my ROI while decreasing my COGS. Even the ease of handling for RMAs and RGAs can't be topped in the real world where human-OIDS extend the process steps and sometimes disallow a return altogether. When that happens, I am SOL.”

    LOL…i love that.

    I too am an avid user of the Amazon Prime Unichannel experience. What interests me most is the ways that Amazon has worked to keep pace and evolve the Prime brand to include book lending, video streaming, and other offerings to the Prime membership. They have a great understanding of how to manage the customer experience successfully.

  4. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    August 8, 2013

    _hm, i agree with your sentiment but i think that this can be a both/and rather than an either/or.  When it comes to electronics, at least here in California, we don't have a local business, unless you count Fry's Electronics which is a big business by any measure. I use Amazon. When it comes to groceries, service businesses, and clothing, for example, I much prefer to go local.

  5. dalexander
    August 9, 2013

    @Hailey…I also do all my other non-electronics or business supply business at the local level. As far as _hm's comment about value added services, he has a point. I cannot ask Amazon to make a custom cable assembly for me or do a front panel complete with silkscreen, but if I have an after-market need, I can go directly to the supplier and make a request. For instance, my microscope came with a 5MP camera which I found to be inadequate for the resolution I needed for close-up clarity. I found AMScopes contact info on Amazon and called them directly. They sent me a 9MP camera, upgraded the software and offered tech support to assist with the upgrade. That is value added. In that sense, if Amazon does not block the way to obtain value added services, yet does not offer them as a standard service, I am still satisfied as those services are available directly. I have not tried to search Amazon using ” custom cable assemblies” as a key word search, but I will give it a whirl and get back to you.

  6. SunitaT
    August 10, 2013

    The introduction of the digital channel has brought the consumer close to the manufacturer than ever before. This not only increases the ease and convenience of business, but also yields maximum consumer support and feedback.

  7. SunitaT
    August 10, 2013

    The convenience of creating new channels that both promote and preserve business has been crucial in designing a shrinking business model, which not only maximizes profits, but also customer satisfaction.

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