Any aspect of your brand that touches a customer or a potential customer is part of your omnichannel customer experience - and having or not having an omnichannel CX can make or break you today.
Today’s workforce has drastically impacted how buyers — businesses and consumers alike — interact with brands and organizations. The labor shortage combined with remote and hybrid work have changed purchasing behavior, driving people to buy through online channels with reduced human touch.
Many businesses have been quick to pivot to e-commerce, thanks to the pandemic playbook: if you don’t shift quickly, you’ll lose out on revenue. According to a McKinsey study, 65% of B2B companies across industry sectors now offer e-commerce capabilities, defined as fully executing a sales transaction online.
But in expanding to e-commerce, many organizations don’t give their customers a seamless experience. For businesses that offer customers a negotiated price in exchange for volume of purchases, the e-commerce channel may be divorced from or not aware of these negotiated prices.The lack of consistent, omnichannel pricing is hurting the very strategy they put in place to gain these customers.
What is omnichannel pricing?
Omnichannel pricing is offering consistent, fair pricing across multiple sales channels. As B2B organizations have expanded into e-commerce, their customers have more buying options, making omnichannel pricing critical.
B2B buyers might work with a seller to negotiate a deal, but they can also shop the company’s online store or a marketplace. Organizations need to have a pricing strategy that’s consistent or risk alienating a buyer.
The dearth of omnichannel pricing is driving up the number of customer complaints for many B2B businesses.
When customers find different, and potentially lower, prices online than what they negotiated, they’re likely to complain.
Many businesses have different groups executing various channel strategies and may not be aware of different prices across traditional B2B ordering methods, e-commerce orders, and even retail orders. An inconsistent experience leads to an unhappy customer.
The pandemic forced businesses to re-examine what digital transformation means to their bottom line. Dynamic pricing has become a must-have, giving companies the agility they need.
The high price of inconsistency
Inflation and a looming recession make pricing more complicated, with the frequent need to change prices and coordinate pricing across all channels.
A lack of coordination leads to a poor B2B experience, which can sour a customer. Customer dissatisfaction can reduce revenue in several ways:
- Reduced orders
- Reduced volume
- Complete abandonment of a company as a vendor
Businesses must prioritize the harmonization of pricing across the omnichannel environment.
The modern B2B buyer wants a B2C-like experience. Here's what B2B sellers need to know about B2B buyer expectations.
Shopping around for better prices
A recent study by Gartner said the top reason buyers were moving to e-commerce was for “lower prices.” This tells us that businesses haven’t coordinated pricing across channels and their customers are seeing different prices, which creates risky scenarios.
If prices are too low, customers will snap them up, and the business loses revenue. If prices are too high, customers are dissatisfied, frustrated that they can’t use negotiated pricing on the website.
Buyers can spot their vendors’ inability to manage omnichannel pricing, and while they may have a negotiated price, they still look to get a better price, which is hugely problematic for a vendor and their sales teams.
The buyer also may not have negotiated a price at all for this item and goes online for what they perceive as a lower price.
This may be counter to a defined agreement with a customer that gives low prices on certain high-volume products with expectations of higher prices on other, lower volume products. Moving away from these flexible pricing models can cause issues for long-term customer agreements.
The changing consumer journey has caused a corresponding shift in B2B buying expectations, making omnichannel critical to all brands and industries.
Omnichannel pricing: Technology and the role of AI
Updating business processes and pricing tools to address the e-commerce ordering trend can boost customer satisfaction, and eventually, revenue. Pricing consistency will steer customers away from competitors.
You can take several steps to address inconsistencies across your pricing, including:
- Investigate purchasing pricing software as an entry point to begin the transition to a more robust omnichannel approach.
- Review your pricing strategies and technologies
- Modernize with a broad analytics suite, AI-based intelligence, and a price-building engine that’s omnichannel aware and capable.
Smart analytics will help companies understand where their customers buy their products, how often they buy online vs. transact via order desk, etc.
With AI, a business can receive recommendations for a customer’s willingness to pay a certain price. This technology can also help with contract negotiation when setting prices for a large swath of items.
A solid price building engine can provide confidence in consistency. The price will be the same for a customer going into a store, or website, and it’s also consistent with the price that was already negotiated.
As a result, not only will the business improve customers’ satisfaction and retention, but they’ll also gain share from competitors who are less capable in omnichannel go to market.