Posted by John Campbell, EMEA Channel Director, NetSuite

With the exception of a few visionary retailers rolling out the ‘future of commerce’ across their business, the majority of firms still remain in the dark about how best to adapt to new technologies. This creates a brilliant opportunity for Value Added Resellers (VARs) to help B2B and B2C customers transform their company as they transition from ‘multi-channel’ into ‘omnichannel’ operations.

Omnichannel is one of those terms that is used loosely, but it has very important implications for businesses. It refers to the end goal of delivering a branded, seamless customer experience through all available shopping channels (e.g. mobile internet devices, computers, brick-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail and so on). Not to be confused with ‘multichannel’, which is another well-used term and describes a more operational view of exactly how you allow customers to complete transactions through each channel.

Omnichannel opportunities for VARs
Customers nowadays expect seamless service experiences when they shop, they expect omnichannel commerce. However, for many businesses this isn’t easily implemented due to the complex technological requirements. This is where VARs come in, enabling and helping with everything from point of sale (POS) devices in retail outlets, right through to specialised supply chain software.

Delivering effective omnichannel solutions requires a deep understanding of how technology, sales, communications and delivery all blend to meet the needs of customers. VARs have a real opportunity to position themselves as indispensable industry experts, by providing worthwhile guidance to their customers who are going through critical business changes.

The right technology for omnichannel
VARs need to be sensitive to their customers’ concerns; as the move to omnichannel commerce doesn’t always go smoothly and can be expensive if not done properly. Making the right choice in regards to technology is, of course, critical to ensure faster rollout and provide greater flexibility to respond to business changes.

The ‘omni’ in omnichannel refers to it being usable in all ways or places. Therefore, it’s vital that technology solutions are accessible from anywhere, at any time. As business becomes more and more spread geographically, the need to adapt and change with customer demands and move away from the traditional sales environment has increased dramatically. A Software as a Service (SaaS) model is an advantage here because of its ability to be accessed anywhere.

An omnichannel solution should provide real-time visibility across all areas of business, allowing companies to make better decisions. It should also unify business applications and the data that feeds them, with software automatically updating via the cloud, creating a truly personalised experience for end users.
Ultimately, VARs that can help companies better-manage their business through bringing together data across ecommerce, POS, inventory management, merchandising and more. That can make them worth their weight in gold as strategic partners.

Heading into the cloud
SaaS has a real advantage when it comes to omnichannel commerce, and it can be a great source of recurring revenue for VARs who go above and beyond just selling user licenses. If pitched to the customer at the right time, the SaaS delivery model can often compliment VARs existing skills and service programmes, creating real value to the end user.

There are real incentives for VARs to build a broader relationship with vendors than just the omnichannel sales process alone. Training and development of skills can enable teams to sell additional services. Not every reseller will understand the complex aspects of both the client’s business and the technology within it; the VAR that can offer a consultative approach and understand the client’s specifics has everything to gain.

Customer loyalty
The increasing pace of technology, coupled with growing customer expectations in service experience, will continue to drive the omnichannel trend. For VARs to stay relevant to customers and to continue to build long-term relationships, they must be able to stay one step ahead, advising customers on how to deliver effective omnichannel experiences.

To build a successful practice in this booming area of customer service delivery, VARs have to keep focused on partnering with vendors that have a vision for the future of omnichannel. Getting this partnership right will help VARs develop an effective sales pitch – ultimately opening the door to increased revenue and profits.