The advent of new media has strongly changed the habits of consumers: now they use many instruments to have information on the products. For this reason, a multi-channel strategy is a “must” for the companies.
In the digital age, to follow the consumer journey step by step is an imperative. The store is no longer the only reference point for information about the products, even if it does not cease to be important: the customer often visits also websites, social media and forums, using various channels before choosing a particular product to buy. The entire purchasing process – from pre-sales to post-sales – becomes important to build customer’s confidence: it is crucial to oversee all touch points (the channels that connect the consumer with a company and its brands), working in a multi-channel perspective. “New technologies – said Umberto Bertelè, Professor of Strategy at the Polytechnic of Milan and Honorary Chairman of the Mip-School of Management of Polytechnic of Milan, during the presentation event of the seventh “Osservatorio sulla Multicanalità”, a research on the multi-channel branded experience – create new tendences, but they not delete the old ones: they reconfigure them according to the new requirements. The store is not passed, it remains a very important touch point. It’s sufficient to think that Samsung and Apple have increased the network of stores in some areas, reflecting the fact that there are situations and contexts in which they still work very well”. Besides, the number of consumers who go to the store to have information and then buy on Internet is increasing. All touch points, therefore, deserve the same attention. “The companies – said Giuliano Noci, Professor of Marketing at the Polytechnic of Milan, during the same event – must be able to conceive – since the beginning and in a multi-channel way – the contents they want to convey, without adapting in a second time these contents to channels that the company believes secondary. It’s time for companies to adopt an active approach and be more daring”. Obviously, they have to be aware of the impact and the effects that this will have on their organization and they have to properly prepare. “It is crucial – Noci continues – to build a structured organization, starting from the market analysis to achieve an high knowledge of the consumer, going beyond the traditional concept of target and closely monitoring the context of life and the experiences of individuals”.
Consumer knowledge brings to develop a series of actions that increase the confidence of the people. For this purpose, a useful tool is the “content strategy”, a marketing strategy which consist in producing and divulging information that build credibility and trust in a brand. “The information – said Paolo D’Ammassa about this argument, CEO & Founder of Connexia (full service engagement agency), during his speech at the presentation of the Observatory on the multi-channel branded experience – is not keeping up with the demand. The request of information from consumers exceeds the one that is available through the touch points. Thus, to work on the contents is essential to be successful”. Among the most important actions suggested by D’Ammassa in order to develop an effective content strategy, the main one is to identify and to segment the target. Then, it is necessary to define a concept of storytelling (a technique of communication that enables to arouse emotions and strong connections between the people, the characters of the story and who tells the story: the brand and the company), to determine the channels, to use a functional model for the production and distribution of the contents and to define the KPIs (key performance indicators), which will measure the results of the process. The direct knowledge of the consumer is one of the main keys to success in this years where individuals are bombarded with all kinds of commercial inputs. Compared to the time when the retailer personally knew the customers, the situation has changed. Thanks to the multi-channel strategy, it’s possible to re-create the contact with the end user, following him from the pre-sale phase.
|WHAT DO PEOPLE SEARCH ON INTERNET?
As shown in the figures released by Nielsen in the Observatory on multi-channel branded experience, Internet is a tool of daily use for millions of individuals. “In Italy - said Lorenzo Facchinotti, Research Manager at Nielsen - the Network has reached 28 million active users per month. But the most important factor is that 13 million people connect for over 1 hour and 10 minutes every day”. The wide use of smartphones and tablets has naturally brought to a reduction in the connections from PC: 80% of the time spent on the web is via mobile devices. “It's interesting - Facchinotti continued - to look at the main contents of those connections. According to the Nielsen data, 46% of the monthly time spent on Internet through mobile devices is used by the users to visit social networks and 38% to do online purchases”.
After-sales: the solutions of Business Company
The after-sales phase, as well as the pre-sales phase, is essential to gain the customer’s trust. In this context, the proposals to ensure the consumer satisfaction are becoming more and more various, rewarding those who are able to offer added value. Business Company, for example, a company with 15 years of experience in the management of after-sales services, works as a strategic and international partner for manufacturers, online trade, large and specialized distribution, offering customized solutions in all phases of the product life. The integrated after-sales services offered by the company provide qualified assistance from the installation to the maintenance, with warranty or extended warranty, until the disposal. In particular, Business Company offers the Opera product (installations at home for information technology, audio-video products and household appliances) and the Garanzia3 warranty extension. During the legal warranty period, it offers integrated systems for the management of the technical assistance activities as TESTOK and BCM. Finally, it deals with the management of WEEE at home with a service called Quick Raee, developed with the Ecoem Consortium, one of the 16 Italians collective systems working in the field of the WEEE disposal. “The services offered by Business Company – says the general director Fabio Fasolino – are an important resource for manufacturers and distributors who want to enrich their commercial proposal and increase their margin. To invest in the after-sales service means to accompany the consumer in every stage following the purchase of the product: it is the best way to establish a relationship with the client based on the trust. The main opportunities are certainly related to the margin that this kind of services allows. Garanzia3, for example, allows to add value to the offer of the retailers, even more highlighting the value of their consumer service. The sectors where the penetration of these packages is stronger are: major domestic appliances, audio/video, computer, air conditioning”.
“Today – Fasolino continues – especially in light of the decline in consumption, consumer satisfaction has become central for the retailers. For this reason, the after-sales service is an increasingly strategic area to differentiate themselves from the competitors. To offer after-sales service means, in fact, to create a relationship with the customer that contributes to its serenity, doing, at the same time, a very effective action to promote the sell-out. Besides, this business area hasn’t cycles and it does not depend on external dynamics that can influence it, creating a competitive advantage”. Regarding the relationship between Business Company and retailers/companies of electronics and home appliances, the manager explains that “some chains have chosen to propose and sell customized warranty extensions, creating together with us a specific project (for example Dixe-Garanzia3). Others have preferred to focus directly on Garanzia3 without omitting actions of co-marketing: our marketing department is always ready and willing to develop action plans over the months. Our presence is also evident in the online distribution channel, and we are long-standing partner of the companies that choose to invest in projects of after-sales services”. For the future, finally, the company is studying new offers of multiproduct warranty extension, “that is to say – concludes Fasolino – that a customer can purchase a Garanzia3 certificate, usable for different products. A solution designed for the specific needs of certain channels of the distribution that will get a new tool to increase their sales, increase their reputation and the confidence of consumers”.
|THE E-COMMERCE IN ITALY
According to figures from the Observatory on multi-channel branded experience (report 2013), the Italians who have purchased at least ten times products and services on Internet are 3.7 million. They are predominantly males (60%), young adults (in particular in the range 25-44 years) and they live in large urban centers. They also have an upper socio-economic level than the average. This finding is interesting because it contrasts with the idea that people choose the e-commerce to buy an asset at a lower price. Considering the purchasing process that characterizes the users of e-commerce, the research has shown that this process is highly structured, with a massive involvement of the various available channels.