From e-commerce to omnichannel marketing


Customer needs and business opportunities
Manuela Balli, Adjunct Professor at MIP, and Giulio Lampugnani, Head of FBA seller services for Amazon, explain why the integration of online and physical sales channels is a winning strategy.

The time of conflict between digital and brick-and-mortar stores has passed. The future of e-commerce is omnichannel. If properly developed, it a virtuous model, but also one of notable complexity, emerging as a response to the recent trend toward multichannel purchasing behaviours by customers. One figure stands out clearly: according to a survey by the Osservatorio Multicanalità of the Politecnico di Milano, 67% of Italians above the age of 14 have adopted a multichannel buying approach.

Digital and retail: a necessary alliance

«Today, for example, customers have learned to seek product information in brick-and-mortar stores and then complete the purchase online, or vice versa: generally speaking, the two channels are used in a seamless manner, depending on specific needs», explains Manuela Balli, Adjunct Professor at MIP. «In such a scenario, company synergy and consistency become key factors. The omnichannel approach demands a cooperative, collaborative model. There might initially be conflicts between digital and retail, perhaps caused by pricing, advertising, or responses to various external stimuli. But we have to find a solution in line with the overall company strategy. Companies’ competitive edge will be determined by the response to this challenge».
The goal is to create an impeccable buying experience at every step of the way. As Manuela explains, luxury companies provide an excellent example: «In this sector, the logic behind customer experience is enhanced. The consumer has strong expectations all along the process. To meet them, it is necessary to analyze consumer behaviour, identify the rationales behind new buying behaviours, and focus on customer relationship management».

The Amazon model

New strategies based on new tools – namely, digital channels – are actually grounded on a proven principle: the key importance of the customer and their satisfaction. Amazon is certainly an example of success here. According to Manuela, «Amazon is an example of reverse business development. They started in the digital and then decided to develop brick-and-mortar stores in an omnichannel orientation».
Giulio Lampugnani, Head of FBA seller services for Amazon, also confirms this approach. «To grasp exactly why our company has set out to develop physical stores, it is important to understand the three tenets that have guided our company since its birth: the first is to offer customers the broadest selection of products possible; the second is to offer them at the lowest price possible, and the third is to provide the most convenient service possible».
It was this last tenet that led to Amazon’s decision to develop brick-and-mortar stores. «We realized that it was better for customers to have the choice of purchasing some products in person», explains Giulio. «We started with Amazon Books and Amazon Go, two chains where we have sought to replicate some of our most distinctive online mechanisms. In the bookstores, for example, we have paired each book with a display showing customer reviews, this being one of the most disruptive elements introduced by Amazon. In Amazon Go outlets, on the other hand, we chose to replicate the simplicity of online shopping: no cash registers, no lines. The customer makes the purchase with one click».

More digital, more Made in Italy

Giulio Lampugnani goes on to explain that Amazon also generates momentum for companies that would like to implement an omnichannel strategy abroad. «Amazon is an international showcase that can be leveraged as a development channel to generate brand visibility while working toward a second stage that may involve opening a brick-and-mortar channel».
This is a great opportunity for Italian businesses, as well as one of the reasons that prompted Giulio to accept an invitation to be guest lecturer in the course led by Manuela Balli titled “Developing e-Commerce Revenues through Omnichannel Marketing”, which will be held at MIP on October 29, 2019. Giulio closes by saying, «We care about the growth of Italian companies. The level of penetration of e-commerce in the retail market in Italy is still around 7%, whereas in the United Kingdom the figure has already reached 19%. Once we have bridged this gap, Italy will be able to showcase a much more powerful commodity, that is, the Made in Italy brand».