By Rafa Romero

The term “digital transformation” is now among the most used in discussions with food companies – and the reason is simple: in recent months, most of these organizations have been forced to start selling online or, in the case where they already had it done, to significantly strengthen the existing e-commerce channels. And the reality they found convinced even the most skeptical that multichannel automation of communications with customers is the way forward for success.

Even so, many companies in the sector continue to advance on this path somewhat reluctantly, and the use of new digital marketing platforms is still below the levels achieved in other sectors, such as banking, travel or fashion, which had already started this transformation for the longest time.

Of course, just in a matter of months, it is not easy to achieve the same results as following a path that should have taken years. However, and with the exception of large retailers, many food companies have never felt the need to be so close to their customers, whom they reach through traditional physical channels. But, after Covid-19, this reality changed radically, and brands started to work actively in their strategies of direct contact with the end customer.

This opens up a new scenario of great challenges for the sector, but also of great opportunities that companies must be able to take advantage of.

The new technological challenges

From the point of view of its relations with customers and the platforms to support them, the food industry today faces three major challenges. The first is the ability to deal with the generated online demand: during the first months of the pandemic, online shopping was sometimes the only one available, which put a lot of pressure on the sales systems of many suppliers … and many of them ended up for collapsing. In this new scenario, suppliers realized the need to have effective platforms to manage customers and concluded that sometimes “what is cheap is expensive”.

The second challenge is closely linked to the first and consists of the ability to automatically expand these online sales capabilities into customer relationships on that channel, a scenario in which scalable cloud-based solutions offer unquestionable advantages.

Finally, the third challenge is the use of communication platforms with customers that can be easily integrated with other key systems in the sector, such as those related to stocks, logistics, supplies or customer service. And all of this, with the objective of making real “one-to-one” communications.

The ability to respond to these three challenges was extremely useful during the pandemic, namely in terms of keeping customers informed throughout the process of their purchases, from the moment of purchase to delivery.

Relevant and value-added communications

The main objective of omnichannel digital marketing tools is to make the relationship with customers a “personal relationship”. These platforms allow marketing departments to build long-lasting relationships with customers, generating communications that are relevant to them and which speak of “one to one”.

In this way, food companies can enrich transactional communications, such as confirmation of purchase, order status, delivery or stock, transforming purely informative and “cold” messages into personalized and value-added messages that are much more attractive to customers. customers.

The new digital marketing platforms offer multifunctional benefits at all points of contact with customers. First, they provide companies with a much broader knowledge of their consumers: who is buying and where, how they interact, through which channel and when they respond best, etc. With this information, and applying Artificial Intelligence technology, it is possible to define the best time to communicate, what to communicate and with whom, making the relationship with the customer more personal and influencing the purchase in a much more effective way.

As an example, imagine a promotional newsletter that not only shows the customer the products that interest them, but also changes those products according to stock in real time or even according to stock at your nearest supermarket … It’s not magic – it’s technology!

Putting technology at the service of the organization

But having the latest digital marketing technology is not enough, as it has to be properly “fed” and put at the service of the organization.

The first thing we need to know is what we want to communicate and what kind of campaigns we want to create for our customers. Then, we have to find out where the data needed to create these campaigns are – data that may be dispersed among old systems, online sales platforms, on various social networks, etc. This is what will allow us to build the foundation for the success of digital marketing: creating the best possible data model for marketeers

manage all communications.

From this point, and with the help of the most innovative digital marketing platforms, we can begin to treat the customer as an individual and conceive our communication with him, always thinking about how we can help him and how we can build a lasting relationship with him. and mutually advantageous.

Commercial Director of Selligent Ibérica

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