Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing has be­come a crit­i­cal el­e­ment of any busi­ness’s over­all mar­ket­ing and cus­tomer en­gage­ment strat­egy writes Chris Stolke, Man­ager, Pronto Wo­ven.

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Acom­pany’s dig­i­tal pres­ence and eCom­merce site needs to be more than just aes­thet­i­cally pleasing – it needs to be deeply in­te­grated with the com­pany’s back-end sys­tems and in­for­ma­tion, to of­fer an in­cred­i­bly seam­less, per­son­alised and easy ex­pe­ri­ence for cus­tomers. Here, I’ll step through the ben­e­fits of har­mon­is­ing your dig­i­tal pres­ence and busi­ness man­age­ment soft­ware, so that sales truly sing.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the num­ber of vis­its and sales to an eCom­merce web­site were the core goals of a dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing plan. Yet, as cus­tomer en­gage­ment plat­forms ma­ture in the dig­i­tal space, con­ve­nience and in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion are in­creas­ingly key ob­jec­tives in mar­ket­ing plans, both be­ing proven as key driv­ers for a user ex­pe­ri­ence that drives loy­alty. To­day’s con­sumers are dig­i­tally ob­sessed cit­i­zens that expect all ser­vices to which they sub­scribe to have an open com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel, which al­lows them to en­gage at the push of a but­ton.

Com­pa­nies with an online pres­ence need to pro­vide cus­tomers with a per­sonal, ac­cu­rate and timely ex­pe­ri­ence from start to fin­ish - not only when they pur­chase a prod­uct but also when they’re brows­ing, re­search­ing, ask­ing ques­tions or ex­pect­ing de­liv­ery. There­fore, your eCom­merce site needs to be suf­fi­ciently tied to your busi­ness man­age­ment soft­ware sys­tem, tap­ping into real-time, rel­e­vant data from CRM, ware­house and lo­gis­tics mod­ules.

Next, I’ll step through the key ben­e­fits a fully in­te­grated eCom­merce pres­ence can bring to your busi­ness. SAVE VALU­ABLE TIME AND RE­SOURCES In­te­gra­tion of front- and back­end sys­tems will save time man­u­ally send­ing data from one source and into an­other, cut­ting ad­min­is­tra­tion costs and help­ing your bot­tom line. It will free your staff to think more cre­atively and in­no­va­tively on in­come-gen­er­at­ing tasks that meet com­pany ob­jec­tives, and cor­re­spond­ingly help them feel more con­nected with the busi­ness strat­egy. EN­HANCE THE CUS­TOMER EX­PE­RI­ENCE In days gone by, a cus­tomer would walk into a store, make a pur­chase and leave, and that would be the end of their in­ter­ac­tion with your busi­ness. Nowa­days, cus­tomers in­ter­act with your brand all of the time, and across a num­ber of plat­forms. They might Google the cat­e­gory, peek at your web­site, and ask a ques­tion on your Facebook page be­fore mak­ing a pur­chase.

The in­ter­ac­tions across all of these touch points re­sult in highly valu­able CRM data, which can be used to un­der­stand their cus­tomer jour­ney, and the po­ten­tial road blocks, prob­lems or frus­tra­tions they may have ex­pe­ri­enced on the way. You can then learn from these in­sights, watch pat­terns, and make ap­pro­pri­ate changes to im­prove the ex­pe­ri­ence.

Fur­ther, hav­ing a sin­gle source of col­lated in­for­ma­tion on each cus­tomer al­lows ev­ery in­ter­ac­tion to be mean­ing­ful, which is more likely to end in a sale. Rel­e­vant data that al­lows a site to ag­gre­gate in­for­ma­tion in an ap­pro­pri­ate, per­son­alised man­ner, in­cludes tap­ping into the cus­tomer’s shop­ping and brows­ing his­tory, de­tails on past cus­tomer en­quiries as well as vis­i­bil­ity into open or aban­doned online shop­ping carts. If you don’t se­cure the sale this time, pos­i­tive word of mouth is just as valu­able. IN­CREASE THE AC­CU­RACY OF YOUR IN­FOR­MA­TION You can lose a cus­tomer in many ways, and there’s of­ten no eas­ier way than of­fer­ing them wrong in­for­ma­tion. For ex­am­ple, a cus­tomer loves one of your prod­ucts fea­tured on your eCom­merce web­site, puts it in their cart, and pays. They are then told that the prod­uct is not in stock, and re­quests a re­fund. Or per­haps they ar­range to col­lect a prod­uct from their lo­cal store through your web­site, and ar­rive to be met with blank looks from the sales­per­son.

In­te­grat­ing in­ven­tory, pric­ing and cus­tomer in­for­ma­tion can help en­sure that what your cus­tomers see on your site is ac­cu­rate based on real-time in­for­ma­tion, and they can trust your brand. In the age of so­cial me­dia, a sin­gle poor cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence can re­sult in a highly pub­lic and neg­a­tive re­view on your Facebook page or on Google. This can be dam­ag­ing and dis­ap­point­ing when it isn’t a true rep­re­sen­ta­tion of your usual, and tar­geted, cus­tomer ser­vice stan­dards. AL­LOW CUS­TOMERS TO KEEP TRACK OF OR­DERS When mak­ing a pur­chase online, a cus­tomer likes to see where it is and ex­actly when they can expect it. In­te­grate your eCom­merce site with ex­ter­nal ser­vices like Aus­tralia Post and you will be able to no­tify cus­tomers of when their prod­uct has been shipped, and al­low cus­tomers to see their or­der jour­ney in real-time. This will give them the se­cu­rity of know­ing it’s on its way, and also help build their an­tic­i­pa­tion for re­ceiv­ing the new prod­uct. SAVES MONEY ON UP­GRADES If you have an ex­ist­ing busi­ness man­age­ment soft­ware sys­tem (ERP plat­form), you may be used to the process of up­grad­ing it ev­ery few years, to en­sure your sys­tem em­braces lat­est of­fer­ings and ca­pa­bil­i­ties. These costs can be par­tic­u­larly costly when there are mul­ti­ple ven­dor owned sys­tems at play. In­te­grat­ing your sys­tems with one ven­dor can save money on up­grades, as well as re­duce the time and re­sources spent im­ple­ment­ing these.

While ha ving an eye-catch­ing and easy to nav­i­gate eCom­merce web­site is es­sen­tial, it’s not a stand­alone el­e­ment in your dig­i­tal strat­egy. The ob­jec­tive of any mar­ket­ing strat­egy is to max­imise sales. An in­te­grated, in­tel­li­gent sys­tem that sup­ports a web­site en­ables this ob­jec­tive to be met.

An eCom­merce web­site that ef­fec­tively talks to your ERP and other sys­tems, means that your cus­tomers will ex­pe­ri­ence ac­cu­rate, per­son­alised and timely in­for­ma­tion on their pur­chases. It will en­sure their cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence is on-point dur­ing ev­ery in­ter­ac­tion, en­hanc­ing their trust and loy­alty in your brand.

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