With 2019 fast approaching, e-commerce businesses have begun to wonder what they need to do to manage their stores more efficiently. It is no longer enough to just focus on digital marketing or a fast-loading website. Not only has technology changed, but customer behavior and expectations have changed too. Many tools such as CRM may no longer be enough, and newer strategies may need to be employed to manage online stores successfully. While personalizing content and communication helped previously, customers have begun to expect a lot more than that. In addition, customers’ perception about your website security can have marketing and sales implications too.
In this article, we take a look at 4 areas which will have a direct effect on your online store management in 2019.
78% of business owners feel that integrating e-commerce is business critical. Integrating two or more software programs helps businesses to eliminate manual entry of data, software bottlenecks, and helps create a centralized repository of information by syncing data from integrated sources. Start with integrating front-end tools such as CMS and e-commerce software with backend programs like CRM and ERP. This helps provide a better shopping experience to customers and turbo-charges e-commerce operations by automating multiple processes such as inventory management, online store-front management, shipping, and checkouts.
E-commerce platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, PretaShop, etc. with ERP such as Oracle ERP Cloud, SAP ERP, Salesforce CRM, NetSuite CRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, etc.
A Texan grocer recently began to sell its products online, particularly on Amazon.
Problem: While selling on Amazon helped the grocer to tap into newer markets and increase sales, it simply was not able to manage its orders efficiently. Its staff was over-worked, deliveries were delayed, and negative reviews on Amazon were piling up.
Solution: The store was advised by an agency to integrate its Amazon Marketplace with SAP ERP, Salesforce CRM, and NetSuite Financials. The automated data exchange between these tools helped to manage its inventory better and process orders quickly.
Results: The store was able to process orders quickly, manage its inventory efficiently, and ensure that shipping delays were avoided. Integrating an artificial intelligence component, aided by natural language processing (NLP) into Amazon Marketplace helped the grocer to recognize and address negative reviews quickly, with prompt and proactive alert messages delivered via push notifications.
Personalization is the single most important strategy to enhance customer experience. Most e-commerce businesses have so far relied on personalized content, hyper-targeting customers, and bringing tailor-made experiences to customers. Unfortunately, this is just not enough. What really is required at the moment is to pay more attention to customer interactions.
Customer interactions help you to look at each individual customer as a unique human being, thereby assisting you in bringing the best possible customer experience via technology. Predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are technologies that help businesses to derive behavioral insights via customer interactions.
Marriott Hotels is the best example of using customer interactions to enhance personalization. The company currently depends on uniquely rich insights derived from predictive analysis and artificial intelligence, to enhance customer experiences. Marriot focuses on customer interactions during searching, booking, and check-in processes to collect and redeploy insight. Insight is used to predict future behavior with the help of algorithms, and bring exactly the kind of experiences that its customers desire. Marriot uses behavioral insight derived via customer interactions to enhance customer experience during booking, checking-in, and while the guest stays.
Integrated Customer Data Platforms (CDP) are at the forefront of MarTech solutions. They not only provide customer engagement and marketing automation features but also help unify customer data, so that data from various sources can be analyzed to derive personalized insights.
Current CRM tools only provide insights into customer trends, but they cannot directly tie customer data with sales and marketing initiatives. CDPs have a broader potential than CRM tools of today. Forbes revealed that 44% of surveyed businesses saw a sharp growth in customer loyalty after using CDP. CDPs provide a 36- degree view of the customer by integrating data from various sources such as existing CRM, IoT sensors, online and offline customer interactions, etc. Cloud-based architecture, artificial intelligence, and modern API frameworks have all contributed to CDP’s rise as the most promising technology this year.
Deutsche Bahn is the most famous company to use a CDP. When its coaches are overcrowded, it offers a discounted upgrade to its first-class coaches via push notifications on its app. The app intelligently senses who want to travel where, and thanks to the CDP, contextually connects customer data with train traffic information. CDP connects contextual data (how crowded the train is) with personal data of customers (ticket information, location, whether they would be ready to spend more, etc.) to manage overcrowding and enhancing travelers’ experience.
Two major security-related changes affected websites all around the world in 2018. First, GDPR was rolled out by the European Union, which forced most businesses to comply with consent-related regulations and data protection requirements. In addition, Google started to penalize websites that hadn’t made the shift from HTTP to HTTPS. The e-commerce industry saw a flurry of activity, with stores quickly trying to obtain SSL certificates to be able to move to HTTPS. This resulted in a paradigm shift in customers’ thinking and behavioral approaches towards websites collecting their data.
Today, data security and protection is not only about keeping things secure and complying with regulations, but it is also about winning the trust of each individual customer. The e-commerce industry is uniquely affected by rising customer awareness of data security. Stores simply cannot function without collecting customer data and processing their payments online. Complying with regulations and implementing data security best practices is now a marketing necessity.
As you can see, bracing yourself for 2019 is not without challenges. Firstly, make sure that you work with all data on a unified interface by integrating your front-end and backend software. This helps you streamline your business processes and keeps your data up to date as well. Second, give your personalization technology a boost by focusing on customer interactions. This helps you derive valuable behavioral insights. Third, adopt and implement a Customer Data Platform (CDP), which uses data from CRM and other sources such as IoT sensors, customer interactions, etc. to provide a 360-degree view of your customers. Finally, use security regulations and compliances to your advantage. After you comply, market your compliance to earn customer trust and build relationships. These steps will help you to address unique challenges that exist in today’s complex world.