How Newer E-Commerce CRM Tools Are Giving Retailers an Advantage
The evolution of e-commerce has changed everything, and requires a new approach and a new breed of tools. As e-retail breaches the $2 trillion annual haul marker, online retailers require new marketing weapons that are capable of delivering the trends, analytics and the customer relationship functions they need to improve sales.
While Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is nothing new, and has been around for decades, it has not really been focused on the e-commerce industry until now. Could these updated tools help online retailers improve their bottom line?
The Power of Cloud
Cloud hosting has made it easier for developers to create custom solutions for end users. Since the cloud does the heavy lifting for storage and base system operations, it opens up new ways for end users to connect and use the software without bogging down their computers.
The newest batches of cloud hosted e-commerce CRM tools give users a feature-rich and friendly experience, one that’s designed to help them improve customer loyalty and retention, while simultaneously delivering rich cross-channel data streams in real-time.
Solving the Cross-Channel Data Dilemma
E-commerce is a very competitive industry, with retailers usually selling on three or more sales channels. These include: Their website/shopping cart, marketplaces (think Amazon, eBay, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Etsy, Rakuten, etc.), and their social channels.
Up until just recently, CRM systems only managed single channel data streams. But now think tanks like IBM Developer Works are predicting that cross-channel integration is the next evolution of CRM because this functionality delivers richer data sets that are fed by all the sales channels of a particular retailer.
Improving the Customer Journey
The e-commerce customer journey starts with an Amazon or a Google search (it’s about 60/40 in favor of Amazon these days). Where the customer goes from there depends on how well a retailer is positioned, and what they are doing with their website, according to a Forbes report that offers six tips on converting visitors into customers.
This is one area where CRM helps retailers improve sales because it gives them intrinsic insight, based upon actual data, that helps retailers create a more robust and personalized customer journey—one that works to streamline the conversion funnel.
Profiting from Trends & Shopper Behavior
In a cross-channel online retail world, it’s imperative that retailers have access to all of their data in real-time, under one umbrella. Otherwise, they’d be stuck spending hours sifting through and comparing charts and funnel data between their sale channels, while mostly guessing on what marketing moves they should make next.
As the Huffington Post reports, e-commerce CRM “… gathers your customer information immediately for analysis, but also enables you to monitor trends, buying habits, return patterns, cost vs. profit, lead origination sources, conversion funnel tendencies and more.”
Plugins & Added Functionality
The real topping on the cake are addable plugins that improve functionality. CRM systems have forever wooed customers under these auspices. For instance, Zoho integrates various accounting, order management, email and social plugins. So do a laundry list of other CRM systems out there.
Such is the same for the e-commerce variety, which can include useful plugins like shipping and returns software, accounting modules, order management systems, email marketing plugins, VOIP and more. As time passes, expect developers to release even more useful add-ons for these newer e-commerce tools that further expand their usefulness and application.
In the unpredictable e-commerce industry of today, retailers need to take advantage of as many tools as they can to gain the upper hand. New tools such as these are helping retailers better understand the customer journey, while giving them real insight into key analytics, trends and shopping as well as returns behavior.
The end result is an improved customer relationship and an enhanced marketing model that’s focused on boosting retention and securing long term customer loyalty. And that’s a tune all online retailers can hum along to.