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Buying behaviours have changed significantly over the past decade and companies that already have an online presence experience a significant increase in sales as customers take advantage of the flexibility to easily jump online to order what they need.
As this shift continues, it’s more important than ever to invest time developing your eCommerce strategy with an omni-channel strategy that expands your business’ reach.
Here are three tips on how to grow your eCommerce channel.
#1. Balance user and brand experiences
The evolution of retail over the past decade has transformed the customer experience, and in turn expectations, for both online and bricks-and-mortar stores.
Customers now demand B2B and B2C businesses to deliver an easy to navigate and seamless online purchasing experience. When they can quickly and easily move on to a competitor’s website or app, providing an excellent online platform for customers is now paramount.
If you already have a website and are looking to further enhance it, also think about functionality that could really help your customers. Integration with your backend system, for example, can help you deliver real-time information on stock availability, order history and quantity / break pricing (which can even be applied to specific customers) if you have the right system in place.
#2. Have a single platform
Many businesses still run multiple backend systems. For example, one system for accounting, another for inventory and another for CRM.
If you’re looking at creating an excellent online platform, a really good place to start is by looking at the systems and processes which are going to tie into it. Are you able to leverage all the benefits of integration and provide real-time data to your customers with the current systems in place?
You’ll want to consider whether you can integrate your online orders with multiple channels such as web, reps in the field, POS, office or showroom, mobile, etc., and manage them all from the one centralised system. This helps to provide a consistent experience for customers, and also keeps all parties informed of order and account statuses; not just your customers, but also internal staff, suppliers and partners.
Simplify your internal processes and exceed client expectations at each stage of the purchasing funnel with user-friendly transactions, faster order fulfilment and a consistent and simple return goods process. If you’re using the right ERP system, it’s all achievable and will save you time, money and a whole lot of headache in getting the right information together and managing your business and its online presence harmoniously.
#3. Automate administration
Every small business needs to be working smarter, not harder. And you can further grow your eCommerce reach and profitability by looking at which aspects of your day-to-day administration can be automated.
If you’re receiving orders via the phone, email, or by reps on the road, an eCommerce channel can remove manual intervention and allow both customers and partners to self-serve. This also means lessening the requirement for additional admin staff down the track.
Is your business still creating orders manually each time your stock is running low? There’s an easier way to achieve improved stock turnover and reduce overhead costs with the right inventory management.
Use a smart business software solution that provides complete visibility of your stock position, provides automation to keep stock levels optimised and manages re-ordering from your suppliers. You can simply set your preferences and stop spending time on those menial day-to-day tasks. Notifications can even be set up for peace of mind that you’re staying informed of re-ordering activities as they happen.
You can also make huge improvements to your customer service by automating order acknowledgements, emailing out delivery timeframe expectations, setting up payment reminders or even just scheduling follow up communications to ask if your customers were happy with your products or services. Not to mention eliminating human error during the process and reducing your overall processing timeframes.
There are so many possibilities for removing manual administration tasks and taking advantage of a system that can save you time and effort.
We’ll certainly continue seeing buyer behaviours mature and further utilise the technologies they have at their fingertips. Is your business going to stay stagnant, or are you going to use the power of a great eCommerce channel to wow your customers and continue to feed your business growth?
Stephen Canning is the CEO of JCurve, the Australian and New Zealand, 5 star awarded small business partner of NetSuite, the global leader in cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.