The start of the COVID-19 pandemic led to numerous difficulties for brick-and-mortar stores across the country. However, it proved beneficial to digital-first businesses that sold goods to customers online. This trend is represented in research conducted by Insider Intelligence which reports that eCommerce sales in the US will surpass the $1 trillion mark for the first time ever in 2022. While this is great news for existing Ecommerce businesses, they should also expect to face stronger competition from new players who will flood the market in the near future. Ecommerce businesses looking to gain a competitive edge in the market need to integrate good technology solutions into their day-to-day operations. In this article, we’ll explore the best digital tools you should consider using and the benefits they’ll provide.
Use an Ecommerce Platform
When one hears the term online store, Shopify is the name that comes to mind. But other options are also available in the market, such as Squarespace, Wix, BigCommerce, and more. Developing a native store on your website will be a cumbersome process requiring a high investment of time, labor, and money. Hence, the smarter option is to use any of this software and set up a stunning and functional store in no time.
The software will provide numerous store templates to choose from, which can be customized using your logo, brand colors, and style guidelines. While you need to pay for some features, you’ll be able to recoup it with the sales you make during the month.
A key benefit of using a store-building platform is the analytics it provides, such as store sessions, store load speed, store conversions, number of visits, returning customers, average sales, and much more. Analyzing this data will help to consistently make the store better and outperform competitors.
Utilize Digital Marketing Tools
Given the sheer amount of competitors in the space, you need to constantly promote products and motivate customers to choose your store over others. Here’s where a good digital marketing strategy comes into play. Depending on customer demographics, you need to be present on platforms they use and promote the right products at the right time. Here are two types of tools that will help you achieve just that:
Social Media Management Tools: Using this software, you can manage content creation, scheduling, and publishing for all your social handles. Additionally, it’ll provide you insights regarding post performance, engagement rates, and conversions which can be used to drive higher traffic to your store.
- Email Marketing Tools: As reported by The Media Captain, for every $1 spent on email marketing, businesses can expect an average return of $42. As an Ecommerce business, you should be sending constant emails regarding new products, store offers, and customer rewards to increase store visits and conversions.
In addition, platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have native applications through which you can run performance marketing campaigns to drive registrations, increase conversions, develop brand awareness, and more. These applications allow the functionality to upload first-hand customer data collected by you to improve the targeting of advertisements. Additionally, you can download on-demand campaign performance reports to track progress and make necessary adjustments.
Get a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform
Each time a customer interacts with your website or store via registering a profile, making a purchase, or submitting an inquiry, they are providing key data points which need to be safely stored. A customer relationship management (CRM) platform is the perfect application for this job, as it serves as a centralized database that can be accessed by all stakeholders such as the management, sales professionals, and the marketing team.
Additionally, a CRM platform enables the business to provide exceptional customer service through all mediums. Customer inquiries through email, messaging apps, website forms, and more can be routed to the CRM software and responded to by customer service representatives promptly. This will lead to good rapport with customers who will rate your business higher than competitors, make repeat purchases and refer their family and friends to do the same.
Regardless of the CRM you use (Zoho, Salesforce, etc.), they can be integrated with your Ecommerce store and social media management tools. As a result, all data generated by the business daily will automatically be stored in the CRM, which can then be used to:
Create Customer Segments: Segmentation refers to the practice of grouping customers based on certain characteristics such as purchasing power, age, buying preferences, etc. These segments can be used to provide a personalized experience in your store, which customers nowadays expect during every visit.
Improve Business Performance: As customer data is openly available to all teams, it makes the process of goal setting and cross-team communication easier. The result? Timely achievement of business objectives and consistent growth in-store performance.
Implement Data Analysis Tools
While using niche software for individual business needs is a good approach as they provide the necessary features required to achieve goals. But, it also creates the challenge of data being stored in silos and employees having to access multiple programs to get the information they need. While a CRM provides some amount of centralization, it is limited to customer data. Your business will generate a ton of additional data through internal processes such as HR, payroll, supplier management, and more.
Using a process mining tool helps overcome this problem and provides an accurate picture of business performance. Once integrated with all your software, the tool collects event logs created by each at periodic intervals. These logs are then analyzed using machine learning algorithms to create a workflow of all your business processes. Moreover, the tool highlights areas of inefficiencies that should be addressed to reduce wastage of resources and promote faster decision-making. This analysis is provided in the form of visualizations that can be shared with relevant stakeholders.
Given that the tool consistently scans your event log, it becomes easy to understand where the changes made have worked or require further review. Using this tool will streamline internal processes, improve store performance and allow employees to develop a deep understanding of customers’ needs and wants.
At this point in time, integrating digital technology into an Ecommerce business has become a necessity rather than an option. Businesses that use the best tools in the right way will develop a significant competitive advantage in the short and long term. While implementing these solutions will come at a cost, the benefits it provides will be much greater in terms of monetary returns and developing a strong reputation.