Customers buy in to innovative e-commerce
I’ve had the pleasure of working on two large e-commerce projects, one while living in the UK, and the other upon my return to Australia. Both companies were wholesale businesses, wanting to develop business-to-business (B2B) systems, that would deliver efficiencies while strengthening customer relationships.
Using my background in process design, a key focus of mine was to take “blue sky” thinking on functionality and find ways to make it reality. This was a fantastic position for me to be in, driven by the fact that both businesses had a strong and loyal customer base that they were wanting to reward (by delivering a system that would make their lives easier).
To achieve all of the desire outcomes, innovation had to sit at the heart of the project. This meant analysing every aspect of how customers currently interacted with the business, and finding ways to digitalise and streamline these tasks.
If you’re a wholesale business that is about to go through a similar process, it is imperative that you look beyond order placement. Here are three ideas for other areas to address.
Account Management - how do your customers manage their account information? If they currently contact a customer service department in order for names, addresses, phone numbers, etc to be amended manually, could your new e-commerce system capture and save this information in an automated fashion?
Ordering Trends - can you assist your customers to take a more strategic and structured approach to the way they order? Can you give them direct, automated access to their order history? If they’re able to review past seasonal sales and promotional periods, tasks such as product ranging, quantity selection and, by extension, sales forecasting become easier.
Marketing Collateral - how do you support customers to generate sales of your product range? If you provide catalogues, Point of Sale (POS) materials, care and use leaflets, etc, could these be converted to digital downloads?
The ways in which you can address these areas largely depend on the capabilities of the e-commerce platform you’re using. Obviously, bespoke solutions give you greater flexibility than off the shelf systems, but they also require greater financial and labour investment. In this regard, a sensible balance needs to be achieved, ensuring the new system will deliver the outcomes you desire without over-capitalising the business.
My experience has been that customers will embrace new e-commerce solutions, when the benefits to them are made clear. This requires existing sales teams to also recognise that these tools do not lessen their value to the business, meaning they can train and encourage their use. Innovative, personalised solutions that combine high quality online and offline service will lay a strong foundation on which your business can grow for years to come.
Want to discuss how this can be done in more detail? Don’t hesitate to get in touch here.
Until next time.