In our previous article, we shared insights on why it is important for your business to have a digital storefront. A lot of businesses have embarked on the digital transformation journey within a span of a few months. The already cut-throat competition in the eCommerce industry has gone up several fold attributing to the pandemic at hand. So, it becomes crucial for eCommerce stores to be smart about operating online so as to stand out let alone stay afloat.
In this blogpost, we will discuss how you can leverage technology to streamline your eCommerce business. Let’s start with the basics.
Once, you have a digital store up and running, the most crucial aspect is to manage your inventory. Whether you are a big or small business or someone who is just starting out, inventory management and control should be tackled in early stages and with utmost clarity. Updating numbers on spreadsheets is always prone to errors and needless to mention, it gets messier as the business starts to expand.
Inventory, Order, and Warehouse Management
Cloud-service technologies like an omnichannel inventory management system allow brands to streamline their eCommerce operations and also cut down on the losses that occur during stock-out situations. Inventory management helps businesses manage their inventory from a single dashboard by providing them real-time access to their stock movement, enabling them to list their products across multiple eCommerce platforms, and processing orders from a single dashboard.
Brands can integrate their storefronts, marketplaces, and ERP and accounting softwares which makes information flow across these systems seamless. This, in turn, helps them to manage all their business activities rapidly and drive business growth.
The key advantages of an inventory management system include:
-Helps retailers track their inventory movement across all sales channels and warehouses from a single unified dashboard.
-Cut down on time and manpower for day to day operations.
-Process orders more quickly and improve customer satisfaction
-Reduce overstocking/understocking situations.
-Get inventory forecasts which helps them in timely planning their inventory purchases.
-No manual work. This helps in reducing errors and costs, and increases profits.
-Get detailed inventory and sales reports.
Order management is an essential operation for any online store. It dictates how orders get tracked and managed from procuring, to distributing and then following up. A lot of steps involved in order fulfillment can be sorted using technology available today. These include automating the dispatching and delivery of the finished goods.
Failed deliveries often lead to sizable expenses. The problems could arise from a simple human mistake at the warehouse and tracking it could be extremely difficult. A warehouse management system (WMS) untangles this aspect of business operations and makes the process error-free and rather smooth. With a WMS in place, tasks like printing labels and marking orders as correctly dispatched, tracking order IDs for deliveries, etc. can be handled accurately.
EasyEcom’s centralized inventory management solution with advanced state of the art WMS platform has built-in provisions to handle orders and it seamlessly integrates with all the major marketplaces. Furthermore, order routing based on inventory availability in the warehouses helps with timely fulfillment of orders.
An eCommerce business runs like a well-oiled machine when you work with the right vendors. We intentionally use the plural form here, because sticking to one can make you miss out on more affordable options. Basketing different vendors to pick from can effectively reduce the operating costs for your eCommerce business by giving you a budget range and the lowest a vendor is willing to come down to. Therefore, invite quotes for the same items from different vendors to avoid the ones who are known to routinely inflate prices. You can set up a bidding system to find out the market price of goods and services, enabling you to negotiate better terms with the vendors you wish to work with.
Depending on the efforts both sides take, an eCommerce seller's relationship with vendors stay value and purpose-driven with the former getting cues on pricing points and seasonal dscounts from the latter. To reduce operating costs, a bidding system can be set up on your eCommerce solutuon to delve in the history, gradual and various price points and volatility.
The cloud has simplified running an eCommerce business while drastically slashing operating costs. Cloud computing is scalable and adapts to the growing needs of an organization with its flexible infrastructure, which saves sellers the costs associated with housing servers or using tech resources. The cloud accommodates multiple integrations which compliment different functions within the supply chain and create a sync that facilitates efficient management of inventory, orders, warehousing and shipping. More importantly, none of this gets missed or hidden when businesses decide to expand their geographical corridors, as newer more locations can be mapped to the cloud and the business can run without delay.
Supply Chain Optimization
Technology holds the supply chain up. And a strong technology stack can ensure that there are no weak links along the supply chain. It integrates sourcing, procurement, distribution and courier partners which enable an eCommerce business to keep track of workflows. From shelf-to-door, there is absolute visibility into different metrics thanks to advanced reporting analytics which indicate the health of your inventory, orders, sales, financials and state of returns. Even the costs associated with SLA-breaches can be avoided if the eCommerce solution you use allows you to set triggers that trip when a limit is crossed. For example, reports on shelf expiry can activate a trigger to de-list expired products by date, ensuring that active listings on different sales channels reflect quality and adequacy.
Sales and Account Management
One of the major advantages of having a digital storefront is that you don’t have to have a big sales team. Even with a sales team, the operations can be made efficient with automated workflows and assessment tools like a CRM.
For instance, when a new lead is added to the system, retrieving their contact details, scheduling calls, allocating follow-ups can be managed easily and with complete transparency. This also helps avoiding situations like multiple people following up with the same lead that is probably a lost cause. Additionally, the sales team can record call details and outcomes that might come in handy during the future follow-ups.
Accounting and sales go hand in hand and this should always be the case because bookkeeping is never fun. There are a lot of tools independently available for taking care of the accounts, however, you can have the option to have one that integrates well with your inventory management system. With EasyEcom, invoicing, taxation handling, shipment generation and order tracking can be handled from within the system.
Thanks to social media, there are over 500,000 businesses that utilize social media platforms to advertise. Leveraging the usability, convenience, and reach that comes with social media, you’re definitely playing a pivotal role in convincing the buyer to make a purchase.
Facebook launched Facebook Marketplace in 2018 as a competition to Amazon, Easy, and Google Shopping. In 2016, Instagram implemented product tags so users can easily identify the products and their price which they see in ads, and later with the integration of Shopify and BigCommerce in 2017, consumers would be redirected to a page where they could directly make a purchase. Pinterest with a similar aesthetic to Instagram in 2015 introduced buyable pins to a few brands which increased in 2016. A shopping cart was also added to make it easier to purchase from various different sellers at once. WhatsApp also introduced WhatsApp Business in 2018 for the sole purpose of connecting small businesses and customers. Twitter, starting out a little early in 2014, introduced “the buy now button” which allows the sales of certain items directly from tweets. However, in 2017, they decided to roll back on this feature and scrap it out completely.
Social commerce is most certainly the future of digital sales. Among the numerous social commerce tactics that you can use, here are some major ones:
- By utilizing tools like ManyChat, an automated chatbot, increases your engagement on Facebook Messenger.
- By utilizing tools like Jumper.ai, a pre-built automated checkout chatbot that can be used across all social platforms.
- By integrating the products on your website to your Facebook Store, Instagram tags, and buyable Pinterest Pins.
- Collecting emails and utilizing them for email marketing purposes to make announcements, sales, etc.
There is less and less concern about the desire to try on a product before purchase. Instead, one one-click purchase on eCommerce sites or from the newest drop app, brand coverage, social media presence, and overall lifestyle affinity has a bigger say in the purchasing decision. Omni-channel eRetailing includes your own web store, marketplaces, and social media.
Omni-channel selling is to ensure that marketing strategies are geared toward enabling customers to convert on any channel.
Brands are offering seamless customer experience with omnichannel marketing strategy. Walmart’s order-by-text and chat services is one of the best examples of how brands can leverage omnichannel strategy. The service shut down earlier this year but it was a good use of technology, nonetheless. It was a same-day delivery service where customers could place orders using a text message, a step in the retail giant’s effort to scale up its e-commerce offerings and compete with rivals like Amazon. The service, Jetblack, allowed shoppers to order items from the brand’s official website and even from the websites of its rivals. Jetblack also reminded shoppers when they were nearing to run out of a product they ordered using text messaging. The service made a perfect use of artificial intelligence to curate product suggestions.
There are a number of tools and techniques that you can use on your online store for while implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy:
- Capture Data, Track Conversions & Target Messaging on Multiple channels.
- Engaging with customers on different channels such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
- Allocate the Resources, and Use Helpful Technology
Seamless Payment Technology
Consumers are demanding more personalization and seamless eCommerce experiences. According to Business Insider, "By 2024, global consumers are expected to make 1.1 trillion non-cash payments as they purchase goods and services using a mix of online, mobile and connected devices.” When people can purchase items instantly, conveniently, and safely, it is a seamless online experience. With the advancement in technology, there is increased use of passive authentication, such as face and touch ID, where the credentials are already loaded into the wallet and ready to pay. This also includes GooglePay, AmazonPay, PayPal, PhonePe, Paytm, etc. By providing the option to use digital methods of payment, it is less time consuming and easier, adding to the user experience.
Nearly, all eCommerce brands are now offering a plethora of digital payment options for faster checkouts and user convenience. If you have just started out an online store, make sure that there are multiple options for making the payment on your website.
Your customer support is a major deciding factor in driving customer loyalty and building a brand name. There are a lot of options available for handling customers and automating the monotonous aspects of it. Chatbots, however, remains the most popular means of getting this part right.
Chatbots are tiny programs that help stimulate interactions with customers automatically based on a set of predefined conditions, triggers, and/or events. Company implementations of chatbots for consumer-facing products are rapidly rising. According to a Facebook survey, more than 50% of customers say they’re more likely to shop with a business that they can connect with via chat.
Customers expect to find the information they are searching for in a matter of seconds and at the click of a button. And, chatbots are just the tools for that. Furthermore, there are multiple tools that are readily available with little to no development costs which integrate chatbots into your eCommerce websites and even social media handles.
Chatbots have been around for a while and today they are crucial for any business to sort their customer support. Whole Foods launched theirs way back in 2016 and made online shopping convenient. The AI-enabled chatbots allow you to browse through a wide range of products including vegetables, ready meals, and even a recipe database to cook your meals at home. They did it way before it became a necessity.
In addition to chatbots, brands can use all kinds of technology for customer delight purposes. The ease of shopping and extra features solely dedicated to offer an incredible customer experience can work wonders for your wonders for your brand. We will discuss how to leverage technology for customer delight in your next articles.
To get started with easing your life in the world of digital commerce, these are the major points that you should consider opting for. With all the abundance of resources and tools at your disposal, you can optimize and grow your eCommerce business furthermore or even start one from scratch. Technology will keep evolving and application and integration of them into your business are how you stand out and succeed.
Are you looking for an omnichannel inventory management solution with integrated B2B order management for your eCommerce business? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or directly sign up for a demo here.