In the past few years, people have become more accustomed to the digital world, and the demand for businesses to provide instantaneous, painless, and individualized buying experiences on their online platforms pushes companies further away from face-to-face customer service experiences. Amazon has made the buying experience exponentially easier for consumers. This forces us to ask ourselves how can other e-commerce companies create an easy yet individualized shopping experience to satisfy the highly demanding digital consumer and compete with big-name online retailers. The answer is a likely investment in enablement technologies.
E-commerce enablement technologies are the software, programs and technologies that support and enable e-commerce transactions from start to finish. This includes the marketing behind targeting a customer, systems involved in receiving an order, payment processing, delivering the product, processing returns, customer service and any associated post-transaction customer retention strategies. An e-commerce company needs to have these technologies to keep up with the demand of the digital customer. Streamlining the logistics of an order through automation and technology will enhance the customer experience and ultimately create brand loyalty and additional revenues for your business.
Some enablement technologies to consider in your e-commerce business include the following (but are not limited to):
- Platform to sell your products – Whether you are building something proprietary or using a third party (i.e., Shopify), you will need the right platform to aggregate and sell your products (while tracking the large quantities of data).
- Data security and privacy protection – Fraud protection, data privacy and security should be a high priority when dealing with sensitive consumer data. Finding the right partner will ensure you gain customer trust and reduce exposure to litigation and losses. Don’t skip this step! The average consumer is becoming more aware of their right to privacy; transparency is key.
- Order management system – Technology to streamline and manage orders should be considered to better automate the sales process. This system should be able to integrate seamlessly with your inventory management system.
- Inventory management system – Consider upgrading your inventory management system as you ramp up sales and production. The owners and management of your business should be able to review real-time information in order to properly manage inventory levels, keep up with trends, and ultimately save costs (i.e., avoid obsolete/wasted inventory).
- Shipping and fulfillment – There is available software that can simplify the shipping and fulfillment process by automating the generation of shipping labels which streamlines the shipment packing process. Consider using a 3PL (third-party logistics) warehouse to simplify your inventory management and order fulfillment process.
- Customer Acquisition – Analytic-driven data can guide your decisions regarding consumer acquisition. Choosing which digital marketing and in-person channels to use is important to help attract new customers to your platform. Companies need to consider what images to use for their online store and keywords to use when setting up their SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Given the endless options, which channels and partners will you choose to ensure success? To name a few:
- E-mail marketing
- Google Ads
- Digital promotions
- Social media and influencer marketing
- Livestream commerce
- AI-powered personalization
- AR/VR technology
Aggregating and tracking all the data that goes into your customer acquisition strategy is more important than ever.
- Relationship Commerce –There is specialized technology focused on customer retention and growth. Consider engaging with a specialist to help drive sales and growth for your business. Instead of one-time transactions, relationship commerce is focused on building a meaningful ongoing relationship with customers.
- Headless Commerce – A headless commerce strategy has become the preferred choice for supporting an omnichannel e-comm business. Headless commerce creates a frictionless structure where your back-end system (i.e., inventory, orders, payments, customer management) connects seamlessly with your front-end system (i.e., online, in-store, social commerce, mobile, chatbot) through APIs (Application Programming Interface). This allows for quick integration of software and sales channels in order to keep up with fluid market trends.
Businesses that sell products are forced into today’s digital age of making a sales transaction personalized, frictionless, and effortless for the consumer. If the load time on your webpage is a few seconds too long, your check-out process is too confusing, or you don’t have a strategy to retarget those abandoned carts, you will lose customers. Consider the technologies needed to compete in today’s technology-driven world and ensure you have the right mix to enable faster and more seamless sales.
For more information on this topic, please contact a member of Withum’s E-Commerce Services Team.