E-commerce businesses aim to resolve various industrial issues, from automating sales and marketing processes to providing effective inventory management.
Yet having to deliver products and services in a highly competitive market means it is crucial for them to improve their customer service and streamline operations.
To do this, retailers are adopting cutting-edge technologies such as big data, machine learning, and the internet of things. Such technology helps reduce human error and improve efficiency.
This article describes how to address the common challenges of e-commerce by investing in top-notch software solutions. We will also explore how well-known companies have accomplished their goals by applying innovative tools and approaches.
The main challenges of e-commerce businesses
- Improving customer service
- Automating sales and marketing processes
- Optimising inventory and management procurement
- Identifying market trends and making forecasts
1. Improving customer service
Providing excellent customer service will result in increased conversion rates and higher profits. To deliver an engaging customer experience, companies need to get a deep understanding of consumer needs and preferences.
By implementing machine learning algorithms, retailers can monitor user behaviour, including search and purchase histories, as well as suggest personalised product recommendations. By employing data analytics, it is possible to view data such as age, location, and lifetime value in order to segment the audience and create a profile of each customer. With this information, businesses can launch targeted advertising campaigns.
Using online polls and surveys market players quickly gather user feedback and learn how they can improve customer satisfaction. Thanks to data analysis, organisations can also identify the most effective and ineffective traffic sources. Focusing on profitable channels, retailers will faster expand sales.
Another solution to this challenge is incorporating an artificial intelligence-based chatbot. AI bots automatically answer frequently asked questions while being capable of simultaneously processing numerous requests.
As a consequence, response waiting times may be reduced from a few hours to less than a minute. Therefore, AI-enabled chatbots allow companies to not only boost user engagement but also relieve the time of employees for more complex tasks.
2. Automating sales and marketing processes
The integration of a customer relationship management (CRM) system is among the mosteffective ways to automate sales and marketing in an organisation. Using a CRM software solution, companies can organise and manage interactions with potential and existing clients, centralise data, as well as keep track of sales and marketing activities.
A CRM application can also be used as a way to systematically collect user feedback, manage task statuses, and track spending on advertising.
CRM software statistics:
● With a CRM software solution, businesses can increase sales by 29% (HubSpot, 2019).
● 65% of sales managers have already integrated CRM software while 97% of respondents believe that sales technology is “very important” or “important” (LinkedIn, 2020).
● 61% of overperforming leaders use a CRM platform to automate parts of their sales process (HubSpot, 2020).
● 65% of sales companies employ a CRM software system in 2020 in comparison with 59% in 2018. (Salesforce, 2020).
“In 2020, 40% of businesses did not meet revenue targets. As you plan your 2021 and beyond, sharpen your focus on your customer. Place them at the centre of every decision, across marketing, sales and customer success.” —Yamini Rangan, Chief Customer Officer at HubSpot.
By integrating an e-commerce website with CRM software, retail companies can track their entire lead generation process, from the first interaction to the first purchase, and beyond. As a result, retailers will manage to faster correlate customer satisfaction rate with lifetime value.
3. Optimising inventory management and procurement
To optimise processes such as inventory and procurement, a company can create an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and connect it with an e-commerce website. Allowing retailers to integrate employees, processes, and technologies, ERP applications offer data centralisation and business process support.
By employing ERP software solutions, organisations ensure that data gathered from multiple departments, suppliers, and partners is unified, complete, and accurate. Since ERP solutions provide benefits such as increased information reliability, improved transparency of operations, and facilitated accounting, retailers are increasingly investing in their development.
Thanks to ERP integration with an e-commerce platform, it is much easier to enhance interactions with customers, track inventory, plan procurement, control the availability of goods, as well as manage warehouse, orders, and assets. Achieving such visibility and control is an important step to further workflow automation, which leads to increased efficiency and income.
4. Identifying market trends and making forecasts
The use of big data software and predictive analytics is vital for making in-depth data insights and projections. To identify market trends, e-commerce businesses can develop and manage a software system that aggregates, stores, and processes massive arrays of data collected from various sources that can involve market overviews, social media, researches, website, and mobile apps. Based on current and historical facts, a platform can also use machine learning, data mining, and predictive modelling to make forecasts about the future.
With big data analytics, it is possible to analyse economic, demographic, personal income, pricing data, as well as create a 360-degree view of each customer. Using innovative technologies, organisations can predict consumer demand, enhance procurement management, and ensure accurate pricing. What’s more, retailers can assess potential risks, prepare for an economic downturn, and reduce costs.
An important piece of advice: When hiring a custom software engineering company, make sure it has the required expertise in building big data software whilst complying with security regulations such as GDPR.
In today’s competitive environment, businesses need to provide great customer service while automating workflows and boosting efficiency. Continue reading the article to find out how well-known companies accomplished their business objectives.
Success stories: overcoming the challenges of e-commerce
Based in the USA, Staples is a provider of retail services that has a revenue of $14 billion. At the time of writing, the organisation has 1,063 stores and 40 warehouses/fulfilment centres across the country. A few years ago, the company adopted big data software to process 10 million transactions per week coming from over a thousand retail outlets.
By enabling predictive analytics, Staples was able to forecast the daily and weekly volume of sales. Due to this solution, the retailer managed to launch targeted advertising campaigns and reduce marketing costs by 25%.
2. CVS Pharmacy
Founded in 1963, CVS Pharmacy is an American retail corporation that has nearly 10,000 locations. Owned by CVS Health, the organisation’s revenue is more than $134 billion. However, the retailer had issues regarding sold or ordered items due to poor inventory management. The company wanted to solve this issue and enhance marketing to increase profit.
Instead of spending time and effort tracking and double checking inventories, CVS Pharmacy integrated big data software to monitor product movements and analyse around 160 indicators. By employing this technology, the retailer was able to provide efficient inventory control, minimise fraud, and expertly analyse the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.
Established in Canada, Reitmans is a provider of retail services specialising in women’s clothing. Founded in 1926, it is now one of the largest retail companies in the country. To expand its influence and increase revenue, the organisation decided to make five scalable and high-performance e-commerce websites.
With a cloud-based e-commerce platform, Reitmans managed to attract more clients and lay out the foundation for future business growth. By integrating sites with existing back-office systems—for instance, CRM and ERP—the retailer was able to enrich the user experience and improve customer loyalty.
“Since launching our e-commerce offerings, we have experienced double-digit growth year-on-year in terms of online sales.” Diane Randolph, Chief Information Officer at Reitmans (Canada) Limited.
Although there are many challenges facing e-commerce companies, it is possible to successfully address them by adopting solutions such as machine learning models, artificial intelligence-based chatbots, big data software, predictive analytics, ERP and CRM software systems.
When key processes such as sales, marketing, inventory and procurement management are supported by cutting-edge technologies, retailers can and will improve their customer service, automate sales and marketing operations, minimise risks, and increase lifetime value.
By collecting and analysing user data, organisations receive a 360-view of each existing and potential client, including age, location, and interests. As a consequence, they can easily personalise advertising campaigns and earn a profit.
In order to find the right way to address an issue, you need to be able to properly identify them, but once you do, it will be easier to implement changes. Don’t worry though, the digital transformation of your business or operations can start gradually, without massive initial investments.
For instance, you could start by integrating a more sophisticated website with a CRM or incorporating an AI bot. Then continue by adding more complex and functional elements later as part of your bigger, long-term strategy.
Understandably, you will have a budget within which you will need to achieve set goals. Therefore, it is crucial to find a trusted and experienced custom software engineering company.
At Eureka, we have been delivering software development and consulting services for over 10 years. Focusing on your industry-specific needs, we build superior software products while achieving security, scalability, and high availability. We also assist our customers in creating a technical specification, preparing a roadmap for implementation, and prioritising features.
If you have a project or an initial idea, don’t hesitate to contact our team for an initial consultation.