The only real constant in life is change.
Many of us have already seen considerable change in our lifetimes. Take, for example, the revolution of media broadcasting and distribution. Once upon a time, we waited for a limited selection of TV shows to air weekly and sought out CDs from our favourite artists at record stores. Now, accessing vast catalogues of international shows and streaming music on-demand to smart speakers is just part of daily life.
Another integral part of our lives – how we shop and how we’re sold to, is undergoing significant change right now. You see, we’ve shifted from a world with digital to a digital-first world. The events of 2020 accelerated digital and eCommerce adoption faster than any other period in history. An abundance of brands either came online for the first time or bolstered their eCommerce footprint. eCommerce sales in Australia also rose by 57% YoY in 2020, as reported by the 2021 Australia Post eCommerce Industry report, reaching a record spend of $50.46 billion.
Some sellers are still adapting to the current digital transformation, though. Simply selling the right products isn’t enough to survive as an eCommerce business. Pricing is crucial, but online competition is intense, and this alone can only take you so far. Building a loyal customer base, however, can bring lasting success. Loyal customers are the ones who feel a connection to your brand. Companies are quickly realising this and strengthening brand affinity by delivering exceptional customer experiences.
If you’re a future-focused business, read on to find out how an eCommerce ERP system in the back-end can help you improve eCommerce customer experiences that drive long-term business growth.
The importance of the digital customer experience
The experience that your eCommerce customers have extends far beyond just your website. It starts right from when potential buyers become aware of your business. For example, are you running highly targeted online advertising relevant to your target audience’s needs and pain points? Are you using the right imagery and tone of voice across your social media platforms? Are you sending email campaigns that speak to your audience’s needs in a way that they understand?
The eCommerce customer experience is the sum of all digital experiences. Taking a combined approach generates a strong picture of your company’s brand, the problems you solve, and the value you deliver to customers. In turn, this builds brand affinity and a more loyal customer base.
Many factors add to brand loyalty. The PWC Consumer Insights Survey uncovered precisely that. The survey cited factors such as reliability (in the top 3 factors influencing brand loyalty for 46% of respondents), exceptional customer service, enjoyable/fun experiences, sustainability, and personalisation as contributing factors driving loyalty. And, although engaging content and seamless digital experiences were scored lower, the report still saw 14% and 12% ratings, respectively, for those aspects.
“Taking a combined approach generates a strong picture of your company’s brand, the problems you solve, and the value you deliver to customers. In turn, this builds brand affinity and a more loyal customer base.”
The value of an omnichannel experience
Customers don’t just use one channel to make their purchasing decisions. Connecting with customers now takes place via social media, advertising, phone, physical stores, marketplaces, eCommerce stores, and more. A true omnichannel approach needs to deliver a consistent experience across all these channels. To build trust and brand affinity, it’s imperative to start with the right omnichannel strategy that meets customers in a consistent way, wherever they are.
Companies are quickly realising this. In fact, 47% of respondents in a recent SearchNode survey listed omnichannel strategy as being very important for their company in 2021.
The right back-end system also comes into play here. To deliver consistent, high-quality experiences across all touchpoints, consolidation and management of business data is an essential part of the equation.
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The role of an ERP system in the back-end
An ERP system (Enterprise Resource Planning) is a single software application that manages all core functions of a business and its operations. When used effectively, it also helps companies manage the omnichannel experience. With live data being collected and made available across supply chain and procurement, stock and inventory, sales, CRM, eCommerce and more, an ERP becomes the back-end that ties everything together. It also helps you better understand your customers and take quick action on the information available.
The applications for a cloud-based ERP system are almost limitless in supporting an omnichannel strategy. ERP systems with an open API can connect to virtually any other digital system to send and receive data. And, with the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) functionality of an ERP, you can gain powerful insights about your customers to serve them even better. Just one example of this is where you can sync lead forms from your eCommerce store to your ERP and its CRM functions to enable fast follow-up. Salespeople armed with information about past user purchases, demographic data, and preference can suddenly have more valuable conversations that add to the overall customer experience.
The cost to acquire new customers is significantly more than retaining customers. A loyal customer base that has a strong affinity with your brand is also likely to buy more from you, more often.
Enhancing the customer experience
If you’re looking to lower your COCA (Cost of Customer Acquisition), focusing on customer experience is vital. The cost to acquire new customers is significantly more than retaining customers. A loyal customer base that has a strong affinity with your brand is also likely to buy more from you, more often. Studies by Bain & Company, and Earl Sasser of the Harvard Business School, showed that a 5 per cent increase in customer retention could increase profit by between 25 and 95 per cent.
Some of the ways to enhance the customer experience across multiple channels include:
Support and contact
Make support and contact options easy for customers to find and access. Whether a customer is looking at your website, an email, or your social media page, it should be easy for them to connect with you. Chatbots are becoming a popular tool to help with basic queries 24/7. Having information available to customers whenever they need it can go a long way to enhancing the experience.
Customers expect to see consistency across their journey and interactions you’re your brand. Consider what their digital journey looks like across devices, including desktop, mobile, and tablet, and what other touchpoints with your company are happening. Every interaction should strengthen your brand identity and give customers a better sense of your business.
“Customers expect to see consistency across their journey and interactions you’re your brand. Every interaction should strengthen your brand identity and give customers a better sense of your business.”
Whether you’re running ads targeted to one type of customer or sending out email communications and promotions, personalisation helps to remind customers they’re at the centre of everything you do – and build more authentic connections.
Multiple channels allow for multiple ways to understand your customers better. What feedback mechanisms do you currently have to gather information about those customers? More importantly, how are you capturing and making sense of that data? The CRM function of an ERP is essentially a home for all customer information.
CRM can make it much easier to collect and report on customer preferences, satisfaction, interactions, future needs, and many other crucial metrics. The consolidation and collaboration of this data is also the first step to building a highly successful VoC (Voice of the Customer) program. Tools like Net Promotor Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Surveys (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES) can form powerful ways to understand your customers, serve them better, and drive long-term customer loyalty.
“What feedback mechanisms do you currently have to gather information about those customers? More importantly, how are you capturing and making sense of that data?”
Managing and sharing data between channels can significantly enhance the customer experience. With integration between a cloud ERP system and other digital touchpoints, for example, you can show live stock and backorder information to customers on your eCommerce site and across different shopping touchpoints. Past purchase information and preferences can be made available to physical stores to help in-store salespeople provide even better service. Always-up-to-date product details can even be made available to Facebook Ad feeds. The list of possibilities goes on and on.
NetSuite is one cloud ERP that has an open API to integrate with practically any digital touchpoint. This interconnected architecture is where an ERP back-end becomes the backbone of omnichannel operations to deliver consistent, memorable customer experiences.
The right ideas, strategies and tools to amplify success
To create memorable eCommerce customer experiences, you need to begin with the right ideas, strategies, and tools.
Know what to focus on by researching and understanding the experiences customers expect and their priorities.
Think about what your omnichannel strategy looks like right now and how it can be improved to create greater consistency and a more vibrant brand reputation across all channels.
Look at what technology and tools you need to deliver better experiences. The right cloud ERP, for example, can not only help you improve eCommerce sales performance but also become the backbone of a true omnichannel sales strategy that reaches customers across multiple platforms.
Making a smart, strategic investment in the right back-end system is an excellent way to enhance the customer experience and amplify the long-term success of your eCommerce business.
Take the next step to leap ahead.
Learn more about eCommerce future-proofing and profitability
Download your complimentary business guide – 5 Ideas for Profitable eCommerce Future-Proofing. You’ll gain insights about:
- Checking trends and changes to provide the most relevant products to customers
- Pricing methods that can product profit margins
- Determining the right shipping option for your business model
- Providing a better customer experience with live stock information
- Keeping an eye on net profit