When running an ecommerce site, you need to gather as much information about your customers as possible. This information helps you anticipate the needs of your customers so you are able to meet those needs in the most cost-effective manner possible.
Along with anticipating the needs of your customers, you also want to leverage this information so you can maximize your income per customer. There is software available that can help you realize that goal and it is called a CRM (Client Relationship Management) application.
There are numerous types of ecommerce CRMs available for a variety of business applications. We will focus on those designed to help ecommerce business owners, like yourself, gain additional market share.
Identifying Lead Sources
As a business owner, you want to know what forms of advertising are giving you the best results. Since you are running an online business, you cannot ask the consumer in person so you need to find another way. When you have a CRM installed, it will give you access to data like where are your visitors coming from; are they coming from the search engines or some other website/referral source. By looking at this information you can easily identify the best sources of lead traffic and allocate more capital towards those sources. When running an online retail business, you need to move fast and leverage the lead sources that give you the best value for the money being spent.
Leveraging Customer Behavioral Data
The CRM is great at tracking customer patterns and presenting that data to you in an easy to interpret fashion. One of the initial things that you can look at is where on your website the visitor is actively spending most of his/her time. The more time the person spends on your website, the more interested they must be in whatever that page is offering.
When the CRM is properly configured it can let you know which consumers are spending the greatest amount of their time on those various sections of your website and, based on that data, you can come up with sales materials. By sending targeted marketing materials to your potential and current customers, the odds of you getting a sale will increase dramatically.
Assigning Tasks and Collaborating Team Activities
A valuable feature of the CRM is being able to assign tasks to team members from inside the CRM. Whether it is a customer service issue or you want to discuss strategies, you will be able to keep in constant communication thanks to the team collaboration and task assignment features from within the software.
At first your team may be small so you can easily manage tasks but once your organization begins to grow in size and complexity, you will need a resource that will let you assign tasks and communicate in real-time, which is precisely what the CRM can do for you.
Building a Lead Pipeline
You naturally want to maximize sales, and the lead pipeline section of your CRM is what will help you to achieve that goal. Whenever a lead is added to the CRM, you will need to develop a process where you engage those leads based on their respective needs. The CRM will let you define what stages in the sales cycle the lead is at, and based on that stage, you can assign various members of your team. For example if a lead is ready to be closed and converted to a paying customer, you could assign your closer to work with that lead.
Once you have the lead pipeline setup, it is just a matter of assigning the right people to those leads and having them stay in contact. You will be able to run a report to find out the total number of leads you have and their respective statuses so you can predict whether your organization will hit the sales targets you set out to achieve. By running the reports in real-time you can proactively deal with your sales targets instead of waiting until end of the month/quarter before taking action.
Taking Advantage of Trends
Once the CRM has been deployed, it gathers a massive amount of data which can be used to identify trends. For example, there could be times of the year when the sheer volume of sales increases. By looking at these trends you would be able to forecast future demand and make sure your suppliers are able to meet those requirements so you do not find yourself unable to fulfill orders due to scarcity of inventory. Since each ecommerce business model is unique, you will need to refine your trend forecasting to match your specific needs.
Product Returns & Customer Service
The CRM will also give you the ability to handle product returns and customer service requests without having to use separate applications. Whenever a customer needs service they would send in a request via the customer service support ticketing system. You can assign specific employees within your organization to handle these support requests. Customer service can make or break your ecommerce business so having this feature is something you must have in place.
Along with handling customer service, your customers may need to return physical products from time to time. If/when the customer wants to return a product, you can use the enterprise resource planner (ERP) module to keep track of your inventory including returned products. If you notice there has been a dramatic increase in the total number of people returning products or having customer service issues, you will need to address those items before they spiral out of control.
When you have the right ecommerce CRM software solution in place, it gives you the ability to compete with large organizations. Since the CRM is a self-contained application, you do not have to worry about people dropping balls or making costly mistakes. The most costly mistake you could make is not having a CRM when running an ecommerce website, so be sure to follow these suggestions and take action now.