With every passing year, more consumers are discovering the ease and convenience of online shopping. Whether they have brick-and-mortar stores or simply have online presences, major players such as Amazon and Walmart are reaping the financial benefits. Meanwhile, smaller merchants are struggling to make potential customers aware of their unique products and often more personalized service. That is where customer relationship management (CRM) has begun to play a crucial role.
Here are five of the most prominent eCommerce trends, with examples of the benefits CRM offers:
1. More than ever, consumers want a wide array of choices.
That goes well beyond carrying a diverse selection of products. Your customers are interested in interacting with their social contacts before, during and after a purchase. Furthermore, they want to view the full range of products available. Think eBay, call centers and even obscure catalogs. With internal CRM solutions in place, you can track your current and even future customers across time and within each of the companies with whom you do business.
2. Social media is growing every day. Face it:
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and several other major players are here to stay. Instead of being annoyed by them, you can harness them to grow your company. Social media's reason for existing is to help people build and expand relationships. While they can help you to increase profits and to get the word out about your company and your upcoming sales and promotions, that's not all. In conjunction with CRM, you can use the power of social media to build your reputation and spread that all-important word of mouth buzz that is the spark setting so many young companies on fire these days.
3. Mobile technology:
Tablets and cell phones are as ubiquitous in commerce as they are on the streets. With increasing frequency, people are conducting business and buying products via these devices. You can't afford to miss out on the opportunities this trend is placing before you. The ultimate way to track your mobile customers and to integrate their data into your larger system is through a good CRM package.
4. Believe it or not, retail is becoming more local.
As a small business owner, you can breathe a big sigh of relief on this score. While consumers might enjoy purchasing goods online, they also want the option of picking them up and returning them locally. CRM can enable you to maintain those all-important personal relationships with the customers who live and work near your physical store. What's more, it will help you to organize and integrate new referrals into your customer base in a seamless manner.
5. The need for analytics.
With customers coming across your business via so many streams and channels, you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out which of your sales and promotion strategies are working and which are not. Thanks to effective CRM, much of this agonizing process is made simple. Instead of spending your valuable time poring over spreadsheets and jotting notes down on scraps of paper, your CRM package can track and organize this information and make it available to you in report form at the click of a mouse.
If the recent boom of online shopping has shown us anything, it is that eCommerce is here to stay. It is the savvy entrepreneur who recognizes this fact and takes steps to integrate tools such as CRM into his or her business model. With applications such as this in one's arsenal, access to the ever-evolving stream of customers is enhanced and a small retailer can thrive in even the most challenging environments.