In the era of “want it now, get it now” afforded by the Internet of Things (IoT), it comes as no surprise that e-commerce is not only a booming market—it could potentially usurp the once-thriving brick-and-mortar business as more and more customers turn to their laptop, phone, or smart device to make a purchase. In fact, Forrester predicts that one million U.S. B2B salespersons will lose their jobs to self-service e-commerce by 2020.
The Rise of Online Shopping: Getting On Board and Staying Afloat
A major contributing factor to this industry movement: The speed and flexibility afforded by e-commerce that’s almost impossible to replicate in-store. In fact, Forrester also reports that almost 75 percent of B2B buyers now say that buying from a website offers more convenience than buying from a sales rep, and 93 percent prefer to buy online rather than from a salesperson once they’ve decided what they want to buy.
To stay relevant (and competitive), many companies are strengthening their omnichannel strategies, offering the opportunity for shoppers to peruse and purchase products and services both online and in-store. Central to this functionality is a CRM system that allows executives insight into what customers are buying, which devices they’re engaging to buy from, and the best time to schedule new releases and developments to maximize visibility.
CRM and E-Commerce Sales: The Star Player in Your Tool Belt
By allowing users real-time insights into customer purchase behavior, including such details as online shopping cart abandonment rates, proven CRM systems allow companies to monitor their online e-commerce activity, and adjust inventory and sales cycles as appropriate to keep up with demand.
In addition, such data and analytics make it easy to determine specific shopper tastes, so businesses can tailor content directly to their key audience, all matched to their interests. From customized recommendations to personalized product bundles, the opportunities are vast to take this knowledge and turn it into a successful sales tactic that says, “we know you, and we think you’ll like this.”
Other ways that CRM software can help maximize e-commerce ROI is by providing a centralized portal for all sales and project communications—no matter if they originate in-store, via a self-service portal, on an e-commerce website, or a variety of other avenues. This way, all pricing and product information is kept up to date and streamlined across channels, so each customer experiences a consistent brand experience. When an update is needed, it can be done in one click and sent out to all relevant channels, minimizing user error and keeping sales reps up to date, so they can sell quicker and more effectively than ever before.
These features are especially important, as a recent Accenture customer survey reveals that 67 percent of shoppers expect consistent pricing across channels, though the recent Accenture Capability Benchmark shows that only 32 percent of retailers consistently offer identical cross-channel pricing.
Making the Move: Selling Smarter and More Successfully in 2016
While it’s true that e-commerce offers unparalleled opportunities for customer flexibility and convenience, it’s equally true that it offers companies the opportunity for new and exciting avenues of engagement and promotion that, if leveraged correctly, can result in stronger and more long-term client relationships. The key to successfully surviving in this sphere? A proven CRM system capable of helping you keep up—and thrive—while making the most of the new tools and capabilities at your fingertips.
Hoar, Andy, “Death of a (B2B) Salesman,” Forrester Blogs, April 14, 2015, http://blogs.forrester.com/andy_hoar/15-04-14-death_of_a_b2b_salesman.
Parekh, Shreyans, “5 Ways E-Commerce on Salesforce Creates a Competitive Advantage,” Bluewolf, January 12, 2016.
“Seamless Retail Research Report 2015: Maximizing Mobile to Increase Revenue,” Accenture, 2015, p. 4, https://www.accenture.com/us-en/retail-research-2015-consumer-research.aspx#block-global-findings.