It is no secret that success in e-commerce is heavily linked with using great technology solutions. If you look at any of the big players in the e-commerce industry, it is technology that has helped them scale to phenomenal success.
Just because you may not be a big player with an unlimited budget, that shouldn’t stop you from using technology to reach new heights. Embrace technology in your day to day operations.
The following guide is going to help you unpack the key areas of e-commerce that you need to evaluate in how you use technology.
Key areas for technology:
- Finance Management
- Sales Management
- Sales Channels
- Fulfilment Management
- Supplier Management
- Inventory Management
- Customer and Marketing Management
Let’s break down each of these areas and what it means for ecommerce.
QUESTION: How do you measure your financial position and report in real-time how you are performing?
One of the key drivers of running an ecommerce business is to generate profit, but without a robust system in place, tracking profit and other financial metrics can result in delayed or even inaccurate information. When you’re relying on these datasets to make decisions, you need a system you can rely on so you can adapt quickly to any changes.
QUESTION: How do you manage the lifecycle of your sales, and automate any repetitive tasks?
When sales are made whether it is for a product or a service, you need to be able to manage it from its entry to its completion. This is a key building block in helping to provide an excellent customer service. All sales should come into a central system and any changes made in that central system should be pushed out to other platforms
QUESTION: What Sales channels have you chosen for your business and how effective is each channel?
Sales Channels are the front doors to your business – it’s the way customers find and engage you for a service or to purchase a product. The more channels you have access to, the better the chance of a customer finding you. Each sales channel should have some form of integration to enable automatic and centralise Sales management. Your business should also be able to be categorised by sales channel so that you can evaluate the performance and impact of each channel.
QUESTION: How do you get the product or service you sell into the hands of your customer?
Once an order has been put in for a product or a service, fulfilment management focuses on how you get the value that customer expects into their hands. For a product, this could include the pick and pack process and your use of couriers/delivery service. In a service landscape, this would be how you deliver a working service to a customer.
QUESTION: How do you manage your interaction with suppliers, and know who to contact for any issue?
To run a business, you need a product or service to provide value to customers. To be successful, you need to assess and manage the relationships you have with your suppliers for these products. These could be wholesalers for products and manufacturers for food items. It could be a service provider hosting an application you sell access to. There needs to be a central repository for all these suppliers, that can be integrated into a central system.
QUESTION: How do you manage your inventory and know which product is out of stock and those you have on hand?
To secure excellent customer satisfaction, there needs to be a clear and central record of all stock/service that you provide to a customer. In real time, physical stock counts should be available, and changes integrated into all other parts of the business. For service based, know which services and plans would be available to customers along with pricing and capacity.
Customer and Marketing Management
QUESTION: How do manage your customers to enable a wonderful experience and keep them engaged with your business?
Along with generating profit, a successful business always looks to acquire and retain customers. Customer management allows you to have a central record of all your past and future customers, with relevant details to help generate future sales. A sale from an existing customer immediately removes acquisition costs, and are more likely to purchase as return customer.
Closely aligned to this is the Marketing management component. This is how do you engage your current and future customers and the channels you use to analyse, automate and activate. Integration helps to provide a view of which marketing methods generate the most sales, and to unlock a formula that benefits your business.
For each of the areas, work out what technology you use, and where you spend most of your time. The areas that have minimal coverage or alot of manual work, are good indicators of where to start!
Let us know in the comments how you have managed to cover the above areas in your technology blueprint.