The Lowdown on CRM for eCommerce

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The combination of CRM software and eCommerce operations is one of a number of merging advances in the business world that allow companies to do more to deliver products and services to customers. This type of enterprise software can be an especially vital resource for small businesses that sell online.

In some ways, CRM for eCommerce is similar to CRM systems for brick and mortar stores. Many of the core goals are the same: to aggregate and warehouse information about individual customers and groups of customers, to improve marketing and deliver according to demand.

CRM for eCommerce is also quite different than CRM for brick and mortar stores. Designers of CRM eCommerce solutions anticipate that customers will be online and not meeting company representatives in a physical store. This can  lead to a heavy focus on social media marketing, or specific tools within the actual CRM platform that collect the vital kinds of information that cashiers might get in a physical store.

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Ways to Get CRM for eCommerce

Different vendors also offer different models for providing CRM for eCommerce stores.

Some of the most popular vendors of CRM solutions offer what’s called CRM integration. Using application programming interfaces and other tools, third-party professionals are able to connect the traditional CRM platform to the eCommerce operation. For example, Infor, a major provider of CRM software, advertises the ability to provide integrations with eCommerce through its Intelligent Open Network (ION) framework.

In other cases, CRM eCommerce functionality is built into a CRM solution. CRM vendor NetSuite promotes “one solution for all operations,” combining ERP, CRM and database-driven eCommerce. The company likens the comprehensive platform and its customer experience to major established eCommerce portals like Amazon and eBay. Other features in the NetSuite CRM package include channel unification for online, mobile, social media and brick and mortar.

Examples of eCommerce CRM Features

A look at eCommerce CRM functionality shows the fundamental role that CRM software plays in online selling. A resource from Quora explains how CRM systems sit in central locations in IT architecture. These central repositories put customer data into the cloud or other shareable systems so that companies can track customer behavior and pinpoint the best ways to reach customers.

This same web page details features and functionality from various vendors. For example, how Salesforce CRM gets set up for versatile reporting, or how CRM vendor Pipedrive helps sales teams retrieve information from digital conversations. Both the aggregation and the reporting tools are key elements that many vendors offer that allow companies to enhance eCommerce operations with customer relationship management data.

Plugging Into the Shopping Cart

Another major element of CRM for eCommerce has to do with online payments — in fact, some experts make the case that automated payments with CRM data are going to pave the way for a very new kind of buying experience in the near future.

The idea, in its most basic form, is that companies utilize stored CRM data to identify customers and facilitate transactions. If this is done the right way, it can expedite the shopping process. Shoppers are already seeing this type of technology on the market in the form of Amazon single click features and other  types of automated shopping transactions.

Many of these efforts start with storing the right payment support information in a CRM solution and tying it directly to a shopping cart or eCommerce gateway.  Designers can then figure out what to do with that information. This could mean mining the customer data so the company can send targeted ads or product offers to a specific customer’s device, or storing information to eliminate some of the busywork that customers traditionally have to do in an eCommerce shopping cart.

Other CRM for eCommerce Features

Additional CRM eCommerce tools look at customer demographics and build target audiences. A company will typically try to mine CRM data to figure out who has the most interesting new products and services, and how to approach a specific group of customers online.

To this end, some companies utilize CRM systems that deal with customer feedback — the customer feedback enters the system, either in relation to a web form or survey, or as paper data that gets manually input. The company then uses that feedback to target customers through the CRM platform.

All of these types of functionality show how customer relationship management can support eCommerce and online sales. Companies should look for vendor options that fit the size and operational needs of its business. It’s imperative that businesses, especially small businesses, do their due diligence so they choose a CRM that serves their best interests.

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