Guest post: How to make your ecommerce and CRM integration a success

The need for effective customer relationship management in ecommerce companies is no longer a question – it’s a necessity.

Customers expect to be communicated with in a personalised way. They connect with brands across multiple channels and demand engaging and relevant interactions at every touchpoint. With 31% of customers indicating they would like their shopping experience to be more personalised, there’s ample opportunity to invest in how you communicate with your customers.

It’s easy to see why attracting new customers to your site has appeal, but it turns out that nurturing your existing customers may be the best approach when looking for long-term value. Research shows that 80% of a retailer’s business comes from 20% of its customers. By identifying which of your customers are most valuable, and building personal connections with them, they’ll be more likely to return to your store to repeat purchase with you.

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system gives you the tools to manage how you interact with current customers. This article will help you understand the fundamentals of planning a CRM solution to build long-term customer loyalty.

What makes CRM so important in ecommerce?

Naturally, Customer Relationship systems come in handy for many industries – from manufacturing to healthcare. In ecommerce, there are three key areas CRM systems can help you optimise to build customer relationships – sales, marketing and customer service management.

Sales

As ecommerce is a sales-oriented industry – as opposed to a service-oriented one – every decision you make is based on the data your customers give up when engaging with your brand.

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system unifies all the data a customer leaves on your site (such as personal details, orders, purchasing preferences) into one customer profile. Then, sales teams can use this information to manage customer relationships effectively.

Omnichannel retailers even have CRM systems that collect data across all areas of their business. This helps you engage both brick-and-mortar and online customers with your marketing campaigns and messaging.

Marketing

Today it’s expected that every marketing campaign should be hyper-targeted. Different messages need to be communicated to different customer segments. This can be incredibly time consuming for any marketing team and can be made more difficult by tight KPIs and goals.

By leveraging the power of Customer Relationship Management, your marketing team will be empowered to automate their campaigns. With data at their disposal, it’s easier to segment customers, personalise the content you serve up and aggregate performance data.

Try automating marketing emails that serve up personalised content. These could show customers related items to their first purchase or notify them about a special discount event you’re running. With this content delivered directly to their inbox, they’ll be more inclined to return to your store to engage with the deals you’ve shown them.

Customer service

Where customers expect direct brand-to-customer communication, it’s important to add a personal touch when handling customer issues.

A dedicated Customer Relationship Management solution has all the communication channels a company needs in one console. When receiving a customer request, your customer service team can instantly see a customer’s profile and the history they have with you. This will allow them to settle issues in a timely, and effective, manner.

Research shows that 94% of customers who have their issues solves painlessly said they would purchase from that company again. Empowering your customer service team with the right data poses the perfect opportunity to attract customers back to your store to repeat purchase with you.

Four things to consider when planning ecommerce-CRM integration

Now you know who can benefit from a Customer Relationship Management tool you can start planning the ins and outs of the integration. Here are the four key factors to think about before you get started.

Choosing the right CRM solution

There are a number of CRM solutions on the market. The out-of-the-box functionality of a CRM system largely defines what kind of customisation it will deliver. Say you want to conduct runway shows, workshops, and other in-store events. Try looking for a CRM system that gives you event management out-of-the-box.

When deciding, factor in the extent each CRM platform can be customised. For example, Salesforce Marketing Cloud doesn’t have a developer edition, so you’ll only be able to configure their application rather than building your own custom functionality. If your marketing needs are too specific, you’re better opting for a custom CRM solution.

Deciding upon a subscription plan

Many CRM providers give companies flexibility when choosing a subscription plan. To ensure that yours stays in budget, and meets your business requirements, you need to know what could affect the price:

  • The features delivered: CRM providers combine the features in subscription plans to cover specific business goals. Some may help you build support and customer relationships where others may specialise in business operations. This means you won’t be roped into paying for features you’ll never use. Be sure to spend time carrying out a thorough business analysis and to carefully plan out your CRM strategy. This will save you time and money in the long-run.
  • The number of users: As a rule, CRM solutions are priced per user. Rather than purchasing subscriptions for the whole team, plan ahead and only buy plans for select members of your team.

Defining access permissions

For purposes of data security, make sure you have an outline of user roles and permission privileges by the time you configure your CRM solution. Decide who can access the data and the tasks members of your teams can perform.

Choosing CRM consultants

It’s natural to only focus on the technical areas of a CRM. But there are other, softer, aspects to consider when making your final choice.

Check if the CRM business offers user training. How well your new system is adopted by all members of your team is crucial to the overall success of the project. Training sessions are highly valuable as they help your team learn how to work with a new system, understand its benefits and, as a result, get motivated to use it.

Even if you’re explicit about your CRM requirements, your business processes are likely to change as you scale. Make sure the CRM company you choose provides ongoing support and can help you adapt the system to match the changes within your business.

A step towards successful CRM integration

The integration of a Customer Relationship Management system into your business will go smoothly if you take care at the planning stage. Clearly define your expectations and choose the right system that makes your customers feel valued for the long term.

About the Author
Tanya Yablonskaya is Ecommerce Industry Analyst at ScienceSoft, an IT consulting and software development company headquartered in McKinney, Texas. After 2+ years of exploring the cryptocurrency and blockchain sphere, she has shifted the focus of interest to ecommerce industry. Delving into this enormous world, Tanya covers key challenges online retailers face and unveils a wealth of tools they can use to outpace competitors.

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