Distributors that take advantage of e-commerce order management solutions will find the technology provides growth opportunities and increased efficiency.
For one thing, e-commerce offers yet another distribution channel, and it’s one that continues to grow. The prevalence of mobile devices allows an organization to have a larger global reach and expanded global customer base than would otherwise be available. Companies can reach new markets through this distribution channel.
E-commerce order management also allows for greater order efficiency. Without an e-commerce platform processing orders through a website or customer portal, a distributor is left to take orders manually, processing a fax, email or paper form. E-commerce order management requires less staff involvement in the initial order, removing the manual step of the process. E-commerce also reduces the sales effort for noncomplex products because the website or customer portal does that as part of its design.
One of the most important things a distributor needs to consider when looking at e-commerce is building trust with customers. With e-commerce, customers are essentially dealing with a machine, so they need to feel a sense of trust with the company itself. That can be accomplished by using secure payment methods and having strong privacy policies.
Your company’s reputation is also important to building that trust, which needs to be considered as part of your social media strategy. Be aware of brand reputation online, because it can make or break your e-commerce system. If consumers don’t trust your company, they won’t buy products through your e-commerce platform.
Distributors also need to make sure their e-commerce order management system is compatible with mobile devices. Mobile devices are the new PCs these days; everyone has them. According to a post on the Visual.ly website, 14 percent of all searches originated on a mobile device in 2011. By 2012, that had grown to 25 percent. And by the end of this year, 35 percent of searches are projected to originate on mobile devices. People use these devices to do research and make purchases, so it’s key to consider a mobile strategy in e-commerce.
Implementing an e-commerce system is like implementing any other technology system; you need to plan initially with the whole business in mind, not just the e-commerce platform. You don’t want e-commerce to be a separate system, so take into consideration the business goals and strategies and have the system support them. It’s critical to identify the needs of the business, define the metrics that would measure success and manage the project within scope.
For e-commerce specifically, it’s especially important to have integrated e-commerce CRM and e-commerce ERP systems. The value of e-commerce is that it essentially presents information from those CRM and ERP systems to the customer as price, inventory, availability and product information. It then passes order and customer information back to the distributor, which can be used to pursue additional business. This is where the efficiency of an e-commerce order management is apparent.
Once an e-commerce system has been implemented, it can be further refined. As a recent post on the SDS Fulfillment website explains, solid internal planning is needed for an e-commerce system to be effective. Don’t lose sight of the “basic technological components of e-commerce efficiency,” the post reminds.
Finally, look at your website as if you’re a new user. Is the content interactive and engaging? Is it clear and current? An e-commerce order management system won’t succeed if customers won’t use it. Take the time to ensure that visitors want to stay and you’ll reap the benefits of increased efficiency in your business operations.