Every business owner wants to future-proof their business as much as possible, yet it seems that lots of SMEs can’t quite make that leap that will take their eCommerce platform from good to great. Read on to find out why you need to start thinking big!There is a trend developing among SMEs that could be detrimental to the industry if left unchanged: eCommerce companies are often opting for the smallest and most restricted platform available. I have touched on this point in the past, but it is becoming more and more problematic for these businesses who feel that the long-game is something they don’t have the time or need to think about.
In the space of a few years, we are having to think in detail about mobile-friendly, multi-lingual and millennial shoppers. There are constant developments and new buzzwords to come to terms with, so relying on a solution that can deal with that level of change and evolution, the here-and-now as well as the soon-to-come, is a must.
Customers today expect more from their eCommerce experience than they ever have before, and to ignore this movement towards a more well-rounded online presence in competitive marketplaces could be costly. So, what are the main reasons you need to start thinking about the bigger picture?
There are so many benefits to adopting a well-rounded approach to your eCommerce platform, but one of the top 10 has to be the responsibility it shifts to the consumer. When you think about ordering, customer service, data changes and so on, this used to all be conducted by phone, leaving the responsibility of the rectification (in the eyes of the consumer) with a stranger.
Today, the customer likes to be the one in control, and most expect to be able to create and manage an online account with a few clicks of the mouse. The number one person that benefits from this is of course the customer. It isn’t a matter of them wanting a new feature to a website, it is about providing the features that they already expect every website to have, and delivering it efficiently enough to maintain their custom.
Speaking in general terms, not only does it benefit you by allowing you to use your staff in a more pro-active manner and commercially beneficial pursuits, but it makes the user feel empowered by the control you have given them. If the competition provide this, why can’t you?
Companies all over the world are now fully aware of the importance of allowing customers to conduct online transactions in a seamless way across portals. Many offer this capability already, but are acutely aware that they need to improve their current offering. For the rest, they can no longer ignore this trend and are considering ways to move down this path. However, there is a certain fear amongst some SME owners that they only might see a return on investment, but clearly an ROI is a dead-cert.
There is huge potential for an increase in sales order values here, and when you consider the better efficiency available where the use of staff members is concerned, the ROI becomes more and more obvious. Just take a look at these statistics from the B2B world as an example (courtesy of the latest eCommerce report from eCommerce Insights, A View from the Frontline):
• A recent study by Accenture found that 49% of B2B buyers prefer making work-related purchases on B2C websites
• 52% of B2B buyers expect that at least half of their purchases will be made online in three years’ time
• 69% of B2B buyers prefer to pay directly, using either cards or a payment system as opposed to purchase orders and invoices
• 83% of the B2B suppliers surveyed are either in the process of implementing or upgrading their eCommerce platform or planning to do so within the next six months
• 66% of the B2B suppliers acknowledged the shifting customer expectations that drive their technology investments
• 83% of the B2B suppliers acknowledged that an omni-channel strategy is critical to future success, with 85% identifying it as the crux for technological investment decisions
Speaking of savings, there is the cost to consider if you don’t go for a future-proofed solution. As I stated earlier, a lot of SMEs tend to dread the financial aspect of implementing a larger eCommerce solution, but apart from the ability to utilise your internal sales teams more efficiently, there are many other benefits to several areas of your business.
For example, it could revolutionise the way you deal with customer service, as your platform can handle refunds/returns and even credit control, where online account management systems reduce the pressure from customers ringing up and asking for invoice copies and their latest statement – all of which they can now see online thanks to your investment.
In an SME where numbers on the ground may be limited and stretched at times, this type of freedom of resources and time can be invaluable, and ultimately contribute to your growth when everyone else falls by the wayside. It gives you the opportunity to strengthen the relationships you have with your customers and improve their interactions with you, without the need for additional staff.
It is possible to deliver the big eCommerce experience that the customer expects and not break the bank, and the reasons why speak for themselves!
The customer is empowered by the ability to manage their own orders, while your internal structure is streamlined to become more productive. Aside from this, not only do you keep up with the expanding competition around you, but you get ahead and prepare for future developments by adopting a solution and a strategy that can evolve with the changing marketplace.
So, why do SMEs need to think big? Because online B2B and B2C is only going to continue to grow! Embrace the opportunity this provides to improve the journey of your customer, whilst reaping the benefits of increased sales and order values, all without the crippling overall cost to your business that you may have feared.
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