Today’s online marketplace has forever changed both the way customers shop and the way businesses sell.
The result: skyrocketing sales to the tune of $2.3 trillion in 2017 with projected e-commerce sales expected to reach $4.5 trillion by the year 2021.
At face value, there’s money to be made. However, regardless of product quality and innovation, it’s not enough to simply launch a website and hope for the best. To truly differentiate what you have to sell and find success across a saturated digital landscape, you need an identity. And more importantly, you need operational processes in place that prioritize customer experience above all else.
Enter Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) integration—an essential tool for any online business.
In a nutshell, ERP-integrated e-commerce eliminates “information silos” by allowing e-commerce companies to coordinate between their current website functionality and back-end databases. This system of integrated applications eliminates the need for manual data entry and tracking across everything from inventory to product pricing and order management.
With these systems in place, companies can focus on what matters most from day one: building and retaining their customer base. Here are five key benefits of Microsoft Dynamics-integrated e-commerce for optimizing customer experience.
Faster order processing and fulfillment
The Amazon-ification of major retailers is real in a variety of ways. One of them being the rise of same-day delivery—something a massive 65% of retailers are expected to offer customers this year.
Consumers have been conditioned to not only like speed, but expect it. The majority of shoppers are even willing to pay extra for the convenience factor of ordering something online and having it arrive at their doorstep hours later.
Gaining the competitive edge in e-commerce requires streamlining operations to account for customer expectations. And if you’re going to move fast on delivery, you’ll need all of the processes for ordering and fulfillment handled even faster.
With ERP integration, businesses eliminate time lost on copy orders, invoices and mistakes that arise from the practice of manual data entry. Instead, when an order is placed, all order data is automatically routed to the appropriate departments for fulfillment—maximizing your team’s efficiency and output across the board.
Real-time pricing and inventory updates
Pricing structures can be complex. Especially when updating to account for holiday discounts, free shipping offers and flash sales to compete with massive days in online shopping (read: Prime Day 2019).
ERP integration simplifies real-time pricing updates, ensuring that any products listed are priced and visible to the customer exactly as they should be. This also applies to inventory updates.
A sure-fire way to hit your customers with a poor experience is to sell them something that’s out of stock. With a Microsoft Dynamics-integrated e-commerce site, you save your company from the pain of regularly mitigating customer disappointment and disputes.
Improved customer service
Customer experience is an all-encompassing term. It involves a series of checks and balances across every stage of the online shopping experience and accounts for seamless problem solving when things go wrong.
Your customer service team is on the front lines during these moments and timing is crucial. With ERP integration, support members can spend less time manually entering orders and invoices—and more time solving customer problems.
Self-service options offered also help manage internal workflows by allowing customers to answer questions and resolve many issues themselves (e.g. checking the status of an order). This helps focus your customer service representatives on high-priority complaints most in need of their attention.
Simplified customer management
Keeping track of your customer base is just as important as inventory and pricing. And ERP integration makes that possible.
When customers update their information online, it will automatically update in the ERP. This kind of real-time knowledge about who your customers are and their shopping history helps you develop a more personalized customer experience.
For example, you can target customers who have purchased with unique pricing and product offerings. These can be products specifically tailored to their interests based on what they’ve purchased in the past.
Updates only need to be made in one place. Once done, every department—customer service, marketing, sales, and beyond—can benefit from data tracked in one centralized location.
Reach new markets
Time and cost-savings are major when it comes to Dynamics-integrated e-commerce systems. This means you’re able to handle more orders in a smaller amount of time and ultimately maximize sales growth.
Rather than getting held up on order entry, your business is readily equipped to scale with your business as demand grows. This also equates to fewer costs in the staffing department. You can achieve more with the same number of employees with the right processes and tools in place.
With costs saved and more goods sold, you’ll have more money to experiment with a variety of new initiatives. This could mean exploring new markets and serving customers you may have not been previously able to reach. Alternatively, maybe you reinvest in marketing efforts to draw even more attention from markets you’re already in.
Either way, the result is more: more time, more money and more opportunity. Streamlining your internal operations with Dynamics-integrated e-commerce expands the potential of your business to find success faster and cheaper.
Final thoughts: Enhancing the customer experience with Dynamics-integrated e-commerce
Improving the customer experience, from that very first visit to your website, all the way to delivering packages, is all about thinking strategically. You need to equip your team with the technology they need to work efficiently and the data they need to do their jobs right.
Keeping your systems aligned with ERP integration is a no-brainer. With a minimal up-front investment, you can not only manage your business, but ensure its success at all stages of growth in the years ahead.
If you’re ready to automate business operations, look to an e-commerce industry leader that’s currently powering over 1,500 web stores worldwide.
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