How to Make the Most of CRM Systems for E-Commerce Platforms: an Ultimate Guide

Effective customer relationship management is a key to success for any B2C-oriented retailer company. This is why a CRM system is an essential part of an e-commerce platform. It lets website owners collect, monitor, and manage all types of information about their customers. Using this information, one can conduct analytics, form detailed reports, track the progress in various spheres, work out marketing strategies, and so on.

No matter whether you are just going to build a marketplace website or already own an e-commerce platform, CRM is one of the first things you should think about. In this guide, we’ll figure out the benefits offered by CRM systems to e-commerce websites and tell you how to make the most of using these systems.

Who Needs a CRM System and Why

In fact, both site owners and customers benefit from implementing a CRM system, as it makes their collaboration more convenient and effective. Still, before developing such a solution, you’d better weigh up the pros and cons and decide whether your particular business needs it or not. There is no reason to install software just because you can do it or because anyone else has it.

The chances are that CRM software will work for you if your business is built around the client-oriented approach. Some examples of such businesses are almost all types of online stores, large retail and wholesale companies, beauty shops, and so on.

If you focus extensively on incoming calls and requests; if you are looking for new ways of attracting customers, then, definitely, you should consider implementing a CRM system. Frankly speaking, the vast majority of e-commerce websites will benefit from using it. Let’s have a closer look at the advantages of customer relationship management systems for e-commerce startups.

Advantages of CRM Systems in the E-Commerce Sector

There is no need to explain that CRM solutions enhance the effectiveness of the customer support service and improve your relationships with customers. Let’s see in closer detail why and how particularly it happens. Here are the main benefits of CRM for e-commerce platforms.

  • A gain in sales. With CRM software, you have immediate 24/7 access to comprehensive information about every customer: his/her history of orders, turnover, prices, methods of payment, etc. This helps you use a personalized approach, which in most cases results in sales growth.
  • Demand-driven planning. By using special analytical tools and making everyday reports, you may sooner predict the demand for this or that product and order the right amount on time. This helps avoid oversupply and manage the reserves more efficiently. As a result, you get a perfect supply/demand ratio with little to no hassle.
  • Launching targeted marketing campaigns. Marketing is crucial. When you see the whole picture of your customers’ behavior, you can work out and bring to life personalized advertising campaigns that are likely to reach out to your target audience. This, in turn, helps you prevent over-expenditure and enhance the efficiency of advertising.
  • The possibility of adding self-service functionality. Some CRM solutions allow customers to track their orders, check the delivery status, and check inventory on themselves. This saves your time and increases the company’s credibility in clients’ eyes.
  • Better post-sales support. Depending on your business specifics, you may need to render after-sale customer services. Having all information in one place, you will do it more effectively. Also, you’ll be able to make personalized offers to the customers who have already used your services before.
  • Improved return merchandise authorization. In many cases, a customer support operator can solve the client’s problem remotely and find the best possible way to address the issue, using comprehensive information about this client. In any case, it is nice to have an integrated RMA feature on board.
  • Reduction of losses. With CRM software, there is no need for manual data transmitting and processing. This helps avoid mistakes caused by the human factor. As a result, the level of customer satisfaction is higher; also, this approach helps reduce the costs, as automatic data transmission is always faster.

As you see, there are many ways to improve the effectiveness of your company’s functioning with CRM software. If you’ve made up your mind to implement a CRM solution, it’s crucial to select the right type.

Types of CRM Solutions: What Should I Choose for an E-Commerce Site?

When it comes to selecting a CRM system for business, the first thing you need to do is to define clearly your goals. You must understand what features you need and how much you are ready to invest in the CRM creation. After that, you will be able to decide on what type of CRM software will meet your expectations best. Commonly, three types of CRM systems for e-commerce platforms are distinguished.

  • SaaS or cloud-based CRM. As the name implies, this system is located in the cloud. This is the most affordable option, as you don’t need to buy special equipment or hire professionals to maintain it. Cloud CRM systems are appreciated by owners of small and medium-sized companies.
  • Standalone CRM systems. These options require a separate server. However, they offer much more flexibility if compared to cloud CRMs. Nowadays, there are many ready-made solutions that are easily adjusted to businesses of almost any scale and type.
  • Unique/individual CRM systems. They are developed from scratch, according to your needs and requirements. Despite their higher price, these systems are a perfect choice for large businesses, as they provide a lot of flexibility while being fully customizable.

Depending on your business scale and specifics, you may opt for one type or another. While cloud-based CRMs are quite OK for small and some medium-sized companies, owners of serious businesses should consider developing a custom CRM system from scratch.

The Main Benefits of Unique CRM Systems

For everyone who has a large-scale or complicated business, developing a CRM system from scratch is a good idea. The main benefit of a proprietary CRM software is its flexibility and adjustability to the company’s needs. In other words, you can add any features you need and, at the same time, eliminate all unnecessary elements. This is important, as some scripts and modules can slow down a program significantly, so what’s the point in using the ones you don’t need?

When using your own CRM product, you don’t have to buy a license. You are the owner of the software, so you can provide access to it to anyone you want to. Also, you may be sure that the software won’t be modified without your permission, as it can happen with third-party products. You may expand the functionality or change anything you want at your own will.

At the same time, those who opt for developing a unique CRM system must be ready to invest in it. The development costs are rather high, though, in the long run, the product will pay for itself. In the next section, we’ll review the main stages you will have to go through to create a custom CRM product.

Stages of Developing Custom CRM Software

Creating a high-quality custom CRM system is a complicated and time-consuming process. It consists of several main stages, which, in turn, can be split into smaller steps. We offer just an approximate scheme for you to rely on.

  1. Goal setting. The first thing you need to do is to write down all the requirements for your future product. Make a list of tasks the program must resolve. This will help you see your key goals – let the developers know about them. It’s important to make sure that the goals are real and they can be achieved with the help of this software.
  2. Making a list of features. Once you’ve figured out the goals, you can define the features your product must have to help you reach these goals. Keep in mind that the feature-list can be expanded later – there’s nothing wrong about it. You may start with the essential features for an MVP product and then add extras to this list.
  3. Brainstorming. You may think this is an unnecessary stage; however, anecdotal evidence suggests that discussing a project with employees or business partners can result in new great ideas. Don’t skip this stage, as it can turn very useful without taking much time or effort.
  4. Finding a good developer team. Creating CRM software is a complicated and responsible task, which requires a professional approach. That is why choosing reliable developers with proper experience is of primary importance. The most logical step, in this case, is finding outsource professionals.

At the same time, don’t overestimate the role of CRM solutions – this is not a cure-all solution. While being an effective business tool, CRM software doesn’t resolve all the problems. Its implementation is just a way to optimize the business processes of a working company and make it more client-oriented. 

Essential Features of CRM Software for E-Commerce Websites

While different CRM systems can offer different possibilities, essential features usually stay unchanged. Here are the main functions that an e-commerce CRM software performs. You may expand or edit this list during the development process.

  • Market analytics. To develop the business successfully you need to understand what’s going on in the market, what the latest trends are, and what customers expect from you as a supplier of goods or services. The market analytics feature integrated into CRM software helps you keep up with the times. This indirectly affects the growth of sales.
  • Creation of advertising campaigns. Marketing is an important part of your business activities. Your CRM system should provide enough data for you to work out effective targeted advertising campaigns and develop a whole company-level marketing strategy. Usually, CRM products offer enough tools for data collection.
  • Tracking customers’ activity. One of the main purposes of any CRM product is collecting comprehensive information about the company’s customers and displaying it in a convenient format. You must have quick access to all clients’ actions associated with your company and the data about their preferences and intentions. This helps you form the most relevant and timely offers for your customers. 
  • Customer support service. An important purpose of a customer relationship management system is the support service optimization. For example, it can automatically redirect customers’ inquires to the “right” specialists. As a result, customers with technical problems are connected to technical specialists. This helps save the time of both clients and support agents and resolve problems in the most efficient way.
  • Analysis of customer lifecycle. With CRM software, you see the history of customers’ orders. Most CRMs offer special built-in tools, which help analyze clients’ preferences and needs. When you see what and how frequently they buy, you can better understand what and when you can offer them.
  • Contacting by e-mail. CRM software should provide the possibility of sending e-mails to customers. The e-mails can contain new offers, recommendations, reminders, and so on. They will help increase customers’ loyalty and keep them informed of your company’s activities. However, e-mails should not be sent too often. Depending on your business specifics, once a week or even once a month will be quite ok.

This is a list of must-have features that are found in the majority of custom CRM systems. However, you may add much more interesting and unique functions that will make your customer management system fully meet your requirements. Keep in mind, however, that each additional feature will increase the development cost. 

Finding a Reliable Developer Team: Things to Consider

Well, if you have already figured out what type of CRM software you need and what particular features you want to have, now, it’s time to hire developers to fulfill this task. Here are some simple tips on choosing a reliable web developer team.

Decide on the Type of Outsourcing

If you don’t have an in-house team of web developers, chances are you will want to outsource this task. Here, you’ll have to choose between local and foreign developers. Both approaches have certain benefits and drawbacks. For example, by ordering the product development in Eastern European countries, you can significantly reduce the costs, as hourly rates vary from $35 to $50 there. Just for comparison: in the USA, one hour of web development costs about $150-$200 for the same services. 

Try to Search on Clutch

Clutch is a well-known platform where professional web developers and IT specialists offer their services. Here, you can find real customer reviews and check ratings of various companies. If you don’t know what to begin your searches with, Clutch is a good option to consider.

Study Developers’ Portfolios

Developing custom CRM software is a complicated and responsible task. Logically enough, you want to hire professionals who already have some experience in CRM system development. So, don’t be shy to ask for portfolios and study the examples provided. A company without a portfolio is a pig in a poke.

Concentrate on Web Development Instead of Mobile Development

When it comes to CRM software, a web app has some benefits if compared to a mobile app, even if the latter is built with the use of top-notch technologies. Of course, it is not completely impossible to use a CRM system on a smartphone, but a large screen provides more flexibility and convenience. That is why, when choosing a developer, try to figure out the ones that make focus on web development.

The Bottom Line

Nowadays, it is quite obvious that a CRM system has a lot of advantages for e-commerce projects functioning. If you are an owner of a large-scale business with a solid customer database, then CRM software is an absolute must-have for you. We hope our tips and recommendations will help you choose the right type of customer relationship management product and find high-qualified professionals who will bring your idea to life.

Author’s bio

Vitaly Kuprenko is a writer for Cleveroad. It’s a web and mobile app development company with headquarters in Ukraine. He enjoys writing about technology and digital marketing.

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