Customer shopping habits have been shifting for some time, but the past 18 months have really expedited the pace of change. Recent research suggests that over the past year, 46% of consumers have shopped online for a product they would previously have bought in store. The convenience that ecommerce provides is here to stay, and it’s up to your business to make sure you have a platform that is up to the task.
Kerridge Commercial Systems (KCS) has expanded its offering, not only by providing leading ERP solutions, but also a range of ecommerce platforms that are fully integrated with its software. Many businesses are already reaping the benefits of B2B and B2C online trading by using these platforms, as are their own customers.
Getting online is easier than you think
Setting up an ecommerce website is often much quicker and easier than you might believe. Full integration with your ERP is a good start, not least because relevant details will be pulled through directly from your software solution. This eliminates some of the manual effort needed to maintain your portal, and ensures your customers always have access to the latest information.
Giles Greenslade, Business Development Director for Ecommerce at KCS, said: “Many people are surprised at just how much automation there is with our websites. The core software is constantly being updated and written with best SEO practice in mind; we have a clear roadmap of where we are going and have built ERP in the industries that are most relevant to our customers."
Embrace the click and collect trend
One shopping trend that has gained popularity over recent months is click and collect. One report forecasts it will account for 13.9% of online sales by 2022, making it a lucrative option for any business that’s serious about trading online.
Giles explained that during the national lockdown, it was the safety of click and collect that made it so appealing. However, consumers are now recognising it as a convenient way to shop in the long term.
“There has recently been a cultural shift,” he revealed. “People can still go shopping, but they realise they can now get exactly what they want before they visit a store. It’s a very powerful offering, if a company has the right website to provide the service.”
Outperform the competition with your ecommerce website
One of the biggest advantages of an ecommerce platform is that it opens up your business to customers 24/7. In an age where having a website is very much the norm rather than exception, it has become a necessary tool for staying competitive in a challenging market.
“A lot of people are using mobile devices out of normal working hours. If they can’t find what they need from you, they will go straight to your competitors to see if they have it, who will ultimately secure the sale,” noted Giles.
An ecommerce site also has the potential to inspire greater customer loyalty. If someone knows they can get a product from you, night or day, they will return to your website time and time again for the sheer convenience it has to offer.
In some cases, they might not ultimately make the purchase online. An ecommerce website acts as a shop window, so the customer can see what you have available; they might then head into the branch for a conversation before they finally make a purchase.
Don’t overlook mobile optimisation
When you are choosing an ecommerce website, it’s essential not to overlook the importance of mobile optimisation. An increasing number of consumers now search for and purchase what they need using a mobile device, with one study suggesting 43% of online retailing in the UK is now carried out via smartphones and tablets.
Make it easy for a plumber to locate and purchase the right component while they are at their customer’s home, or for a mechanic to get hold of the part they urgently need to fix a car. The days of having to call a supplier are over – making your website mobile friendly will make it infinitely more appealing to the modern consumer.
Embed your website into your wider business strategy
A website is not a standalone part of a business and needs to form a key part of an overall strategy in order to get the best results.
“It’s about looking at the full picture,” said Giles. “Your ecommerce platform is a great way of attracting new customers and better servicing those who already do business with you. To offer the best online experience, your data has to be clean – inaccurate information won’t help you out in the long run.”
The same goes for keeping your customers happy. Simply because they are accessing your business online doesn’t mean they should settle for inferior levels of service – once you’ve got your website in place, encourage feedback and respond professionally as and when it’s necessary.
“Ask yourself if you are monitoring your online customer service effectively. Look at the reviews and take the time to respond - have someone manage your ecommerce strategy. Don't just expect it to do it all by yourself," highlighted Giles.
Discover ecommerce solutions from KCS
With a diverse range of ecommerce solutions, we are perfectly placed to help you with the next stage of your digital transformation. Get in touch today to see how we can get you trading online, quickly and easily.