Maximizing your potentially heavy investment in digitalization requires some forethought and planning. Here are six considerations that can help your ROI.
The massive shift in 2020 to online commerce has every business that had not already done so, rushing to build e-retail shops of one kind or other.
Furthermore, South-east Asia’s growing internet user base surpassed the US$100 bn gross merchandise value (GMV) mark in 2019 and it is expected to triple by the year 2025.
So, even before the pandemic started, organizations were already adopting e-commerce strategies in varying degrees. Some implemented an omnichannel approach, while most did not see online sales as a top priority. As 2020 has shown, the widespread increases and changes in consumers’ purchase patterns have put early adopters in the lead, while businesses just entering the fray will need to invest heavily and wisely to remain afloat, according to Vincent Tang, Regional Vice President,Asia , Epicor.
Tang pointed out that, with the current business environment, innovative companies are becoming more aware that an e-commerce strategy is not just an option anymore, it is now vital to choose the right platform. Critical details such as implementation, support, upgrade costs, ERP and supply chain integration; online search optimization and ease of use should be considered and clearly mapped out when choosing e-commerce solutions. To help businesses that may need a refresher, he pointed to six factors that companies need to consider when choosing e-commerce solutions to achieve maximum return on investment:
- Ease of integration into existing infrastructure
When choosing the right e-commerce platform, ease of integration with the existing Enterprise Resource Planning system is arguably the most critical factor. If ERP integration is not baked into the platform, an organization runs the risk of having delivery and fulfilment delays and other issues. The e-commerce solution should be able to gather supply reports and link to stocking levels at every location, manage customer account details and credit, delivery options, seasonal promotions; and marketing and personalization features such as suggesting alternative or equivalent products.
- Real-time stock availability reports
When deciding on whether to patronize an e-commerce site, customers rely solely on the system for information. Overall customer satisfaction will suffer if items are displayed as available online and are out-of-stock. Similarly, sales opportunities are lost for items available in the inventory but are not made visible online. Effective stock control and management systems are fundamental to any e-commerce solution and are vital for protecting a company’s overall reputation.
- Powerful Search Engine Optimization (SEO) capabilities
Today’s consumers start their purchase journey by searching for products and information online. Products and services offered by the company have a higher chance of being discovered by shoppers if the e-commerce solution is built with effective SEO capabilities.
- Rich and responsive digital environment
Physical stores spend a lot of time and effort on product displays to encourage customer walk-ins. But e-commerce is actually no different. Online platforms should be attractive, user-friendly, easy to navigate and responsive on any device used. Nowadays, customers are quick to shop elsewhere if a brand’s e-commerce platform takes a long time to load or if customers experience difficulties in navigating the system.
- Flexibility and adaptiveness to any existing strategy
Any e-commerce solution must adapt to the business’ existing customers and business strategy: not the other way around. To increase the customer base, a solution that is prospect-friendly will be the best choice. If the strategy is to improve business-to-business (B2B) customer interactions, the company should opt for an e-commerce solution that is simple, easy to navigate and can seamlessly link to the B2B customer’s own systems.
- Bespoke versus standardized solution
For some businesses with generic sales and marketing requirements, an off-the-shelf and industry-standard e-commerce solution is a logical choice. For highly-specialized products or businesses with specific requirements, opt for an e-commerce solution that allows customization.
Ultimately, businesses must think about their customers and invest in solutions that make it easier for prospect to reach out and interact with the brand.