How to Benefit from Digital Transformation in eCommerce
Digital transformation takes many forms.
10:03 06 April 2021
For some companies, it may mean dipping their toes into the waters of eCommerce with their first website, for others, it may be task automation or connecting business systems to improve the customer experience. An eCommerce digital transformation opens the door to improvement in many areas. Here are just a few ways you can benefit from a digital transformation in eCommerce.
Digitize to Automate
There are major efficiencies to be achieved when your digital transformation focuses on automating workflows. Process automation reduces the amount of human intervention in a workflow. Any time you reduce the number of times humans are involved, you’ll reduce the number of errors.
Just by simply setting up an eCommerce store, you’ll digitize order entry. And the person creating the order will be the person that knows what they need best, your customer. They are less likely to make errors in billing and shipping information. Add EDI as part of your digital transformation and customers can enter the purchase order in their own system and electronically submit it to your eCommerce website or ERP.
Allow your checkout workflow to digitize the credit approval process through a third-party integration and not only will you speed customer on-boarding, but you’ll also benefit from improved risk assessment.
Digitizing workflows reduces the number of steps in a task, reduces paperwork and inconsistencies, and improves productivity. Staff focus on doing the right things, while your digitized workflows focus on doing things right.
Look for an eCommerce platform with a flexible workflow engine to automate as many tasks as possible.
For example, digitize the RFQ process to improve quotation accuracy and turnaround time. Pricing algorithms can calculate selling prices with preapproved profit margins and respond automatically to customer inquiries.
Improve the Customer Experience
2020 was the year that customer experience surpassed cost in competitor differentiation. Not only will people choose the better customer experience, but they are also willing to pay more for it. Luxury goods sellers have known this for years. But the maxim has now moved into traditional retail and B2B eCommerce.
Shoppers think the “e” in eCommerce stands for easy. Business buyers aren’t shopping on a whim, they are performing research or making a purchase because it is their job. Buyers want a frictionless self-service experience. This means finding answers to their questions without calling customer service or sending an email.
Online chat, downloadable product brochures, and product manuals provide the answers to common questions. Make them available 24/7 online and customers will thank you.
For B2B eCommerce, allow your customers to define their own account roles and permissions. This allows each customer to modify their account to conform to their own internal purchasing workflow. For example, if a customer needs different approval levels based on the quantity or amount of their purchase order, allow them to define these permissions in their account on your eCommerce website. This will digitize their internal workflow to improve the purchasing experience.
Another benefit of an eCommerce digital transformation is the integration of business systems. Like automated workflows, integrated systems reduce errors and paperwork while increasing efficiency and reducing costs. You can even integrate to improve the customer experience.
For example, integrate your ERP and eCommerce platform to provide transparency into inventory levels on the website. As orders are processed, the inventory is reduced. Shoppers know if an item is in stock before they make a purchase. For out-of-stock items, you can create notifications to let prospective customers know inventory is available.
Integration with 3PL can give shoppers estimates of shipping times based on the delivery location. This further supports the mission of improved customer experience.
An eCommerce website integrated with your WMS or ERP allows orders to flow from the website to the warehouse where they are packed and picked, to accounting to where sales orders are converted into invoices, and back to the website where the tracking information is available to the customer.
Another benefit of integration is the destruction of data silos. Data flows into the hands of those who need it to take action and make decisions.
An eCommerce digital transformation improves overall company health. Dashboards with insights into real-time data allow you to develop better costing plans, better strategies, and better marketing techniques.
A Google Analytics dashboard connected to your eCommerce website will provide reports to tell you what campaigns are hitting the mark and which ones are missing. Better understand how customers move about your website to identify areas of friction and then remove them.
Keep leads coming into the funnel and through the pipeline. Use your CRM and eCommerce platform to gain a 360-degree view into every customer and transaction.
Use eCommerce to reduce excess inventory and move dated SKUs. Detect trends as they emerge and then act on them.
If pricing is tied to external variables, use the power of digital computing to enact dynamic pricing so every contract is always priced correctly.
Use customer purchasing data to identify patterns and improve profitability through improved pricing strategies.
An eCommerce digital transformation has endless opportunities to gather the data you need to take action, pivot when necessary, and build on your successes.
Privacy of Customer and Company Data
When you think of digitizing data, you may think you are placing data at risk. But the contrary is true.
Company and customer data is more secure on a protected digital system than it is sitting in a filing cabinet.
Physical documents such as customer information and company are difficult to secure. For example, how do you limit access beyond a human gatekeeper?
On the other hand, digital data can be encrypted. Even if a bad actor gets their hand on the data, it is useless without the encryption key.
Digitized data makes maintaining data privacy acts compliance much easier. Whether it’s the GDPR in the European Union, California’s Privacy Act, or PCI Compliance, data security it easier with digitization.
Define Your Digital Transformation Goals
The most effective way to achieve the benefits of an eCommerce digital transformation is to carefully define your goals.
Incorporate these into a minimum viable product (MVP) and test so you know you are on the right path. If your digital transformation includes launching your first eCommerce website, the MVP approach will validate your eCommerce assumptions and reduce development costs while speeding time to market.