Sometimes we forget that an eCommerce site is a lot more than a Website – it’s a complete business ecosystem. So going down that road means that you have to prepare your business for a Digital Transformation and overhaul. That generally starts with all your business processes and they might start off manual which is fine because until you are clear about what you are doing and how you do it you can’t make the transition to a truly digital experience.
This week we are delighted to be joined by
Geraldine Kennedy – Owner of Jerros Boutique, Birr
Marc O’Donnell – Ecommerce Manager at Dubarry of Ireland
Andres Nagashiro – Ecommerce and Operations Manager at Arckit
Jerros Boutique is another great example of a small business getting to grips with the need to get online during the pandemic. Budgets were extremely tight and that meant some manual workarounds to ensure that the customer experience is right. Doing that though has meant that the eCommerce element is now a meaningful element of the business.
Dubarry is a well-established Irish brand. Their products and offerings are naturally aligned to an audience that enjoys the outdoors. The product’s robust nature and longevity are very much on-trend with the current interest in ‘slow fashion’ Sometimes everything in life can be down to timing so a strong investment plan in 2019 in the overall eCommerce infrastructure with good integrations laid the foundation for stellar eCommerce growth over the past year.
Arckit – a proudly manufactured in Ireland – a kit product that appeals to children and teachers has to find new ways to connect and engage with their audience in these times of reduced tradeshow and platforms to demonstrate the product. It has the benefit of appealing to their niche market but of course, that leads to the challenge of growing that audience over time and building strong brand awareness that results in transactions.
To me, the essence of a digital business is one that knows how and what information to collect and makes sure that the correct information is available to every conversation that is being held – either inside the business or with external customers.
The thing is when people interact with your business they are actually more demanding about how smooth and easy the experience is than they are in real life. There is no human directly there to moderate that experience. They really expect your business to know them and to interact with them in a seamless way. So all your systems have to be connected and operate with a customer-first mentality. But it is not just tools and integrations – you really have to understand your business processes and make sure that they can scale and that they are reliable. So the most successful operators have focused on understanding those processes and making them work efficiently whether that is returns, order updates – every customer touchpoint needs to be as smooth as possible for the customer (not the business). It does not mean that these processes cannot start out as manual, they can and then integrate and automate them as investment allows.
So yes your Online store needs to be connected to your Inventory system and that inventory needs to be accurate so you don’t have delayed orders or worse orders you can’t fulfill.
While you have to offer guest checkout for new customers, returning customers expect you to remember them and make sure they don’t have to re-key data that they have input before.
Your customer service reps have to be available via email, phone, Instant Messaging and they absolutely need to be able to pull up the history for that customer once they get in touch – in order to help that customer in the most efficient way. I hate having to input my credit card number when talking to my bank or my account number when talking to my phone company and then the first question I get asked when the agent connects – Can you tell me your account number or your card number – Why have I just keyed it in then!
For smaller operators that don’t have different teams, this is a little easier but that information has to be tracked and captured somewhere.
Then you need to know and reward your most loyal and frequent customers. Your loyalty scheme is important to maintaining that loyalty and rewarding those customers that give you more information but you have to use that information to serve them better. These are also the people that should be talking about their experience by giving you good ratings and reviews.
So your eCommerce ecosystem is really your entire business ecosystem – it is one and the same and your point of difference, your value will be right there in the information you collect about your customers and how that allows you to serve them better. Get the basics connected and correct and be really good at serving the customer when they appear on your site – don’t leave them hanging – just like you would not ignore them if they were standing in your shop looking lost.
Enjoy the listen.