Ecommerce CRM for customer-centric B2B and B2C sellers

Ecommerce CRM for customer-centric B2B and B2C sellers

June 7, 2021

Growing customer expectations transform many industries, but ecommerce is perhaps the major one as shopping is now embedded everywhere, from apps and social media to wearables. 

Pandemic accelerates shift to online retail

For this reason, ecommerce businesses can no longer sell to roughly segmented customer personas based on such common characteristics as gender, age, or location. Instead, they need to study customer behavior and preferences across multiple channels and offer personalized experiences—all of it added to habitual tasks of inventory management, pricing generation, catalogs management, and so many more. 

The main enabler for completing this ever-growing to-do list is, of course, software. Most ecommerce companies engage in retail digital transformation with three core tools —an ecommerce ERP, an online store, and a customer relationship management platform (CRM).  

When it comes to a CRM, businesses can act smart and adopt the so-called ecommerce CRM—a system optimized for B2B or B2C ecommerce, enabled with customer data management, purchasing behavior and preferences tracking, personalization capabilities, and more.

Generic CRM vs ecommerce CRM

Talking from the experience of CRM consultants from Itransition, generic CRMs are built for sales, marketing, and service teams to let them manage the entire sales cycle, get a unified view of the customer, and collaborate with each other using a single source of truth. Such solutions are comprehensive and can be used in different industries (enterprise CRMs being the option for bigger organizations), including ecommerce, but they are modelled as one-size-fits-all, which makes them powerful yet expensive and sometimes overcomplicated. 

Ecommerce CRM software is designed with digital commerce in mind so it’s more lightweight, supports low-code customization, and focuses on the features that help online sellers learn their customers better based on buying behavior, personalize their experience, attract new buyers, find more opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, and even try new markets.

What do you need an ecommerce CRM for?

Most ecommerce businesses have specific needs when they consider adoption of customer experience technologies such as CRMs. Understanding these needs can help them find a solution that matches their requirements best.

Operational needs

Ecommerce companies use CRMs to implement sales automation, accumulate customer data, manage leads, run marketing campaigns, and expand customer service. 

The top signs you need a CRM from the operational perspective are the following:

  • You don’t have a central data repository for customer relationship management information and spend too much time trying to find necessary details.
  • You don’t know your customers’ shopping preferences.
  • You use multiple disconnected systems to manage customer relationships.
  • You have a high percentage of manual processes in marketing and customer service.
  • You want to personalize customer experiences and don’t know where to start.

Analytical needs

Businesses accumulate and analyze customer data to understand how to improve customer experience, nurture passive customers, and make more informed decisions based on revealed trends and patterns. 

To do that, they need a CRM that will serve as a central data repository that will enable:

  • Customer behavior analysis across different touchpoints
  • Cross-selling and upselling
  • Smart customer segmentation (based on touchpoints, past interactions, attribution, etc.)
  • Customer experience personalization 
  • Sales forecasting

Collaborative needs

Ecommerce businesses may experience lower productivity due to collaboration silos, so they need a platform to facilitate communication and data sharing between different business units. This way, customer-facing departments can get access to:

  • Customer interaction logs. Each team can view the history of customer communication across different channels, which allows them to have a complete picture of the customer prior to contacting them.  
  • Customer profiles. Each team contributes information into a single customer profile related to their personal information, preferences, or pain points, making teams aligned and up-to-date when they communicate with customers. 
  • Documents. Instead of keeping documents separately within a separate department, each team has access to a single database of contracts, proposals, price lists, technical documentation, and more. 

Ecommerce CRM software can serve as a hub meeting the entire set of these needs. However, depending on the business model, ecommerce companies have different requirements when it comes to such systems.

Ecommerce CRM for B2C

B2C ecommerce companies might need a CRM to track customers’ browsing and purchasing activity, understand what channels visitors come from, why they abandon shopping carts, and how to connect with them on a more personal level. 

Omnichannel customer experience

Customers highly appreciate the convenience of digital shopping channels. This, however, makes their buying journey highly fragmented, split across mobile apps, social media, web stores, and more. At the same time, they expect consistent branded experiences regardless of whatever channel they use. 

A fragmented journey is extremely hard to manage and personalize. To overcome this challenge, ecommerce companies can use CRMs to connect data from multiple customer engagement channels to a central location and thus address two major challenges. First, they can meet customers wherever those prefer to and provide tailored experiences. Second, they can see where their customers are most active and more likely to engage, and give them a soft nudge to drive them closer to a purchase. For instance, some customers might never open emails with special offers but click sponsored posts on Instagram. In other words, CRMs help serve customers with the right content via the right channel at the right moment. 

In case an online store has a physical location, a CRM can be used to connect this channel as well and delight customers with seamless experiences in-store by utilizing app notifications and providing shop assistants with the customer’s cross-channel purchasing history. 

Omnichannel capabilities of CRM platforms also help e-tailers to provide consistent post-purchase experiences to boost customer loyalty and increase retention rates. The tool can enable multiple customer support options, from live chats to self-service, where either human agents or chatbots have the necessary data to treat customers as if they know them and provide swift resolutions and tailored help.

Marketing support

Ecommerce CRMs provide various tools for marketing automation that can help promote online stores, drive more sales to specific products, and direct efforts to those customers who are more likely to engage. 

The platform makes it possible to create and launch marketing campaigns based on important customer information, analyze customer reaction, A/B test those options that get the most positive reaction, and implement the winning tactics. 

One of the most inexpensive and efficient options is personalized email marketing campaigns. CRMs let retailers avoid impersonal mass email campaigns by means of granular segmentation based on accumulated customer data. As a result, it’s possible to schedule different email campaigns where emails will be sent to those customers who are more likely to open them, at the right time. Plus, depending on the stage of the buyers’ journey or any other important details, like gender or location, email content can be changed dynamically and become more relevant, which increases open rates and purchasing propensity.

One more powerful marketing channel is social media with a large share of online traffic directed to online stores via social media platforms. CRMs make it possible to connect social media channels, understand your reach on various platforms, analyze the effect of your ads and content marketing campaigns, and provide consistent and personalized experiences to customers. 

CRM marketing tools can also be used to reduce cart abandonment rates. There are many reasons why customers don’t complete their checkout, but the research shows that many checkout deterrents can actually be solved.

Reasons for abandonment during checkout

Besides technical issues like long checkouts or payment denials, it’s possible to nurture visitors with emails reminding them to complete the purchase or offering discounts or address their possible hesitations using the data you have on them. 

Personalization

Ecommerce CRM software with multiple connected customer channels can accumulate customer behavior data and be used for creating personalized shopping experiences with the help of in-built machine learning capabilities. The system can combine data on searched, viewed and purchased items and generate relevant recommendations based on it. 

Having access to such a treasure trove of customer data creates great opportunities for cross-selling and upselling. CRM AI capabilities help keep upselling offers close to the original request and within the same price range. Overall, it helps customers find relevant products out of thousands of similar items before they abandon endless scrolling, and facilitates merchandising by taking manual work out of it. 

Loyalty management

CRMs help implement loyalty programs, too. It’s possible to use automated notifications to inform customers about their rewards or secret promo codes, remind them about a personal promo expiration period, guide on how to get free gifts, and so on.

Ecommerce CRM for B2B

B2B ecommerce companies are rapidly turning into digital businesses as well. In spite of dealing with a different kind of customers, B2B sellers realize that their customers are spoilt by tailored B2C experiences and require the same customer-centric approach they enjoy elsewhere. As a result, B2B sellers have to compete not only with their industry competitors but also against expectations set by B2C ecommerce. It means they should also meet their customers where they are with the support of an ecommerce CRM.

Customer data accumulation

CRMs help B2B ecommerce sellers consolidate and sync customer data from various systems, track activities along the lead-to-deal cycle, understand how to streamline sales processes, and run targeted marketing campaigns. What’s more, the platform makes it possible to share knowledge and insights across teams to improve deal closing. As a result, B2B ecommerce companies can create a map of a B2B buyer journey where it’s possible to overview its strategic stages and zoom in on a particular touchpoint of critical interactions, checking it for any issues. 

To adopt personalization in their communication with customers and prospects, B2B sellers can make use of a CRM-based single source of truth and deliver cohesive experiences when interacting with customers across their touchpoints of choice. CRMs also help engage with customers way before the actual sale—during the important stage of initial research. CRMs help identify such prospects early and provide tools for contextual engagement. 

Cross-channel lead generation

CRMs help B2B ecommerce sellers to go beyond traditional lead generation channels, like content marketing, SEO, and PPC, and connect alternative yet promising channels. When having all viable channels connected, CRMs can automate lead scoring and prioritization on the basis of deal probability. The tool can also assign a different weight to each touchpoint along the customer journey. This way, B2B sellers will know which channels are more profitable and which leads are more active and put most nurturing efforts there. 

Ecommerce CRMs also allow social media integration, one of the most popular and lead-generating channels that was previously viewed exclusively as a direct-to-consumer one. Nevertheless, now it’s one of the leading organic content distribution channels for B2B sellers. Social media accounts can also serve as sentiment indicators—a metric previously hard to measure for B2Bs.

Organic content distribution channels for B2B markets

B2C-like experiences

B2B ecommerce companies have to change their approach to customer experience management due to consumers’ new expectations formed by B2C brands. Ecommerce CRM software can help with some of such new requests by providing personalization opportunities based on consolidated multi-channel data and ensuring the ease and speed characteristic of B2C online shopping. 

For instance, it’s possible to provide multiple customer support options, from live chats to self-service where customers will be able to do thorough initial research prior to contacting a sales manager. With little information available, customers are more likely to switch to a more informative website where they can weigh various options on their own.

Analytics and forecasting

With their central data repositories, ecommerce CRMs serve as a perfect place for extracting insights from any stage of customer journeys and making informed decisions based on them. These insights based on multi-point data can help evaluate the efficiency of customer engagement tactics and marketing campaigns channel-wise, identify customers of the highest value or best customer acquisition channels, and get recommendations on next-best actions.

Based on spotted patterns and trends, CRMs can help predict the demand and buyers’ behavior. They also offer relevant recommendations that can make active customers engage into cross-selling and upselling or reactivate passive customers.

Going digital with an ecommerce CRM

Both B2B and B2C ecommerce companies have to boost their availability online and do it in an omnichannel and customer-centric way. To make this journey a success, sellers need to take a full advantage of various technologies, with ecommerce CRMs being prominent among them. The technology is able to connect all customer data channels, help optimize each touchpoint based on customer behavior, and deliver personalized experiences—all tailored to ecommerce business needs.