Ecommerce, how to provide an excellent service and keep a profitable business?
According to a survey carried out by the New York University finance professor, Aswath Damodaran, of 7,229 North American companies, e-commerce is among the industries with the lowest operating margin. While companies in the banking and finance sector are the ones with margins of around 30%, those engaged in online retailing must conduct business with margins of just over 7 percent.
This happens because merchants face different operating costs linked to various levels of management:
- Hosting and maintenance of the Marketplace or e-commerce
- Development of digital marketing actions and campaigns on social networks
- Stock management of published products
- Payment platform integration
- Claims management and after-sales service
In the same way, retailers face the challenge of offering a customer-centric experience that can respond instantly and in a personalized way to the needs of all customers. How to achieve it without neglecting profitability?
At this point, it is worth mentioning that data is key. Thanks to digital stores, merchants today have an unprecedented volume of data about their consumers, which makes it possible to have a deep understanding of them in order to grasp what they need at any given time, which are their preferred channels in each circumstance, and which are the touch pints they prefer to use.
Today it is not necessary to have a physical store in addition to the virtual store to implement an omnichannel strategy. To the extent that a brand is part of the digital ecosystem, it is very likely that consumers will have the ability to establish contact through the website, social networks, email or at the time of physical delivery of the product.
For this reason, it is important that any strategy contemplates a 360° vision of the client that pursues as a goal that all operations are focused on creating a satisfactory and seamless experience for the client.
The best strategy in this regard is to define good data governance, that is, to set internal standards that regulate how data is collected, stored, processed and eliminated. This includes defining decision makers, establishing the principles on which corporate growth will be sustained, setting omnichannel objectives, establishing processes that will help ensure data is aligned throughout the company, establishing security mechanisms and data privacy, etc.
Defining the strategy is only the first step. To make better decisions and optimize processes that ensure low costs and report benefits, it is necessary to deeply understand the information that comes from both customers and the operation itself. This is where one of the most critical aspects of the omnichannel process comes into the picture, which is data management and analysis.
Many companies don’t know what data they need, or once they have it, they don’t know how to take advantage of it. This is essential to understand customers, their pain points along the way to purchase and detect points of improvement at the heart of the operating processes.
Having a data specialist and defining the data analysis techniques that will most appropriately answer our questions is a crucial starting point for successful data management.
Take care of the margin
Incorporating data management processes can contribute not only to improving the entire experience and operation, but also, and particularly, to optimizing the profitability. How?
Today, most online and offline retailers do not audit or validate all their channels, multiple payment methods, several logistics suppliers, etc. This is so because the processes that the brick & mortar business have been generating over time, included global and often manual, check points. But when digital points of sale (online stores, marketplaces, mobile apps, among others) were developed, the amount of data to be audited, the sources of information, the formats of those data sources, etc. multiplied exponentially making it humanly impossible to reproduce traditional control and audit processes. But this lack of detailed control may be one of the keys to recover the margin invested at other points in the process.
Invest in technology
The use of data management software facilitates the organization and allows the automation of processes such as:
- Integration of multiple data sources (APIs, databases, files, ftps).
- Extraction, transformation and consolidation of multiple formats and sources.
- Reconciliation of payment providers, cards, taxes, stock (among others).
- Standardization of reports to remedy differences and gaps.
- Integration of data to the management system.
These are some examples of tasks that can be automated, increasing productivity and eliminating choke point that hinder the operation of the company and threaten the financial health of a business with low margins.
Platforms such as Conciliac EDM ensure centralized data management, allowing the automation and standardization of all the processes mentioned and many more.