The E-Commerce Effect: This Key Pillar of Social CRM Is Changing the Business Landscape

Article excerpt

WHILE my last few columns have focused on the role of social CRM, I want to shift direction and share how e-commerce is changing the CRM landscape.

Broadly defined, e-commerce is the buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems, including pre- and post-sales activities. While more than $2.5 trillion of manufacturing sales are made via e-commerce, more important is the fact that customers have come to expect it.

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More than 90 percent of the Generation Y demographic goes online first to research desired products or services, and 50 percent purchase online. Best-in-class e-commerce companies, like Amazon, have set the standard that all online shoppers expect, whether they are shopping for simple consumer goods or complex business products.

There are three e-commerce models: B2B, B2C, and B2B2C. All three models can benefit from mastering Amazon's best-in-class e-commerce practices. Amazon's corporate strategy is e-commerce. Its bold mission statement reads, "We seek to be Earth's most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators." To achieve this, Amazon has implemented multiple best-in-class capabilities. It has user-friendly, efficient navigation and superior on-site search capability; it has mastered search optimization, leading to more traffic coming to the site; it sends effective targeted emails to active visitors; it has a mobile Web site to reach customers who may be researching products in-store; and it is known as a leader in Web site personalization (offering relevant messages based on product, geography, purchase history, and more).

Companies are turning to e-commerce as an increasingly viable sales, marketing, and servicing channel. Properly implemented, e-commerce leads to operational efficiency and lower costs, generates demand that drives incremental revenue, and retains customers. Simply said, e-commerce has become an indispensable part of a successful distribution channel strategy.

A CHANGING LANDSCAPE

A certain segment ofbuyers prefers e-commerce to other shopping options. These buyers grew up using Amazon, Zappos, and other e-commerce leaders. …