Tech solutions

What Makes a Great CRM for eCommerce? Definitive Guide for Retail Startups

18 Aug 2017
9 min

The use of CRM solutions for managing and maintaining relationships with customers in a B2C sector is a longstanding trend. In the online retail sector, customer information management is a vital part of any viable eCommerce platform. Ecommerce CRM solutions allow you to register, track and use data related to customer interaction. 

Using CRM systems, business owners get a complete picture of the customers’ behavior changes and trends. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of CRM systems for eCommerce business and how to use them wisely.

What is a CRM system?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It represents one of the business development strategies that adheres to a client-oriented approach. This implies that business is built around the clients’ needs at most and relevant information about them is crucial for business functioning.

So, what is a CRM system and why do we need it? CRM software is a set of technological and organizational solutions that allows to collect, process and store customers’ data. These systems let businesses trace the history of the relationship between the client and the company, analyze customers’ needs, create a generalized consumer’s profile. All these measures are aimed not only at the acquisition of customers but also engagement and re-engagement of them.


Make sure you know how to prepare your product for user acquisition and engagement

You may be wondering:

Who benefits of using CRM solutions

The answer is pretty simple. Both sides: businesses and customers. However, before choosing a CRM system, you need to understand whether a client-oriented approach meets the principles of your business. There is no need to use such systems within your business model without a sufficient justification, only because such systems exist and work for some other business.

For example, such businesses as online stores, wholesale companies or beauty salons will not be able to work effectively without paying enough attention to incoming calls. After all, the fulfillment of orders and customers’ satisfaction are very important for each of these businesses. It’s the only way to gain loyal customers.

So, if your business model is based upon the importance of incoming calls or requests (leads) from new customers, or if your business makes effort to obtain and retain new customers, you will gain benefits of using a CRM system.

Benefits of a CRM system for eCommerce

Here are some ways how introduction CRM in eCommerce can help you improve the quality of customer service.

benefits of crm system

Advantages of CRM software for eCommerce

  • Sales growth. Representatives of the sales and customer service department will be able to access information, such as customer order history, payment history, product inventory, and so on. This deep insight will allow to apply a more personalized approach to customers.
  • Improved demand and supply planning. Ecommerce CRM software provides demand-driven planning feature as well. Now the company can better predict the demand for its products and better manage its reserves (sales, search, manufacturing, etc.).
  • Targeted marketing and advertising campaigns. Due to the centralized information, you can launch targeted and personalized marketing and advertising campaigns.
  • CRM solutions allow to create self-service portals for your customers to access the status of their order, track the shipment, check inventory and much more.
  • Improved after-sales service. Having all the necessary information, you will be able to better serve customers after the sale, making more personalized offers.
  • Integrated RMA Management. Return Merchandise Authorization or RMA may also be among CRM benefits. What does it mean? A support representative who has all need information can find the most suited approach the customer's problem solving on phone or using remote diagnostics.
  • Reduced costs and losses. Automatic synchronization of information eliminates the need for manual data transmission, which is subject to errors and can lead to unsuccessful client’s experience.

Pay attention to this set of tricks that will help you make you eCommerce site successful

How to choose a CRM system

The first step in choosing a CRM system for your business is to identify the goals and objectives you are pursuing. Then, you are ready to investigate the market of currently available CRM systems. Take some time to decide on the functionality and budget that you are willing to spend on implementing your CRM system. Will it be an individual solution or a ready-made option? Let’s figure it out. Here are a few options you should be aware of.

Cloud CRM system (SaaS)

The main point is that all information is stored in the cloud. Cloud solution is perfect for small and medium businesses as it does not require extra money for additional equipment and technical personnel.

Standalone CRM solutions

Quite obvious that you will have to need your own server. However, unlike cloud technologies, you can fully adapt the system to your needs.

Individual eCommerce CRM

The system is tailored to match all your individual business needs and the requirements of your customers.

Off-the-shelf solutions

They can be adopted by almost any business. Though they may not be a perfect fit for your company, their development costs and speed to deploy will offset the disadvantages.

The question is whether to use a ready-made software offered by various vendors, such as Salesforce, Oracle, and Zoho or to develop your own solution from scratch. Therefore, we want to consider the advantages and disadvantages of CRM developed from scratch and customized off-the-shelf solutions with the use of the provided SDKs.

Benefits of CRM software built using SDKs and their customization

First of all ready-made solutions are usually SaaS. So, you may face some serious limitations. You can not change anything in the product code since the software solutions are located on the side of the vendor of the CRM system. These CRM systems normally allow you to configure the access rights of employees, integrate some external systems (to receive data from the site, record incoming calls, etc.), change design, set up reports, etc. But all this will be stored on the vendor’s servers.

Standalone off-the-shelf solutions mean the purchase of a "boxed" solution, which you install on your own server and will be able to change the program code (within the access provided by the developer). In some cases, for example, when it’s necessary to implement some atypical features, this level of access is very important. Yet, standalone solutions are not usually required for medium and small business.

When deciding on a CRM for eCommerce, you should pay attention to whether there are API solutions for integration with your website, data exchange, and other programs and services you need.

Open source CRM for eCommerce

CRM with a source code available for modification can serve a great and cheaper alternative for CRM systems built from scratch. Sugar CRM and vTiger CRM are the most popular representatives of that kind.

Sugar CRM and vTiger CRM

A single Sugar CRM license costs from $40 per month per user. Licenses can be of three types: Community Edition - full-featured free version and paid Professional and Enterprise versions. The license implies that the user has the right to copy, modify and distribute (including commercially) the programs, and also ensure that users of all derivative programs will receive the above-mentioned rights. That means that when creating a new CRM solution based on Sugar CRM, you give users the same rights in the source code. It is designed and developed in PHP.

Sugar crm for ecommerce site

Sugar CRM

Another popular CRM that competes with Sugar, is vTiger CRM, which also has free and paid versions.

vTiger crm software benefits

vTiger CRM

Benefits of open source CRM software

The open source systems let you modify the system, create forks, adapt to any business logic

  • They are versatile and portable.
  • They are modular. With proper qualification, you can assemble any corporate system. 
  • Highly customizable 
  • Usually, have a huge community of developers

Check out why open source libraries can add to your project's success. 

Disadvantages of such solutions:

  • Have restrictions on the number of users in paid versions
  • High overhead costs for implementation and non-standard deployment 
  • The systems and their forks often don’t take into account the national standards of the primary documentation, warehouse management, records management and so on. 
  • Weak analytical modules in the main version. You need to buy or add business analytics solutions

Paid CRM systems with platforms and SDKs for eCommerce

This group of CRM systems is non-open source software with paid license. However, if necessary, they provide development platforms and SDKs for customers, and also can carry out the development themselves.

Salesforce SaaS platform

Salesforce is known to be one of the best eCommerce CRM solutions. The company’s services include a wide scope of eCommerce tools. Under the name, the company provides a PaaS-platform for apps development; under the name - cloud database management system; etc. 

Sales Cloud is a functional part of CRM systems and serves best for businesses that turn around sales. Sales Cloud lets its subscribers store data on potential customers, interact with them, bill them, conduct marketing campaigns, analyze and segment the customer base. That makes services like Salesforce a great foundation of your eCommerce CRM strategy.

Salesforce crm ecommerce integration

Salesforce CRM

Benefits of CRM software of this kind:

  • They are modular and highly customizable.
  • Simplified enhancement
  • Separate solutions for various industries 
  • Simplicity and convenience for non-programmers. 

Disadvantages of such solutions:

  • The high cost for enhancement.
  • An insufficient set of capabilities in the basic version. 
  • Dependence on the system requirements and configurations of the computer. 

Advantages of CRM systems built from scratch

The biggest advantage of a self-created CRM software is the ability to customize it for almost any business process of your company. It can be the best choice for organizations that have either a very complex and specific business model or unique software. CRMs developed from scratch can include the functionality needed to solve individual problems of the company and to provide data exchange with any applications.

Among other benefits of CRM for your specific business is an absence of unnecessary modules and scripts. This will positively affect the speed of the system and your users’ save time and nerves.

Custom-made CRM does not require regular payments for the number of licenses. Since the company is the owner and administrator of CRM, it can grant access to the system to any number of employees, if this is provided by the program's capabilities, of course.

On the other way round, fully customized solutions face rather high upfront costs and require developer sources.

What’s the bottom line?

In conclusion, the choice of course is yours which CRM you give your preference. But CRM benefits to business are obvious. Hopefully, we have given something to think about. The main thing is to understand the needs of your business and the requirements of all its divisions.

Anyway, you still have lots of questions and our managers are ready to help you in solving them as soon as possible. Entrust your business to reliable and experienced partners. Let's get in touch and create something unique together! 

In our next publications, we are going to provide you with more detailed information about CRM integration for various kind of business. Subscribe to our blog and receive your weekly newsletter if you don't want to miss a thing.

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