Making technology work for e-commerce
10 December 2018
Choosing the right e-commerce technology and implementation partner to create a customer-centric business are key challenges facing online and omni-channel retailers.
Putting the customer first has never been more important for online retailers trying to win market share in a hugely competitive global landscape. Faced with a mind-boggling variety of technologies and services, merchants struggle to knit together the right architecture for their business at an affordable cost.
Merchants often have to supplement their e-commerce platform with additional technologies such as order management, merchandising systems, website search and personalisation services. E-commerce platforms are particularly weak at providing adequate features for running telesales operations and managing customer service issues.
Not only does this become expensive, but the complexity increases enormously as these systems have to be integrated and supported, and relationships have to be maintained with several suppliers. Without a homogenous architecture, things fall through the cracks, leading to both customer and staff dissatisfaction.
Applied Consultants wanted to address this problem with a combination of its own enterprise-strength e-commerce platform, mantiki™, and a set of methodologies aimed at creating holistic and seamless operations, putting more than 20 years’ experience in the retail industry to work.
mantiki™ includes the essential modules that a serious business needs to run a complete B2C or B2B operation: telesales, order management, product information and digital asset management, rule-based personalisation, product reviews and ratings, inventory management, and workflow management. Each module has comprehensive functionality and is easy to extend and customise.
Jagdip Rupra, CEO at Applied Consultants, says: “Now merchants can put their energies into exploiting the extensible mantiki™ architecture to create their own unique propositions.”
Rupra has always maintained that technology forms just one part of any business solution, and it has to be moulded to fit into the larger picture. “Having the right technology is vitally important, but that alone does not guarantee success,” he says. “You need a skilled implementation partner. The best Formula One car in the hands of an inexperienced driver will not win you the race.”
Applied Consultants has taken this mantra to another level with its finely tuned methodologies, which it calls Solution Engineering. It starts with first understanding all the touch points at which a customer interacts with the business, and defining metrics to measure how successful and satisfying each interaction is for them. How quickly should a website return a list of products for a customer? How relevant should the product list be to an individual customer or customer segment? How quickly should a refund or return request be processed?
Business processes and technology solutions are designed hand-in-hand so that the flow of information and interactions between business units, personnel and technology all work towards delivering the desired metrics and quality criteria.
Inevitably, there will be challenges – for example, constraints in warehousing operations may mean some items take longer to deliver than others. “The skill here is to keep the customer informed clearly of what to expect throughout their purchasing journey,” says Rupra. “If their expectations are then met, they will not be disappointed.”
Applied Consultants used this customer centric approach with great success when implementing its mantiki™ platform for boutique online wine retailer Virgin Wines, where excellent customer service is vital.
Andy Davies, Head of Service Delivery at Virgin Wines, said: “We can now pick an order within 15 minutes of it being placed, and our returns rate has gone down by 5 per cent because customers are much better informed about what they are getting and when they are getting it throughout the checkout journey”.
Marketing automation technology plays a vital role in the eCommerce world where there are no human sales assistants. A key ingredient of Virgin Wines’ customer centric approach is the mantiki™ personalisation module which learns about a customer’s wine preferences and offers them appropriate promotions.
Jay Wright, Virgin Wines CEO, said: “With turnover up by 11.6 per cent and IT infrastructure and hosting costs down by 30 per cent, mantiki™ is a great success story and a solid foundation for our future initiatives.”