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Four Tips to Increase Engagement with B2B Customers

March 30th, 2016 Brianne Schaer No comments

Building long-term relationships is just as relevant to business-to-business (B2B) merchants as it is to their business-to-consumer (B2C) counterparts. Customers will be more willing and excited to shop at your store if they feel valued and receive personalized care. By working to deepen customer relationships, B2B web store owners can increase sales and increase the lifetime value of shoppers.

A number of valuable tools are available to B2B web store owners to increase engagement with customers. Among them are the following four tips that will be discussed in this blog:

  1. Offer a Personalized Experience
  2. Streamline Checkout
  3. Establish Loyalty
  4. Provide Education and Thought Leadership

Offer a Personalized Experience

Creating a personalized experience that will keep customers coming back all starts with understanding their needs. By adjusting not only the content available, but also the look-and-feel of a website, you can make your shoppers feel more comfortable and excited to make purchases. The easier it is for shoppers to find the products they purchase on a regular basis, the more likely they will be to return to your store.

Individual logins for B2B shoppers makes it easy to personalize your online store, ensuring that it is in tune with each shopper’s needs. This allows for custom pricing, custom catalogs, and personalized templates that can be assigned to a particular customer login.

The following examples show the same product listing page, but from two different logins. There are a number of differences between the two logins, including access to additional categories, different color schemes, and different organization.

Single list product view with a quick order option on the right for frequently purchased items with known item number and quantity.

This customer can see products in a single list view, and has access to a quick order screen on the right to easily add items by item number. This is especially helpful to customers who frequently purchase the same items, and already know the item number and quantity needed.

Reduced catalog showing items in a grid view by default.

This template has a reduced catalog and shows items in a grid view by default. This is helpful for customers who are more inclined to browse the catalog before making a purchase.

Streamline Checkout

B2B customers expect an online store to provide an easy-to-use interface for making bulk purchases. Sometimes a B2B shopper will need to browse your product catalog to add items to the shopping cart. Typically, however, B2B customers will already know what they are going to buy before hitting the online store, so your store must provide a way to quickly place orders from a list.

The ability to copy orders saves time for B2B customers that frequently repeat orders. From the “My Account” section, a customer can copy an existing order, including, if they wish, the addresses.

Option to copy individual line items, or both the items and address lines to the new shopping cart.

Customers may choose to copy only the individual line items, or to copy both the items and address lines to the new shopping cart.

Another way to simplify checkout for B2B shoppers is to provide shoppers with the ability to upload their own excel lists with product codes and quantities. Using a Quick Order List, customers can key in item codes to add products to their cart or upload product lists from Excel. This saves time and reduces the need to click through the entire catalog searching for products.

Search items by key words, and add multiple quantities in one go.

Customers can search for items by key word, and add multiple quantities to the order at one go.

Quick Order Lists are as simple as item code and quantity added to an order in one click.

Quick Order Lists are as simple as item code and quantity, and can be added to an order in one click.

- Quick Order Entry screen shows the summary of items before checking out.

The Quick Order Entry screen shows all list items before continuing to checkout.

Establish Loyalty

Open communication is a key component to establishing customer loyalty. By opening doors to communicating across various channels (like social media, online, or over the phone), you are providing your customers an invaluable opportunity to express their likes and dislikes of your store before heading to a competitor.

By actively engaging with customers, you can expect to see a higher retention rate, and a more organic increase in your customer base, since positive feedback can be easily shared across social channels via Facebook or other social media accounts. Closely monitor these social channels to offer thanks for positive feedback, and solutions to negative feedback.

Social media integration for easier communication relevant to B2B and B2C shoppers.

Sharing to social media accounts opens lines of communication, and is just as relevant to B2B shoppers as B2C.

Publish entire storefront to Facebook.

You can even publish your entire storefront to Facebook.

Provide Education and Thought Leadership

Continually provide value to your shoppers to keep them coming to your store. A well-stocked content library can highlight new and underused features of your products, giving potential customers a nudge to purchase these items and try them out for themselves.

Videos, webinars, workshops, blog content, and data sheets are just a few examples of content that can engage and retain your customers. Additionally, effective content adds value to your customers and serves as a key differentiator between your store and your competitors.

Safety information by providing additional information of interest to customers.

A store that offers safety information stands out from the competition by providing additional information of interest to customers.

For more information about increasing engagement with customers or establishing your B2B web store, please contact us at ecommerce@ignify.com.

Brianne Schaer is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify – a Hitachi Solutions subsidiary. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

Five Ways Hitachi Ecommerce with Microsoft Dynamics AX Simplifies the Buyers Journey

February 23rd, 2016 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

Hitachi Ecommerce with Microsoft Dynamics AX provides business owners an end-to-end ecommerce solution that not only manages their online store efficiently, but also gives merchants an opportunity to function across multiple channels while keeping their inventory and accounts synced and updated at all times. This real-time interaction between Dynamics AX, Hitachi Ecommerce, and the retail store/MPOS during the entire sales order lifecycle ensures customer satisfaction.

Customers can access Hitachi Ecommerce over the internet and view customer-specific catalogue.

Customers can access Hitachi Ecommerce over the internet, and view a customer-specific catalogue and manage their checkout and account. On the back-end, internal staff can manage content, promotions, reporting, and more within the Manager Panel. This is all fully integrated with Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Manage Catalog and Inventory

With Hitachi Ecommerce and Microsoft Dynamics AX, merchants can create a product catalog with both variant and non-variant items, complete with attractive product images, and display it on the online store. When shoppers visit the online store and purchase any product, the same is reflected back in Microsoft Dynamics AX, allowing the merchant to maintain a highly synchronized inventory across all online stores. Similarly, all modifications to prices of items, whether for all shoppers, a select group or even individual customers, are displayed real-time on the online store.

Product catalog in Microsoft Dynamics AX is easy to configure.

The product catalog in Microsoft Dynamics AX is easily configurable by the merchant to maintain inventory across all online stores.

Customer-facing web stores reflects the items set up in Microsoft Dynamics AX.

The customer-facing web store reflects the items set up in Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Provide Multiple Search Filters

Shoppers are increasingly looking at targeted shopping on online stores, and advanced search and filter options are a necessity. The Hitachi Ecommerce solution lets shoppers filter their search results by price as well as stock status, thereby making shopping faster. The shopper can adjust the price filter to his desired price range and browse only those specific products, instead of browsing through the entire catalog. Other search parameters can also be configured depending upon the catalog requirements.

Search parameters are easily adjusted on product listing page.

Search parameters are easily adjusted on the product listing page. The listing can be narrowed by price, category, stock, and more.

Create Promotions and Discounts

Along with managing an updated catalog, the merchant can also create multiple promotions and discounts as per his business needs. Promotions designed for a select group of people, flat discounts across the store, festive offers, etc. are easy to design and manage with the Hitachi Ecommerce with Microsoft Dynamics AX solution. These discounts are either automatically deducted from the order, or the shopper can be required to apply promotion codes to avail them, depending upon the configurations determined by the merchant. The merchant thus has control over how he wants his promotions and discounts to be consumed by the shopper.

Manage Gift Cards

Gift cards/certificates are increasingly being favored by shoppers as it reduces the hassle of browsing through numerous products and stores to find the perfect gift, while allowing the recipient to purchase what he really wants. The Hitachi Ecommerce solution works with Microsoft Dynamics AX and MPOS to allow shoppers to purchase a gift card in-store and redeem on the online store. The gift card number is synced with Dynamics AX when it is purchased via MPOS, and can be used as a valid payment option when purchasing on the online store. In case of any additional payments due towards the sales order, the solution is designed to receive even partial payments using a different payment method. This means that irrespective of the gift card amount, the recipient can shop for whatever he wants.

Utilize Multiple Channels

With Microsoft Dynamics AX and Hitachi Ecommerce it is possible to have a multi-channel store that lets customers place an order on the online store and pick it up in-store at their nearest locations. This is made possible by the Hitachi Ecommerce online store, Microsoft Dynamics AX, and MPOS working in tandem with each other to ensure that a sales order is fulfilled as per the customer needs. The store locator widget makes finding the most convenient store easy for the customer. Allowing customers to pick up their orders in-store also gives the customers the satisfaction of personalized attention, while reducing the costs of shipping and handling for the merchant. This multi-channel capability and presence expands the store’s reach and gives the merchant both online and offline shoppers.Hitachi Ecommerce takes advantage of these five ways to simplify the buyer’s journey to increase conversions. For more information on Hitachi Ecommerce, please visit us.hitachi-solutions.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer at Ignify – a Hitachi Solutions subsidiary. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

The Evolving Retailer: Leveraging Online and In-Store Technology to Adapt to a Changing Landscape

January 26th, 2016 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

The retail industry is one of constant transformation. As consumer technology grows and innovates – connecting people with greater convenience and transparency – consumers’ expectations and interactions also change. Why settle for old ways when new ones promise simplicity and ease?

With different channels offering different revenue streams, retail technology offers a crucial way for better managing operations – as well as staying ahead of both the customer and the competition.

Enhance the Customer In-Store Experience

One of the major benefits of shopping in a brick-and-mortar store is the ability to pick up, feel, and try on merchandise before buying. By engaging with customers at each stage of this journey, and by being able to helpfully instruct and guide the customers throughout their buying processes, stores create relationships that lead to repeat purchases.

Using a mobile, modern point of sale system is an important way that store associates can connect with customers browsing in the store. With Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS, store associates can offer customers personalized service, showing them different products that match their interest. Also, store associates can look up customer accounts to get a better understanding of customer shopping patterns and preferences, and can then make informed suggestions.

Coats and Jackets

Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS is a flexible point of sale system fully optimized for mobile. Store associates can show customers different items right on the mobile POS screen, and can look up customers’ past purchase histories.

Optimize Online Presence

With more and more shoppers choosing to make their purchases online, retailers need to make sure their eCommerce sites will attract visitors, and facilitate sales conversions. An eCommerce system must be easy-to-navigate, easy-to-checkout, and appealing to browse.

eCommerce for Microsoft Dynamics provides a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate interface for merchants and shoppers alike – enabling quicker checkouts for customers, and insightful online store management for merchants. With the system’s seamless integration with Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM, merchants are able to leverage a powerfully interconnected online selling and IT infrastructure – ensuring customers have access to the most up-to-date prices, inventory, and product information.

Gadgets Online

A sleek, uncluttered eCommerce interface is an important way to connect with customers – and to motivate them to convert. eCommerce for Microsoft Dynamics provides a user-friendly online store platform for shoppers and administrators alike.

Make Mobile-Friendly Online Stores

Smartphones, tablets – it’s not a matter of if people are using them, it’s a matter of how much people are using them. Mobile devices aren’t just for phone calls and text messages – they are key conduits for research, browsing, and making purchases.

eCommerce for Microsoft Dynamics incorporates responsive web design in online stores, enabling the stores to recognize what device a shopper is using, and automatically adjust the design and resolution to the shopper’s screen. By fluidly converting the store to the shopper’s device, merchants ensure that customers on smartphones, tablets, and desktop/laptop computers experience seamless and convenient shopping regardless of device.

Responsive design

Responsive web design provides a seamless shopping experience by enabling online stores to automatically adjust screen size and design to suit a shopper’s device

Create Social Media Connection

Make it easy for your customers to spread the word about your company. With people connected to vast social media networks, allowing them to share your products, and their testimonies, is a remarkably simple, yet productive, form of brand promotion. Because what better way to build trust with potential clients than to have the people they trust endorse you? Adding social media buttons on product pages or marketing collateral makes it easy for clients to show what they like, and what they want.

Building a strong company social media presence is also an important way to get the word out about your company. People want to share new, interesting, cool things, and they want to engage with likable brands. Creating must-visit social channels that listen to shoppers, and share the content they are most interested in, is key to strengthening a significant source of new customers and, most importantly, new conversions.

 

Social Media

Posting visible social media buttons on product pages make it easy for customers to broadcast your merchandise, and help you leverage free promotion.

For More Information

For more information on how technology can bolster retail systems and processes, please email retail@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Marketing Coordinator at Ignify – a Hitachi Solutions subsidiary. Ignify is a Worldwide Microsoft Partner in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

Online Shoppers Exceed In Store Shoppers on Thanksgiving weekend – Retail Industry Transformation

December 4th, 2015 Sandeep Walia No comments

The National Retail Federation’s survey found that for the first time online shoppers (103 million online shoppers) in the US exceeded those that shopped in stores (102 million in store retail shoppers) on Thanksgiving weekend. Black Friday is the term colloquially used for the day after the Thanksgiving holiday that kicks off the holiday season, and for many retailers it has been the time in the year when their books go black (profitable). Online shopping on Thanksgiving and Black Friday jumped 14% from the year before for a total spend of $4.5Billion by American consumers. On the other hand, in-store shopping declined on a year on year basis.

For those who have not seen it – all categories are now shopped online. Ecommerce is not just here to stay but will be the dominant model of shopping. More interestingly, 50% of the online shopping was done through mobile devices. What does that mean for retailers? Retailers need to invest in four areas to be successful for the future:

  • Ecommerce: Investing in a powerful, integrated ecommerce systems is the item with the highest ROI for retailers. It is important that an ecommerce platform provides an engaging experience as well as promotes repeat buying. This means a shopping experience that is effortless, offers efficient shipments, and has an appealing interface that is mobile-optimized.
  • Mobility: I predict that in 2016 ecommerce through mobile devices (tablets, phones) will outstrip traditional computing devices such as PCs and laptops. Ensure your ecommerce platform is mobile optimized like the eCommerce for Microsoft Dynamics platform is.
  • Omni-channel systems: The retailers that can traverse channels seamlessly will be the ones that are successful. This means a customer should be able to buy in a store and see and redeem their earned points online. Or that a cashier can pull up a customer’s profile and see both their online orders as well as retail store orders from their in-store Point of Sale device. There are several other omni-channel scenarios, but ensuring your online and brick-and-mortar systems are integrated at virtually every touch point for loyalty, customer profile, transaction history, pricing and promotions is absolutely critical for success.

The eCommerce for Microsoft Dynamics platform is a good example of you can have powerful merchandising functionality fully integrated with an inventory, financial management and warehouse system like Microsoft Dynamics AX. The example below shows two screen shots. The first is product information for the iPhone 8GB phone on Microsoft Dynamics AX, which is automatically published online to the Gadgets store. This includes images, product content, related products and real-time inventory information. This kind of seamless integration allows for a richer customer experience and higher repeat buying.

Omni-channel integration between an ERP and ecommerce system drivers a better customer experience and higher revenues.

Figure: Omni-channel integration between an ERP and ecommerce system drivers a better customer experience and higher revenues.

Please email us at ecommerce@ignify.com if you are interested in ensuring you have online success.

Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

Which Should You Choose: A SAAS or an On-Premise eCommerce Solution?

June 8th, 2015 Manasi Kulkarni No comments

Cloud computing and a highly competitive business arena have made SAAS – Software as a Service – solutions popular among business owners (particularly small- to medium-sized business owners). eCommerce businesses can greatly benefit from such SAAS solutions, and this post attempts to lay out the benefits and disadvantages of both SAAS and on-premise eCommerce solutions to help you make an informed decision.

  1. Availability and deployment: As compared to on-premise software solutions, SAAS solutions are more quickly available and can be easily deployed. On-premise solutions may take weeks or even months to deploy from the time you decide to invest in an ecommerce solution for your business. The SAAS solutions do not involve receiving any installation package from the provider, installation of CDs, or involvement of a dedicated IT department to ensure smooth installation and deployment of the software etc. SAAS solutions are available over the internet, and business owners can begin using them simply by signing in within minutes.
  2. Hardware/IT infrastructure requirements: On-premise solutions usually require the business owner to maintain some dedicated hardware and invest towards its regular maintenance and upgrade as per the ecommerce solution’s requirements. While larger businesses might not require any additional hardware procurement, or new procurement might not be an issue, for smaller businesses purchasing and maintaining hardware can mean additional costs that they would rather avoid. SAAS solutions are available over the cloud and do not require the business owner to make any additional investments. The infrastructural requirements are thus significantly reduced.
  3. Solution upgrades: Traditional on-premise installations require the business owner to keep track of and manage software upgrades at his end. This can be a cumbersome activity if a dedicated IT department is not available and if the solution provider is not proactive in providing the upgrades or new releases to the business owner. In comparison, a SAAS solution is maintained entirely by the provider and all upgrades are automatically available to the business owner.
  4. Costing: It follows from the earlier points that SAAS solutions are relatively cheaper to procure and maintain as compared to on-premise installations. With limited hardware requirements, licensing fees, upgrade and maintenance charges, the overall cost of a SAAS solution is significantly reduced. SAAS solutions can also be available as free trials initially, further reducing the costs for the business owner.
  5. Free trials: As mentioned earlier, SAAS solutions are increasingly being offered with a free trial period. These free trials allow the business owner to experience the solution first hand and make an informed decision about if the solution is suited for his business, and if he should make a long-term investment in it. On-premise solutions usually offer only a snapshot of what is available and require the business owner to make a commitment before he can get the whole picture. This could at times mean failed investments as the solution may not fit the business requirements completely.
  6. Customization: With on-premise solutions the business owner can get a customized solution tailored to suit his unique business requirements. The solution provider can make significant modifications to the product and guarantee a perfect fit for the business. However, this may involve additional costs and longer time to deployment. SAAS solutions, on the other hand, may not always render themselves to customization, leaving the business owner dissatisfied with his purchase.
  7. Internet connectivity and performance issue: As SAAS solutions are provided via cloud, your internet availability and speed may hamper the overall performance of the solution. In-house servers and applications usually guarantee greater speed and performance, thereby making on-premise solutions a better option. However, SAAS providers are increasingly overcoming the reliance on internet, and some solutions can now be accessed even when offline or at slower internet speeds.
  8. Data security: As on-premise solutions use in-house servers and other hardware, the concerns of data security are greatly reduced. The business owner has more control over his solution and greater knowledge of who has access to data, or who it is being shared with. In comparison, SAAS solutions are hosted over the cloud and storing sensitive data on third-party servers can be a risky proposition. However, SAAS providers are seen to be increasingly working on reducing these security concerns, and SAAS solutions are now beginning to be a lot more secure than previously imagined.

While each type of solution has its advantages and disadvantages, the Ignify eCommerce solution attempts to reduce the gap between the two, and is available both as a SAAS as well as an on-premise solution, and guarantees complete customer satisfaction in both cases.

Irrespective of whether you are an on-premise or SAAS customer, the Ignify eCommerce solution can be easily installed/deployed, store data securely, provide regular upgrades, is customizable, and works both online and offline without compromising the solution’s performance. Based upon your business requirements, we provide you the best solution that is affordable and easy to use. To learn more about our product, please contact ecommerce@ignify.com.

Manasi Kulkarni is a Product Marketer at Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.