In the world of online sales, an eCommerce platform is usually the central point where customers start their interaction with a company. eCommerce systems don't work in isolation but are often a part of a sales, marketing and support ecosystem that work with the same set of customers. Because of this tight relationship, many software vendors bundle multiple (somewhat) independent software solutions and market them as “end-to-end” CRM or Customer Experience suites. Some of the most popular enterprise CRM suites are SAP C4/Hana, Oracle CRM or Salesforce Customer 360.
If you are new to SAP eCommerce, make sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to SAP eCommerce mega blog where you can find on overview of eCommerce, learn about the specifics of B2B and B2C eCommerce models, and get a high level overview of differences between on-premise and cloud offerings. This blog will focus on the what makes a good Customer Experience (CRM) suite.
eCommerce storefront is at the core of many eCommerce ecosystems. It exposes a product catalog as well as ordering and checkout functionality. Product catalog is the “star of the show” as this is the main “feature” that customers want to see when they visit the eCommerce storefront. In this sense the qualities that make or break the entire eCommerce experience are directly tied to the catalog functionality. How up to date the products and prices are, how easy it is to customize the catalog based on customers and geography, and how easy it is to find the items customers are looking for are all characteristics that directly affect the return of the eCommerce investment. Once the customer is ready to purchase, they go through an ordering and checkout process. This is where a lot of the differences between B2B and B2C storefronts lie. While both strive to provide a fast and painless checkout, B2B checkout process is usually a bit more complicated as it often requires managing of purchase orders and generally more complicated shipping and payment flows. Popular eCommerce storefronts in the SAP ecosystem are SAP Commerce Cloud (formerly known as SAP Hybris) and WECO eCommerce. Both are specifically designed for a tight integration with SAP ERP. Many standalone eCommerce storefronts such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Magento, BigCommerce, Broadleaf Commerce, Sana eCommerce, Kentico are also used by many customers. While they provide good front-end commerce functionality, they often require specialized connectors to move catalog and order data between the SAP and the eCommerce system.
Regardless if you sell to consumers or businesses, when something goes wrong with the purchase (e.g. order was incorrect, was shipped to a wrong place or product is defective), customers usually tend to go back to the place they purchased it seek resolution. This is why, apart from facilitating sales, eCommerce storefronts also often serve as a first level of customer support. Customers expect to find in one place their order history, invoices and various shipping documents that they may need for their internal accounting.
For any issues with the product, they will look for ways to get personalized customer support via voice, chat or by creating a support ticket. This is where the integration with Customer Support systems like SAP C4 Service Cloud or Salesforce Service Cloud becomes important. Service personnel needs to know who is the customer and what is their order history before they can provide the appropriate help.
As an extension to customer support functionality, eCommerce storefronts also often integrate with Accounts Receivable payment portals like ePay or Corevist Bill Pay to give customers ability view and pay any outstanding invoices.
Marketing and Sales
One of the most beneficial (from a revenue generation standpoint) integrations for eCommerce systems is the integration with Marketing automation systems like Hub Spot, Adobe Marketo, Salesforce Marketing Cloud or SAP C4 Marketing Cloud. eCommerce platforms naturally feed marketing automation system with data about what products customers are looking at, which products are usually bought together or how customer interaction changes across geography or time of day. Marketing automation then is used to fine tune discounts, promotions and up/cross sells back in the eCommerce system to provide the right incentive for customers to complete the purchase.
When your customers are businesses and products they buy are complex, big ticket items, the sales cycle is generally much longer. Keeping up with the selling cycle becomes a complex task by itself and this is where Sales Automation systems like SAP Sales Cloud or Salesforce Sales Cloud help. They play a critical role in managing sales process end-to-end by helping track all customer interactions, and offering analytics and highly customized configuration, pricing and quotes (CPQ) through the sales process. Often the CPQ processing is automated so that eCommerce systems, during checkout, can obtain a proper price and quote in real time from the Sales Automation system.
A recent trend in enterprise commerce is shifting focus to Customer Experience Management (CX). With the increased popularity of social media and its direct influence on revenues, it is important to know what makes customers happy (or unhappy). Analyzing customer sentiment and making appropriate corrections is becoming an important lever for both driving revenue and differentiate from the competition. Customer experience platforms like Qualtrics and Birdeye are offering comprehensive solutions to track and analyze customer feedback through surveys at various customer interaction points (for example when customer completes an order).
Vendors will sell individual software components separately, especially if you need to start small or already have an existing Marketing or CRM system, but the tight integration across the entire suite is what makes purchasing a suite a compelling offer.