Over the last few decades, customer behaviour has evolved in ways both predictable and surprising, shaped by the ever-changing landscape of societal and cultural norms, and more importantly, by technological innovation.
Customer service, data mining, behaviour prediction, and other areas revolving around the company-client relationship have grown immensely, showing that the importance of providing good service, especially in the retail industry, remains as important as ever.
Understandably, the idea of what comprises good service has changed over the years too. After all, 70% of people avail of services online, buying or at least initiating the process of buying on the web. In an era where many businesses have supplemented, and some sectors like financial have replaced, the hospitable and personalised brick-and-mortar store experience with swift and convenient online transactions, a delightful customer experience is being increasingly defined not by a smiling shop assistant but by softwares and commerce solutions that function perfectly; offering the customer a seamless buying experience.
Over the last decade, almost every major existing retail business and the army of dynamic new businesses have set up online shopping platforms. Electronic commerce has increased the levels of competition in business, because here, a new venture has just as much chance for the customer’s attention, as an old brand. And increasingly, the service rendered online is becoming the deciding factor for customer loyalty.
Ushering in an era of smarter commerce solutions
The demand for superior and intelligent solutions that can cater to a growing network of businesses offering their services and products online has spawned a $70 billion dollar industry.
Breakdown and even niggling hiccups in systems, software, back-end services and other parts of the integrated e-commerce chain can cost companies their customers and hurt revenue, which is why, a solution that’s smarter than the ordinary is required.
Ushering in IBM’s Smarter Commerce solutions.
Smarter Commerce was produced by integrating IBM’s homegrown softwares with solutions got through strategic business acquisitions. In a bid to develop high-quality electronic commerce solutions, IBM acquired companies like Sterling commerce, which provided software solutions for integrating back-end retail systems, Coremetrics, which offered cloud services to analyse the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and marketing campaign automation tools provider, Unica.
Community-led consulting and other services
Under its new Smarter Commerce Solutions, IBM offers a bouquet of training, consulting and software support.
IBM’s new consulting practices include creation of specialised communities that share information, analyse data and create best practices. These specialised communities will include 1,200 commerce experts and 1,200 experienced sales people, offering Smarter Commerce clients an exhaustive pool of talent.
Smarter Commerce also includes tools that help companies keep track of social CRM metrics and other data mining. These tools help the client develop their customer services and offer marketing campaigns that have been customised and fine-tuned to customer behaviour and demands.
A seamless, sharp e-commerce experience
A specialised e-commerce solution like Smarter Commerce offers its clients various benefits. Here are four.
A smart solution, from start to finish
WebSphere commerce is IBM’s advanced cloud analytics software. As part of the Smarter Commerce package, WebSphere helps businesses monitor their performance through brand metrics and is also designed to implement marketing platforms for B2C and B2B portals that deal with huge volumes.
Through continuous monitoring of the entire transaction cycle, right from marketing to client interaction, from delivery to post-delivery service, WebSphere helps businesses optimise their processes, by promptly identifying and fixing problem areas, leveraging opportunities as soon as they arise and so on. The successful implementation of this aspect of Smarter Commerce has helped companies like1-800-Flowers gain an edge over their competitors.
RAMPing up customer services
In an increasingly automated business environment, the business-customer interaction is hugely diminished, and factors like promptness of service and convenience play a huge role in retaining customers, factors that are largely driven by IT processes.
System failure or just minor niggles, can lead to customer migration, but a responsive client interaction environment can go a long way in minimising this. Often, client interaction is also required to attain steady business growth. IBM’s RAMP or Real Time Analytics Matching Platform offers a new-age, real-time customer service experience that enhances call centre and social media statistics.
IBM Smarter Commerce has been developed with the customer as the ‘centre piece’. RAMP is a direct result of this approach.
Social media has revolutionised inter-personal communication. And it is on its way to revolutionizing businesses. It has already created a paradigm shift in the way retail products and services are marketed across sectors.
An intelligent e-commerce solution takes into account the importance of social media and that’s exactly what Smarter Commerce does through IBM Coremetrics. The whole gamut of social media metrics, right from targeted email to impression attribution, from pay-per-click application results to search marketing, is gathered with Coremetrics.
Businesses can fine-tune their Social Media strategies, plan new internet marketing campaigns based on customer engagement and behaviour, monitor their Social Media metrics continuously and stay ahead of competition in the race for customer attention on the various Social Media platforms.
Strategy comes from the customer
IBM’s Unica products provide marketing processes that are a world apart. Imagine being able to share real time messages with targeted clients or a really smart analytics tool that can help evaluate your marketing performance. Imagine cross channel communication that changes the way businesses interact with customers, IBM Unica products let you do all this and more.
An enhanced interactive experience with the customer means a marketing and service strategy that’s developed with the customer’s direct input. Superior analytical tools help futher, with accurate evaluation of these strategies.
Online shopping, ecommerce technology, the Smartphone, the PDA and other aspects of our increasingly digitized world has and will continue to transform the way customers operate, thus driving the way businesses behave. Wouldn’t it be nice to have commerce solutions that are smart enough to stay ahead of the curve, so your business can do the same?
IBM’s Smarter Commerce has already been tried and tested on businesses with huge volumes and complicated processes, such as 1-800-Flowers, Moosejaw Mountaineering, US Lumbar, Kimberly Clerk and McKesson Medical, an integrated seamless approach now defines both the customer and the company experience.
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