Global retail e-commerce is expected to generate $8 trillion by 2026. In the United States alone, 265 million consumers are already engaging in online shopping. It’s expected that online revenue is responsible for 20 percent of all sales—23 percent by 2025. But none of this would be possible without CRM (Customer Relationship Management) technology.
Consumers are looking for personalized shopping experiences. CRM plays a significant role in online retail by helping businesses manage and analyze customer data. Any investors considering placing funds in retail should do two things. Firstly, ensure prospective firms have an online presence capable of scaling. And secondly, be confident of leadership’s commitment to these three current CRM trends:
1. Improving Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
In e-commerce, AI is used to automate repetitive tasks such as product recommendations, chatbots, email campaigns, and customer service. For instance, personalized product recommendations based on browsing or purchase history can significantly increase sales and customer satisfaction. Machine learning algorithms are also used to provide personalized shopping experiences. They analyze customer data such as browsing history, demographics, and engagement metrics.
These tools can help businesses anticipate and meet customers' needs, create a customized experience, and achieve higher conversions and sales. AI and ML algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data and are revolutionizing the world of e-commerce. They are providing businesses with timely, high-quality insights and recommendations.
However, the use of such technologies must adhere to privacy regulations and consider consumer sentiment. A careless overreliance on technology could reify and accelerate poor performance. To be effective, ML must be trained on quality data. Firms that outpace their competitors will focus on training ranking algorithms and constantly evaluate the quality of their searches. And that could still require a degree of human insight.
2. Incorporating Social CRM
Providing customers with a consistent experience across all channels, i.e., an omnichannel approach, significantly improves customer retention. This is because customers research multiple channels before making purchases. As a result, omnichannel has been a buzzword in retail for a while now. Today, more than half of all e-commerce sites have omnichannel capabilities. However, one fast-evolving channel requires dedicated attention—social media. The Future of Commerce says young consumers (Gen Z) prefer TikTok over Google for product recommendations. It predicts that social commerce sales will total approximately $2.9 trillion by 2026.
Social CRM is the integration of social media channels into CRM platforms. “By viewing social media and CRM together, companies gain a more powerful overview of what people are posting about on social media, as well as a clearer understanding of brand sentiment," says Lucy Fuggle of Hubspot. Organizations can use social CRM to respond to comments quickly and thoughtfully, facilitating stronger relationships with existing and potential customers as well as gathering and incorporating user feedback into their roadmap.
3. Using Voice and Conversational UI
AI and ML have dramatically improved the accuracy and relevance of voice and conversational user interface (UI) technology. Think of voice-activated platforms like Siri, Google Voice Assistant, and Amazon Alexa. Integrating this technology into CRM is currently a major goal. Zendesk’s Sunshine Conversations has close document voice capabilities. So does Microsoft Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service, an AI-powered chatbot platform. In the near future, businesses that ask customers to type or click on a screen to communicate with them will likely lose them to other vendors.
4. Moving CRM beyond Sales
Historically, CRM systems were exclusively used as sales tools. Now they’re being incorporated marketing and even billing. In addition, as businesses automate more of their routine processes, CRM technology won't be restricted to customer-facing activities. Instead, it will increasingly be the technology that drives the business.
CRM offerings are getting more sophisticated, and an unending stream of new products is hitting the market. They are becoming easier to implement and use, in many instances, suitable and affordable for single-person enterprises. However, this makes it critical that e-commerce firms have a clear vision of their scaling requirements.
The Future of CRM
E-commerce CRM is a quickly evolving field, and businesses need to stay on top of the latest trends to remain competitive. AI and ML, social CRM, and voice capability are three top trends in e-commerce CRM that online retailers need to follow to improve their customer experience and increase sales.
By leveraging these trends, businesses can create personalized experiences that meet customer needs, improve brand loyalty and drive sales. The future of e-commerce CRM looks to be without limit. And we can expect to see more innovations and advancements that will transform how businesses interact and engage with customers.