Consider this startling piece of research: 80 percent of businesses now search online for a product or service if they don't currently have a known supplier. Now contrast this with the Government's own figures presented to me by Business Link West Midlands last week that concluded that IT investment in the Midlands is woefully below the UK average.
The message, I think, is crystal clear: if businesses in the region are to survive the fundamental shift in how our economy is being reconfigured, they need to get serious about e-business – fast.
Compounding this shift is a generation entering the workforce that has never known a time without the internet. Surfing the web is second nature to them, with high expectations about how information is presented and when it’s available. And as this web-savvy Generation Z begins to gain more influence in buying decisions, your business could be swept aside by competitors who can provide up-to-the-minute information that puts the buyer in the driving seat.
If you haven’t done so already I encourage you to re-evaluate your website. If it’s a static ‘brochure website’ then you’re probably applying old-world thinking to new-world technology. Now could be a good time to think about how your website could be working harder for your customers, using technology that’s no longer exclusive to big businesses.
Here are four ways you could be using the web to build new relationships while insulting customers from your competition:
Live Stock Data
Link your website to your back office system to give customers visibility into what’s in stock or when stock will be available. Think about how Amazon.co.uk does this.
Customer Price Lists
If you’ve got different customers working to different price and discount lists, make it easy for them to log in to your website and be presented with the prices and products they are familiar with.
Customer Self Service
Give your customers access to their transaction history and account information. If they’ve changed personnel or premises give them the tools to update their records.
Rapid Order Entry
When an order is placed on your website do you have to retype it into your back office system? Stop! If your online transaction volume is growing (or has potential to grow) then automating this will cut your cost of sale and keep you competitive.
If you’d like to discuss how to get your website up to speed using Microsoft Dynamics NAV, contact Technology Management today.
I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about how businesses could be embracing the web too, so please leave your comments below.