Digital Sales Transformation Needs the Right Connections

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Brandenburg expects the company’s early successes to drive even more success; the more people see how effective the Outreach platform is, the more people will use it.

She also expects to work with Outreach to develop additional integrations, which should enable the platform to provide even more relevant data.

DEAL IN THE DEALERSHIP

Digital sales transformation isn’t just for the business-to-business environment, says Srini Venugopal, senior director of product management at Epicor, a provider of business management and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Take, for example, the process of a consumer buying a product, such as a boat, from a dealer. That kind of a sale today likely includes an online point-of-sale system that allows the consumer to select styles or options electronically at the dealership. But all too often today, the dealer’s order to the manufacturer still involves a complex paper process with the purchase order, options, price, etc., all written or typed out. This disconnect of the digital process along the supply line is a challenge that many industries are still facing today, according to Venugopal.

THE EVOLVING SALES ENVIRONMENT

And in this increasingly connected world, it’s no surprise that online commerce is exploding. After all, there’s no arguing about the convenience. In a survey by Swagbucks, a rewards and loyalty program company operated by Prodege, 75 percent of American shoppers said they loved making purchases online because they don’t have to leave the house. Other reasons included the ability to shop at any time, day or night (72 percent); the ability to shop from anywhere (54 percent); a wider selection than what is available in stores (52 percent); and the ability to avoid rude or annoying sales clerks (39 percent).

E-commerce truly is digital sales in its truest form, but it is not as simple as creating a website, setting up a system to accept and process online payments, and waiting for the orders to come trickling in. There is a lot more involved, as Hain Celestial, a leading organic and natural products company with operations in North America, Europe, and India, can attest. Not too long ago, the company decided that it would start an aggressive e-commerce sales effort with its new, high-end Fountain of Truth skin care line, its first venture into the direct-to-consumer market. With previous skin care lines, the company had used the brick-and-mortar route.

“The beauty industry is changing rapidly, with independent brands leading the charge,” says Roseann Fernandez, Hain Celestial’s director of marketing.

Fernandez acknowledges the popularity of e-commerce. “This is the way people like to shop,” she says. But it was a new effort for Hain Celestial, so the company worked closely with Softvision, a digital services company, and Giuliana Rancic, a developer of skin care lines, to build the e-commerce site and brand strategy, helping to deliver customized front-end designs that would resonate with customers.

Softvision embarked on an agile and technology-agnostic approach, integrating seamlessly with multiple third-party e-commerce service providers. The company developed a close partnership with the Hain IT team, focusing intently on data and learning about the motivations and aspirations of target consumers.

Softvision provides deep customer intelligence from the e-commerce platform, something that isn’t available in a brick-and-mortar sales environment. That data includes why a customer ordered a certain product and other details across the customer’s entire sales journey, Fernandez adds. “The data allows us to make intelligent decisions.”

Working with Softvision has already provided the brand, which rolled out in the fall, with a number of measurable advantages, according to Fernandez. In the first two weeks, there was a 2 percent sales conversion rate, which Fernandez expects to grow to 10 percent soon. The rollout was accomplished in six months; a brick-and-mortar rollout would have taken at least twice as long. And, perhaps most appealing to Hain Celestial, the sales margins are much higher because there isn’t the 55 percent to 70 percent middle-man cost that comes with traditional retail.

And in the end, isn’t that, above all else, the real reason that companies convert their sales processes to digital?

Phillip Britt is a freelance writer based in the Chicago area. He can be reached at spenterprises@wowway.com.

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