Winning the E-commerce Race with Technology: A Zoho Case Study

E-commerce has revolutionised the way we do business. Online retailers reach a wider audience consistently and have a clear pathway to global sales. In South Africa, revenue from e-commerce is on track to reach US$7.22bn this year [2023] and is projected to reach US$11.58bn by 2027*, a phenomenal growth rate of over 60%! Other reports show that user penetration is estimated to rise to 49.4% in 2023 before hitting 59.7% by 2027*, and this market is ripe for the picking. 

E-commerce offers a range of benefits to retailers: 

1. Reach a wider audience, regardless of location or time zone. This means you can expand your customer base and grow your business faster than a physical store. 

2. Reduce overheads by reducing (or even eliminating) the need for physical premises, staff, and in some extreme cases, inventory. 

3. Streamline operations, automate workflows, and optimize marketing efforts, freeing up time and energy to focus on engaging with customers and improving business revenue. 

Imagine an all-in-one e-commerce platform that starts you off with a simple and powerful website builder and bolts on complete product management, inventory management, sales operations, payment, shipping, and even marketing channels. Now add to that an ecosystem of built-in tools for accounting, omnichannel inventory, live customer interactions, customer relationship management, and everything else a business needs to excel in its revenue-generating endeavors – wouldn’t that be impressive? 

Inevitably, online retailers’ success depends heavily on staying ahead of the technology curve. This is where a platform built to offer everything a business needs to scale under a single unified system takes the growth pangs away for businesses willing to ride the tech wave. And to stay ahead of the competition, ecommerce companies need to be on an ecommerce platform that has the following attributes: 

Easy Store Building 

When building an online store, there are several key features that an online retailer should look for in their e-commerce platform of choice. Guaranteed hosting uptime ensures 24/7 accessibility for customers. An intuitive drag-and-drop builder simplifies the process of building an ecommerce store, using pre-built, industry-specific templates helps with the visual appeal, and a functionally customizable visual editor increases the conversion efficiency of visitors.

Finally, having a natively responsive ecommerce website guarantees that it can be accessed from any device, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, without spending additional time and resources to develop a custom-built app. 

Managing Store Operations

Managing day-to-day operations for online retailers can be quite daunting, meaning they would need various tools to help streamline their operations. These include inventory management and order fulfillment features that allow them to manage inventory and orders efficiently and automate shipping and tracking processes. Businesses will also need access to accounting, CRM, and analytics tools to manage their store’s operations. Having all these tools on a single platform will make monitoring business performance and optimizing processes easier. 

Employing Workflow Automation 

Automating workflows helps online retailers reduce the time spent on mundane and repetitive activities. With automation, retailers can streamline email marketing campaigns, follow-up messages, and performance reports. Additionally, AI tools can give insights into customer behavior and preferences, which in turn help retailers optimize their marketing efforts. These tools can be a game-changer for online businesses looking to improve efficiency and grow their customer base. 

Improving Customer Service and Experience 

An e-commerce website generates revenues only when it converts visitors, or in other words, guides them to complete their purchase. Conversion Rate Optimization tools help achieve this by ensuring customers have a positive experience when visiting the online store. Using CRO in conjunction with smart email campaigns helps retailers reach prospects and customers with the right message at the right time. Having a live chat feature activated on the website promotes customer engagement with tailored messaging that converts prospects to customers. Personalized product recommendations suggest items that customers are likely to be interested in, increasing the likelihood of a sale, and offering coupons can further incentivize customers to make a purchase. 

Building Engagement and Trust 

Successful long-term growth requires a comprehensive ecommerce solution that enables online retailers to market their brand, attract new customers, drive sales, and build trust. By incorporating SEO and social media optimization tools, retailers can attract more traffic and boost revenues. Secure payment gateways and a seamless checkout experience will increase customer confidence and reduce the chances of cart abandonment. 

All of this sounds impressive, and it really is. Just imagine how quickly a retailer could scale up their business if they started out on an e-commerce platform with all these crucial features built-in and ready for use right from day one! 

Zoho have built Zoho Commerce, an e-commerce platform designed to do everything a retail business needs to succeed online with built-in tools (yes, you read that right – no plugins required!), put together in a fully integrated suite. Zoho Commerce is hosted and deployed on data centers across the globe that are owned and managed entirely by Zoho, eliminating potential privacy or security issues – that’s enterprise-level security right there, even if you are just starting up. 

Explore Zoho Commerce today or attend ECOM Africa 2023 and speak to the experts in person.