The Amazing E-commerce Trends for your online shopping store

E-commerce Trends 2015 (1)

Ecommerce business is influenced by the emerging trends in the ecommerce world. Trends that shake the ecommerce industry to its core and affect ecommerce owners and customers alike. Trends that can leave your ecommerce website outdated. So, capitalizing on these trends is the key to make your ecommerce business more profitable. Do you know some of the emerging trends coming up in 2015?  Well, you cannot afford to ignore them if success is your prime objective. Following are the stunning trends that will be witnessed in 2015 in the ecommerce sector.

Mobile Devices are a Major Contributor in Online Shopping

Emerging trends show that the mobile devices are also playing a dominant role in online sale growth. 2014 analysis of ecommerce traffic shows that mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets account for over 33% of online sales. In simple words, 1/3 rd of online purchases were taking from mobile devices in 2014.

Data also shows that over half of the ecommerce traffic is coming from mobile devices. This clearly indicates that retailers who want to increase their ecommerce traffic must make their e-commerce platform mobile friendly. Since more and more people are giving ecommerce orders via mobile devices, it is evident that in the near future mobile devices will outpace desktop in generating online purchases.

Social Media Helpful in Product Discovery

Social media is often used by ecommerce websites to promote their products. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest have shown to be helpful in driving online sales. However this sharing of information on social platform has led to emergence of new trend commonly referred to as discovery-based shopping.

Advertising of ecommerce on social media has led to discovery-based shopping, which means customers visit an ecommerce site, without having any knowledge about what they are going to get. This new type of shopping inspires the discovery of new products and if it suits the customers’ budget, it is purchased.

Social media and mobile devices are playing an important role in making customers opt for discovery-based purchases. This new type of shopping is rising as found out through 2014 statistics that show that ecommerce orders coming from social media increased by around 200%.

 No Restricted Time for Shopping

Gone are the days when shopping required customers to walk into a physical store and the sales rep would then show products at a particular time slot during the day. In today’s age of online shopping store, customers can do shopping from anywhere and at anytime. However, statistics do indicate that the time period between 12 to 2 pm on weekdays is the peak time for online shopping.

Nevertheless, today’s online customers want an easy, fast, and flexible buying experience whenever they visit an online store. This should be kept in mind when designing all aspects of your e-commerce software solution. Ensuring a responsive website is critical for the success of any e-commerce business. A responsive website is one that is readable and can be easily viewed, irrespective of the size of the display device.

Considering these emerging trends that are going to revolutionize the next phase of ecommerce, you need to design your business strategy accordingly in order to boost your online sales.

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How to connect E-commerce Store with SAP ERP Software

ERP is business management software that typically takes care of the back end processes of an organization. It is helpful in gathering, storing and managing data from various activities that are undertaken to run the business.Ecommerce store on the other hand, has two parts. First is the front end of the store that allows your visitors to shop online, whereas the second is the back end of your store that provides information like inventory and sales figures.

Connecting ERP/SAP with your ecommerce store is critical for growth of your online business. Yes, your ecommerce business will run even without integrating it with your ERP system. However, this means you will have to manage your sales information manually, which can be quite frustrating.

Benefits

The E-commerce integration with ERP prevents the tedious task of manually entering the data between the backend system and ecommerce platform. Manual entry process is extremely time consuming and carries a high risk of costly errors.

Data transfer errors are one of the most common mistakes that occur in online business dealings. For the business to run efficiently, you simply cannot overlook these mistakes that can put you in financial loss. All these errors can be eliminated or significantly reduced by integrating ERP with your e-store. The synchronization between ERP and e-commerce applications is important to ensure error-free transfer of data between the systems.

An end-to-end integration will save a lot of your time as it will ensure continuous flow of data flawlessly between the systems.  This means information such as sales order and inventory will move seamlessly behind the scenes, thereby eliminating duplicate data entry.

The integration will help to maintain all your attention on your business objectives – your sales and earnings targets. In short, in order to run your business with more focus, connected systems is the need of the hour.

The integration is two-way from e-store to ERP and vice-versa. This means data flows in both the directions between the systems. With integration, an order created through online shopping cart gets recorded in the ERP system without any manual intervention. This not only keeps human error from occurring but also saves wage costs.

Similarly, availability of stock stored in ERP is communicated to the online store. Thus, the customers visiting the site can get to know what products are available and can be purchased from the online store.

How to Connect VARStreet E-commerce with ERP Software

VARStreet is a popular Ecommerce Platform that can easily integrate with your ERP software.  ERP integration with VARStreet platform will make your business operations more efficient. Sales order, customer information, products as well pricing can be easily viewed and managed from ERP system, making things easier.

Also, SAP integration with VARStreet ensures that the customers get automatic updates about the shipment details of their products. Moreover, customers can also monitor the delivery process, to know when the consignment will reach the destination. The customer can simply log into VARStreet  to know the shipment delivery status online.

Although VARStreet platform provides a robust integration with ERP, it is filled with jargon that isn’t self-explanatory. So, it will require technical expertise, hence you are required to contact VARStreet customer support executive for further details. You can call VARStreet at 781-262-0610 Ext 2 or email at support@varstreet(.)com  to contact our sales representative.

On the whole, in order to reach your business goals, it is very important that you get rid of manual excel-based process flow that vies for your time, energy and focus. For that to happen, you need to integrate your ERP software with VARStreet ecommerce store. This will surely eliminate human errors as well as increase business revenue.

6 Things that can Improve your Proposal Quote

It is a known fact that in today’s competitive world of ecommerce, making your sales quote standout from your competitors is the key to improve sales. Sending Sales Quotes that are unclear and poorly organized are likely to be rejected by your customers.  So no matter how quality your products/services are, if you are not delivering professional looking quotes, there is no possibility of winning business.

Sales quotes that are easy to understand and intuitive can certainly gain more customers and increase revenue. Apart from these characteristics, your sales quotation document should include and support the following features so that they look more customer-centric.

Include Video:

Adding video is one of the best ways to improve your Proposal Quote. This is sure to capture the customer’s attention and increase the chances of sale. With a sales quoting tool, you can easily include video in your sales quotation. Inclusion of video will give a visual understanding of the product. The video should contain an in-depth explanation of product features as well as explain how buying the product can be beneficial to the customer. Videos can also contain testimonials that highlight your exceptional service, which may also help to increase sales.

Use Mobile Apps:

Consider this: You are at your customer’s office and all of a sudden your customer asks for a sales quotation. Now if you ask the customer to wait for a day, you are essentially lengthening the sales cycle. The key to increase sales is to speed up the sales cycle. Had it been possible for you to generate a sales quote immediately after the customer had requested for it, you would have a greater chance of bagging the deal. Well, now this is possible if you use Mobile Quoting App that allows you to create quotes anytime, anywhere on your mobile devices. Using this app, you can generate and send a quote as soon as you get a request from your customer. This can contribute immensely in improving the chances of winning the deal.

Add Interactive Pricing Tables:

Present a sales proposal or quotation in such a way that it appeals to the potential customers. For that, you need to include pricing tables that help to distinguish between prices and features of different products and services. Pricing tables provide a systematic way of presenting the information in a sales quotation. Sales quotes that appear cluttered will in fact increase the possibility of losing customers. Therefore it is often advised to include pricing tables that make the sales quotation clear, concise, and easy to read.

When the client is required to choose items and quantities that you have mentioned in your sales or proposal quote, placing an interactive pricing table is the need of the hour. An interactive pricing table helps to build a quote as the user starts selecting the items and the quantity. Sales quotation containing interactive pricing tables is an electronic document that allows customer to choose items and create quote depending upon his needs.

Provide e-signature Options:

In today’s digital age, make sure you generate sales or proposal quotes that support electronic signature. E-signature functionality allows your customers to sign from anywhere and at anytime, provided he is connected to the Web. So once your customer reviews the quote, he can approve it online. E-signature is an easy way to manage your contracts online. Asking your customer to use a fax or scanning machine to print and send back the approved quote consumes unnecessary time and lengthens the sales cycle. So, if you are serious about increasing the chances of sale, you got to shorten the sales cycle. This can be achieved by supporting the e-signature feature that enables your customer to submit the approved quote quickly.

Embed Payment Processing Right in the Document:

If you integrate your online payment processing system within your sales quoting document, it can enable your customers to easily place orders online. For instance, if you could provide a link in your quote that opens into an online checkout page, it can certainly make it easier for your customer to pay. The checkout page should be very well-designed and should allow making purchases by entering minimal information. A Sales Quoting Tool that integrates with a payment gateway such as PayPal will ensure that the customer’s credit card is processed in real time.

Use Analytics to Determine What’s Working:

Sales analytics have become a business necessity that help you to decide whether you are working in the right direction. With sales analytics, you can find out the products that are selling, review the products, services, and bundles that form the quotes. This can give you an idea about the strategies that need to be adopted in order to improve your sales quote and proposal. Analytics are the key to get a better understanding of customer service and sales, which can contribute in reducing the length of the sales cycle and boost revenue.

Source: http://www.varstreetinc.com/blog/index.php/6-things-can-improve-proposal-quote/

5 Myths about Proposal Management Software

Request for proposal quotation from customers is the first step towards initiating business negotiation. You can win more deals, provided the proposals are created based on customer needs. Creating professional looking client proposals is the key to get the sales order. So in the context of winning business dealings, you simply cannot undermine the importance of proposal creation.

Proposal creation can be a daunting task when done manually. In order to maximize deals and speed up the sales cycle, proposal software is often recommended.  However, there are some long-standing myths that have branded the software as inefficient and undesirable.

The following blog busts the myths of this proposal management software:

  • Creating Proposals through Software is Time Consuming

The main purpose of this online proposal software is to save time in creating proposals. It essentially automates the process of proposal creation. Just a few inputs to the software will allow you to create proposal in minutes. In other words, proposal software is a convenient way to expedite your proposal creation process. Depending upon the business type, every proposal has a specific format that does not have to be created from scratch when using the software. So using the software to create proposals is neither tedious nor time consuming.

  • Not Possible to Customize Automated Proposals

Yes, the software automates the proposal creation process but that doesn’t mean you cannot personalize your proposals. First of all, the software creates the proposal template, which is the outline or the layout of the proposal.  This is the generic content that is often applicable to all proposals. The software automates this process, which means you don’t have to waste time in making template, every time you want to create a new proposal. However, the purpose part of the proposal can always be customized as per your business needs.

  • Creating Winning Proposals Using the Software is Tedious

This is yet another myth that needs to be debunked. Just because the software enables you to create proposal quickly, it would be wrong to assume that the software cannot generate winning proposals that are unique and professional. The proposal generated is attractive, effective, and professional in appearance, which can certainly have a positive impact on the customer.

  • Automating the Proposal Creation Process can cause more Errors

This can happen only if the proposal software is itself faulty, which is rare. Keep in mind that the software is designed to reduce your burden of creating the proposal manually. The manual process is repetitive, time-consuming, and hence prone to errors. However, this labor intensive work of proposals can be easily avoided by using this software. So automating the proposal creation process drastically reduces the chances of errors.

  • Usage of Proposal Automation Software can Negatively Affect your Ability to Write Proposals

Relying on the automation process does not in any way rob you of your proposal-writing skills. As aforementioned, customizing the proposal is the key to gain clients. This customization section is where your proposal skills are put to test. This is where you have to use the software tool sensibly so that the proposal can be personalized as per customer needs.  The software automates the repetitive tasks that are required to be fulfilled to prepare every proposal.

On the whole, when it comes to creating beautiful proposals within a short time, you can always depend on proposal management software. It can definitely play a key role in streamlining your sales and increase your win rate.

Mobile Quoting Apps: Solution to thrive your business

Quoting is an essential Sales activity of any organization which takes up almost 32% of the sales bandwidth, however not much has been done in this space for a very long time. There are a lot of companies that still uses the Excel spreadsheets for their day to day quoting needs. There are a few more that uses some ad hoc desktop based or cloud based applications. However “Quoting” is such an important function that requires to be given strategic importance in any business decisions.

Traditionally Sales people would use either Excel spreadsheets or some online or offline quoting tools. While having such technology is definitely better then ad hoc quoting, however they do come with their own share of limitations such as:

  • Have to be in office to prepare the quotation.
  • Sales People are traveling heavily and hence there are delays in producing quotes.
  • No central repository of information to access from anywhere.
  • Lost sales due to delays in providing the quote.
  • Long process to create a quoting.

In the last few years there have been some improvements that has made Sales person’s job a lot better. The wave of mobile devices has become essential for organizations to use them to their fullest potential. Also, the emergence of Cloud has become vital to gain success. The organizations that have capitalized on these particular areas have seen huge success. Now with a basic internet connection the salesmen are able to access their work place from anywhere and anytime of the day.

Many traditional quoting solution providers are now also providing their software as a mobile application. Today, the Mobile Quoting Apps are so accurate and efficient that a brilliant quoting for your customers can be prepared within a minute’s time even when you are holidaying with your family on a beach. It has some distinct advantages that every sales person can vouch for.

Features of a good Mobile Quoting Tool would involve:

  • Instant Quoting: We live in a not-so-patient society. Most of us want the product immediately. The Mobile Quoting App has taken the “wait” out. When a customer requests for the quotation of a product, the Mobile App’s proposal software and Sales Quoting Tools will help you to create a quotation easily in just couple of minutes.
  • Interactivity: The most important fact is that you have the visibility of your business on the mobile’s home screen. Getting to your desktop can take time, but it takes a second to launch a Mobile App on your phone. This leads to great flexibility in working – for example, enabling home working, or working while traveling.
  • Time-Management: The sales representatives who are traveling most of the time can benefit through Mobile Quoting Tool/App by simply logging into their smart phones. Create a professional and competent quoting while standing at airport so that your customers do not have to wait until you reach your desktop. It shrinks the cycle of closing the sales.
  • Quick user response: Once the quotation is accepted by the customer, a notification would be sent which you can check on your Mobile App and revert back to your customer. In case the changes are required it could be done by Salesmen right away for customer’s better experience. Now days, RFQ and RFP could be dealt immediately by the new Mobile Quoting Tool/App.
  • Cloud computing: How powerful would you feel if you’re carrying a world of information in your mobile phone? The cloud computing is getting popular by each day due to its accessibility and flexibility. It allows you to work from any part of their world as long as you have access to a normal internet connection and control the quoting.

As Forbes contributor Christine Crandell writes, “In the eyes of a buyer, pricing a purchase should be easy and quick.”

Today the case studies have revealed that if you’re able to produce a quotation to your customer right away, it hikes your chance by 63% to win that deal. Mobile quoting is no longer a luxury, but a must have App to ensure that you’re leading the competition.

5 Automation Tools That Every Reseller Must Use

Over the past few years, the resellers have emerged as the holistic solution providers, rather than only product sellers.  As they continue to expand their product and services portfolio, it also opens doors for new sales opportunities.  But, what else follows is a cut throat competition, a dynamic market and high customer expectations.  Consequently, resellers are struggling to sustain on razor thin margins, coupled with the challenges to increase efficiency and remain a differentiator from the herd.

Right from preparing a Sales Quote  to shipping the product, there are several touch points in a typical sales process. If you are still relying on spreadsheets or stand alone tools,  it is quite likely that:

  • You are committing human errors at the touch points.
  • You are missing out on leveraging new sales opportunities.
  • You are losing your revenue and repeat business.
  • You are not focusing on servicing your customers.

How do you plan to survive, let alone thrive in the VAR industry in such a scenario? Well, automation is the solution. Automation can consolidate all manual touch points; speed up your sales process; optimize your resources and ensure a complete visibility and control over the entire value chain.

Here are five automation tools that every reseller must have in his kitty.

  1. E-commerce

An e-commerce store can build your brand visibility and open up new markets for you.  It will act as a 24/7 powerful web interface for you and your customers because of its multi-vendor functionality features. The price book, inventory, quote, order fulfillment and shipment – all processes are automated.  It will also generate upsell and cross sell suggestions to the buyers, thereby increasing chances to earn more revenue.  The scope of human intervention is almost negligible, and entire process follows a methodical route, thereby reducing your overall costs. Additionally, you can pull out precanned reports on your transactions and traffic, to study consumer behaviour and also to monitor your processes.

  1. Quoting Tool

Ms-Word, Ms-Excel – is that what your sales reps still use to generate quotes? Well, it’s about time you switch to a web based sales quoting tools . It will not only generate sophisticated and accurate quotes, but also improve the productivity of your sales team and shorten the sales cycle. Further, an automated quoting tool can be easily integrated with CRM, accounting and other business applications, in order to access data across different functions conveniently.  The sales rep can fetch real time prices and availability from multiple distributors; and create customizable quotes quickly for the customers. In fact, you can even accept online payments from your customers through an electronic signature!

  1. Catalog Aggregation

Thousands of existing products, new product additions, new features, constantly changing prices and multiple distributors – a sales rep can spend hours on his desk, trying to figure out the right product-price combination for the customer. But, not if he is using an aggregated Catalog , which can be mapped to all distributors and suppliers to fetch real time and tailor made information for every customer on his fingertips. It is also possible to build custom catalog, contract catalog management, bundles and standards in your aggregated Catalog to offer a versatile price list to the customers.

  1. Mobile Quoting App

The mobile technology has picked up its pace in the VAR market too, and customers are literally expecting quoting solutions on the go.  Equipping your sales reps with a mobile quoting application on their smart phones or tablets is similar to handing them over a digital briefcase.  It will give them real time information anywhere, anytime; generate customized quotes for viewing and acceptance from customers via emails; and get on the spot approvals and payments.  Do you already see a happier sales team and a shortened sales cycle?

  1. Marketing

The advent of technology and emergence of big data has taken marketing to the new heights. It was only a matter of time, that the marketing process too gets automated for achieving better results and measure the real time ROI on your investments.  An e-marketing module can serve as a one stop tool, which can manage and integrate all your marketing activity – promotional campaigns, SEO & SMO optimization, email marketing, multi-channel selling, landing page creation and web analytics.

With the above tools, resellers can reduce the number of manual processes; lower the upfront and hidden costs; deploy the sales force optimally; and focus on the relationships with the customers, suppliers and distributors. To sum it up, these tools will empower the resellers to sustain as well as excel profitably amidst the stiff competition in the market.

Why We Love Sales Process Automation (And You Should Too!)

Let’s begin with some statistics.

  1. According to a 2014 CSO Insights study on sales performance optimization, it was found that salespeople spend a majority of their day performing administrative and account management duties and only 37% of their time actually selling.
  1. The average sales cycle showed an increase of 22% over the last five years.
  1. According to Bulldog Solutions, companies that invest in marketing automation solutions see 70% faster sales cycle times and 54% improvement in quota achievement.

What do these figures tell you? While the first and second order talk about the lost business opportunities, the third one shows a solution to leverage on these opportunities.

Humans err, and so do your sales people. It would take only a superhuman sales rep to remember every contact, appointment, conversation or deadline. Hence, what your business needs is a sales enablement tool, which not only automates and streamlines the sales process, but also enhances the productivity of your sales team and drives revenue for your enterprise.  That’s the power of implementing technology in your sales process!

Sales process automation reduces the number of opportune hours, days or even months, which are usually lost to ineffective or piecemeal communication with the customers in a typical sales process. Right from establishing an initial contact with the customers to closing the deal, sales process automation manages and integrates all phases of the sales process.

Here is a quick overview of the benefits of syncing your sales process with automation.

  1. Catalog Management

When you are selling millions of products, it is practically a mammoth task to manually maintain information on every product, category, supplier and distributor. Add to this the varying product taxonomy furnished by each manufacturer! However, with catalog management, your sales reps can manage the entire product catalog electronically. They can view, compare, research or cross – reference all products, prices and inventory at their fingertips in one single window.

  1. Customer & Contact Maintenance

Just like a single aggregated catalog, automation can also create a one stop repository of all your customers and contacts. The customer’s contact information, appointments, interactions and follow-ups can be easily viewed and maintained.

  1. Rich Content

Images, descriptions, tech specification, 3D views, instructions, comparisons  –  your sales reps can impress your customers with an interactive and information rich content, all thanks to an automated catalog.

  1. CRM, PSA, Accounting & ERP Integration

Let’s say you already automated your accounting or customer relationship systems in place. Or that ERP is already up and running well in your organization. But may we ask if all these systems are stand alone ones or fully integrated? Integration refers to 100% automation and consolidation of all your business processes and systems. For example, when your sales rep creates a new contact in CRM system, people working on ERP or Accounting software should get a real time update too, without needing to make a duplicate entry. This way, not only there is a smooth, standard workflow between all processes, but there is also a full visibility to rectify errors, if any.

  1. Quote Template

As soon as the customer expresses an interest, the first thing that a sales rep does is to prepare a quote. And the faster he prepares and sends the quote, the more are the chances of  a deal closure. The quote templates embedded in sales quoting software can assist sales reps to create quick, professional and accurate quotes within no time. A proposal software equips them with every piece of information that is necessary to improve the win rate.

  1. Sourcing & Procurement

Can you ensure that your sales quote offers you the highest possible margin? Yes, you can, after you have streamlined and automated your sales process. While preparing a quote, you can be rest assured that you are getting real time distributor feeds with respect to price and inventory. Once that is taken care of and the customer has approved your quote, all your sales rep has to do is to key in few buttons. Voila, next thing you know, the quote has been converted into an order and the product is ready to be shipped to the customer!

  1. Tax, Shipping & Freight Calculations

Varying rates of tax, shipping and freight slabs in different countries can add to the woes of sales reps while preparing a quote. But, an automated set up can generate accurate rates within seconds. Even, when there is a change in either of these rates, the system will give a real time update. No more manual and time consuming calculations!

  1. Payment Gateway Integration

With a vast array of payment options (credit, debit, check, mobile, EBT, FSA) and card brands (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, AMEX, PayPal) available to the customers, automation can ensure a safe and real-time payment solution. Your sales rep can ensure a quick collection of payment, and avoid frequent follow-ups with the customers.

  1. E commerce & Mobile

When B2B customers migrate online, average value order is reported to increase by 44%. E-commerce and mobile are two trending sales channels, not yet tapped by the resellers to its maximum potential to grow the business. Showcasing your products on an e-storefront will help you to micro-target your customers; simplify your sales process; and let your sales reps focus more on customer relationship.

  1. Reports & Analytics

Since your entire sales process is integrated with other business systems and applications, you can pull out real-time and adhoc reports anytime for any function. Whether you want to scan through the performance of your sales team; review sales status & progress; measure the distributor or category wise sales; or get the minutest analytics of your online traffic, sales automation can generate accurate reports for you to analyze; forecast sales; and decide on a future course of action for your business.

  1. Data Security

Automation helps your sales reps in sharing data remotely and on the go. But that doesn’t mean that you have to worry about the security of your data. The automated tools are preloaded with security tools and other security checks at various levels. This way, you can assign admin controls and workflow approvals appropriately.

Sales process automation equips the salesforce with insight driven approach and also, adds value to customer engagement.

How about  the sales process in your business, it is already automated? If not, think about it!