In consumption-oriented industries like beverage and cannabis, competition for sales, customer attention, and mindshare are extremely fierce. In some cases, companies are competing directly for customer attention, while in others, they are vying for shelf space and retail support. The result is a complicated web of relationships that determines what customers hear about and see during their path to purchase – much of which is happening online.
Following the pandemic, even grocery retail continues to experience significant growth in e-commerce activity. This means that you need to be aware of what the future of e-commerce technology looks like, as well as how you can capitalize on emerging trends. We shall examine the benefits that a solution like Microsoft for Consumer Goods can offer to a business in the beverage and cannabis industries to illustrate the potential of ecommerce technology.
Helpful Purchasing Experiences
Rob diligently ground the last nugget into a fine dust, stealing a glance at his friends, all sitting on the same couch and staring intently at a laptop. A nature show from Netflix was on the TV, entertaining nobody in particular but setting a nice vibe.
“Wait, how many of those distillate pre-rolls do they have left? They are absolutely ridiculous,” said one.
“Hmm…” mused another as they clicked a mouse button. “Only ten left. Wow. How many should we get?”
“Oh man, let’s get like, six. And a half of the Blue Dream flower.”
One of the best parts about doing business digitally – especially with ERP and CRM systems – is that your information is all in one place and easy to access. Today, it is possible to link your ERP system with a custom e-commerce solution to display your inventory levels. This not only gives your buyers increased visibility, but can also creates soft sell opportunities in a way that’s framed as a value add.
Behind the scenes, an integrated e-commerce platform like Dynamics 365 Commerce be collecting and analysing data to give you intelligent and automated reports. Demand forecasting tools integrated with your inventory levels can provide advance notice of shortages. You can also take advantage of tools that give you real-time insights about consumption. All of this insight helps you meet the needs of your consumers and keeps sales and marketing integrated with the operations side of your business.
Also, when it comes to supporting your customers’ purchasing activity, it is important to work with an e-commerce solution provider that can build you an error-free experience. Far too many carts are abandoned, often because of poor portal performance. This means it’s important to have a reliable and secure system to ensure that this very important touchpoint is not neglected. Otherwise, ordering from your company will become an unpleasant chore, both for B2C and B2B customers.
Superior Customer Insights
Cindy was an account manager at a craft brewery in her state. She was on a call with one of her accounts, a small college-area pub, and had a wall of data on the computer screen in front of her.
“It looks like you usually start selling about fifteen percent more beer bottles around this time of year,” she said. “We see that with other accounts in college towns – it seems to be a back-to-school effect. This year, we have a new fall-themed IPA that we’re rolling out…”
Although providing customers with an e-commerce portal where they can place their own orders may feel like you’re downgrading the quality of the relationship, having an e-commerce platform integrated with your CRM allows your salespeople to provide targeted support to accounts based on data and intelligent analysis – some of which can be automated with solutions like Evenica’s e4Integrate.
There are other, smaller changes that can drive big impacts in your business. Having a live chat application on your website appeals to one of the preferred ways of contacting a company in early stages, allowing you to capture early-stage consumers who might have otherwise not done business with you. This also helps to inform you about what questions potential buyers have, allowing you to update your digital channels accordingly.
Along with a buyer portal that provides a seamless and error-free experience, creating integrations with other parts of your technology infrastructure will create new opportunities for you to add value in your client relationships. This will be crucial as you network throughout your supply chain and drive more revenue.
The area of fastest growth in e-commerce is, of course, the direct-to-consumer channel. Depending on how your company is set up to handle B2C orders, this may be something you could take advantage of with an ERP-integrated e-commerce solution and is certainly an option with a bit of process design.
Although the idea of buying cannabis online is not foreign to consumers in that market, the concept of purchasing alcohol online and having it delivered is relatively new. Online sales of alcoholic beverages were only one percent of total sales in 2019, but doubled in 2020 due to the pandemic and are expected to grow rapidly in the future. This represents a tremendous opportunity for brewers and distillers to go direct-to-consumer with their products and improve margins dramatically.
An important element of the B2C market, however, is the mobile experience. Most customers are interacting with you through their phones, meaning you will have to make sure your e-commerce solution is error-free and intuitive on mobile.
Making Business More Intelligent
If you are curious about what e-commerce might look like for your business, contact us – we have nearly 20 years of experiences developing e-commerce solutions for beverage and cannabis brands with a focus on providing end users with sophisticated digital experiences.