This method of control is now fundamental and can save both time and money; however, in 2011 we really need to look beyond ‘just’ the CMS. Within this blog post, I look at how site owners can move forward, and how CMS are changing.

As online activities such as Internet banking, shopping and gaming increases - so are the number of people that are making electronic payments online. It is important that companies are equipped to cope with the larger volume of orders being made. This is where integrated e-commerce systems come in, the key to handling online sales and delivery is to make the process as automated, but as safe as possible. One example is self-service, where the customer fills in their details themselves when buying. This helps resolve manual errors with double entry systems, as well as labour time and cost. This also means, for example, that an order can be placed into your order management system immediately, then into your couriers delivery schedule, and the money straight into your account. Order fulfilment systems are also important to any online business. From the point of a sales or service enquiry to payment, these systems focus upon client requirements such as shipping, handling and freight costs etc.

At Hippo, we have worked ourselves to ensure that client and project management is streamlined as much as possible – with sales acquisition, quotation, project and time management - all linked through to a single, automated invoicing system. This allows us to reduce the amount of time we spend on the non-profitable admin, allowing us to concentrate on delivering an up-to-the-minute service to our clients.

This emphasis on customer satisfaction through automated payments and delivery is part of the current shift of focus on the web from product to customer. Whereas previously companies tried to find people to buy their product they now cater for the consumer more and ask instead “what do people need?” The business strategy of “Customer Relationship Management” (CRM) has proved highly useful in businesses’ quests to fulfil specific customer needs.

CRM applications can be used to enhance an overall management program by collecting, storing, analysing, searching and synchronising customer data. This analysis helps establish trends and identifies preferences within certain groups or individuals. The aim is to create and maintain good customer relationships and in turn loyalty through getting closer and staying up to date with them. CRM applications are used predominantly to increase sales but can also help with marketing and customer service improvements which all help to maximise profit.  In addition to connecting with customers it is important now that companies consider integrating with the Global Information Infrastructure (GII). This is the world’s developing communications network between databases and computers. Making the effort to join this growing framework can allow businesses to incorporate and expand operations into overseas target markets, conduct business anytime, anywhere in the world because data will be more accessible while labour costs are reduced. This strategy can also help with additional corporate costs, such as office space expenses - selected employees / contractors will be able to work from home wherever they are. All these factors will help maximise profit and benefit business as a whole.

Integration is critical, both for both company and consumer. A good example of a company getting it badly wrong is Waitrose and their recently launched £10m website.  Speed and navigational problems have plagued the site since its launch leading to a large volume of customers switching to other leading supermarkets (http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/7315-new-waitrose-website-panned-by-users).