Written by: Guest | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: May 22nd, 2020
Guest Post by Nicholas Shaw
E-commerce is a fiercely competitive field. Consumers have a wide range of choices when it comes to buying online. For that reason, global online conversion rates stand at an average of only around 3 percent. If you run an e-commerce business, you need to find every way you can to get a leg up on your rivals.
Advances in technology provide new ways to do just that. With smart software solutions and VoIP systems, any firm can propel itself to success. What you’ll find out here is exactly how you can blend VoIP and e-commerce software to benefit your business.
Before we get to the possible benefits for your firm, though, it’s worth getting on the same page about VoIP.
What is VoIP?
Chances are, you’ve heard of VoIP. It’s an acronym and a type of tech that’s got tongues wagging in recent years. What you may not know is precisely what VoIP is and how it works. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. At a basic level, it’s a modern alternative to the traditional telephone network.
VoIP lets you make voice calls using your internet connection. Voice call audio gets turned into data and transmitted over an internet connection. That’s rather than traveling via traditional telephone lines. What that means — among other things — is that you can make calls via your PC or tablet. There is also a range of advantages to using VoIP for business communications.
Advantages of VoIP
VoIP is a growing concern. Businesses and individuals alike are increasingly adopting the tech for calling. As a result, the global VoIP market is undergoing considerable and sustained growth.
VoIP’s growing popularity is due to the advantages the tech has over traditional options. The following are a handful of significant benefits a VoIP Phone system can deliver to businesses of all types:
- Cost reduction — For both personal and commercial users, VoIP is often cheaper than traditional options. You don’t need to spend big on hardware or phone lines to set up a VoIP system. Calls themselves can also prove much less expensive. As you’re using the net, geographical distance doesn’t matter for VoIP calls. That's crucial for long-distance and international conversations. They aren’t nearly as expensive as with traditional telephones.
- Reliability and maintenance — Traditional telecoms infrastructure is quite fragile. Phone lines can go down in extreme weather. Vandalism or other human interference can cut a firm off entirely from the phone network. A VoIP system is far more reliable. It doesn’t rely on outdated infrastructure. Nor does a VoIP system need costly, expert maintenance.
- Mobility and collaboration — VoIP solutions are a better fit for modern businesses. With VoIP software, you can connect to your network via mobile devices. Your staff aren’t tied to their desks to make or take business calls. You also get a wide range of additional features with the best VoIP systems. You can, for instance, manage messaging, email, and calls all from one platform. As a result, collaboration across your organization becomes much more straightforward.
Those benefits explain why firms across niches are adopting VoIP solutions. As an e-commerce business, you’ll want to know the specific ways you can leverage VoIP for your advantage.
Leverage VoIP and e-commerce software
The beauty of VoIP for e-commerce is how it can combine with your other tech solutions. You must compete on a lot of fronts, to keep up with the competition as an online retailer. A clever combination of VoIP and e-commerce software can help you in a wide range of those areas.
Let’s look at how combining VoIP and software solutions can boost your business in five diverse ways:
Improving customer experience
Lots of businesses are looking to customer experience as a way of standing out from their rivals. Customer experience is the complete impression your firm leaves on a customer. It’s how that customer thinks of your brand after they finish an interaction with you. To deliver superior customer experience, you must excel at all touchpoints. You have to succeed in each touchpoint between you and the customer.
That means you must deliver a consistent service to customers across your organization. The many collaborative features of VoIP systems make them invaluable in this area. VoIP solutions can integrate with your other software and platforms. You might, for instance, integrate VoIP with your CRM or inventory management system.
Such integrations give your agents immediate access to customer data. They can provide accurate updates on orders to any customers who call for assistance. Other features of VoIP systems, too, make it easier to offer excellent customer experience.
Interactive voice response (IVR) technology is a prime example. IVR allows for self-service calls. Callers can navigate menus — sometimes by voice command — to ensure they reach the right member of your staff. That means you can immediately help them. What’s more, it saves your agents time rerouting calls.
Adding long-term benefit to customer service
VoIP systems also make it easier for you to maintain customer service levels over the long term. There are many features of the best solutions that you can leverage for customer service oversight and training.
With a VoIP solution, call monitoring and recording is far more straightforward. That means you can keep and review interactions between team members and customers. You can quickly point out mistakes or areas for improvement. That helps existing staff up their customer service game. It also lets you review communication across your organization.
You can use examples of excellent customer service calls, meanwhile, as training aids. Letting new staff learn from real calls is a great way to get them up to speed. It ensures new employees maintain the level of customer service your organization expects.
Offering 24-hour accessibility
As an e-commerce business, you’re open to customers all the time. They can buy through your website whenever it’s convenient for them. It’s one of the reasons why so many people prefer buying online than from traditional stores.
That 24-hour nature of e-commerce also means there’s consumer demand for help at all hours. To best serve customers, you need to give them the best support, even outside your primary office hours.
A VoIP phone system integrated with e-commerce software makes this much easier. Smart call forwarding can transfer calls to a secondary location. For example, one in a different time zone if you have one. With a system linked up to an order management platform, staff at any location can aid customers.
If you don’t have multiple locations, you can set up automated messages to provide support. Intelligent voicemail systems, too, can be invaluable. They make it simple for customers to leave a message with a team member who can help them as soon as your office opens.
Having better control of the supply chain and logistics
Inventory management is vital to e-commerce businesses. Having the right stock on hand and control over your supply chain is just as crucial as customer service. Most e-commerce firms rely on inventory management software to keep a handle on goods.
That type of e-commerce software helps you to manage orders, warehousing, and deliveries. Another vital aspect of supply chain logistics is maintaining supplier relationships. This often needs some direct communication over the phone. As keen as many of us are on email, building trust usually takes a real conversation.
With a VoIP phone system, reaching your suppliers can be both simpler and cheaper. You won’t need to dig out those supplier numbers; they’ll all be in the system. What’s more, calls to suppliers overseas are so much cheaper via VoIP.
Enhancing upsell opportunities
We’ve already talked about how VoIP phone systems can aid customer experience. What they can also do is to help your sales staff make hay from the people calling your business. Take, for example, a customer who calls with a query.
You may have to leave them on hold for a while until a customer service agent is free. With a VoIP system, you can use their time on hold to share marketing information.
If your VoIP solution is fully integrated, you can take them through the whole buying process. From being on hold, to asking a question, you can market and upsell a product or service in a matter of moments. That’s the kind of joined-up business thinking allowed for by VoIP and e-commerce software.
Boost your business with cutting-edge tech solutions
It’s all very well hearing about the tech side of new developments like VoIP. As a business owner, though, you want to know what such advancements can do for you in practice. It should now be clear how valuable integrated VoIP and software solutions are to e-commerce.
By leveraging these solutions, you can boost your business in an array of areas. From enhanced customer experience to smart upselling, you can get a real jump on your rivals.
Nicholas Shaw is the CRO of Brightpearl.