The commercial sector has been hit hard by the economic situation, a consequence of the restrictions implemented in each country, because of the sanitary emergency we are living, and cooperatives are no strangers to this affectation.
In response to this global situation, companies have had to accelerate their digital plans to adapt their business and operational processes to a new form of consumption and service delivery. Many projects that were planned to be developed in the coming years, were (necessarily) implemented in months.
- This same situation is changing the consumption habits of the populations.
- It is now quite common to see delivery services arriving at our homes with a whole variety of products.
- Teleworking has taken on unprecedented proportions.
- More and more people are doing business digitally in financial and government services,
- Even education has turned to virtualization.
Today, more and more, commerce, products and services must reach the consumer in non-face-to-face ways. This has put significant pressure on companies to quickly implement "digital tools" to avoid being left out of the game.
In this context, cooperatives have the challenge of adopting digitalization in their processes to maintain or maximize the surpluses provided to their members under a new form of attention and service.
Some have enabled communication channels with tools such as WhatsApp or Messenger, set up WordPress pages that offer products with shopping carts, and some have even set up YouTube channels to provide training.
This is fine, but it is not a sustainable solution that allows an orderly growth that can finally meet the goals of maximizing profits and modernizing the service.
For this, it is necessary to develop a digitalization strategy that articulates all the elements of this ecosystem.
So here we will review the 5 commandments that a cooperative must review thoroughly in its digitalization plan to maximize surpluses:
Commandment number 1: Data.
One of the starting points for any digitalization process is based on data. Many times, efforts are made to promote services or products through social networks, either by paying guidelines and/or organic publications, although this can generate results, sooner or later, the organization will face the problem of not being the owner of the information.
It is as simple as that; Facebook data belongs to Mark Zuckerberg, and we do not have the possibility of downloading the database of people who have interacted with our publications.
Therefore, it is of vital importance to have a tool that can integrate with social networks and get the data of all these people who are interacting. In this way, we will be feeding our own database properly segmented and suitable for use in future campaigns without relying on data from social networks.
For this important commandment, what is recommended is to use a CRM like HubSpot, with which data storage can be easily accomplished.
Commandment number 2: Business portals.
The new consumer habits of the population have strongly promoted self-management platforms, where the possibility of carrying out procedures and formalities from the comfort and security of our home or office is enabled. This has become a requirement for any organization today.
For example, these self-management platforms in the banking system, known as internet banking, are already mandatory and are seen as part of the services normally provided. Now it is the turn of cooperatives to have a business portal, so that their members can carry out all the procedures and formalities in a digital way.
These self-management platforms are enabled by what is known as enterprise portals, which are websites implemented with specialized tools such as Liferay, which contain a whole structure for the management of business processes, content management, connectivity with banking payment services, robust authentication schemes and multi-device (responsive).
Commandment number 3: Inbound Marketing
Little-known products or services are an opportunity to bring fresh income to the cooperatives. Within the portfolio of products that the cooperatives have, there is a group of the most popular or the most promoted, but that could be already almost exhausted and present difficulties to increase their numbers in the composition of sales or placement.
For this reason, it is worthwhile to evaluate the products or services that we have in the background, which may be lagging because they do not have an accompaniment to make them take off and generate new sources of income.
The development of the strategy to promote these products or services should be done through Inbound marketing, which is characterized as a more effective way to attract, involve and please customers, so that they are educated and informed about the benefits of the products and services offered, so that they feel the need to purchase them.
It is about generating value in such a way that customers approach us because of their interest in the content we provide and not because of the amount of money we invest in promotion. At this stage, Imagineer is the perfect ally to develop the necessary Inbound strategy.
In this way, we can give these lagging products and services a new lease of life, generating a lot of valuable content around them and finally obtaining a real interest from customers, producing new sales with growth potential.
Commandment number 4. eCommerce.
An unavoidable pillar in this ecosystem we have been developing is eCommerce. Which is the showcase that will allow us to bring the virtual sale of products to customers. Just as with the business portal brings the procedures to the customer's door, eCommerce does the same with the products.
It is here, where this commandment can be fulfilled by implementing an eCommerce platform like Magento, a platform that is characterized by offering the customer an interactive, self-managed and secure experience to purchase products.
The eCommerce platform will help you position more products with features such as related products, grouped product proposals or special product packages, this with the aim of increasing the average ticket, with respect to what a customer would normally buy through the physical channel.
Another benefit of eCommerce is that also through this virtual presence, we extend our geographical range of action, increasing exponentially in many occasions, the size of the target market to which we have access and in this way contribute again to have a Cooperative that can generate more benefits for its associates.
Commandment number 5: Omnichannel
Finally, to "put the cherry on the cake", there is the concept of omnichannel.
This is about being able to know our customer better and know in a consolidated way everything that is going on with them.
We can have different channels with which we are communicating with customers, telephone, Facebook, Messenger, Chatbot, WhatsApp, e-mail, etc. But being able to see everything that the same customer is telling us through different channels can be an impossible task.
The good news is that there are tools like the one we mentioned above, HubSpot - CRM, in which it is quite easy at the same point, we can see everything that is happening with a customer from the optics of service, sales and marketing.
Omnichannel also allows us to have independence of customer service staff, since, by having a database of all actions and communications with each one, it is quite easy for several people to collaborate in the monitoring and resolution of efforts that have with each customer.
In summary, your cooperative's digitalization strategy must comply with these 5 commandments:
- Start with data ownership, using a CRM tool such as HubSpot.
- Deliver service digitally through enterprise portals such as Liferay, to reach now to the home of your members and customers.
- Use Inbound marketing, to generate valuable content to your customers, which will lead them to be interested in new products or services and thus bring in fresh revenue.
- Offering products and services through an eCommerce such as Magento, will allow you to reach your customers digitally with the possibility of increasing the average ticket per sale.
- Omnichannel, is the 360 vision you need of your customers or partners, to understand the customer and improve service.
Find out how we can help you in the digitalization of your cooperative, schedule a consulting session with one of our experts.