Using a CRM with your Ecommerce Website

Posted by Paul on March 21, 2014

We really love open source software at Antropy, not just for the cost savings but for the flexibility of being able to change the software to do exactly what you want and interface with other systems. Obviously we're big fans of the OpenCart ecommerce platform, but what other ways are there to stay in touch with and get to know your customers?

You can use email marketing systems such as MailChimp, Campaign Monitor and others to send newsletters, product offers and coupons to your customers and you should be doing this in the most targetted way possible - emailing only customers who are sure to have an interest in the particular products/offers you're sending - but what about CRM Systems?

CRM of course standing for Customer Relationship Management, these systems keep track of customer details, orders and interactions with the company. Because of the extra overhead in terms of system complexity, staff and cost, they tend to make commercial sense only for higher value products or services.

The most well-known CRM is probably which is the market leader although it is closed source and proprietary. The best known open source alternative is SugarCRM but there are also others that may actually be better designed and easier to use such as Zurmo and vtiger. Vtiger is a fork (heavily modified copy) of SugarCRM and even has built-in features such as the ability to store product details, so it is built with retailers in mind.

Each case is different and it does depend on individual requirements but we'd recommend looking at vtiger first, playing with a demo and trying out some of the scenarios you'd like it to achieve - for example a customer emails with a question about a certain product.

Of course, unless this is actually integrated with OpenCart, the extra manual work is probably going to make this a pretty inefficient way of doing business. But when the customer details in the CRM stay in sync with the website details it means your sales team can:

  • Follow up quickly with recent purchasers to make sure everything is okay and see if anything else is required.
  • Follow up with prospects who were looking to buy but haven't yet.
  • Send emails to customers based on very specific queries, such as they've bought certain products a certain amount of time ago.

So for companies that sell high-value, very custom or very complex products, a CRM may be a better option than plain old email marketing software to stay in touch with and support your customers.

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