The pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives. Because of the lockdowns, almost all of our activities have moved online. Work? Remote. Meetings? Zoom or Teams. Shopping? Ecommerce. One of the areas most impacted by the pandemic is the retail industry.
The changes have caused a significant acceleration of e-commerce, but also increased competition in the field. With such rapid growth and the race for the biggest market share, keeping in touch with customers and making sure they get what they need has become a challenge. Just as Zoom, Teams and other apps have helped with conference calls as remote working has entered the lives of most people permanently, automation and tools that allow for better management of sales, customer service and customer relations has become essential for the ecommerce industry.
The most basic customer relationship helpers are Customer Relationship Management (CRM) apps. CRMs are a sort of company archivists, keeping track of all matters related to its business operations in order to create a “company's memory" independent of the changing of its employees. The data gathered this way can be easily subjected to multidirectional analyses leading to more accurate business strategies.
The above definition was valid 20 years ago, currently CRMs have transformed into something more than just company business data storage & there's a lot more to them than that. Modern CRMs track every interaction with every client, the chain of email conversations and the progress of each individual customer case. This can be anything from tracking:
- potential leads,
- customer support or complaints.
The strength doesn't come from just having the data, but from being able to streamline the whole process through various automations and integrations, while still having everything in one place. This keeps the whole process and each case transparent and easy to analyze for the person handling it. CRMs evolved from a company archive into Business Process Management (BPM) platforms which, with a little of help from 3rd party tools, can be not only the company's archivist but also a sales and marketing person.
I said the strength comes from automations and integrations, because CRMs do not aim to be the be-all end-all. These platforms are aimed at keeping things tidy and easily accessible for non coders while most of the work happens in the background. Some of the more popular CRMs are Pipedrive and Pipefy, so let’s take a quick look at what they’re about.
- vertical platform developed with sales in mind
- batch processing
- sales force automation and sales tracking
- horizontal platform developed to fit the needs of various businesses
- easy to learn automations to make personalization easier
- custom workflow management
As we can see here Pipedrive is focused on sales and Pipefy is geared towards a broader audience, still both use integrations to fill in the gaps, so if you need to hook them up with some other app, for example to import data, you’ll have to rely on those. They do have a bit of basic built in integrations with things like Slack, Zoom or Google Sheets etc. but if you need something else it's pretty likely you’ll have to use something like Zapier to bridge the gap. Alternatively you could also use web hooks or a little thing called GraphQL. While Pipedrive requires third party libraries, Pipefy does handle both GraphQL queries and mutations by design, so it is a lot more flexible in terms of what you can do with it using that.
Well if you’re a GraphQL enthusiast (and you probably wouldn't be here if you weren't one) this probably sounded like something right down your alley. After all, GraphQL is all about getting exactly what you want and not about jumping through hoops and integrations to get what you need. Well this is where Saleor comes in, a GraphQL-first headless sales platform. Most CRMs are geared towards non-coders, trying to keep everything simple by using tailored solutions and templates to make tracking everything easier. Saleor is a platform that helps connect that with both customers and developers, it’s aimed at providing maximum flexibility by giving them free reign over the platform:
- aimed at developers: no proprietary templates, just GraphQL, JAMstack, Next.js and modern front-end tools,
- simple integration: teams don't need to focus on integrating various platforms (like CRMs) or tools and can just rely on the GraphQL API,
- decoupled presentation layer: the frontend is separate from your core business so you can manage any number of stores, apps, and devices from a single back-end.
As always choosing the right platform depends on your particular situation and needs. If you just want something, which will make working a bit easier for sales people with no knowledge of coding a CRM is still very useful. But things tend to pile up over time, so if it's a bigger project you might find yourself using a bunch of makeshift integrations down the line (of which not all are free). That might prove problematic in case something stops working and will take additional time to get a hang of in case you bring new people in. Saleor is a solution that can help you with that as it keeps everything decoupled. Sales people work on the CRM platform, devs work on the GraphQL API and customers just see the end result. The only drawback is you'll need someone who knows GraphQL to make use of it.
A guest blog post for GraphQL Editor blog by Michał Tyszkiewicz
GraphQL Editor is a supportive tool for both advanced GraphQL users as well as those taking their first steps with GraphQL APIs. Our all-in-one development environment for GraphQL will help you build, manage & deploy your GraphQL API much faster. Try GraphQL Editor for free!