ECi: Helping dealers make a difference

Dealer Support speaks to ECi Software Solutions about how it makes online marketing and e-commerce easy for dealers
When it comes to helping dealers become better versions of themselves, ECi Software Solutions strives to be market leaders with expert support and a true sense of partnership. Currently, the business is focused on its digital service offerings for resellers – specifically its BWD (business website design) and EWD (ecommerce website design) subscriptions, whereby customers are offered a range of tools for improving their web presence and creating a stand-out e-commerce platform.
While the BWD services create a better business website, with ECi running and maintaining it as necessary, EWD goes deeper and broadens the horizons for dealers – particularly those who may not be particularly tech-savvy when it comes to their own web presence and need a helping hand. “The first aspect of what we do is having a team of designers, on-tap, to initially build a custom website,” explains Ben Jarvis, digital services coordinator with ECi.
“We allow dealers to redesign their entire site as much as they would like – we don’t advise them to do it too often as customers need some continuity to be able to navigate easily, but we do encourage them to make use of our services by pushing promotions through banners and e-mail templates. All we need are the details of what you’re promoting this week and how you want that to be portrayed by your business – tell us what you’re advertising and we’ll get a banner made up with product codes and images, while we provide a well-made e-mail that you can send out to your customers. That’s the meat of the service; that’s where most of our customers get the highest impact to their revenue.”
Ordering through any device
Driving sales during an uncertain time can be hard, and it’s certainly time-consuming – but not if that necessary marketing is outsourced to an expert like ECi. It’s about shouting about what you do, the deals you’re running and improving your online reputation. The workforce is getting ever-younger and they may write you off as a prospective supplier entirely simply because of a clunky website or lack of e-shop. There are plenty of simple elements of a website that too often get overlooked, Ben explains.
“Customers expect mobile optimisation of a website now, because they’re making orders on their phones and tablets – even in an office setting,” he says. “So when you’re talking about website design, you’re really talking about three different sizes and designs to go along with various screen sizes. As such, that’s included in the EWD service so you can make sure that people can order anywhere, on any device.”
Additionally, security is increasingly important – especially for a e-commerce site, as people need to know that their financial information is going to be kept safe. ECi includes SSL (secure sockets layer) management in its EWD services, which is the certificate that shows a padlock symbol on the search bar, proving the website is secure. “We’ve had a lot of customers say they’re not even allowed certain contracts unless they’ve got a secure site,” Ben says. “Also, Google favours secure sites and pushes unsecure ones down the ranks,” meaning any search engine optimisation an unsecure website attempts is wasted.
“SSL is a big issue; it’s something we added in at the start of this year and we’re working on ensuring all of our existing subscribers have it as we speak. It’s too much of an issue to ignore. If we’ve got people who trust us to, essentially, run their website design and promotions, we felt we also had to add this service in to enable people to show their customers that they have that competence and security in their website. It’s no longer a luxury to have a secure site – it’s a necessity.”
A marketing plan
Another new tool for ECi and its customers is the 12-month marketing plan which allows dealers to plan out exactly what they want while remaining hands-off in its execution. “A lot of customers know what they want to do in advance,” Ben says, “so we started working with them to queue up marketing and promotions on their site. It means that they can see the direction it’s going in and they have a site that’s constantly changing and looks really active. The last thing you want is a static website that seems abandoned. This feature is a great way to plan for seasonal events; big websites like Amazon will jump on holidays like Christmas, Black Friday and mother’s day to push new products for those special occasions. That’s what our customers can do with this service while gaining the ability to point customers in a certain direction. We’ll create the entire campaign from banners to e-mail template, including all design – a lot of our customers don’t have in-house experience with image editing, so that’s another service we provide.”
Ultimately, what ECi wants is to offer dealers more freedom and flexibility. While they maintain total control over what their website looks like and offers, the actual processes are looked after by a trusted partner. “We’re handing a lot of control to their business without any complexity,” Ben explains. “The key thing is that we want to make running your site in a competitive way as easy as possible. It means that people who aren’t especially savvy with technology or marketing get the best out of their online presence with minimum fuss and a set monthly fee, drawing attention to the company and boosting online sales. Not everyone has an in-house design or marketing team which is why ECi targets SMEs to help them grow; in order to grow, they need to compete, which means having the sorts of features and designs people expect from any business.”
Ben believes more and more businesses will be reaching out to organisations like ECi to improve their web services, as the end-user gets younger and web presence becomes increasingly important. “We’ll be seeing more of a change towards the digital services mind-set,” he says. While that occurs, ECi will continue to strengthen its position as a market-leading digital services business, constantly improving its offerings. “We’re got a really strong development road map and development team and we’re building our reputation within this industry, all to help dealers who want to offer more to their customers.”
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