Ecommerce isn’t a rocket science? Nowadays it might be somewhere similar. To create and launch your own spaceship, you need to gather, build and set up various components, any part of which should be a perfect detail in the mechanism. Order and Inventory Management, CRM, Marketing, Shopping Cart Technology, Shipping and much more parts need to become an ecosystem of your eCommerce store. So whether you use your in-house or remote team, implementing and integrating latest state-of-art tools and systems is a hard and challenging process.
Every eCommerce ecosystem may be divided into three parts/stages: Build, Manage, Grow.
It includes all the integrations required to get your website up and running.
At this stage think of tools which are common for nearly every eCommerce website on the web. Imagine that you don’t have any goods to sell yet and are just working on general website performance and look.
Toolkit for Build Stage: CMS (Content Management System), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), Analytics, Shopping Cart and Payments, Communication and Customer Support.
- CMS (Content Management System). Content is a king and it should be treated with the royal attitude. CMS integration will help improve planning, managing, and distribution of your content.
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management). CRM helps to manage interactions with current and potential clients. It includes historical data about every customer/lead which helps plan and improve further interactions.
- Shopping Cart and Payments. Gaining profit is the main goal for every business. You need to make sure the buying process is simple and secure from the moment the product is added to the Shopping Cart till the Checkout process is finished.
- Analytics. “War is ninety percent information.” – Napoleon Bonaparte. There is no an easier way to win the competition war, than to invest in analytics and become good at it.
- Communication and Customer Support. Don’t let your customers feel like orphans! From live chat and support tickets to email and toll-free phone support, use all possible channels to help the customers in time. But remember, even if the process works like a charm, poor support quality may ruin your business. So follow the example of Zappos and order your customer a pizza!
At this point you may start questioning such a classification. Doesn’t every eCommerce business need shipping or inventory management? And the answer is “no”. If you sell digital goods, or offer SaaS. In such a case there is no warehouse and no shipping process but the business itself still can be called eCommerce.
It includes all the tools which are common for brick-and mortar stores.
Toolkit for Manage Stage: Accounting, Inventory and Warehouse Management/ERP (Enterprise resource planning), Shipping and Order management integrations.
- Accounting. If you’re just starting, you may think “Hey, I can do the 2+2 math and send 5 invoices per month manually, why do I even need accounting software?”. And you will be right. To some point. But as your business grows, you’ll definitely need to start using accounting software eventually. So it’s better to integrate and get familiar with it initially.
- Inventory and Warehouse Management/ERP (Enterprise resource planning). If your business model is other than Drop shipping (or you sell digital goods), you’ll need a tool to manage the inventory. Otherwise customers will be ordering products that are no longer in stock, and the business may go bankrupt in terms of a few days. Note that ERP is much more than just an inventory management, but to keep this article simple we won’t dive into it any deeper.
- Shipping and Order Management. This one is quite obvious. If you sell physical goods, your business is all about shipping and fulfillment. It doesn’t matter how pretty the website is or how good are the products you sell. If you’re unable to deliver on time, the customers will abandon you and will never make a second order.
3. “Grow” stage
If you’re done with the previous stages and the website runs like a swiss watch, it’s time to consider the tools that can help increase your sales.
This stage is all about the tools which help your business grow and scale.
Toolkit for Growth Stage: Email Automation, eBay/Amazon integration, Conversion Optimization tools, Artificial Intelligence, etc.
- Email Automation. Do you want to re-engage inactive customers, decrease the amount of abandoned carts or ask for a feedback after the purchase? If so, email automation is just what you need. Email automation tools let you create email workflows which are automatically sent upon a certain trigger. What triggers should you use? It depends on your imagination. You may set up workflows for recent blog subscribers, cart abandoners, new customers, recently registered users, customers with 5+ purchases, etc. The sky is the limit.
- Marketplaces integration. If you already have a website and plan to start selling on eBay/Amazon/Walmart etc., then integrating your inventory with these marketplaces is a must. In such a case there is no need to add products manually. The product inventory will be synced between the website and marketplaces which helps you avoid various inventory management issues like incorrect stock status.
- Conversion Optimization tools. To learn why the customers don’t buy from you or how to make them buy more, you may use various A/B testing, survey, heat map and scroll map tools.
- Artificial Intelligence. AI is conquering the world and eCommerce isn’t an exception. From personal assistants and chatbots to custom recommendations and “smart analytics”, artificial intelligence is penetrating and changing the ecommerce world with the speed of a lightning. Not every online store can afford using AI in its business yet, but as the time passes, the implementation costs will drop and AI will become a new standard for electronic commerce.
As you can see, no modern eCommerce store can live without integrating the proper tools. This process has tricky parts starting from the selection phase till the post-integration testing. So if you need any advice or help with the integration process, send us a message.