Just a few short years ago, it was believed that there were over 110,000 ecommerce websites generating revenue of a meaningful scale on the internet.
Of course, now that retail ecommerce sales equate to something like $2.3 trillion per year (and growing), that number of ecommerce websites has only gotten a whole lot more mammoth-sized.
And that’s not even including all the extra apps and technologies an ecommerce business needs in order to thrive… email marketing, inventory management, warehouse management, accounting software, CRM, the list really does go on.
So how do you know where to start?
If there are that many technologies and services out there dedicated to helping ecommerce businesses to grow, how do you know where to start?
We recently teamed up with ecommerce experts from Americaneagle.com, BigCommerce, Jasper Studios and ShipStation to provide you with all the information you need to identify and simplify the perfect ecommerce technology stack for your business.
In case you missed the webinar, here are the top takeaways from it…
Key Learnings from the Ecommerce Tech Stack Webinar
The Shift in Ecommerce Technology
Derek Cwik, the Director of Integrations and Principal Solutions Engineer at Americaneagle.com spoke about the shift in ecommerce technology he’s seen over the years.
He explains that in the past, there was a call for large annalistic systems that kept everything in one place. But these systems were difficult to maintain with updates requiring a replatforming project, resulting in the need for Software as a Service (SaaS) ecommerce providers.
But this in itself presents a couple of challenges:
- Paradox of Choice: According to the 2018 Martech Technology Landscape Supergraphic, we’re presented with over 7,000 choices spanning ecommerce platforms, carts and supporting technology.
- Inability to decide on the best systems: As your business grows, you’ll start layering in additional systems and technology alongside your ecommerce platform. But because of this paradox of choice, it can be extremely difficult to know which systems are going to be the best for your business and bring the most return on investment.
Derek explains that this is where you need a ‘best of breed’ solution, supported by powerful ready-made integrations to support all of the facets of your business. With this type of solution in place, you’ll get your products to market faster, costs will be significantly reduced, upgrades will be easy and data silos will be gone.
You’ll be able to spend more time and more resources on reinvesting back into your business.
SaaS for Ecommerce
Dan Fertig, Global Director of Agency Partnerships at BigCommerce came next to discuss the shift towards SaaS ecommerce technology further.
He defines SaaS as “software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers,” while Forrester predicts that “two thirds of platform decisions will be shifting towards software as a service by the end of 2019.”
But what exactly is causing this shift?
- Total Cost of Ownership: SaaS is typically one-fifth of the annual cost of ownership versus open source software, and eliminates the need for resource to be spent on things like platform maintenance, patches and upgrades.
- Speed: SaaS systems enable businesses to get live faster, see a quicker return on investment, while providing them with the opportunity to react quicker to changing markets, and consumer shopping behaviors and expectations.
Shipping Efficiency & Changing Customer Expectations
Russell Griffin, Senior Director of Channels at ShipStation, picked up where Dan left off to discuss how the likes of big box retailers, such as Amazon, have changed customer expectations - especially when it comes to how fast they receive their products.
He had this advice for achieving shipping efficiency:
- Central Shipping Hub: By having all orders in one place, you’re able to ensure you’re getting the best rates across a number of carriers, while your customers have flexibility over what shipping options they can choose.
- Preset Shipping Workflows: Powerful shipping software enables you to preset shipping workflows, which means that as orders come through your warehouse, your staff are picking from the right packing slip, ensuring the shipping label is properly formatted, that your brand name is on the label, and once the items are in the box, they’re leaving the warehouse in the right way.
ERP & Back Office Software Success
Our very own Kenny Johnson, Senior Director of Product Management at Brightpearl followed on from here to advise on when you should start considering an ERP or back office system like Brightpearl, and how to be successful in implementing one.
As your business grows, you’re likely adding layers of complexity and siloed systems in order to support that growth, resulting in some (or all) of these pain points being present within your business:
- Additional staff required
- Understocking or overselling
- Slow product delivery and dissatisfied customers
- Siloed data
- Inefficient goods-in and returns processing
- Lack of insight and visibility across the business
In order to be successful in implementing a back office or ERP system, Kenny had this advice:
- Look for basic and repeatable processes that can be automated. As an example, if you’re finding your staff are doing repeated clicks in order to ship orders out of the door, each time your staff members perform that click, that order is becoming less profitable because you're having to put man hours towards some basic steps of routing and fulfilling an order.
- Map out and create a framework for common workflows. Even if there are manual, human steps involved, ensure that there’s a uniform framework across all of your different channels, which will drastically help to reduce the amount of errors that can occur.
- Look at user permissions and escalation paths. There's definitely things you don't want your warehouse staff members to be able to do that you're okay with your accountant doing. And that's a lot of the things that we see merchants get themselves into trouble with - they have a million different people hitting their single data source in terms of financials and orders, and that causes things to get out of sync very quickly.
- Shift your focus towards front office operations. You should be spending more of your time and focusing more on things like customer interaction, and driving marketing effort and promotion by looking at a proper back office system, where you're able to drive down the amount of clicks that it takes to get an order out of the door. This will drive down your marginal cost of order, thus freeing up cash to invest in either new products, new promotion, or more staff members from a customer service perspective.
- Set KPIs and monitor your progress. Look at things like your fulfillment cost per order, or your time to ship, basically how long it takes you from when an order is placed, to when you're actually shipping that order out of the door on average. That's key data that a back office system is going to allow you to actually collect and monitor. It becomes very tricky to do if you're trying to track that in spreadsheets or across multiple channels.
Another key quote that came from Kenny during the webinar was this:
“As the larger retailers out there are driving consumer behaviors and expectations to everything being near real-time, you need to ensure that you're continuing to drive down your marginal cost per order, and automating where you can, in order to keep up and provide high levels of customer service, and ensure you're getting orders out of the door on time.”
Enhance ERP & Ecommerce with Product Information Management Systems (PIM)
Finally, Jon Marsella, Founder and CEO of Jasper PIM finished the discussion by explaining how Product Information Management Systems (PIM) can enhance the functionality you get from your ERP and ecommerce store.
Here are some key points to remember from his discussion:
- Just 16% of organizations trust their product information processes to be accurate and synergistic across multiple sales channels
- Yet the cost of inaccurate information is in excess of $50 billion annually
- PIM systems enhance ERP systems by enabling you to richly merchandise your products by integrating images, videos, and SEO data with them
He also spoke about how you know you need a PIM within your business:
- You want to grow into the mid-market or enterprise space
- You simply want to grow from wherever you are now
- You want to double or triple your revenue
- You’re managing a large number of SKUs
- And… you want to expand into multiple geographies, and sell to foreign markets in different languages
Finally, a key quote from Jon was:
“If you work with an ecosystem that is synergetic, and connected together - as this group of partners are - you can expect that our tools are compatible. And that is a huge element in considering where you're moving to in terms of skill.”
We hope this recap of the ecommerce tech stack webinar has been useful. Make sure you keep an eye out for future events and webinars we’re hosting or co-hosting by following us on social: