The online retail space is always evolving. Customers want rapid service, excellent support, and instant solutions to their problems. If you run an e-commerce store, you’ll know how important it is to stay ahead of the competition to thrive online.
The best way to grow online is by streamlining processes and providing a superior experience for your customers.
One of the most effective ways to do this is by utilizing software to help manage different aspects of your business. In this article, we'll cover the eight key types of software you need to run a successful e-commerce business and skyrocket ahead of your competition.
The foundation of your e-commerce business is your online store. Your e-commerce platform serves as the backbone of your operations, providing features such as product listings, sales management, and customer management. In addition, it enables payment processing and order tracking. Your e-commerce platform must be easy to navigate, customizable, and reliable. If your store is slow to load, difficult to navigate, or confusing, customers will quickly bounce back to the search page and find your competitors. In fact, website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% for each additional second of load time.
If you plan to launch multiple storefronts, make sure your e-commerce platform offers the ability to manage multiple stores through a centralized interface. You'll also want to ensure the platform can integrate with your existing systems and applications, such as your customer relationship management (CRM) or accounting software.
When selecting an e-commerce platform – whether that’s Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento (now Adobe Commerce), or something more boutique – it's important to consider your business needs and goals. If you're just starting out and have a small product catalog, a simpler platform like Squarespace or WooCommerce may be a good fit. However, if you have a larger product catalog and need more advanced features, you may want to consider a platform like Magento or Shopify Plus so you don’t feel restricted.
Another important factor to consider is the level of support and resources offered by the platform. Some platforms offer extensive documentation and support forums, while others provide dedicated account managers and 24/7 support. Choose the platform that offers the level of support you need to ensure that your store runs smoothly.
In addition to the e-commerce platform itself, you'll also need to consider the shopping cart software you'll use. Your shopping cart is the software that processes orders and manages the checkout process. Most of the major e-commerce platforms have shopping cart plugins, but if your platform doesn’t, choose a shopping cart that integrates well with the platform and offers the features you need, such as the ability to process multiple payment methods and provide real-time shipping rates.
Finally, it's important to regularly evaluate and update your e-commerce platform and shopping cart to ensure that they continue to meet your business needs. As your business grows and evolves, you may find that you need to switch to a different platform or upgrade to a more advanced plan. By staying on top of these changes, you can make sure that your online store remains competitive in a crowded market.
2. Payment gateway
Your payment gateway provides a seamless checkout experience and reduces the chances of cart abandonment, which can significantly impact your sales and revenue.
When selecting a payment gateway for your e-commerce store, make sure it complies with industry standards such as PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance and SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption. These security measures protect your customers' sensitive information and prevent fraudulent activities.
There are several popular payment gateways available on the market today, including Authorize.net, PayPal, Braintree, and Stripe. Each of these payment gateways offers unique features and benefits, so it is important to research and compare them to find the one that best suits your business needs. They all have slightly differing fee structures, so factor in the cost involved when making your choice.
In addition to security and reliability, it’s crucial to choose a payment gateway that supports multiple payment methods, such as credit and debit cards, Google Pay, and Apple Pay. This ensures that your customers have a variety of payment options to choose from, making their shopping experience more convenient and enjoyable. Around 27% of online buyers use ApplePay, so having a range of payment options ensures you get the largest customer base.
Your payment gateway should also seamlessly integrate with your inventory management system. This integration allows for automatic updates of inventory levels and ensures that your customers have access to real-time information about product availability and shipping times.
3. Shipping software
This type of software simplifies the process of managing shipping for your e-commerce business. It provides tools to create shipping labels, track shipments, and manage returns. Ideally, your shipping software should integrate with your ecommerce platform and your inventory management system, providing real-time updates on inventory levels and shipping information.
Popular shipping software options include ShipStation, Shiptheory, and Starshipit. When selecting a shipping software, ensure that it offers a wide range of shipping carriers and that it supports multiple shipping modes (e.g., standard, expedited, and overnight). Also, check that it provides customized packing slips and shipping labels that can include your brand logo to give your packages a professional look.
4. Inventory management software
Your inventory management software should provide real-time updates on your inventory levels, allowing you to manage and track stock levels, create purchase orders, and monitor the movement of your products. It also needs to integrate with your e-commerce platform, your shipping software, and your accounting software to ensure accuracy.
Popular inventory management software options for e-commerce stores are Katana, SKUVault, and Cin7 Core. When selecting an inventory management software, look for the ability to set up automatic reorder points and generate reports on sales and inventory levels.
5. Order Management System/ERP
If you have a very high number of orders per month, you will probably want an order management system (OMS). An OMS is an essential tool for managing customer orders from start to finish. Your OMS should integrate with your e-commerce platform, inventory management software, and shipping software to provide seamless order processing. It should also provide reporting on key metrics such as order fulfillment times, customer satisfaction, and order cancellations for you to get the most out of the tool.
A popular OMS option is Extensiv Order Manager. Order management software is the ideal tool for multi-channel order management, automated order routing, and real-time inventory updates.
6. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Managing customer relationships is just as important for e-commerce businesses as it is for in-person stores. Your CRM system should help you manage customer communications, track customer interactions, and offer upsell opportunities. It should also integrate with your OMS to provide a holistic view of customer behavior and trends.
Popular CRM options include Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho. When doing your research, think about integration capabilities and the ability to provide insights into customer behavior. Look for customer segmentation tools and the ability to automate tasks such as email marketing and customer service follow-ups.
7. Email Marketing Software
Email marketing is one of the most powerful digital tools for driving sales and increasing customer engagement. Your email marketing software should allow you to create attractive email campaigns that align with your brand and target specific customers based on their behavior and preferences.
Popular email marketing software options include Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and Campaign Monitor, but there are dozens of great options available for e-commerce brands. Your email marketing software should have automation tools, such as triggered emails and drip campaigns, and integrate with your CRM system to allow you to segment your customer list for targeted campaigns. Whatever marketing software you choose, be sure that it supports SMS communications to send TXT messages to your customers. Klaviyo is an excellent solution to consider.
8. Analytics and reporting software
Data is a powerful resource for understanding customer behavior and improving your ecommerce operations. Your analytics and reporting software should condense the vast amounts of data generated by your e-commerce platform, CRM system, and other tools into digestible insights that you can act on.
Our software coaches regularly use Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, and Mixpanel, all of which have great analytical tools. If you’re looking for the best reporting software, look for tools that track conversion rates, sales trends, and customer behavior. Your analytics platform should provide customizable dashboards and the ability to generate reports that inform decision-making in all areas of your e-commerce business.
How Can a Software Implementation Coach Help?
You’ve probably noticed that many of the tools we’ve talked about in this article need to integrate with each other to give a seamless, functional system that helps your e-commerce platform grow.
If your tech stack isn’t well integrated, you’ll constantly face bottlenecks and waste valuable time on stock issues, customer support issues, and platform problems.
That’s where software implementation consultants can help. We connect e-commerce business owners with the right coaches for their needs. Your expert consultant will figure out which e-commerce software is right for your business, create the best tech stack for you, and then help you with seamless integration.
Why waste time trying to figure out software alone when you can get the sound advice of a software expert? A coach will save you countless hours of research and ensure your new software helps your business thrive.
Choosing the right software will help you build a successful e-commerce platform, no matter what products you sell. With the right tools, you can streamline processes, decrease inefficiencies, and provide a superior customer experience.
Take your e-commerce business to the next level with Coachbar!
Get in touch with Coachbar today to book a consultation with our analysts, and let’s show you which software will work best for your e-commerce business.