What Tech Do the Fastest Growing E-Commerce Companies Use?
Guest Submission by Jake Rheude
E-commerce competition is heating up, and leading companies are turning to technology and innovation to keep their edge. The good news is that the same tech stack is available to your company, allowing you to close the gap quickly while also generating more sales and cutting costs. We’re presenting five core areas where technology can boost your store and keep you well above the latest entrant to this crowded e-commerce space.
Powerful Personalization Tools
E-commerce companies that expand quickly take a specific approach to their customers: they build relationships instead of sales. To achieve this quickly, add a personal touch to your outreach and other efforts.
Personalization can start with how you target customers and their likes. This can begin with targeting influencers directly and having public interactions that enhance your visibility, with services like BuzzStream. There are separate tools for each social channel to personalize your content based on audience information and behavior. You should also personalize based on history, using proven metrics, adding someone’s name to a special deal or offer when you send emails to encourage repeat purchases or highlight loyalty. Email is the most direct personalization option, but your customers exist on countless channels, and each presents an opportunity for you to make a connection.
Automation Over Manual Effort
Growing e-commerce companies are obsessed with scaling. Their leadership is always looking for the next way to grow and take a big leap forward in every aspect, not just the customer-facing elements. Automation has exploded, and you can now find affordable solutions targeting your specific needs.
There is a wide range of automation tools within every e-commerce platform on the market, such as order management and automatically updating your CRM or other customer and order tools. You can also push into the warehouse and automate distinct parts of how products are sorted, shelved, and picked for your workers. Robotic process automation, or RPA, is a growing tool because it is incredibly affordable. RPA teaches a bot to perform a specific task by having it watch your workers. It’s best suited to highly repetitive tasks, such as managing databases or updating inventory, where human error can cause big problems. Your team will also love this kind of automation because it reduces their mundane tasks and lets them focus on what’s more interesting, keeping them excited and engaged.
The best place to start is often with what your e-commerce software provides. For example, Shopify Flow gives you tools that automatically unpublish out-of-stock goods and then send your team a Slack notice about it, or can push new products and seasonal promotions to all of your channels simultaneously, meaning you only need to create and set the time for things to be tested and delivered.
Chatbots for Support
Your e-commerce store operates 24/7, but your humans don’t. That could mean customers come to shop and have questions but then are told to wait until the next morning to get an answer. That gives them hours and hours to find an alternative to you.
Enter chatbots. The low-power AI available to e-commerce stores includes chatbots that are smart enough to answer customer questions based on the information you provide. They can help with sizes and color options, let people know what is in stock right now, explain shipping costs and timing, and much more. Today’s chatbots no longer just need to link to different FAQ pages or spit out information that’s flat and may or may not answer a question. Look for advanced features that other retailers are providing to see what’s available. E-commerce businesses can benefit, especially from in-chat features like accepting payments and completing purchases, getting updates on orders or tracking information, or even reminding them about the coupons they have available on their account.
Vendor Sourcing Solutions
Growing e-commerce brands need to protect their bottom line, and that includes their supply chain. Safeguards here are hard to come by, especially sourcing vendors for individual parts or raw materials at costs that are similar to your main source.
To address these, a variety of matchmaking tools are now arriving for e-commerce brands. They’re designed to reduce the risks of shitting your manufacturing by having the platform vet manufacturers first. Some like Sourcify provide money-back guarantees if you’re not satisfied with the product that’s delivered. Look for programs that also help you with project management and workflow to introduce vendors for various products or parts. If you’re building a list of backup suppliers, review the costs associated with the platform as well as minimum order volume, so you know how to budget appropriately and determine when you breakeven or protect enough revenue for the costs to be worthwhile.
Price-Smart Selection Tools
The final area where growing e-commerce brands focus their technology are places where they can improve margins relative to processes. This effort can keep you safe when things slow down and make your holidays even more profitable.
Look at areas where you have fixed costs and variable costs and try to find new options for each element. This can be as something as familiar as shipping, where your carrier partners will have varying charges and calculators based on each item you ship. Dimensional weight (DIM weight) calculators can protect you, especially during the holidays, when orders change or when people start buying larger orders. Each package needs to be priced right and still arrive on time. These tools can automatically pick the most affordable shipping option while meeting your needs. However, the shipping selection needs to occur after an order is packed, so there’s integration at your packing station and your shipping prep area.
Just by taking the time to check every option, you can start saving significantly. Integrating this software with your entire warehouse is required in many cases, but ROI is easy to achieve. Take that approach to your whole operation and you’ll be in strong shape to compete with leading e-commerce businesses.
**Jake Rheude is the Vice President of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an order fulfillment company for online retailers and ecommerce businesses. www.redstagfulfillment.com