Our Five Key Points:
- Every online business needs digital tools to support a variety of business functions.
- This is your e-commerce tech stack.
- Your e-commerce tech stack should help you with marketing, sales, customer relationship management, inventory management, and resource planning.
- Fully integrated business data plus the right e-commerce tech stack can massively improve the customer experience and boost sales.
- Using a data integration platform like Integrate.io in your e-commerce tech stack could boost the effectiveness of your other tools.
When you start an e-commerce business, you know that you’ll need some top-level digital services to get your products and services online and in front of the right audience. Not every online store is as big as Amazon, but with effective tools, you can still make waves. How do you pick the right apps and SaaS or PaaS to make your online business as profitable as possible? We explore the ideal e-commerce tech stack, from a platform for your online shopping experience to a full suite of integration tools for your business data.
Table of Contents
- A Platform For Your Online Store
- Marketing and Content Management
- A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform
- Enterprise Resource Planning Software (ERP)
- Effective and Intelligent Data Capture Tools
- Complete your E-commerce Tech Stack With Integrate.io
A Platform for Your Online Store
The first thing all online retail startups require in their e-commerce tech stack is somewhere to sell their goods or services. Thankfully, there are plenty of digital platforms offering online store services to e-commerce ventures of all sizes, from small, “add-on” e-shops to multi-business, department store-style e-retailers. These are hosted solutions, meaning that, for a price, they provide the online resources and everything happens “off-site”. In other words, you don’t need to install or run anything yourself. The pricing for these services depends on your needs, so always research and approach a vendor directly for up-to-date prices.
Shopify has the multi-level appeal of allowing businesses of all sizes to set up an online store that looks great with very little time or effort. The platform provides a range of templates for users that just want to get selling with minimal fuss. More ambitious retailers can then use add-ons, plugins, and a range of design features to create a brand-focused e-commerce site. Shopify has its own app store, allowing retailers to add features to their stores that matter to their target audience.
BigCommerce is another option for businesses wanting to get an online storefront set up fast. This software as a service (SaaS) provides a desirable low-code or no-code environment for the less tech-savvy business owner. However, web development experts who want to really personalize their site can add their own CSS or HTML code to the existing templates.
Magento is another name you may have heard in the e-commerce sector. This company offers two products: a free, open-source platform that allows developers to build their own stores from scratch, or a hosted version called Magento Enterprise aimed at larger businesses with a hefty price tag. It’s comparable to Shopify Plus, Shopify’s enterprise offering, and you can read more about the differences between the two platforms.
There are plenty of hosted e-commerce platforms, so consider your budget, what features you need, and do a little research before settling on your platform of choice.
Marketing and Content Management
Your e-commerce tech stack isn’t complete without somewhere to talk about your products and channels to promote them through. Digital marketing is a huge part of e-commerce, so finding the right tools to support you in this can be the key to success. There are a number of different aspects to consider here including your social media strategy, any blog space you might already have, and the skills of the people on your team. For example, if you have an SEO expert on board, you might not want to shell out additional funds for SEO plugins and support. Many SaaS providers offer this as an included extra, so check out the features each digital option offers.
Marketing campaigns are only as effective as the insights you glean from them. Using a data integration solution like Integrate.io can help you figure out which email marketing campaigns were a resounding success, and which ones might need some fine-tuning.
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform
Most brick-and-mortar businesses have a CRM, but for online businesses, it’s absolutely essential. Customers prefer to communicate with businesses in a number of ways, but if your business is primarily online, then that’s where they will enter their all-important contact details. It’s where they’ll place items in their basket, send inquiries about products or services, or even make complaints about the checkout process. That’s why you need a highly connected online ecosystem to collate all this data and help you build meaningful relationships with your customers that improve their experience and boost your sales. The CRM becomes a back-end to the systems your customers or users engage with, making life easier for them – as long as the data is accurate and up to date.
Salesforce is a hugely popular cloud-based CRM that’s highly scalable making it an ideal technology stack addition for online businesses that anticipate periods of fast growth. Salesforce helps businesses track their progress against sales or performance targets, helps manage customer needs or complaints, and provides real-time feedback. Salesforce’s clients include Spotify, Toyota, and AT&T.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a flexible CRM aimed at businesses looking to foster leads and make the most of data analysis. It’s easy to manage for most businesses once fully set up, but some reviews suggest that those without much tech experience may struggle to get to this stage.
Oracle NetSuite is another famous name providing a CRM that covers a wide range of e-commerce aspects including order fulfillment, subscriptions renewals, and even opportunities for cross-selling. It comes with a range of integrated e-commerce capabilities, including providing quotes online for bespoke products or services.
Remember, CRMs are only as effective as the data you have access to. Consider a data integration solution with reverse ETL, which allows the transfer of information from your data warehouse directly into your CRM for real-time updates.
Enterprise Resource Planning Software (ERP)
ERP software tends to cover a broad range of functions, usually based on collating your data from all your e-commerce apps and SaaS and utilizing it to optimize your online business. ERP platforms may connect to your third-party logistics (3PL) providers to collate information on shipping and supply chain issues for effective order management. They may also provide financial functions, gathering granular data on sales and costs to support your accountants.
We already mentioned Oracle NetSuite as a CRM, but this suite of digital functions also operates as an ERP platform. This is because it provides supply chain and inventory management, financial management solutions, and tools that empower e-commerce businesses to create digital invoices.
Sage is another big name in the ERP sector. They provide different offerings for different-sized businesses and include specialist functions for businesses that include manufacturing aspects – such as a company that makes its own products then sells them online – and those that need to access their ERP via mobile devices.
Effective and Intelligent Data Capture Tools
The effectiveness of any of the tools in your e-commerce tech stack largely depends upon the accuracy of the data you have access to. When you have data silos – data that only exists within a single system – you constantly have to access multiple apps or programs to move forward with your e-commerce business. This isn’t a sustainable business model in a market where customers want results immediately, and will absolutely go elsewhere if you can’t provide the products or services they need due to delays in communication.
Data integration platforms use a range of technologies to gather data from a variety of sources:
- ETL, or extract, transform, load, which takes data from one or more sources and transforms it into a unified format before loading it into a data warehouse
- Change data capture or CDC which can gather data then regularly update it whenever changes occur
- APIs that are programmed to link to specific data sources, as narrow as a single table within a massive database
Look for a data integration solution that provides a mix of these solutions, which can each be useful in different scenarios.
Complete Your E-Commerce Tech Stack with Integrate.io
If you’ve not sourced your ideal data integration platform yet, or even if you have but aren’t sure they provide the right services, Integrate.io could have the features you need to take your e-commerce tech stack to the next level. Integrate.io offers a new and improved ETL platform, with out-of-the-box connections to a range of services every e-commerce business will need access to at some point. As well as gathering historical customer data from all your existing apps and tools, Integrate.io can use automation to set up change data capture (CDC) to regularly update your databases as and when data changes – and not before. This massively improves the efficiency of your systems and data warehouses, avoiding latency and delays for your customers. Reverse ETL makes sure data from your repositories flows effortlessly into your CRM, for deep e-commerce capabilities.
Want to add Integrate.io to your e-commerce tech stack? Schedule a demo today to find out more.