The best ecommerce tech: how SMEs can compete with retail's global giants

February 9, 2022

The world’s biggest retail firms have huge engineering teams. They invest massive amounts in software, partnerships, and analytics. They use state-of-the-art enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Their relationships with global and local logistics companies get them huge discounts.

We could go on.

If you’re an online retailer, you might feel disheartened reading this. You shouldn’t. Because software as a service (SaaS) is changing the game for online retailers: the tools are getting better; they integrate with other systems more seamlessly. But, most importantly, the commercial model has changed – tech that used to require a considerable capital outlay is now available to ‘rent’ for a tiny proportion of the previous cost.

As these tools are now available to almost anyone with a credit card, more modest-sized online retailers can use their agility to move faster – with comparable capabilities – than ecommerce’s biggest global players. That works even better when all this technology integrates to work together seamlessly.

Tech for ecommerce

The best tech for ecommerce companies

Ecommerce businesses use tools to meet different needs. They create solutions or integrate third-party services into their website’s code. The most popular technology for ecommerce companies includes:

  • Enterprise resource planning systems
  • Payment service providers
  • Customer relationship management software
  • Analytics tools
  • Shipping solutions

What ecommerce technology can you use to grow your online business?

1. Enterprise resource planning systems

ERPs help manage the day-to-day management of ecommerce businesses, including stock management, sales tracking, and project management. By integrating your other business systems into a single ERP, you can reduce the time spent on administrative tasks and make more time to focus on other priorities to drive growth. The best ERP systems use machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to automate processes and offer insightful data about your business. Often, ecommerce companies today are partnering with cloud-based ERPs that can help make your business more efficient and competitive.

2. Payment service providers (PSPs)

Using a PSP should be a no-brainer for any growing ecommerce business. Why? Because they act as a go-between that connects your online shop, payment options, and your customers. Partnering with a PSP helps offer your customers multiple payment methods. Good ones also take care of the entire electronic payment transfer process – making sure customers pay invoices on time, dealing with security and fraud risks, and offering real-time feedback insights into your business. Mollie is a payment service provider.

Paying with Mollie

3. Customer relationship management technology

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems help businesses manage their relationships and interactions with their customers and leads. CRMs can help you deliver better customer experiences, streamline processes, and increase conversions.

As well as the basic information they provide – customer history, issues, order status – an advanced CRM can give more detailed information, such as social media sentiment about your brand and competitors. Advanced CRMs also now offer state-of-the-art automation processes, refine activities using artificial intelligence, and even provide chatbots that help guide prospects through marketing and sales pipelines.

4. Analytics tools

Ecommerce companies now have access to vast amounts of customer data. With analytical tools, you use this data to, among other things, personalise the customer experience, identify fraud, and optimise pricing. This data can also help you predict trends and forecast demand, allowing you to build up stock for peak-sales seasons or even offer new products to increase sales. These days, some of the market’s best analytics tools are cloud-based, meaning they can process and analyse data extremely quickly, giving ecommerce companies a competitive advantage over their peers. The best analytics tools also use machine learning and AI to offer insights and recommendations.

5. Shipping solutions

Shipping solutions can automate your business’s logistics processes, including managing and tracking deliveries. This can help you organise your shipping workflows to identify efficiencies and reduce costs. More importantly, it can help ensure you keep customers happy with time-slot deliveries, real-time tracking, and effortless returns.

Shipping ecommerce

Nowadays, premium shipping software goes beyond basic shipping. The best solutions offer real-time insights and notifications, automate as much of the logistics process as possible, and deliver reports to improve efficiencies. Label printing, threshold-based discounts, ecommerce platform integrations, and support for multiple sales channels are just some benefits that the best shipping solutions will offer. Also, look for a provider that is transparent about pricing, breaking down costs for services, including storage, receiving, and picking and packing.

Creating the right tech stack for your business

Every business is different, and so every company has different needs. That means there is no one-size-fits-all solution for finding the right ecommerce technology. Finding the right tech for your ecommerce business comes with lots of questions. The key things to keep in mind when choosing a new solution are whether it integrates with your current tech, offers everything you need, and can scale with your business.

Cost is also a significant factor. It’s great if you have the resources to create a custom solution, but SaaS platforms offer opportunities to access easily integrated, cutting-edge tools at an affordable price. This means there’s never been a better time to start using the technological tools that can help your business flourish.

Grow your way with Mollie

Working with more than 130,000 businesses, we’ve identified four dimensions that are necessary for SMEs to compete with retail’s global giants. This is the third in a series of articles focusing on these different factors. Want to read more? See our guide to driving sales using personalised ecommerce, or how to create a world-class commercial infrastructure to grow your online business.

At Mollie, we aim to help businesses grow. We do that with an effortless payment product that offers a custom-branded checkout and multiple payment methods to boost conversion. Easily integrate Mollie with your website and onboard quickly with no minimum costs, no lock-in contracts, and no hidden fees. Find out more about payments with Mollie.