Essential Ecommerce Tools— How High Growth Brands Scale Their Business

It’s easier than ever to start an online business—there are so many off-the-shelf tools in the ecommerce landscape that it’s easy for sellers to weave together a full plan without any coding experience. 

While there are many tools available, choosing the right ones for your tech stack is really important for a high-growth business. This is especially true as technology continues to evolve and change, forming overall trends in the logistics industry

Sellers need tools that will relieve them from the time and resources it takes to build an online operation from scratch. Using tools that are the right fit for your brand’s needs will help keep your customer journey smooth (lower cart abandonment!), retention levels high (more sales!), and operations efficient (hello, scalability!). 

Essential Ecommerce Tools

A few examples of ecommerce tech tools include (but are not limited to): cart set up, payment processing, inventory management, ERP connection, fulfillment provider integration, automated customer notifications, customer behavior data capture, analytics, shipment tracking.  

Each app, platform, and software has a specific role in the customer journey or the order management process. Often tools are lumped into two types: front-end (what the customer interacts with) and back-end (everything behind the scenes that helps get orders through the supply chain and to the customer). Some are known as end-to-end tools, which means they bridge the front- and back-end of the order and fulfillment process. Building a tech stack is not easy, but it’s necessary to ensure your systems are efficient.  

Different companies have different needs. It’s imperative that every seller figure out what tools they need in order to maximize sales and operational efficiency. Here are the baseline essentials for building a successful ecommerce tech stack. As always, be true to the needs of your brand, vet your partnerships, and seek expert advice from people who have what you want.

Ecommerce Storefront

The first tool that comes to mind when setting up an ecommerce business is the storefront—every company needs a great front-end platform where customers can go to select products, add them to their cart, and have a seamless payment process (also known as checkout).

Shopify is the most widely used ecommerce platform to-date for this purpose. It’s no-code setup makes it easy for anyone, plus it’s very customizable. 

While it’s primary function is a point-of-sale platform, Shopify is more than just an ecommerce store-front builder. The platform allows a seller to showcase products, engage with customers, get paid, ship a product, and manage their day-to-day finances and operations. As a Shopify business grows there are many integrations and applications that can be layered on top of the simple point-of-sale function.

“We have a specific development team who customizes our Shopify page to make it exactly the way we want it. For beauty brands, for instance, you want to be transparent about your ingredients and claims. It’s important for us to add that product detail prominently on the page. Shopify makes it relatively simple for our team to customize it like that.” 

Quinn Roukema Co-founder of Gloss Ventures 

There are thousands of third-party applications hosted on Shopify that sellers can use to customize their operations. Shopify isn’t the only front-end platform for ecommerce businesses. In 2021 it has 23% market share and almost two million merchants using the platform. Other reliable ecommerce storefront platforms include: WooCommerce, Squarespace, Wix, Magento, Weebly, and BigCommerce. 

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Inventory and Order Management 

Once a seller sets up their storefront, the natural next step is to figure out how to manage inventory and fulfillment. Whether you plan to fulfill your products in-house, or you outsource to a 3PL, it’s important to rely on tools to help automate your inventory management so that there is a seamless flow of products from suppliers, to storage, to distribution, and to customers. 

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A brand may ship their products to many different channels: to retailers, through a Shopify store, an Amazon store, or direct-to-consumers. In order to connect multiple channels to their fulfillment operation and inventory management, many sellers rely on a back-end platform. 

Skubana is an example of this part of the ecommerce tech stack. The Skubana platform offers a single place for sellers to manage their inventory (even if it’s distributed across multiple locations) and order fulfillment. Plus it provides analytics for business intelligence for brands looking to achieve multi-channel profitability.

“We’re not a traditional Amazon commodity, because we sell a class one medical device, regulated by the FDA. Our Amazon business is small, only a single digit percent of our business. But luckily we can fulfill that directly through DCL because of their integrations; DCL has helped it go seamlessly.”  

Christian Gormsen CEO at Eargo

The benefits of using an inventory management platform are many:

  • Unify backend data on orders
  • See distributed inventory in one place
  • Follow inventory through the entire fulfillment process
  • Automate purchase orders
  • Manage shipping and tracking 
  • Analyze and automate all operations 

One of the biggest benefits to an inventory management platform is that sellers can perfect their demand planning. Getting your forecast just right in order to have enough stock for a given season, promotion, or select period of time takes a lot of data analysis and experience. By syncing your products with an inventory management platform, you can take advantage of algorithms that analyze historical sales data to estimate future sales. Forecasting becomes more accurate and more efficient because of automation and technology.

International Shipping

The last step of the ecommerce product journey is shipping—and it probably gets the highest percentage of your overall fulfillment budget. There are so many services, carriers, and ways to get your products to customers that it can be hard to determine which method is right for your brand. Working with a 3PL you’ll likely have access to high-volume discounts with domestic carriers. But international shipping is so much more complex. 

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Ecommerce is rapidly becoming a global market. With social media marketing it’s a natural segue for sellers to start shipping direct-to-consumer all across the globe pretty early on. The best way to support this growth is to work with a partner like Passport Shipping, an international shipping carrier that focuses on parcel logistics, duties, taxes, and high-touch customer support.

“We are all about being inclusive—with our products, our influencers, but also our fulfillment. We don’t want to just be that US-based brand that’s only shipping in the US. We believe it’s a global world. And our jobs are made easier by solutions out there like Passport.”  

Quinn Roukema Co-founder of Gloss Ventures

“We are all about being inclusive—with our products, our influencers, but also our fulfillment. We don’t want to just be that US-based brand that’s only shipping in the US. We believe it’s a global world. And our jobs are made easier by solutions out there like Passport.”  

Some brands might start shipping internationally through a regular domestic carrier or through their 3PL at first. This works well when you’re only shipping to a dedicated region, but once you start scaling you’ll need a dedicated international expert to help optimize your strategy.

Passport can create a branded tracking page so customers can see the real-time arrival of their goods. They also handle your after-sales support, which means taking care of any issues with clearance, customs, or any stops along the international journey. It’s a really good solution because it’s focused on the international and really thoughtful about the customer experience.

“The fact that Passport handles any issues directly with your customer, saves us time—it’s a huge value add.” 

Quinn Roukema Co-founder of Gloss Ventures

The ultimate goal of building a great ecommerce tech stack is to provide your customers with a smooth experience—one that will make them want to come back for more. By choosing the right ecommerce tools, you’ll be able to scale quickly and efficiently.

At DCL Logistics our team helps sellers choose the integrations that will give them the most support to manage their business efficiently. Reach out for a quote if you’re in need of fulfillment support or check out our integrations.