The 3 Best SaaS Technologies to Happen to Ecommerce

There is rarely an industry that hasn’t been touched by tech. Ecommerce, however, has understandably seen more aggressive change than most. With everything from machine learning to virtual reality headsets, tech disruptions are a daily occurrence in this space. 

SaaS technologies have powered this change to ecommerce, starting with who can sell, and then developing how. 

Continue reading to learn what the top three SaaS technologies are that have reshaped ecommerce.

Any claim off the “best technologies to happen to ecommerce” has to look farther back than you might think.

The history of ecommerce started four decades ago in the 1970s. The introduction of teleshopping—which, at the time, just meant electronic invoices—was originally applied to reduce the time processing importations in customs.

By the mid-1990s, the internet had paved the way for the revolution of Amazon and eBay.

The last five years have seen even more extraordinary disruption to ecommerce and greater retail. From AI to chatbots and voice assistants, new technologies are deftly woven into brands’ buyer journeys today. The advent of software as a solution (SaaS) has unquestionably accelerated the pace of this new tech shaping the market.

With all this movement, who’s to say which technologies have had the biggest impact on ecommerce as a whole? The convenience and multi-dimensional buyer experience that ecommerce gives us today have improved the user journey in so many ways. These improvements—and the colossal shifts that have taken place in ecommerce as a result—have all been driven by new technologies.

There is rarely an industry that hasn’t been touched by tech. Ecommerce, however, has understandably seen more aggressive change than most. With everything from machine learning to virtual reality headsets, tech disruptions are a daily occurrence in this space.

A few recent SaaS technologies stand out as the most disruptive, however, because they have actually changed the backdrop for the eCommerce market as a whole. Continue reading to learn what they are, and how the future of eCommerce has been reshaped by them.

Ecommerce after COVID era

Post-2020 Ecommerce

There was the ecommerce world pre-COVID, and now there’s the post-COVID world.

By the end of March 2020, government lockdowns had been implemented in more than 100 countries. The pandemic had an instant impact on retail as shops were shuttered worldwide and consumers rushed to stock up on basics at local grocery stores.

After weeks and months of quarantines, consumers’ focus shifted from basic needs to other purchases. Without the option to buy in-stores, product purchases took place online.

Traditional sales saw a decline over the course of 2020, but ecommerce saw a 129% growth year-over-year. In the U.S., eCommerce retail accounted for about a sixth of all sales, or well over $700 billion.

As the world moves eagerly into this stage of vaccinations against COVID-19, economists and industry experts assure us that the new normal of online shopping is nevertheless here to stay.

Technology has had to respond to new needs from a greater number of brands and sellers in the last 12 months, not to mention new customer management, web development and order fulfilment as the market demands more ecommerce. SaaS development has been how tech leaders have answered the call.

Other shifts in ecommerce that have shaped how the tech in the industry will change include:

  • Mobile devices finally became the most popular device for online shopping. 72% of consumers use mobile devices to shop online, and even purchases that aren’t completed on a mobile device begin there through price-checking and discovery shopping on social media. Shoppers in physical retail stores pull out their phones to price check before making a purchase, too.
  • Even more recently, the scale has tipped and 55% of consumers now prefer to buy directly from brands or manufacturers instead of retailers. This trend has been a response to the direct-to-consumer (D2C) boom that brands have turbo-powered as new SaaS enable them to build ecommerce websites with greater ease. Brands with this direct consumer interaction reward their customers with superior customer service and a more personalized buyer experience.

The rise of D2C was further accelerated by the pandemic as brands were pressured to find new channels and sales models to reach consumers. The use of mobile devices, too, was rocketed to new heights as consumers spent more time at home. This mixed the perfect cocktail of small and medium businesses hitting the e-market to make a stand for their brands, adopting a whole stack of SaaS to do so.

SAAS Boosting Ecommerce

The Top SaaS Solutions Moving Ecommerce

Even in the eCommerce rush of 2020 with every reason to sell online, most small and medium businesses can’t afford to develop their own eCommerce platforms, apps, and other tech solutions.

That’s where SaaS development comes in to make anything possible—even for the smallest brand. A SaaS, defined, is an on-demand software hosted in the cloud. It was the extraordinarily fast SaaS development leading up to and during the pandemic that shaped all of eCommerce as a result.

Keep ready to learn what SaaS technologies have had the biggest and most lasting impact on ecommerce.

1

SaaS for Ecommerce Website

SAAS Empowering Ecommerce Website

Ecommerce website SaaS are software designed to support an eCommerce website. This technology has enabled brands of any size to build, host, personalize and optimize their own eCommerce sales channel.

While the first eCommerce SaaS was invented almost 20 years ago, their recent development has accelerated with the D2C boom and the rising demand for eCommerce. As long as eCommerce has existed, it’s been cost-prohibitive for small and medium brands to invest in an eCommerce site, because everything from hosting to custom design and custom payment solutions would have to be handled directly.

An eCommerce website SaaS, in contrast, is the platform enabling the simple build, launch and hosting of those sites. Most eCommerce site SaaS include a content management system (CMS) with many customizable options.

Customization on ecommerce SaaS, in fact, has become extraordinarily quick and easy. In contrast, building an ecommerce site from zero is essentially reinventing the wheel.

The even better news about ecommerce site SaaS is that there are so many competitive options. This gives each brand the power to elect the best option based on capacity, cost and other factors such as industry specialization.

SaaS-based ecommerce platforms also open the door to more SaaS development through the auxiliary applications that are integrated into ecommerce sites. These applications might include more customizable website elements, payment processors, marketing software and more.

Ecommerce website platforms also have their own customer technical help, further enabling brands to easily build sites and get help when they need it.

The whole landscape of ecommerce has changed as a result of these platforms. These SaaS are the very reason why D2C has been able to take off. Without it, only the largest bands would have been able to develop an online presence on proprietary ecommerce websites.

2

Product Information Management Software (PIM)

PIM Software For Ecommerce

Even with introduction of ecommerce website few years ago, the way wasn’t completely paved for brands to sell easily online. Yes, brands could build beautiful websites. They could add payment processing and other integrations needed to fulfill orders. The product data management, however, was just as messy as ever before…if not messier with the addition of new sales channels.

Product data (including everything from product SKUs and descriptions to enriched product photos and videos) was still stored in spreadsheets. The marketing department would have one spreadsheet, and customer service would have another. Dozens of fields per product would be managed manually, and versioning for new sales channels always caused more errors.

With the introduction of online catalogues and new marketplaces, multi-channel sales became the norm. An eCommerce website would be one place a brand sells, while Amazon and social selling would hum in the background.

The multichannel trend itself took shape as consumers consumed more content. Brands have to be on multiple channels today because consumers visit multiple channels before making a purchase. Any brand whose presence is less than the competition will be the brand that users forget.

Managing the new versions of product data tweaked for each channel became an even bigger nightmare for brands working in spreadsheets. Team members who already had full-time responsibilities in marketing or operations were left playing “data jockey” as brands spent months or years preparing data for a single ecommerce launch.

Any tech solution that could eradicate these inefficiencies and streamline product data management would have to be cloud-based. It would have to support multi-departmental collaborations. It would also have to be agile enough to respond to the changes in marketplace listings requirements, like character limits, field names, etc.

The solution the SaaS market invented is called a “PIM,” or product information management software.

PIMs work to aggregate all product data. Brands scrape that data out of every spreadsheet, every ERP, CRM and PML, and leave no stone unturned. Once it’s all together, the PIM calculates “health scores” of product listing data to find where that data needs to be completed, corrected or improved.

Stored in the cloud, this single-source-of-truth library of product data is accessible to every team member who needs it.

The days of spreadsheets are mercifully done.

Most notably, the ecommerce shift to multichannel sales strategies is only possible with PIM.

PIM technology has shaped eCommerce as the tool that centralizes product data to ensure more strategic multichannel management. Knowing what a PIM is and what it isn’t is how a brand can leverage all the ways this technology has changed eCommerce forever.

3

Augmented Reality SaaS

AR Enabled SAAS for Ecommerce

More consumers than ever are comfortable with online shopping. This adoption took place at an accelerated rate over 2020, but the tendencies were already in motion.

With more consumers online, the competition among brands has also picked up.

Companies have to “up” their buyer journey to stand out today, and one of the greatest spaces with room for growth has been in the “trying” of a product before purchase. After all, it’s that physical experience that differentiates the brick-and-mortar shopping experience from a digital one.

Augmented reality (AR) is the technology that came into ecommerce to bridge that gap.

AR ecommerce solutions give brands the option to add interactive shopping to their buyer journey. This offers consumers a real-time view of their surroundings changed or improved by high-quality product graphics.

For example, a consumer shopping for furniture can “insert” a couch into the space that couch would go in. How does the fabric play off the color of the walls? Is it the right size for the room? The consumer can glean that with AR, even without seeing the couch in person.

AR enables consumers to get those answers and more, thereby reducing returns later. The immersive AR experience is also a tool that boosts conversions and makes a brand come off as more tech-savvy and consumer-focused.

SaaS tech, once again, came in and saved small and medium brands from getting shut out of AR solutions as big brands developed their own solutions. Developing this kind of technology on a proprietary basis would be too expensive for most brands, but with SaaS apps and integrations, now AR is within reach for every name in ecommerce.

The impact of AR in ecommerce can’t be overstated, either. From social media filters to devoted “try on” apps for stores, AR has given consumers exactly what they need to comfortably transition to an ecommerce-dominated world. In-store experiences will no longer be the preference.

The SaaS market is what has enabled ecommerce to grow as fast as it has—and in the direction it has. Brands of all sizes have been empowered to sell directly to consumers with buyer journeys as robust (and often better) than the big brands.

The crucial first step for any eCommerce business is to choose the right suite of SaaS tools to meet their operational needs. This suite, or software “stack,” can be identified with the help of a consultant or by thoroughly vetting the options. You can start your research right here on HowToBuySaaS.

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The following blog was written by guest author Alex Borzo, a content contributor at Amber Engine, a software company passionate about eCommerce. The company's fast and simple PIM software gets sellers, distributors and brands to Amazon and other online marketplaces in weeks instead of months and frees up time and resources to allow ecommerce and marketing professionals to create content that inspires modern discovery shoppers.

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