The 8 Technologies Every Merchant Needs and Fears

When someone makes a comment about needing a degree in technology to be a retailer these days, they aren’t really that far fetched. Sure, there are tons of platforms that seek to simplify your life (i.e. Shopify) by doing multiple things, but they are far from doing it all and even further from doing them all well.

The reality is this:

1. You will have multiple systems/platforms.
2. There will be data overlap.
3. There will be a need to integrate.

Each of these technologies (technology groupings) should be bound by a strong digital strategy. All of these potentially integrate with one another. You need a roadmap!

business roadmap

Before you run out and buy any one component, think about how all of them will work together instead of separately. Which data points need to move between which applications. Which application is the master for which data point? Who in your organization is going to be the primary user of this new application/tool/platform? Not sure what I mean and why this is important? Have a look at these technology groupings and the type of data that each can contain. You’ll see a lot of overlap.

Note: This list isn’t in any particular order of importance. I think the priority in which you implement each depends entirely on the type of business.

Technologies That are Critical to Your Success

In my opinion, these are the most critical to any merchants success. Everything outside of this group is what you do once you are far outside of the starting gate and looking to more finely tune specific areas of the business (i.e. – on-site search).

1: eCommerce Platform

ecommerceplatform

  • Product Catalog (Fully Merchandised)
  • Customers
  • Customer Order Data (items, shipments, returns etc…)
  • Subscribers (some platforms)
  • Search Usage / Search Data

2: Analytics

analytics

  • Visitors / Sessions
  • Anonymous Click Path Data
  • Anonymous Search Data
  • eCommerce Sales / Products Purchased

Related: How to Calculate Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – ebook

3: Email Marketing

email marketing

  • Subscribers (Segments of Subscribers)
  • Customers (Segments of Customers)

4: Re-Targetting (ad r/t + cart abandonment r/t)

retargeting

  • Customer Profiles
  • Customer Click Path Data
  • Abandoned Cart Profiles

5: CRM

crm

  • Customer Data (profile)
  • Customer Notes
  • Customer Purchase Data
  • Customer Social Data
  • Customer Site Visit / Click Path Data

Related: Why Conversion Rate Is a Bad Metric (In Isolation)

6: POS (Point of Sale)

point of sale

  • Customer Profiles
  • Customer Purchase Data
  • Product Catalog – Partial (i.e. – SKU, Inventory, Price)

7: Marketing Automation

ecommerce platform

  • Customer Profiles
  • Customer Purchase Data
  • Customer Site Visit / Click Path Data

Related: The Power of CRM for B2C in eCommerce and Retail

8: ERP / Order Management

erp

  • Customer Profiles
  • Customer Order Data
  • Product Catalog (Full or Partial)
  • Warehouse Management (Bins, Locations)
  • Merchandising Information
  • Purchasing (i.e. – Re-Order Points)
  • Financial Data (PnL, Balance Sheet, GL etc…)

It doesn’t stop at these 8 either. There’s so many other types of applications you can layer on within the world of digital retail. Many of these serve very specific functions.

Need even more examples?  Sure, why not!

  1. Search Platforms (third party like SLI Systems, Endeca)
  2. Conversion Optimization Tools (Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer etc…)
  3. Personalization Software
  4. Shipping Solutions
  5. Merchandising Platforms

Get the Lay of The Land First

I can keep going, but the point of this post is to help you understand just how many moving parts there can be in digital retail. Most companies shouldn’t start by trying to tackle all of these at once, but I strongly advise you know the playing field before stepping onto it.

Whether you are planning for a new eCommerce platform or just looking to implement a new Email Marketing Platform, knowing what you already have and which systems own which data structures is a serious piece of planning ammunition.

Not knowing is what plagues many large enterprises. They have so many silos of information and very few of them speak to one another with any amount of frequency.If you are a smaller to mid-sized merchant, knowing this up front can save you from a lot of data paralysis down the road.

Whatever you do, start with the roadmap. It will obviously change as your business grows and changes, but at least start with some kind of a map showing you what you’ll need and when!

Related: Next Practices vs. Best Practices – Winning in Retail