Investing in the right software for your e-commerce store allows you to scale without headaches. It's vital to review your options carefully to ensure that the e-commerce shop software you're using isn't making any crucial mistakes, and it will enable your growth instead of hindering it.
Making this choice can be confusing thanks to the huge range of options there are today, as well as the unique nature of each target market. Different types of software are best for different types of businesses, and your ideal solution will vary a great deal depending on your existing setup, the tools you currently use, and your business needs. Taking the time to review your current business state will help you avoid mistakes when purchasing software to run your e-commerce shop.
With that in mind, we've gathered advice from e-commerce shop owners across the web, highlighting problems and flaws to watch out for when you make a purchase.
Some major shop software flaws
No omnichannel support
If you're selling on multiple channels, you need software solutions that support each of these channels to provide real-time updates, data synchronization, and cross-channel analytics so that you can see what you are spending and earning, and your actual inventory. If you need to collate this information from different platforms and programs, you'll get fragmented results.
David Wolfe of Merchandise Mecca, an e-commerce shop with more than $5 million in revenue and 15,000+ orders per months, lists cross-channel support for inventory management as one of the most crucial features for success.
"It [Extensiv Order Manager (formerly Skubana)] keeps track of my inventory as a whole. Then it communicates that information to the various platforms that I sell on. If I have 100 of something, it tells all the other platforms that he has 100 for sale. If I sell 10, it takes 10 off of all of them pretty quickly so there’s no overselling. That was a problem before.
Overselling can be a problem because you don’t want to disappoint your customers and you don’t want to get a bad reputation from them. That is something that other pieces of software didn’t really do, and if they did do it, they didn’t work as well and they were too expensive. And I’m a small business I would say, small to medium sized business now, and it really was unaffordable before." - David Wolfe, Merchandise Mecca
Death Wish Coffee offers similar advice.
"Our goal at the beginning of 2014 was to find and implement an inventory system across all of our selling channels. It took us over 2 years and many failed attempts."
"Most important to my line of work is to not oversell any items. It is disastrous when you have to tell a customer that they're not able to purchase a collectable item they paid for, let alone the time it takes away from customer service to remedy the situation. Every time an item is oversold, you have the potential to lose a customer." - Dustin, Alexander - Death Wish Coffee
Both top selling e-commerce brands recommend ensuring your inventory management software has the capacity to track inventory across channels in real-time to prevent over selling and stock-outs. Without that feature, you could alienate customers, lose money on sales, and get hit with negative reviews.
Lack of automation
E-commerce shops often scale quickly, have periods of growth and shrinkage based on seasonal demand, and change top-selling products throughout the year. Your e-commerce solution must scale automatically based on your ability to meet demand and existing capacity.
You can use automation to eliminate manual tasks that frequently take up a great deal of time, freeing up your team's schedule and eliminating the need for manual data entry.
"If you are serious about growing your e-commerce business, you need an automated system to manage inventory and link all of your sales channels in one central location." - Sam Shackleton, Cross Path Capital
Choosing a solution that can automate repetitive tasks, create automated solutions, and use If This Then That logic to build responses and perform repetitive tasks is necessary for growth without exponentially increasing costs.
Lack of customer support
Quality customer support is crucial to implementing and learning to use any software, especially with an ERP or inventory management solution, which will have a steep learning curve.
"We spent weeks trying to integrate a couple of other Inventory Management (solutions). Portals which ended in disastrous results and waste of time." - G2 Crowd
Good customer support ensures that you have someone on hand to help you with integration, walk your teams through new features, and find and solve issues. Problems and issues appear, even with software that you’ve already learned, so look for a solution with a long-term customer support team or dedicated account manager.
Without this support, you might not know what to do or how to fix problems, and you could lose money on an already substantial investment. Verify that programs offer quality customer support by checking reviews and analyzing the support you get with your subscription when you sign up.
No Unified Solutions
"You have these fragmented software(s), and it becomes very expensive to connect them, it’s very inefficient. Even with three software(s), you still need another three to do all these other things. So, you end up using seven or eight to run your business and you still need spreadsheets to fill in all the blanks. " - Chad Rubin, Think Crucial
Look for a unified solution that fills most of your needs, or integrates with third-party apps or plugins that do. Otherwise, you could end up paying subscription fees for 3 or more software solutions which can add up considerably.
"We replaced some pretty well known software to all sorts of products on the market. What we're finding with Extensiv is it's giving us visibility in ways that it takes two or three other pieces of software for us to manage, we can do it with a few clicks with Extensiv and we have a better understanding of our costs and our fees and we're not making decisions thinking we're making money because we're not, or worse yet, losing money because we thought there was going to be more margin than there was. " - Chad Annis, Lock & Maine
Review your available solutions to ensure that they have the features and functionality you need, and seek out solutions that offer more of the features you need so you can invest in fewer programs. You can identify what you need by performing an internal audit to identify needs and problem areas that require solutions.
Charging a Percentage of Revenue
Many software-as-a-service solutions charge a percentage of revenue on top of a monthly fee or an implementation fee. As your revenue grows, this pricing model can become extremely unsustainable, simply because you will continue to pay more and more to use the software.
"And there is actually a subscription company [Cratejoy], but they take a percentage of revenue. I’m an avid believer in not paying a percentage of revenue. First of all there’s an implementation fee and then they charge you a percentage forever.
"For every dollar I spend on software and in inventory, I need to get a return, and that return has to be at a velocity that makes sense in the current world, 21st century Amazon, vs. The way it used to be done a year or two ago." - Chad Annis, Lock & Maine
While some apps that charge a percentage of revenue could be crucial to business, you have to be careful about how many you adopt, and why. After all, if you have 8 apps charging 0.10% of revenue, you're paying out a hefty amount of your sales each month just to keep your software. If this is the case with your current solutions, you should review them to ensure that they are meeting your needs and providing enough return to warrant the cost of the software. When possible, you should consolidate to protect your revenue.
Start with the right e-commerce shop software
Use these tips from top e-commerce sellers to make better decisions when choosing your own software solutions. However, it is important to consider that the best software for your needs will depend heavily on your specific needs and budget. For that reason, we recommend using the following process to get started:
- Perform an internal audit to determine needs
- Perform a budget analysis to highlight what you can spend and what you need to get back from it
- Test several software solutions to make sure the software performs as promised and that you have found the best solution
Integrating a new ERP or inventory management solution into your e-commerce shop is a long process that will take time, investment, and training to do well. Reviewing your software options to make the best choice before investing will save you time and money.
Hope this helps you out, sellers!