How e-commerce businesses can be built and scaled on the cloud

In 2020, economies worldwide were hit by COVID-19, tourism slowed, and businesses adjusted to remote working. Similarly, the retail sector was severely hit, with stores in many areas being forced to stop or limit in-person purchases and move to online shopping. However, growth in e-commerce has allowed many businesses to survive, and its increase is predicted to continue.

In 2020, the e-commerce market grew by 34% due to the pandemic and according to a study by Retail Dive at least USD 1.9 billion in venture funding went into e-commerce and retail businesses. Some experts forecast e-commerce to become a USD 6.5 trillion market by 2022. As more and more populations across the world started turning to digital modes for various transactions and purchases ranging from buying everyday essentials online to using mobile wallets, the potential of e-commerce businesses is skyrocketing. 

While the industry keeps booming, however, e-commerce start-ups face several industry-specific challenges, including pricing, inventory management, high-dimensional data, and shopping cart analysis. These are enough to derail even the most intrepid founders, which is why every e-commerce business born in the cloud needs simple and efficient SaaS solutions.

Fixing dynamic pricing

An important tool for e-commerce businesses is the ability to dynamically price items to account for changes in demand, promotions and other factors. Dynamic pricing tools make realistic price adjustments to help consumers. The adjustments need to occur in real-time and these changes need to be done at some interval (daily or hourly). 

For many developers, it’s important to use tools built and deployed in familiar development languages to ensure continuity. Dynamic pricing applications built in Angular or JavaScript for open-source e-commerce frameworks provide some continuity for development teams and ultimately for consumers. Similarly, historical pricing data must be maintained for analysis, ideally in a MySQL or PostgreSQL database. Making life easier for developers is always a good thing for a business, and it is especially true for small businesses trying to manage their data.

Any tool for aspiring founders must generate actionable insights from historical pricing data. It is a real challenge to get data at scale and make predictions and analytics. Cloud service providers can handle all their workloads at scale.

Managing retail inventory

Meeting the pace of growth while overcoming new constraints has forced brands and retailers to revaluate their traditional inventory management strategies. It is important for retail businesses to know what is in stock and keep their platform updated with the latest inventory information. E-commerce start-ups must adopt an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution early to help with inventory planning and working with customers. 

A key requirement for inventory management at the small business and start-up level is tracking external inventory. Many e-commerce businesses obtain their supplies from other locations and must track the inventory of third-party suppliers in real-time. If the supplier runs out of an item, the sellers don’t want to sell what they can’t deliver to the customer. Smaller businesses cannot afford middleware services that coordinate between online stores and external suppliers. As a result, e-commerce plugins that create synergies between suppliers and vendors can reduce the stress involved for small organisations.

Performing data analysis for e-commerce

Knowing which products are selling and which are not can help increase or renew sales. It is where data analytics can inform decision making for small businesses. Marketing analytics technologies like web crawlers and scrapers, ad pixels and more can inform what products web visitors are viewing, whether the products were added to a shopping cart, or at what point users left a web store. 

With the right e-commerce analytics tools, you can set and measure your business goals through the appropriate KPIs and metrics that work for your business. It can help companies anticipate future stockpiling and plan marketing campaigns ahead of time based on past experience.

E-commerce has a huge selection of hosting providers for such services, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Working with sales data is the secret to attracting business. A key strategy for reviving sales is enticing returning customers. The e-commerce giant can offer ‘buy it again’ notifications or show recommendations like previous purchases. 

Successful analysis of sales data can generate additional sales-promoting insights for replication. It is the difference between moderate success in e-commerce and growing to a massive scale. For brands looking to create seamless integration across online and offline environments, fulfillment locations, and demand channels, investments that enable real-time data visibility will be critical.

The article has been written by Kwasi Asare, Director of Channel Marketing at DigitalOcean

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