Online Retail, aka eCommerce, has become the poster child of 2020 for one self-evident reason: pandemic. COVID quarantine and social distancing rules pushed offline retail into losses with Forrester predicting $2.1 billion in losses globally. Ken Fleming, the president of Logistyx, anticipates eCommerce growth could achieve an ambitious 20% YOY due to the major shift in shopping trends in 2020.
With the business environment changing as fast as it was in early 2020, everyone in retail turned their sights to technology for a savior. Retailers want to bridge the gap between online and offline, and eCommerce store owners need to further utilize software to optimize all processes and cut down on human interaction.
Let's review the best eCommerce software solutions for the retail sector, that are going to define the future of shopping to a certain extent – sooner rather than later.
If you are an experienced retailer looking for ways to introduce retail software solutions to beef up your tech stack, or if you are an eCommerce novice looking for guidance – read on for a thorough examination of the software used for retail stores.
Types of Retail Software
With $5.4 trillion in retail in the USA alone in 2019, software developers are surely keeping their eyes open to cater to this sector and bring solutions that will ease or boost a specific process in retail operations.
Starting from the turnkey eCommerce platforms, like Shopify and BigCommerce and moving on to inventory management systems, social media systems, and CRMs, the software for managing retail stores is diverse and overwhelming.
We are here to help you get your head around these useful tools. If you run a brick-and-mortar shop or manage an online store – there are retail software solutions in this review that can grow your business.
Major Types of Retail Software:
- eCommerce Platforms
- Retail management software
- Retail inventory management software
- Social media marketing
- Omnichannel retail software
- Metrics & Analytics solutions
- Customer Relations Management tools
- Payment processing software
Bear with us just another paragraph or two for a more detailed overview of functions, best tools, and features of all of the enumerated software for retail business.
Benefits of Retail Software
When it comes to the benefits of using software for any purpose at all – they are pretty much same as the benefits of using a car instead of a horse and cart:
By 2020 all major functions of every process in sectors like eCommerce and retail have been subject to optimization with the help of retail management software. So, if we were to review a few major advantages of using such technical solutions, they are:
1. Low Threshold & A Quick Start
If you go on YouTube and ask how to set up an online shop, it’s highly likely there will be a video by an 18-year-old telling you what to press where to get a website up in a few hours.
You don’t need coding skills with platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce.
2. Global Outreach
Apart from a few legal nuances and payment system tweaking, eCommerce has no borders. So anyone can run an international store from any spot in the world.
3. Optimization: Time & Resources Savior
Big Data, machine learning, computer science, and state-of-the-art analytics allow users to perform functions at incredible speed.
For example, a drone at the company Gather.ai takes 8 minutes for the inventory management function, which used to take one hour when done by humans.
4. Market Share Growth & Industry Leader Status
You know how you regret NOT buying bitcoin when it cost a few dollars? Those were early adopters who did. They usually reap all the profits.
Similarly, in any business, specifically in retail, the early adoption of technology can vault a company way ahead of its competition overnight. By integrating innovative solutions earlier, you open up a distance from others and gain a mass following of happy clients, so beating you becomes a challenge.
Best Online Software Solutions for Retail Stores
While we are going to go through the SaaS tools that can help optimize different phases of processes for both retail and online commerce, let's start with the top eCommerce platforms that help to create an online store.
Website or eCommerce Platforms?
Features of an eCommerce platform come in two different versions: initially built-in as part of a monthly offering or available as a plug-in paid solution.
- Website builder
- Website themes
- Inventory management
- Payment gateway
- SEO module
- Email marketing
- Review management
- Returns management
- Kitting functionality
- Customer Management (CRM)
- Multi-channel marketing
- Promotional management
Shopify helped 1,000,000+ businesses make $155 billion in 2020 by mid-July. That’s a lot of businesses and a lot of money. It’s named one of the best online eCommerce solutions by pretty much every listing or ranking out there.
Why is it so popular?
- Intuitive drag & drop interface
- App store full of useful apps
- The turn-key one-stop-shop business model
- Great themes that attract both customers and entrepreneurs
- Starts at just $29 per month with a 2-week trial
- Too much reliance on apps with minimal default set functions, and apps may interfere with platform efficiency.
- Blogging features are somewhat subpar (cf: WooCommerce).
- Pricing may increase as users discover paid for themes, plugins, etc.
BigCommerce is the choice for ambitious businesses that aim to scale fast. Packed with features in the default setting, it may get somewhat complex at the beginning, so expect a learning curve.
On the other hand, you don't need to pay an extra buck for every feature in the form of an app, but have it inside the platform right away.
Why is it so popular?
- Amazingly extensive suite of inherent features
- Sophisticated multi-channel options
- Well-engineered SEO functionality
- Made for scaling fast
- Limited customization
- The complex system required a steep learning curve
Magento is a self-hosted eCommerce solution that powers over a quarter of a million stores worldwide. With monthly plans starting as low as $9.95 per month, hosting fees need to be paid as well and depend on the supplier.
Why is it so popular?
- Highly customizable
- Great back-end inventory management features for multiple SKU management
- Too technical, not beginner-friendly. Coding skills are required.
- Extensions may get expensive, in mid-to-high triple zero digits.
Retail Management Software
Retail store management software solutions are mostly used by brick-and-mortar shops, but can also be used in eCommerce successfully. They generally consolidate a suite of modules across financial, operational, and accounting domains of retail business.
- Merchandise management
- Returns management
- Order management
- Purchase order management
- Returns management
- Multi-location feature
- Pricing & revenue management module
Best Retail Management Software solutions
Lightspeed is a Canadian-based Retail POS software that is currently leading the Top 20 Best report in the category at Capterra.
Its inventory control combines barcoding, SKU/UPCs module, inventory tracking and optimization, and cost tracking among other features. Lightspeed POS also has Point of Sale and retail POS system functionality with discount & loyalty program management, return management, and more.
Prices start at $69 per month and users may take advantage of the free trial.
Clover offers a 90-day free trial, which, if the software is good enough, is plenty of time to both try it and get addicted to the product. Designed for small and medium boutique shops, this solution features a POS, virtual terminal, returns & gift card management, bar code scanning, and online ordering as well as a reporting module.
Designed for fashion, accessories, health, and beauty products in brick-and-mortar stores, this retail software for small business has a free version available as well as a free trial. Otherwise, the solution comes with a price tag of $99 per month.
Vend POS helps retail stores manage customers and inventory, accept payments, and offer a loyalty program to shoppers, among other features.
Inventory Management Software
Inventory Management Software is developed to optimize inventory across shops, enabling commensurate distribution of SKUs.
- Retail inventory & warehouse management
- Reorder management
- Supplier management
- Multi-channel management
- Inventory optimization
- Product identification
At $60 per month per location with $20 extra for each new location, Square for Retail has a 30-day trial.
Designed for a physical store, both storefront and back-office operations, this solution helps optimize inventory with the help of barcoding, a multi-channel management feature, product identification capability, and more.
QuickBooks for enterprise starts at $1213 per year and offers an extensive suite of features in its Intuit solution that can be accessed from anywhere and any device.
On top of the inventory management module, the software has a top-shelf accounting functionality, job costing, pricing, time tracking, and more.
Email Marketing Tools
Email marketing software makes the life of the etailer and the retailer alike much easier due to the ability to send group emails, create automatic drip irrigations, and convert in-depth analytics into actionable insights.
- Drip campaigns
- Subscriber management
- Event-triggered emails
- A/B testing
- Customer surveys
- Dynamic content
Mailchimp is by far the most popular email marketing solution out there. Servicing 12 million customers, it takes up 60,5% of the email marketing niche with an email reach of 4 billion people. (a total of 7.4 billion people live on the planet, just saying).
There is a free version for up to 2000 emails a month with the popular Standard price plan at $14.99 that is good for up to 100,000 emails and includes advanced audience insights, retargeting ads, and custom templates on top of basic features.
With email marketing still being one of the highest-ROI ways to market, no wonder the services are so popular.
GetResponce is an autoresponder, email marketing automation tool, conversion funnel tool, landing page builder, and webinar software all in one.
Prices start at $15 per month for an email list of up to 1000 addresses and a 30-day free trial is available on all plans.
Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing tools allow users to create and manage social media posts and advertising campaigns, and monitor statistics across Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc.
- Content management
- Automated publishing
- Customer targeting
- Post scheduling
- Conversions tracking
Seventy-five thousand customers enjoy Buffer's simple way to schedule posts ahead of time. A publishing service that allows users to connect 8 social media accounts and create 100 posts, it starts at $15 per month, while analytical goes for $35.
The product includes a stories planner, hashtag planner, Instagram tagging, first comment, and more.
Forrester lauded this platform as a Social Selling Leader in 2019 and G2 Crowd found it to be the 2nd Best Software for marketers.
Plans start at $19 per month for up to 10 social media accounts and unlimited post scheduling. The platform eases teams into post creation and scheduling and advertising analytics, and precipitates efficient audience engagement.
Metrics and Analytics
Metrics and Web analytics software is the oxygen of decision making in online businesses of today that allows users to track, examine, segment, understand, and interpret live user behavior on the site.
- Referral source tracking
- Site search tracking
- Campaign management
- Conversion, goal, keyword, page review tracking
- User Interaction tracking
This is the most fundamental yet sophisticated must-have tool, and it is absolutely free. With Google analytics academy anybody can do a few webinars to comprehend the tool better. It’s the number one retail analytics software.
The platform allows you to integrate this tool with several other Google services, like Google ads and Google tag manager for best performance.
Users get elaborate insight on user behavior, acquisition channels, audience demographics, conversions, and more.
Kissmetrics promises a plethora of user-based insights and provides web analytics and marketing analytics.
It’s a leading analysis and tracking tool that is user-friendly and intuitive. The pricing is pretty steep with a minimum payment of $200 monthly.
Custom Retail Software Development
While all of these solutions are amazing on their own, bigger retail and etail players prefer to develop their own retail software for a few reasons:
- Customization (entrepreneurs oftentimes need to be able to customize according to their business needs)
- Data protection (even with GDPR in place, bigger businesses appreciate the value of data more than ever. They want to make sure they are limiting 3rd parties' access to data as much as possible, so they can have full responsible ownership of all commercial data points).
- Centralization (having too many apps and software solutions may appear cumbersome for many reasons, like training, access permits, etc. Having a custom-developed retail software addresses this issue)
- Clutter-free (When creating their own systems, businesses can get rid of a lot of clutter and functions that are hardly ever used)
Retail Software Solutions by Zoolatech
Zoolatech specializes in retail software development.
With companies like Nordstrom among our clients, we know a thing or two about how retail and eCommerce functions. This wealth of experience helps our clients save a lot of time and money that they could have wasted on a partner with less exposure.
Want a free consultation on your custom retail software development?
Allow us to pleasantly surprise you with our Silicon Valley-born expertise and Kyiv-based market price tag.