How to Keep Up with Technology – Guide for Start-Ups

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Keeping Up with Rapid Changes

How can an eCommerce business keep up with rapidly evolving technology, especially when just starting out?

To be competitive in eCommerce, you have to keep up with rapidly developing technology.

This includes the technology within eCommerce platform and the integrations with other systems that are related to fulfillment, payment, and drop shipping.

It includes any aspect of the post- and pre-sale process of getting inventory data and customer-specific data, getting inventory pulled in, being searchable and making sure the site is indexed.

Search Engines

There’s a long list of different technology needs and changes that will continue to evolve. This list varies across different industries, but it typically includes search engines if your eCommerce business is dependent upon organic SEO.

Search engines are constantly changing what they’re focusing on as key criteria and how they’re ranking sites based on certain characteristics. If utilized correctly, search engines can be a major advantage for your business.

But if your business isn’t pursuing it consistently, it can be a major disadvantage.

The eCommerce platform needs to be performant overall and up to date with the latest technology. This benefits organic SEO and paid advertising, which requires a certain level of performance and security compliance.


Taxes, customs, and duties are also things that evolve. Often as time goes on, these have more stringent enforcements.

Ten years ago there may have been more lax legal precedent for different states or jurisdictions to be able to enforce their taxes or customs and duties.

Now, though, if you don’t follow the rules, you could be facing significant penalties, and even be shut down in that particular region.

Automation, ERPs, and Integrations

Evolving technology also includes automated ERPs and integrations to other line of business applications that are also constantly changing.

Then there’s the actual eCommerce website or platform itself, and streamlining the process visitors go through to fulfill their needs.

This is something that is continuously evolving in the end users’ eyes, so being able to reduce friction and barriers for the end users is absolutely critical.

The question is, though, how do you do this, and how do you do this within a reasonable budget?

Ecommerce marketplace best practices

How to Provide the Best Value in the Market within a Reasonable Budget

Provide the Best Value in the Market

1. Identify Where You Add Value

Ideally, you want to provide disproportionate value relative to the rest of the industry with your eCommerce platform and business.

You’ll need to have an edge over your competitors—and the more edges you get, the more valuable you’ll become to that market.

As you consistently deliver outstanding value, more users will frequent your site and become consistent patrons.

To gain that edge and more users, you’ll need to offer conveniences, benefits, and automation as part of your technology stack.

2. Examine Your Competitors

Consider assessing what competitors are doing in your space and at what level they’re performing, and assume they will continuously improve.

So, in addition to analyzing competitors in your space, it also makes sense to analyze some of the best performing sites that are out there, period.

So what are the best sites available? What are they doing?

Based on that performance, how can you deconstruct those features that they are utilizing into your game plan or road map for your eCommerce website? How can you do this in a way that gives you higher payoff features and functionality for a low cost?

You might use an off-the-shelf platform via SaaS-based or a single-tenancy model. Or it could be cloud or on-premises deployment.

Either way, it’s best to have a platform that is constantly getting updates every quarter, month, week, etc., based on what’s happening in the market.

3. Work with a Successful Software Company

We recommend that you work with an eCommerce software company that provides software either directly or that they’re working on as a partner, that is constantly getting updates.

This is the most low-cost way to benefit from new technology developments, that can be aggregated across all of the eCommerce software company’s projects.

It’s best to work with an eCommerce company that has a lot of clients with similar business models and needs as you, and capabilities that you want to deliver. Make sure the software company will execute on everything that you need by default.

They’ll need to build these necessary features, like integrations for customs and duties, and incorporate updates for SEO and paid advertising to make the website performant as changes occur.

Work with a Successful Software Company

If you work with an eCommerce company that is operating at scale and has already developed everything that you need, you’ll end up with this enterprise feature capability without having to pay for the full set of features yourself.

Therefore, our number one recommendation is finding an eCommerce software development team that’s successfully implemented solutions that match where you want to go with the business.

If the software team is working on things beyond the scope of your current direction, then when you’re ready to evolve your solution, the software team will have already executed on whatever features you need.

4. Implement User-Adaptive eCommerce

Nowadays it’s about being adaptive to the end user, and being intelligent in presenting what they specifically are looking for on the site. For this, the eCommerce marketplace platform needs to be extremely dynamic.

When a user looks at a product or category, it’s crucial to be able to intelligently present what has been found beneficial by others who have looked at the same things.

It’s best to work with a vendor who has a good understanding of how critical user experience is. It’s also best to remove any barriers the user is going to have when they’re going through the happy path, if you will, as well as any customization paths that are necessary to meet their specific needs.

For complex workflows, that aren’t standard checkout processes or search processes, it’s essential to work with a vendor, like Clarity, who’s done this hundreds and hundreds of times for different clients.

We take a complicated process and make it into a simple experience for the user, and present it in a way that they can intuitively and quickly understand.

Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of functionality on your site, but it won’t necessarily be useable for the end user.

5. Find the Right Balance

We also recommend working with a vendor who understands the automation and self-service needs that businesses have as they scale.

As you scale your operation and transactions that you’re running through your eCommerce business, you’ll get to this law of diminishing returns with having turnkey software because it's not going to necessarily have the ability to customize and cater its workflows and functionality to what your business needs.

Therefore, it’s good practice to look at where your business will be going once it's at scale. Understand where the different milestones are for when you would need to cater your integrations and business workflows, so there are fewer manual steps and more automated steps.

It doesn’t necessarily make sense to invest in complete automation upfront. It’s a balancing act between automating and integrating everything immediately upfront versus doing everything manually. You don't want everything to be manual, but you also don't want to incur the cost of having up front integrations and automation.

For that matter, as the business grows and evolves, it becomes clear that certain things aren’t necessary. Customers don’t need or want them; they don’t add value.

find the right balance

But you'll discover as you scale your business that you've got to be evolving your value-add, especially around self-service and automation. And this will be physically necessary in order to provide great customer service and support.

A lot of times, businesses think that enterprise eCommerce customer service has a lot to do with providing contact with a person. Although that can be beneficial in many cases, it's actually more about having a well governed process so the user has minimal time consuming processes, which usually is anything to do with people interacting.

Therefore, to the extent that it isn’t necessary to have people interacting with the users, it’s best to set up workflows and automation where you can.

It’s a balancing act, and you have to determine what makes sense based on the value the business is adding to the marketplace.

But these are things that you want to look for in a vendor, the ability to customize the workflows for your eCommerce business.

6. Have Advanced Search and Filtering

As far as what features and functions are most important. When it comes to end users, important features to keep up-to-date are related to marketing resources that will allow the site to be found and be usable by end users, and functions that meet certain user expectations.

It’s absolutely critical that the site is findable and navigable. This includes an intelligent search that will still know what users mean even if they make mistakes, like spelling errors or typos.

advanced search and filtering

The search function should be able to help the user find what they want by knowing synonyms and fuzzy logic, as well as do autocomplete and suggestions based on what other people search for.

Essentially, it should respond intelligently to user interactions by accumulating data and using machine learning and AI where applicable.

The search function can then provide a performant experience with a no-SQL data caching and data persistence that allows for searching anything and everything, and has some default settings that make the search work really well.

Once someone gets search results, they need to have great filtering to sort through it all.

7. Create a Simple UI/UX

These are fundamental requirements to have excellent capabilities for these areas.

From there, a lot of the technology is related to a seamless user experience. Being able to properly present the information. You want to think about the rest of the process, once somebody finds something, is getting rid of the barriers.

This is essential because a complex presentation or user experience can be overwhelming. With an elegant and simple user experience, they almost want to purchase something just to complete this simple, almost fun process.

So, it’s best to clean up the user experience and reduce any clutter or visual noise. Or in other words, the checkout process needs to be minimalistic.

Maybe there’s a subtle reference, but it's very simple and clean and have to go to that detail view in order to see it as opposed to having a lot of information on the page.

This is what we would recommend technology-wise focusing on:

  • Findability—making sure people can find your website
  • User experience—advanced search function; a simple interface; fast load times
Key features and areas

Business Particulars

In addition, for your particular business or industry, you're probably going to have really key feature areas and capabilities.

For many buying groups, this is going to be hard and soft stops, split orders and split payments, customer-specific pricing, and purchasing logic on the group buying platform.

These things are going to be absolutely critical in many cases.

For HIPAA compliant websites, there's a lot of importance around messaging the user about their data security and the reliability of the medical items. It could be medicine and they safety of that medicine, how high quality the ingredients are.

So you want to have a robust workflow to reassure the user. Or if it’s a medical device, and it’s really expensive, for example, having a nice payment plan and integration to insurance to automatically process insurance—perhaps even using insurance AI—and see what the coverage is going to be.

And to do this securely and be able to present the security capabilities.

If we're dealing with the marketplace and we're selling things that may be going from a seller who may not necessarily be super guaranteed to be trustworthy, you may need to have a really nice escrow process with a payment gateway like Payoneer for example.

They could enable a very robust escrow model and approval upon delivery and acceptance to then release the escrowed funds from the purchase.

Clarity Can Help

The above are examples of features that show several different scenarios. Your particular industry and set of features are going to be specific to you. We welcome you to review those with our team as you consider your upcoming eCommerce project. We pride ourselves on our ability to understand your industry and deliver this robust enterprise set of functionalities based on your needs.