It takes an entire team to run a successful eCommerce brand.
As skilled as your employees are, however, there are some things they can’t (or shouldn’t) do. You want your marketers focused on running SEO and PPC campaigns to direct more traffic to your website, not handling the orders you’ve received. You want your design team focused on improving your products, not answering customer calls.
These operations — and many more just like them — are fundamental to the success of your brand. It may not be feasible or sensible to hire a dedicated person or department, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your operations. Here’s how a business-as-a-service (BaaS) solution can help to significantly streamline your direct-to-consumer brand’s operations.
A BaaS Provider Lets Brands Scale at Will
Scaling isn’t easy. Entrepreneur Chad Rubin writes that scaling is one of the biggest challenges for eCommerce brands. Rapid growth can mean that brands are forced to update their current toolsets or switch to new software platforms completely, he writes. This comes at a financial cost, but it also costs time as new tools require time to learn and implement.
BaaS negates the need for companies to find and learn how to use new tools as everything is already taken care of. By combining industry-leading software with industry knowledge, a BaaS provider seamlessly updates an eCommerce brand’s software stack without impacting the business.
In many cases, scaling is only possible when you have the right tools in place. “Tools, such as advanced supply chain systems and fulfillment technologies, equip emerging brands with the flexibility to meet changing production needs as they occur,” says Maria Haggerty, CEO of Dotcom Distribution.
“For instance, leading fulfillment tools can report SKU velocities with guaranteed accuracy, meaning brands can adjust operations in real time and never let an order fall behind. This degree of adaptability in the warehouse is crucial for driving customer satisfaction.”
And sometimes, growth can happen more quickly than you’re prepared for. Shyp Founder Kevin Gibbon warns that sudden growth can stop your operations in their tracks. Hiring employees to fill the gaps is slow and time-consuming. That’s why Gibbon recommends outsourcing parts of your operation so your company can scale instantly.
If you don’t have these kinds of services on-hand before traffic floods your website, you’re not going to be in a position to take advantage of it. That’s why having a BaaS partnership in place before you attempt to scale is so important.
BaaS Helps Avoid Hiring Headaches
We’ve previously discussed the difficulties of recruiting eCommerce employees. It takes time and money to find, recruit and train the people your eCommerce brand needs. It’s not without risk, either. Employees may not work out or business needs may suddenly shift.
While there are certain roles that absolutely require an in-house presence, many eCommerce operations run much more smoothly when outsourced to a BaaS provider.
Logistics is a prime example of a department that is incredibly hard to recruit far. It’s incredibly costly to recruit, train and optimize a logistics team, points out Whitney Blankenship, Content Marketing Manager at Omnisend. Instead, many eCommerce brands turn to partners that specialize in logistics and warehousing.
This can be particularly helpful if you are entering new international markets, notes Blankenship. “Having a company dedicated to your logistics which is already implemented in your target country gives you access to insider market knowledge about your customers.”
Customer service is another department that is better served with a BaaS solution than by trying to hire and manage a large in-house team. The team at Haptik note that maintaining a dedicated in-house team isn’t scalable for most brands, even if it’s within your budget.
Software is scalable, however, and it’s why chatbots are becoming a more common eCommerce customer service solution. Chatbots offer the perfect combination of software and human expertise. Routine queries can be handled around the clock by AI while human agents can step in when needed to handle more complex issues.
BaaS Delivers the Benefits of a Centralized System
eCommerce businesses that have grown organically tend to have a lot of different moving parts. There might be one solution for hosting the store, another for taking payment, a different solution for managing inventory and then a third-party logistics provider.
So many different tools and solutions can make managing your tech stack a nightmare. If you find yourself jumping between one program and another, it’s time to think about centralizing your eCommerce operations — ideally, one that can grow with your brand.
Having a single data stream can be incredibly empowering for eCommerce brands, writes Pamela Hyatt, a Content Marketing Specialist for the Forum for International Trade Training. There’s no need to spend time inputting and cross-referencing data manually to make sure everything works. It all happens automatically. This can create huge operational efficiencies. When part of your eCommerce operations is automated, your staff have more time to focus on what matters.
What’s more, centralization brings front-end and back-end processes closer together, as Wunderman Thompson Commerce’s Glen Burson notes. This is important in a world where consumers are increasingly demanding one- or two-day fulfillment. This kind of speed is only possible with front and back-end systems that are interconnected.
A BaaS Provider Looks After the Back End
Keeping an eCommerce businesses running successfully requires juggling a lot of balls. There are the obvious tasks like product development, marketing and shipping. Then there are tasks that don’t get much attention but which remain vitally important. Your eCommerce brand also couldn’t survive without web development, server maintenance and tax compliance.
“Downtime is one of the biggest hiccups eCommerce stores face when scaling up,” writes the team at BusinessBlogs. “There’s no use growing your store if shoppers will experience slow load times, delays, crashes and error messages.” You need to ensure near-100% uptime as you grow, or risk out on losing sales and reputation.
Maintenance is going to be an ongoing issue and one that gets more problematic the more you grow, notes Connor Gillivan, Founder and former CMO of FreeUp. More traffic means a greater burden on your server; more products and more content could require a site redesign. These issues don’t occur regularly, but it’s critical to be able to resolve them quickly when they do.
While it may not make sense to keep a development team on full-time, having access to an expert and trusted development team is essential. This isn’t something an eCommerce platform alone can help with. However, BaaS providers, who combine technical expertise with an advanced eCommerce platform, are able to manage and upgrade the technical aspects of your online store as needed.
BaaS providers can be helpful even if you already have a back-office team in place to handle a particular function. Most large eCommerce brands will have an accounting team in place, for instance, but that doesn’t mean the accounting team should be handling everything themselves.
Take sales tax, for instance, says TaxJar Content Marketing Manager Jennifer Clark. “Manually staying on top of laws, creating reports and remitting sales tax can take days of labor for eCommerce businesses and distract workers from their core competencies,” Clark writes. “Automating this process with tax management software eliminates this burden.”
By integrating a BaaS solution into your eCommerce back-office, you essentially get the best of both worlds — an automated software solution and a consultancy service that can help your team stay on top of changes in tax laws across the country and indeed the world.
One of the biggest benefits of BaaS compared to standalone pieces of software or eCommerce consultants is versatility. From tax to fulfillment to customer service, almost every core part of your eCommerce operations can be streamlined by partnering with a BaaS provider.