Recent years have seen the rise of a new sector in business-to-business (B2B) operations: software as a service (SaaS) companies. These companies offer specialized software to their clients — other businesses — by integrating their technology into existing operations through means such as APIs via the internet.
Retail operations are among some of the most frequent consumers of B2B services, including SaaS. Consumer-facing businesses, particularly those with e-commerce options, have several moving parts in their operations that create the overall consumer experience, including the transaction system, an online storefront, product examples, and more. All of these can be made better by SaaS companies.
Indeed, SaaS has already fundamentally changed the retail landscape in ways many people might not even recognize. Online point-of-sale (POS) systems, like Square, are an example of one SaaS offering that has completely changed how retail business is conducted. In this way, these software companies have revolutionized retail by making the checkout process much more efficient and convenient for employees and customers alike.
However, this retail revolution led by SaaS platforms does not have to stop with making the in-store experience better for consumers. More and more SaaS platforms are emerging for retailers, allowing customers to have a better, easier shopping experience. With growing numbers of people choosing to shop online rather than in brick-and-mortar retail locations, many retail SaaS companies aim to improve the e-commerce experience for consumers.
This shift towards e-commerce has changed the way people shop more than may have initially been expected. Today’s customers want to play a more active, immersive, and personalized role in their shopping experience. Whether they are shopping from the comfort of their own homes using AI- or AR-integrated technologies, or in a brick-and-mortar location, they want a shopping experience that is more catered to their unique needs.
“While consumers appreciate the convenience of being able to shop online, they miss the opportunity to get up close and personal with products before they commit to the purchase,” says Angelo Coletta, CEO and co-founder of retail SaaS company Zakeke. “This is why our team developed our innovative solution to the limitations of e-commerce.”
Many platforms have attempted to fix the e-commerce process by using their software to mimic aspects of the in-person shopping experience. Although it is impossible for someone to hold a product in their hand when buying it online, software can allow customers to receive nearly as much information from their shopping experience as if it had been conducted in person.
Zakeke, like many other retail SaaS providers, started with offers for 2D customization software — in their case, the Customizer and Composer features. This software initially allowed customers to insert text, images, and clip art onto the image of a product and view a model of what the final product might look like. As it evolved, it later included a 3D configurator, allowing for the modularization and composition of products to be broken down into distinct parts. Now, it consists of a full suite of tools for all things related to visually-driven e-commerce buying decisions.
Some of this software has since grown even further to offer exciting new technologies powered by augmented reality (AR). For example, Zakeke’s Try On and Try Out technologies allow consumers to see products in action before they purchase with the help of their mobile devices. “With our Try Out feature, prospective customers can see what a piece of furniture would look like in the context of their room, and with Try On, they can see how an article of clothing, a piece of jewelry, a pair of glasses, and other products would look on them,” explains Coletta.
The most important thing about retail SaaS platforms such as Zakeke is their ability to be integrated into online storefronts. Since SaaS companies are primarily B2B service providers, their role is invisible to most consumers. In other words, consumers will use SaaS technology without knowing that the SaaS company is responsible for it. As such, the software will become an integral and invaluable part of a retailer’s e-commerce experience.
However, the applications of software like this do not stop in e-commerce. Some retailers have found this technology so valuable, in fact, that they also incorporate it into their physical showrooms. Even when shopping in person, consumers want products and experiences customized to their needs and desires, and technology like this provides that to consumers.
Although consumers may not realize it on their end, SaaS platforms like Zakeke fundamentally change how they shop. These innovative new technologies are making the consumer experience more convenient and appealing.
“By giving our clients these tools to integrate into their e-commerce operations, they are investing in their bottom line,” asserts Coletta. “Happy, fully-engaged customers spend more money and are more likely to become brand ambassadors. We help you make their shopping experience as easy and enjoyable as possible.”