The world’s fastest growing online brands have revealed the tech tools that have helped them achieve incredible growth in 2022, amidst a challenging retail landscape.
Brands from the UK and the US that made it onto Brightpearl’s annual Lightning 50 league table, announced in September, have shared the apps, tools and platforms that helped them scale successfully.
With a combined revenue for 2020-21 of more than $583 million (or £514 million) and an average growth rate of 143%, the 50 companies on the list know a thing or two about using tech to get great results.
“It’s been a tricky year for e-commerce with the ongoing supply chain crisis, economic uncertainty and wavering consumer demand. It’s interesting to see the impact that’s had on the tech tools merchants are using to maintain and drive growth,” said Mark Hook, VP, Global Brand, PR and Communications at Brightpearl.
“It’s clearer than ever that only brands with a scalable tech stack are able to adjust to the rapidly emerging changes going on – solutions that streamline, simplify and automate operations, like Brightpearl, have played a key role in supporting growth.
“With cash flow an increasing concern for online brands, and the risk of overstock and running out of stock bigger than ever, demand forecasting tools like Inventory Planner have also come into their own. YouTube and Gorgias have made the top 10 list for the first time, too.”
Let’s take a closer look at the top 10 tech tools driving epic e-commerce growth in 2022…
Shopify is a complete commerce platform that lets you start, grow and manage a business. The subscription-based software allows anyone to set up an online store – and provides everything you could need to make it a success.
More of the UK’s fastest growing online businesses on the Lightning 50 credited Shopify or Shopify Plus with driving growth than any other e-commerce platform. In fact, 22 out of 50 of the brands on the Lightning 50 – or 44% – specifically credited Shopify with helping them grow.
Katy Mimari, founder and CEO at Caden Lane, which ranked in fourth place on the Lightning 50 USA, says: “We launched our Shopify store in 2018 and have seen significant growth year over year. The app integration and easy to use platform has helped us manage our growth, product assortment, and analytics.”
Lightning 50 brands that use Shopify: Analog Cases | Caden Lane | Build4Less | Wexel Art | Lucy Locket Loves | Bargoose | Pinter | Progress JJ | Passenger | Kick Game | Wild | Naturecan | Naturewall | Tradeprices Bathrooms | Gym Plus Coffee | Powerhoop | Mountain Dog | Snaffling Pig | Cream Cornwall | Fairfax & Favor | Porcelain Superstore
Brightpearl is the flexible, future-proof retail operating system that helps multichannel brands grow fearlessly. It’s packed with built-for-retail functionality, including a huge range of Plug & Play integrations so that brands can curate an ever-changing roster of best-in-class tech tools and a powerful Automation Engine that saves the average customer two months every year.
With expert-led, fast implementation that has a 97% success rate, Brightpearl powers more than three million orders a month for some of the world’s biggest brands – including 30% of the brands on this year’s Lightning 50.
Samuel Johnson, General Market Manager at Hunt Bikes USA, which was the overall winner in the Lightning 50 with a staggering 1,357% growth rate, says: “Finding technology that can grow with us – rather than get in our way – has been crucial to our success.
“Brightpearl is the nucleus of our whole business. It connects seamlessly with our Shopify Plus store and acts as our single central operating system. It’s the one place we go for everything from inventory management to accounting.
“Our business isn’t run by ‘techy’ people – it’s run by passionate cyclists. Brightpearl gives us the freedom to focus on driving demand and innovating products, without having to worry about the backend of our business. That’s game-changing.”
Lightning 50 brands that use Brightpearl: Hunt Bikes USA | Build4Less | Wexel Art | Keep Supply | Good Start Packaging | Advanced Automation | Heat Transfer Warehouse | TrueCABLE | Helton Tool and Home | Bargoose
Email marketing is an increasingly powerful tool for retail brands – and by far the most popular tool for doing it among the brands on this year’s Lightning 50 is Klaviyo.
Klaviyo offers an SMS and email marketing automation software for campaigns driven by a customer data platform with reporting, visualization and analysis. Almost a fifth – 18% – of the Lightning 50 brands named it Klaviyo as a tool that has supported their growth.
Lucy Arnold of Lucy Locket Loves, which ranked in 19th place on the Lightning 50 USA, says: “Using new marketing and growing email lists has definitely helped us grow.”
4. Facebook + Instagram
Newer social media platforms, like TikTok and Pinterest, are growing in popularity and increasingly proving to be useful discovery tools for e-commerce brands. However, it’s the old faithfuls of Facebook and Instagram that this year’s fastest growing companies said played a key role in driving growth.
Esme Westmoreland, Head of Marketing at Naturewall, which ranked in 7th place on the Lightning 50 UK, says: “We have increased our paid activity on social media as we have been more confident in the ROI it has generated. We have enhanced retargeting as well as targeting lookalike audiences, with impressive results.”
5. Inventory Planner
Inventory Planner helps retail businesses accurately predict customer demand — even taking into account peak periods, promotions and market shifts. It tells brands exactly what to order, how much to order and when to order it – eliminating the risk of overstocks and out-of-stock events, which is particularly crucial for maintaining cash flow in the current market.
It also helps brands easily create purchase orders, optimize stock for multiple warehouses and customize reports for better business intelligence. Nearly a tenth (8%) of all brands on the LIghtning 50 specifically flagged Inventory Planner as playing a significant role in driving their growth.
Jes Brooks, founder, designer and CEO at J Brooks Boutique, which ranked in second place on the Lightning 50 USA, says: “We were constantly running out of stock of items and I found it really hard to work out how many units to make and how much material to order.
“Inventory Planner was a game changer from the word go. It analyzes your data and gives you a reliable breakdown of exactly what to order and when to order it to avoid running out and having too much stock.”
Gorgias is an all-in-one customer support helpdesk software specifically designed for e-commerce stores.
With a deep Shopify integration, Gorgias allows merchants to pull customer data into your helpdesk, so that agents can more easily access it. It’s also possible to edit shipping information, adjust tags, refund orders and create handy custom rules.
Amazon remains the most popular online marketplace, with more than five million sellers. It’s relatively easy to list items and, of course, the channel’s consumer reach is massive so it can turbocharge growth as an additional sales channel for the right brands.
Selling via Amazon is best suited to medium to large sellers that want exposure to millions of customers and have the tech stack in place, including a Retail Operating System, to handle an uptick in order volume and the complexity that brings.
8. Google Analytics
For online brands, metrics are everything. Google Analytics is a powerful tool – and not just for tracking search volume and website traffic. It gives retailers the tools to better understand their customers, helping them get closer to who their customers are, where they come from and how the shopping journey can be improved to optimize results.
YouTube is a free video sharing website that makes it easy to watch online videos. For e-commerce retailers, YouTube offers a way to reach consumers with extended video content, acting as a cost-effective platform for brands to add value to every stage of the customer’s shopping journey.
When it comes to running a modern e-commerce business, collaboration is everything. Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what and where something is in a process.
Want to see the full list of Lightning 50 brands, including their growth rates for 2020-21? Check out the league table here.