The booming ecommerce industry is luring entrepreneurs worldwide to sell products online, adding to its endless array of benefits and growth opportunities. First, the worldwide web expands your reach to the farthest corners of the world, whether you’re an international corporation or an enthusiastic craftsman of handmade jewelry. Second, the thriving ecommerce industry that is forecasted to hit over $1.6 trillion in sales this year and nearly $2.5 trillion in 2018 indicates how much consumers cherish purchasing items from the convenience of their homes. Third, this growing appeal of the ecommerce industry has instigated the development of a plethora of ecommerce tools meant specifically for MNCs, as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Therefore, if you’re the owner of a growing SME or an enthusiastic entrepreneur with a winning business plan, you can now present your product/service to the world at relatively inexpensive prices. All you need is a know-how of the most appropriate and efficient ecommerce tools and a disciplined work ethic.
For your benefit, we have compiled a detailed list of tools that small ecommerce businesses can’t do without:
Online Store Builders
To run an ecommerce business, it is imperative that you operate via a platform that is state-of-the-art, reliable, secure and offers a thorough and superior user-experience.
Developing an ecommerce platform from scratch can cost a fortune and still have margin for error and improvement, thereby rendering them unfeasible both financially and logistically for small ecommerce businesses.
Here is where online store builders save the day. Tried, tested and proven in the market for years, there are several online store builders that offer you a complete ecommerce platform within a matter of minutes. These online store builders offer products via renowned and secure payment options, and they contain all the required features of a fully functional ecommerce website. These online store builders are ideal for building a new ecommerce enterprise or converting your existing website into an ecommerce platform. The encouraging factor for new entrepreneurs is that many online store builders offer cost-free services for a limited number of products so you can conveniently utilize them. When you begin making enough profit, you can subscribe to a paid package with expanded features.
Some of the most popular online store builders include:
ShopIntegrator provides a fully functional and mobile responsive ecommerce platform within minutes. The platform offers a PCI-compliant shopping cart, which is secured via McAfee. Moreover, you can also manage product range and product details, stock quantities and personalization requirements.
Volusion offers aesthetically appealing, user-friendly and secure ecommerce templates with inbuilt inventory management, SEO and social media functionalities.
Shopify offers professional and thoroughly customizable ecommerce platforms that are designed to offer a superior user-experience.
One of the most essential tools for small ecommerce businesses is email marketing. Email marketing is raging in the ecommerce industry with an ROI of nearly 3,800 percent, and around 72 percent of online consumers are opting to receive promotional messages via emails rather than a social media platform.
Email marketing gives you the golden opportunity to remain in contact with first-time visitors. It also enables you to maintain an ongoing relationship with existing customers via targeted content that is relevant to a specific customer’s interests and needs. This is what makes this tool extremely effective in generating qualified leads and sales. According to another research study, one-third of all website traffic is comprised of returning customers.
We see that there are several email marketing tools that have established themselves as providers of the most efficient and economic email marketing services for small ecommerce businesses. These tools include:
The most famous email marketing tool MailChimp offers customized email campaigns, A/B split testing, mobile distribution and Facebook integration to its customers.
- Campaign Monitor
Campaign Monitor is designed to generate and send emails, as well as assess the efficacy of your email marketing campaign.
An innovative email marketing tool, Hiver offers Shared Labels and Shared Notes in Gmail that allow you to conveniently manage your email marketing campaigns, customer care and sales.
Social Media Management
Small ecommerce businesses have limited resources, but they have to compete with MNCs and SMEs alike to gain a profitable share in the market. Hence, it is absolutely vital that they make use of the most effective marketing tools that enable them to compete with virtually any company within their industry.
Social media platforms offer a 100 percent higher lead-to-close ratio as opposed to outbound marketing. The platforms are also extremely cost-effective. While social media platforms present plentiful opportunities for business growth, their optimum utilization can take valuable time, which may not be feasible for small ecommerce businesses with limited resources.
To relieve businesses of their burden, there are several social media management tools that have proven their mettle in the industry. Some of these are:
Hootsuite allows you to connect your ecommerce platform to over 35 social media networks while enabling you to manage and evaluate the efficacy of your social media campaigns.
Buffer offers thorough integration to various social media platforms. It also provides analytics and rebuffering of popular content.
Tweetdeck is a cost-free Twitter tool that offers real-time organizing, tracking and engagement. It allows small ecommerce businesses to find out exactly what is popular in their specific target market.
Bringing in visitors to your ecommerce website takes up useful resources that will completely go to waste if you do not take adequate measures to ensure that these visitors make at least one action that is desirable for your business.
These actions may include the purchase of products, subscribing to a newsletter or creating an account. Conversion optimization uses feedback and analytics to identity why people aren’t converting, and then it remedies those issues.
Some of the most popular conversion optimization tools include:
- Exit Bee
Exit Bee increases conversion by using visitors’ behavioral information to predict abandonment and, consequently, targets abandoning visitors with customized exit campaigns.
Zopim offers live chat functionality so that you can assist and guide customers as they browse your website.
- Search Spring
Search Spring offers advanced search and category navigation to connect customers to relevant products and, hence, drive sales.
The significance of analytics for ecommerce businesses cannot be overstated, especially for SMEs where optimum utilization of resources is crucial for survival. Analytics for ecommerce platforms takes information from multiple sources and its usage to give holistic information about daily operations. The sources of information typically include web analytics, customer and logistics information, manual records and transactional data. The analysis of this information to extract actionable insights is a time-consuming task and is best left to analytical tools.
The best analytics tools include:
- Google Analytics
Google Analytics tracks and reports web traffic. In addition to its wide array of analytical provisions, Google Analytics e-commerce functionality helps track sales, performance, website transactions, revenue, etc.
KISSmetrics offers visualization tools on how users interact with ecommerce platforms, allowing you to expand your customer base and retain existing customers.
RetentionGrid offers state-of-the-art analytics coupled with guidelines about the marketing strategies that work best for various customer segments.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Customer relationship management, or CRM, entails strategies put in place to analyze and manage customer data to strengthen the company’s relationship with its consumers, increase retention and increase sales. CRM provides a holistic 360-degree view of shoppers and website browsers that can be effectively utilized to understand their preferences and, consequently, devise a winning strategy.
The most popular CRM tools for ecommerce platforms are as follows:
Nimble offers CRM provisions, including a unified inbox, social media integration, social search, status updates and importing social contacts.
Infusionsoft combines CRM, lead generation, ecommerce and email marketing.
Zendesk offers meaningful information to build customer relations. It offers self-service, customer care and ticketing features.
‘Content is king’ is an internet slogan that is only becoming more concrete with time. The display of precise and engaging content on ecommerce web pages lies at the heart of customer acquisition and retention.
There are countless companies that offer products that are exactly the same as yours, or very similar to what you offer. So, then, why should a customer opt for your product over your competitors’?
Content gives you the opportunity to explain just that to your target market. However, the development of appropriate content that increases conversion is far from simple, as it requires in-depth understanding of consumer demographics and preferences, trending keywords and overall industry best practices. Hence, owners of small ecommerce businesses can use marketing tools that offer content suggestions completely in line with their target market’s preferences.
The most renowned marketing tools include:
BuzzSumo uses keyword, topic areas or web address queues to generate the top trending blogging ideas.
Renoun.io is a cost-free content search tool that provides numerous articles pertinent to an entered keyword or topic.
- EpicBeat Epictions
EpicBeat offers the latest content and influencers.
Search Engine Optimization
The bread and butter of ecommerce businesses is the sales they make via their websites. These sales are directly proportional to the number of people who are able to locate these websites on online search engines.
While the internet offers all businesses, big and small, the opportunity to gain visibility on online search engines, doing so is not an easy undertaking. Visibility on online search engines is the product of numerous factors – one of them being search engine optimized content.
Generating SEO content requires the careful hand of an expert and can be costly. Hence, for owners of small ecommerce businesses, we recommend the use of tools that offer search engine optimization either free of cost or at a fraction of the cost charged by SEO experts.
Some of the most reputed SEO tools are as follows:
Moz.com is backed by the largest SEO community in the world and the latest industry data, and it offers complete SEO solutions.
SEMrush is a useful tool to increase search engine optimization by providing competitor research and organic keywords for any website or domain.
Botify crawlers search your ecommerce platform and suggest improvements such as reliable and actionable SEO data.
Amidst the hassle of today’s competitive ecommerce landscape, thorough and accurate financial management becomes a cumbersome task. Keeping track of invoices, refunds, etc. can take up a lot of time and resources. Moreover, for small e-commerce businesses, it is imperative that financial matters are immaculate as they make or break a business’s reputation. For error-free accounting, we recommend the use of accounting software that not only manages all financial matters with ease, but also allow for tremendous convenience for ecommerce business owners.
The most reliable accounting software with functionality that is ideal for small ecommerce businesses includes:
Wave is a cost-free accounting tool that handles accounting, invoicing, payroll, etc.
The most popular accounting tool for small ecommerce businesses, QuickBooks offers accounting solutions on cloud and on premises.
Specifically designed for small businesses, Kashoo allows business owners to handle all of their accounting needs via a simple and easy-to-use interface.
In addition to search engine optimization, search advertising or pay-per-click (PPC) is absolutely essential for generating traffic on ecommerce platforms. Much more advanced than conventional advertising, search advertising offers consumers with products and services that are extremely relevant to the keywords entered by them in online search engines.
These paid ads are considered to be much more effective in generating sales as opposed to unpaid ads. They are also thought to be less intrusive as opposed to pop-ups and banner advertisements. Ecommerce business owners are only charged for the advertisement if a customer clicks on them. Hence, these ads enable you to reach out to relevant customers at a minimal cost.
However, launching and maintaining a PPC campaign is a time-consuming task that can be conveniently outsourced to PPC campaign tools that offer keyword suggestions, ad copies and targeting.
The most renowned PPC campaign tools include:
- AdWords Editor
AdWords Editor is ideal for detailed PPC campaigns as it allows bulk edits and optimizations. It resembles the AdWords interface and is known for its speedy functionality.
- WordStream Advisor
WordStream Advisor allows for simplified and economic PPC campaign management. It also provides feedback pertaining to critical performance factors, enabling ecommerce businesses to improve their campaigns.
- Bing Ads Editor
Bing Ads Editor is the perfect all-in-one PPC campaign management tool for small ecommerce businesses using Bing Ads.
Effective project management is essential for small ecommerce businesses thanks to a growing, severely competitive and rapidly changing industry. Project management for small ecommerce businesses involves inevitable scope screeps (addition of new functionality or features after a project has begun), which can be a tricky endeavor. Hence, we recommend the use of tried and tested project management tools that increase the efficiency and productivity of ecommerce businesses.
Some of the most popular project management tools for small ecommerce businesses include:
Freedcamp is ideal for small ecommerce businesses because it offers all the required functionality of a project management tool. It is initially cost-free, and then it is followed by extremely affordable upgrades.
Asana is among the most widely used project management tools with completely free services for up to 15 users. Aesthetically pleasing and easy to use and understand even for first timers, Asana is extremely useful for ecommerce businesses that need to remain integrated in real-time.
GanttProject includes all the features required by small ecommerce businesses. However, in order to make complete use of its detailed functionality, previous experience with project management tools is required.
These must-have tools will enable you to conveniently set up and efficiently run your ecommerce business.