Ecommerce success can often be boiled down to making the right choices at the right time. You want to choose the right product, the right audience, the right marketing avenue. But there’s one choice that is not as often talked about yet it can significantly impact your store’s future. That’s the choice of the right tool.
In today’s world of automation, artificial intelligence, personalized marketing, and intelligent customers, having the right tool can make a world of difference. Or, it can make a tiny bit of difference, which is all it may take to skyrocket you into the world of viral products and ecommerce legend.
Let’s take a look at fifteen tools every ecommerce startup should consider.
Store Building Tools
The first tool you will need is a website aka store builder. There are literally dozens, if not hundreds on the market, but the two most trusted ones are:
More than a million businesses have used Shopify to launch their stores. This means that their development team has an unprecedented level of user input, so they truly had the opportunity to perfect the platform.
It offers everything you will need to get started: store themes, stock images, a drag-and-drop builder. Conveniently, you can manage everything from a single dashboard. You can track orders and payments and easily ensure your customers are getting the best possible shopping experience.
On the other hand, WooCommerce allows you to turn a WordPress website into an ecommerce store, so if you are more comfortable with an open-source platform, it can be the ideal solution.
It comes in the form of a plugin, and it lets you customize practically everything, depending on the site theme you’re working with. It comes with all kinds of integrations and it’s easy to level up. Like Shopify, WooCommerce also lets you stay on top of orders from a single space.
Inventory Management Tools
Using an inventory management tool will ensure you never run out of stock. With its help, you can stay on top of purchasing without having to spend hours poring over numbers and invoices.
InFlow is a great inventory management tool. It will:
- tell you exactly how many items you have in stock and where they are located (on your shelves, in transit, etc.)
- alert you when you are running low on a certain item
- enable your procurement and warehouse teams to work together on managing your inventory
You will also be able to track your costs and stay on top of your finances, all from an intuitive dashboard that you’ll get used to in no time.
Customer Support Tools
The business of ecommerce is often consumed with customer relations. There are always plenty of questions about products, shipping, delivery, and returns. Complaints are just bound to come in at one point or another, and you want to tackle them to the best of your ability. These are all equally important aspects of not just relationship management, but conversion optimization as well.
Here are a couple of tools that will help you out:
Another household name on our list, Zendesk can help you take customer service to the ultimate level. It enables you to build help centres and talk to your customers via whatever channel they are most comfortable with. It also provides that layer of automation and AI empowerment that ensures you can personalize each touchpoint.
Another great thing about Zendesk is that it integrates with plenty of other apps. You won’t have to use an entire arsenal to keep track of calls, meetings, and emails with different customers.
Salesforce is probably the biggest name in customer relationship management, and with good reason. Their product has been tailored over the years to different business sizes and business needs, so it now allows you to create a unique and personal experience for all your customers.
It allows you to:
- automate a lot of your processes
- manage your orders
- optimize your sales funnels
- manage the entire customer journey from their dashboard
Acquire is so much more than a mere chat app, but we’re highlighting it here because the chat feature of their product is amazing.
It comes with a chatbot that can take on some of the communication for you, allowing you to have video or voice calls, as well as to cobrowse. It’s an excellent customer management system, and the tool offers other powerful abilities too, like business analytics.
Project Management Tools
As you may have discovered, a lot of ecommerce is about management – managing products, managing websites, managing customers and managing your own sanity.
A great way to stay on top of the varied and complex aspects of ecommerce is to use a project management tool. Here are some of our favorites:
Wrike is a project management tool that simply works, comes with endless customization options, as well as templates that can help you get started. It works across teams, projects, and tasks. It literally enables you to figure out at a glance everything that needs to be done and who needs to do what.
There are Gantt charts and Kanban boards, lists, and priorities to set. You can go wild with process optimization and ensure you never forget even the smallest of tasks again.
Active Collab is another tool that can help you manage your projects. It’s not all that different from Wrike, or any other project management tool for that matter. The interface is gorgeous; it comes with calendars and reports, time tracking and scheduling, and also allows you to track your budget and expenses.
Depending on the kind of surroundings you feel most comfortable in, either of these tools will work well.
On the other hand, if you find project management apps too complicated and a waste of time, you can reach for a simple yet helpful to-do-list tool, such as Todoist. It does just what the name suggests: lets you create endless to-do lists across different projects and dates. Stay sane and dump all of those thoughts and ideas into one place where you can always revisit them.
Once everything about your ecommerce business is organized in the backend, you will need to start attracting some customers. Digital marketing offers endless ways of reaching them, so we’ll mention a tool that can come in handy for the more popular ones:
A lot of other tools on this list provide their own analytics that can help you track visitors, customers, and sales. But when it comes to website traffic, it’s best to go right to the source – which is, of course, Google.
Analytics will help you identify traffic sources and keywords you’re ranking for. It will enable you to get a much firmer grasp of your marketing efforts and customer behavior. It’s an irreplaceable source of information, although you can divert it to another tool that will have a nicer interface.
Social media marketing can hugely benefit from post scheduling, and the original tool for the job is Buffer. You can use it to schedule posts across all the different social media platforms, write out all your captions, and even schedule your Stories. Overall, it’s a great way to save some time on social media.
It also comes with some powerful analytics and engagement features, teaching you what your audience is all about and letting you create flourishing campaigns for your products.
You will also need an email marketing tool, and the most recognizable one on the market is Mailchimp. Use it to build unique emails and automate the emailing process. Best of all, it comes with some powerful analytics under the hood that will track your click and open rates. Plus you can use it for sending transactional emails.
You can also use it to segment and better understand your audience, which ensures the emails you send out will have the best possible chance of converting your recipients.
If you’re also planning on doing some SEO (and even if you aren’t), the powersuite that is Ahrefs will certainly come in handy. You can use it to analyze your competition, identify market segments (in terms of keywords and search interest) that you could target next, and generally feel the pulse of the web.
Ensuring your store is SEO-friendly (to say the least) can help you reach greater online heights. So, an audit will also come in handy, which is another feature the tool provides.
Finance Management and Invoicing Tools
Finally, you also want to ensure you have some invoicing and finance management tools available. They will track your budget and expenses for you, ensuring you’re not overspending. Here are some good ones:
Another famous name on our list, Quickbooks lets you track every penny in an easily understandable way. It helps you:
- track incomes and expenses
- send and receive invoices
- track your taxes
- manage your cash flow
But there is much more to the tool if you want an even more comprehensive breakdown of your dollars and cents.
It also offers plenty of integrations, so you can sync it up with Shopify, Paypal, and some other platforms.
Another good tool for managing your finances, Xero offers a different interface but comes with all the usual features:
- expense tracking
- payroll and tax options
- reporting and project tracking
This is a more affordable option for when you’re just starting out and need a tool to show you how much is coming in and how much you’re spending.
While this list certainly appears extensive, remember that you don’t need to invest in all of these tools right from the start. Depending on the size of your startup, you may want to limit yourself to just one or two at first. Then, scale them as you scale your business.
A lot of them come with free trials, and there are also affordable or free alternatives to some of them. So, here’s our final piece of advice: do a bit of research before making your final choice and committing to a yearly subscription.