Running an e-commerce business is vastly different from running an offline retail operation. For one, the fulfillment process is quite different. But, even before you get there, there’s the process of making sure you’re visible to the right customers and that you have a good enough catalog to attract them to your store.
Then, you need to have enough products in stock to actually be able to complete a sale. There are also aspects such as making your product descriptions user- and search-engine friendly, not to forget the actual building of your e-commerce website itself! Anyone expecting to sell online will have to invest in a number of eCommerce tools and platforms in the beginning to have a seamless operation.
With so many different products out there on the market, it can be hard to choose which products to invest in and which ones to avoid, and that’s why we’ve put this guide together.
Here are five eCommerce tools that every online retailer absolutely must use in order to run their business smoothly – for a long time.
6 eCommerce Tools You Need
1. Magento For Building Your Website
The best thing about Magento is that it’s open source, which makes it extremely flexible to adapt and develop according to your needs. Many websites developed using templates from other platforms often have that “signature” look – they’re easy to spot as belonging to a particular platform.
But with Magento, the options to customize and design according to your brand guidelines are virtually endless. You’re likely to find a tool for every conceivable need on Magento, from mobile optimization to analytics.
A Magento site is almost always an SEO-friendly site. This is because it can generate Google sitemaps, support search engine friendly URLs, and even minimize loading time by using .css and .js files conservatively. As we know, site loading time is an important parameter in e-commerce success, and no one waits for longer than three seconds for a page to load.
Perhaps the only negative aspect of Magento, if it can be called that, is that it needs an experienced developer to help you set everything up correctly. Unlike WordPress, which has a more plug-and-play format, Magento requires you to hire someone who knows the inner workings of the platform. That said, the degree of customization and flexibility it offers makes the upfront cost well-worth it.
2. Primaseller for Inventory Management
Inventory management is the backbone of every good retail business. Even single store owners manage their inventory like hawks, so anyone looking to go online should be that much more vigilant.
Why? For one, inventory levels keep changing with time as you make a sale, restock a product, or accept returns. Thus, a manual entry you made today may not be accurate by this evening.
Instead, it is better to use an inventory management software that syncs with your e-commerce store’s orders in real-time. For example, if someone places an order for the last item available, such a software can immediately display an out-of-stock notice to the next customer, or accept a backorder, depending on how you choose to sell.
Primaseller also comes with several added benefits. It can sync up all of your offline and online channels thus giving you more flexibility to go omnichannel. With the QuickBooks Online integration, you can automate parts of your accounting process. Primaseller is also integrated with several shipping providers to give you complete visibility until a product is delivered to your customer.
That makes it the only inventory management software product you will ever need to run your e-commerce operations smoothly.
3. Google’s Tools For Mobile-Friendliness And Keyword Planning
Now that you have a website, you need to check for mobile-friendliness. In the next two years, sales on a mobile device are likely to make up 54% of all sales. How can you tell if your site is mobile-friendly?
First, we need to make a distinction between mobile optimization and mobile-friendliness. Most developers optimize websites to work on a mobile device. However, things like cluttered content and having to scroll too much can put customers off.
- Google’s mobile-friendliness tool helps you analyze the latter half. Just key in your live website’s URL and you’ll get information on what aspects are good and which ones need fixing from a user experience viewpoint.
- The Google Keyword Planner tool is primarily meant to help you run ads more effectively, but it can also be used to understand what keywords are most relevant to your products, and how these keywords and searches have changed over time.
- Google Adwords can help put your product front and center when someone googles relevant keywords. However, ensure that you choose your keywords carefully. No one is going to be googling something too specific at the discovery stage.
- Don’t forget that analytics are important, too! You want to see where your customers are coming from and how they behave on your site. This helps you prioritize where you spend your money. Use Google Analytics to track these parameters.
4. eclincher For Social Media Management
When we think of social media management, we often think of scheduling and posting stuff on time. However, a good social media management strategy involves so much more. From keeping your customers engaged on all platforms to posting just often enough to stay on the radar, there’s a lot that can be done.
eclincher is a social media management tool that gives you complete visibility of your social presence and its influence. You can manage all of your social channels from one dashboard and even respond to comments and messages with greater ease, without ever missing a single notification.
Plus, you can use relevant keywords and hashtags to stay in on the conversation and gauge your influence over time, as well as discover specific influencers on Twitter who are likely to help you boost your presence.
Why is this important? Because there are way too many products out there being advertised on social media. You want to be consistently visible to an audience that is likely to buy from you. This can involve posting multiple times, responding quickly to price requests and following through before the customer loses interest.
One of the greatest features that will help you lead your e-commerce business and not miss any leads is the unified social inbox that integrates all platforms into one single management tool with notification counter.
Plus, in order to get visible, you want to use the right hashtags and target the right influencers. Using a social media management tool like eclincher can help you manage all of these processes much more smoothly. Check out the best social media management tool’s pricing.
5. MailChimp for Email Marketing
The downside, of course, is that as your contacts grow, so does your subscription cost. What makes it worth your while though is the number and variety of email automation features available. You can set up custom flows for new subscribers, cart abandonment, and even for seasonal promotions.
This saves you tons of time to focus on the everyday operations of your business as opposed to obsessing over every email you might have to send out.
6. Rewind For Store Security
There are many things that can go wrong when you run an eCommerce store. You could inadvertently delete an entire product category instead of just an item. You may apply bulk pricing changes to the wrong products and may then spend several hours fixing your mistake.
Some mistakes can be fatal to your business. A disgruntled employee may delete all the products from your store. Even a simple coding error could potentially bring down your entire website.
The revenue loss from such mistakes, especially during peak business season, could be several thousands of dollars.
Rewind is an app that captures a backup of your online store so that you could rectify any issues in just a matter of clicks. This saves your business time and money that would have otherwise been spent on debugging and restoring your website.
Rewind is at present available as an app for Shopify as well as BigCommerce. If your store is on Magento or any other platform, check with your service provider for alternate backup options.
Choosing The Right Tools
When choosing the right tools for your e-commerce business, here are some other aspects to consider:
- The total cost of using these tools over a period of time, versus the benefit of doing so. For example, you may be paying someone else to do the job that these tools do more accurately. This can become expensive and even riddled with errors in the long run.
- What other retailers have to say about these tools. Compare peer reviews and see what features other retailers are talking most about.
- How these products can scale with you over time. You need flexible tools that won’t penalize you for choosing to grow/ shrink your business.
When all is said and done, there’s no denying the fact that using the right e-commerce tools — or partnering with one of the top eCommerce design companies — can definitely give your business a big boost and support you well in the growth phase. Which of these tools will you be using for your retail business?
Author Bio: Mohammed Ali is the Founder and CEO of Primaseller—a Multichannel Inventory Management Software that helps sellers manage inventory better and fulfill orders on time, with nifty integrations that make business better. When not running a startup, Ali is often caught lapping up the latest book in fantasy fiction.