If you’re running an ecommerce company, then you’re well aware that juggling all the different facets of your business can be challenging. Ecommerce requires mastering a lot of different skills, both from the traditional business world and the online universe, so many of us now call home.
The good news is that you don’t have to get multiple degrees or hire entire teams of employees to handle all the different facets of your business. There are countless ecommerce tools out there to help you take control of everything from inventory management, to understanding your analytics, to handling your email marketing campaigns and beyond.
Even better? There are solutions for every need, every budget, and every type of ecommerce business. Today, we’ll break down some of the ones that we think are essential to your success in 2021.
Before we get to the individual tools, let’s break down what broad categories you’ll need to cover. If you find a software solution for each of these categories, you’re off to a very good start.
Whether you’re a small retailer or an ecommerce giant like Amazon, keeping the books in order is important. The right accounting software can help you keep everything on track.
This broad category includes everything from your email to your social media to your ads and beyond. There are a lot of different tools here, but this category is important. Without good marketing tools, your business will struggle to grow.
· Online Store Platform
This one seems obvious. Every ecommerce store needs a platform to host its business. Whether you go with obvious choices like Shopify or BigCommerce or something smaller, choosing the right platform for your ecommerce business is one of the most important decisions you will make.
If you don’t have good analytics tools, how will you know what’s working for your business and what isn’t? Google Analytics is still the standard for most companies, but they’re not the only game in town. Getting the right tool to make sense of your data can be the difference between success and failure.
· Amazon Product Search
If your ecommerce business sells a lot of products on Amazon (and most successful sellers do these days), then you’re going to want to find tools that can help you separate the forest from the trees on this massive platform.
Amazon product search tools can help you find growth opportunities on the mega-site.
What Are Ecommerce Tools?
In the simplest of terms, ecommerce tools are software solutions owners and managers can use to run their businesses with greater effectiveness.
Picking the right suite of tools can dramatically impact how your company operates, saving time and money by making tasks simpler, providing insights, and helping in the decision-making process.
Why Are Ecommerce Tools Important?
In today’s world, people are busier than ever. We all believe we’re masters of multitasking, but in reality, splitting our attention causes more problems than it solves.
Ecommerce tools help lighten the load on your employees by automating many of the everyday functions your team deals with.
Ecommerce tools allow you to schedule emails and social media posts, meaning you won’t have to spend time prepping and posting those items.
Beyond that, things like inventory management software can help you better track your stock levels, make decisions about ordering and reduce wasted money on carrying costs for items you don’t need.
At the end of the day, ecommerce tools are important because they allow you to focus less on mundane tasks and instead work on things that have a real impact on your business.
What Are the Best Ecommerce Tools for 2021?
If you want to take control of your ecommerce business in 2021, here are our top picks for software to help you better manage your workflows, automate daily tasks, and gain better insights so you can make more informed decisions.
Emails are a necessary evil.
Despite the constant claims that “email marketing is old school and not effective,” it remains one of the easiest ways to reach out to your customers.
If you’re not taking advantage of email marketing tools, you’re making way more work for yourself than is necessary. These solutions will help you manage your email campaigns more effectively and save you time in the process.
Mailchimp has been around for ages for one simple reason: it’s a great service that makes managing your email marketing initiatives easy and fast.
Simply add your list to the service, create emails, and schedule them for release. Mailchimp handles all the heavy lifting and will give you a full suite of analytic tools to see how your emails were received.
Here are a few of the key features you’ll get with this service:
· Ability to create lists
· Create segmented lists to target specific customers or prospects
· Create customized email templates
· Analytics tools allow you to easily monitor campaign results
· Schedule emails or set up drip campaigns
· Reach out to customers who have abandoned carts
Mailchimp is a great tool, whether you’re a small company just dipping your toes into the ecommerce world or a larger retailer with a massive mailing list.
· Constant Contact
The other big player in the email marketing space is Constant Contact. Odds are you’ve seen their television commercials at some point in the past year.
Constant Contact has many of the bells and whistles you get with Mailchimp, but Mailchimp is cheaper, has a bigger market share, and offers more advanced features.
This is not to say Constant Contact isn’t a good option, but rather that there’s a clear leader in this category, and it’s Mailchimp.
The things we listed above can be done with Constant Contact, but Mailchimp edges them out by offering a free version and more advanced functionality.
However, the one area where Constant Contact does actually beat Mailchimp is in one of the most important categories: Deliverability.
An email is counted as delivered when it arrives in an inbox. If it’s not delivered or winds up in a spam folder, it doesn’t count. Constant Contact has a better overall delivery rate than Mailchimp head to head.
Overall, we’re fans of Mailchimp (and we’ve used both), but there’s really no wrong answer here.
And don’t forget that there are more advanced options out there as well. GetResponse, Active Campaign and Sendinblue are all viable options.
Unless you’re a data scientist or a statistics fan, you probably tune out when someone mentions analytics. This is a big mistake.
Analytics is a key component of understanding your ecommerce business and planning for the future. Without analytics, you’re taking shots into the dark with no idea what’s hitting, what’s missing, or where to aim next.
We live in a data-driven world where advanced analytics are here to stay. If you’re not taking advantage of the insights offered by this data, you’re losing ground to the competition.
The problem for most people is that analytics are everywhere and feel complicated.
A quick perusal of the Google Analytics dashboard can make a person’s head explode with all the charts, metrics, and tables.
Couple this with the fact that nearly every software tool you’re using offers its own unique form of analytics, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed in a sea of numbers.
Modern analytic tools will provide you with more information than you could ever need but are also extremely customizable so you can choose the metrics that are most important to your business and not spend hours looking at things that aren’t relevant.
As far as software you should be using goes, the obvious choice is Google Analytics.
This free tool from the geniuses at Google will analyze all of your web pages and offer up valuable insights about a wide range of things. How long are customers staying on a page? Are they leaving the site from one specific page? Are they clicking on a call to action?
Google will help you understand all of these things (and more). Best of all? They offer free online training so you can get the most of all the tools they provide.
Beyond that, we recommend these tools to help you better understand and act on your data.
Anvizent will help you take control of your business by integrating your inventory management software, ERP, shop floor, financial, legacy, and other account data into one platform.
Gathering all of this disparate information into one location helps you get an overall view of your business as a whole, which means you’ll have insights into your data for the entire business at your fingertips.
Kissmetrics is another popular ecommerce analytics tool that provides a one-stop-shop for all your analytics needs.
The software offers Shopify integration, checkout funnel optimization, lifetime value analysis, and an almost endless array of ways to break down categories and segments for granular analysis.
Pricing starts at $299 per month, but the price is justified by all of the insights Kissmetrics will provide.
If you’re looking for a robust analytics tool that’s also easy to use, it’s hard to go wrong here.
Online Store Platform
If you’re running an ecommerce business, you’re going to need an online store platform.
There are a lot of ecommerce platforms out there, and they all have pros and cons. Choosing the right one for your business is a largely personal decision, but some things to consider when making your choice include:
· Ease of Use
Can you manage your store on your own? Will you need to hire a team to keep it up and running? Is it open source? You’ll want to find answers to these questions.
· Platform Stability
An online store that’s never online is a bad thing. Does the platform you’re looking at offer stability? How often is the service down? How long are outages on average? A great platform isn’t really great if it’s always offline.
· Is it Customizable?
Your ecommerce store is your digital display window. It’s the first thing customers will see when they come to shop. Does your platform offer customization options? Are there pre-built themes you can use? Will your site look like everyone else’s?
Consider the answers to these questions before choosing.
When it comes to ecommerce platforms, most companies are going to choose one of the big names in the space: Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce.
Let’s break them down:
We kick things off with what may be the most recognized ecommerce platform in the world: Shopify.
Shopify is the platform of choice for over 100,000 stores all around the globe. They offer free trials and multiple service tiers (starting at $29.99/month and going up to $299/month), so there are options for a wide range of budgets.
Shopify includes a lot of functionality, including:
· Website Design
· Hosting Services
· Abandoned Cart Recovery
· Coupon and Gift Card Functionality
· Analytics and Reports
· Mobile Friendly
· Easy to Customize
Add in 24/7 customer support and ease of use factors, and it’s easy to see why Shopify has become so popular.
WooCommerce is another open-source shopping cart solution, this one for WordPress websites.
Because WordPress is so popular, WooCommerce is used by 42% of all ecommerce sites. If you’re using a WordPress site, using WooCommerce is basically a no-brainer.
So, what will you get with WooCommerce? Here are the features:
· Unlimited Customization
· Filtered Search
· Mobile-Friendly Designs
· 14 Themes
· Customer Accounts
· Product Reviews and Ratings
· Customer Accounts
· Five Payment Gateways (More Available as Add-Ons)
· Shipping Calculator Option
· Guest Checkout
The benefits of using WooCommerce include a wide range of customization options and themes, plus a huge user base that can help you solve problems you may encounter.
On the other hand, WooCommerce can be difficult to use, particularly for beginners. If you’re not comfortable coding, you’ll need to learn or hire someone who is.
Beyond that, purchasing all the extensions available can quickly get pricey, and customer support is underwhelming to non-existent.
If you’re a small to medium-sized business and are comfortable with coding, WooCommerce is a viable solution to your ecommerce needs.
BigCommerce is another fully functional all-in-one ecommerce shopping cart solution. Users will be able to set up online stores, sell products, take payments, and manage their branding and marketing all from one platform.
· Drag and Drop Site Editor
· Customizable Without Coding
· Over 500 Add-Ons for Customization
· Wishlist Functionality
· Product Reviews
· Customer Accounts
· Analytics and Reports
· Cross-Channel Sales Functionality
· Social Channel Functionality
· Square POS Integration
· 65 Payment Gateway Compatibility
· No Transaction Fees on Select Payment Gateways
· Customer and Guest Account Checkout Options
· 24/7 Email, Chat, and Phone Support
On the plus side, BigCommerce is like Shopify in that it’s easy to use. It beats Shopify by not charging transaction fees in some instances.
The cons are the same as Shopify in that it doesn’t offer a lot of advanced customization. If you’re a bigger company with complex ecommerce needs, BigCommerce may not have enough of the features you require.
Beyond that, some users report that they’ve had issues with the software that BigCommerce’s customer care team wasn’t able to resolve.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these options.
Accounting and inventory management are the two most important components of a successful ecommerce business. Dropping the ball in either category can have catastrophic implications for your business.
SkuVault has you covered on the inventory management side, but here is our top pick for the accounting portion of the ledger.
QuickBooks has become the standard for small and medium-sized businesses looking for accounting software. With over seven million users, they’re clearly doing something right.
With a variety of plans to support every need and budget, QuickBooks covers all the bases unless your company is so big it requires an entire accounting department.
Listing all the things QuickBooks can help you with is a massive undertaking, but the software offers up all the accounting tools you’d expect in a product of this type with a user-friendly interface that makes keeping track of your financials a breeze.
Amazon Product Search
If you’re looking to start an ecommerce business on Amazon, you’re going to need help finding the best products to sell. This is where Amazon product search software becomes invaluable.
With millions of products on the site, trying to research products on Amazon can be a real headache, which is why we recommend JungleScout.
If you’re a new seller looking for products that have a high sell rate on Amazon, JungleScout will make your life easier.
The software pulls a catalog of all of Amazon’s millions of products and allows you to filter the results so you find the most profitable, or the best sellers, or whatever other criterion you might be measuring.
Having insights like this from day one can help a new business get ahead of the competition.
However, even experienced Amazon sellers can benefit from JungleScout.
JungleScout offers keyword research tools to get your listings shown, a product tracker to measure potential products over time, and a supplier database to source the best suppliers for your products.
Navigating a huge marketplace like Amazon can be tricky. There are mountains of products to consider, and competition is fierce, but JungleScout can help you level the playing field by giving you insights into what products offer the best chances for success.
Running an ecommerce business is challenging whether you’re the owner of your own company or managing a major online retailer. You’ll need to master many skills to find success, but apps and tools can make this process much easier than it was in years past.
One of the keys to success is working smarter, not harder. The apps we’ve discussed today will help you do just that by automating a lot of busywork aspects of your business, freeing you to focus on things that can really move the needle for sales and revenue.
Competition in the ecommerce space is fiercer than ever, meaning businesses need to find any advantage they can. These tools will give you an edge and may even inspire you to look for additional apps and software solutions to help your business grow and succeed.
If you need more guidance on software solutions for your business, we’re here to help.
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