19 must-have tools for small e-commerce businesses
By Pavlos Linos
Whether you’re just starting an e-commerce business or are looking at additional resources to make your current business processes more effective, you can’t be a spendthrift - especially when it is a small business.
A small business demands wise investments in the right resources and not everything that you see others in the same space using.
Today, there are a plethora of platforms and tools available online to help small e-commerce businesses achieve the highest level of productivity, grow and make their mark in the industry. But the real challenge is to know what you need in your toolkit and what you can do without.
No matter how small you are, you can always build a great e-commerce business if there is teamwork. But, how do you get a team to work together? By fostering communication, trust, and engagement. There are many tools out there that will help you improve all three. Here are a few such tools:
Hiver is a Gmail based collaboration tool. It will turn your Gmail inbox into a powerful help desk. Built on Gmail’s existing interface, it will help (a) manage emails as tasks - assign, delegate, and track the status of tasks (b) smoothen internal communication (c) separate internal and external communication (d) avoid duplication (e) teammates draft emails together.
It is an employee engagement platform that combines HR technology, reliable insights, and expert guidance to transform your workplace. With this tool, you will be able to survey your employees, and then use these insights to start meaningful conversations.
3. Google Drive
Google Drive is a cloud storage solution that allows teams to store their files online, keep them organized, and collaborate. Multiple employees will be able to access, edit, comment, and share files at the same.
Email marketing (here's a guide) is the most effective way for businesses to reach out to current customers, find new leads and then, convert those leads into customers. You could promote your new products or generally touch base with a customer who hasn’t made a purchase from you for some time with relevant content.
Here are a few nifty tools you would need:
4. Campaign Monitor
Another nifty tool to easily create, send and measure the impact of your email marketing campaigns, Campaign Monitor is one of the most popular email marketing tools. (Basic plan starts at $9 per month)
An email marketing tool that offers scalability to seamlessly grow your business. Some of its features include customization of email campaigns, mobile distribution, A/B split testing and Facebook Integration. (Free plan available)
Running a small business - especially e-commerce, puts the focus on managing your time efficiently. Since social media plays a vital role in every marketing strategy, but investing too much time in it might cause a business to go off track from its goals. Hence, it is important to stay consistent on social using the right set of tools.
Here are some you must absolutely have:
A social media management tool that enables you to schedule and post to various social accounts - Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+, from a single dashboard. It also offers analytics and the ability to re-buffer popular content, making it easier to decide what to share for maximum engagement. (Free plan available)
The most powerful and easy-to-use Twitter tool for real-time tracking, organizing and engagement, Tweetdeck is the only tool you need to stay on top of what’s trending in your ideal customer’s circles. (Free)
A link management platform, Bit.ly helps you shorten the longest of campaign URLs to make them fit for social usage. It also enables you to track individual link analytics, gather audience intelligence and measure campaign performance. (Free)
Most e-commerce websites run paid campaigns to draw traffic to their website or specific product pages. But many a times they lose their prospect after he has landed on their website. This is why it is important to implement on-site marketing and focus on conversion optimization to make people fall in love with your online store.
Here are a few tools small e-commerce businesses must start using:
9. Exit Bee
A conversion rate optimization software that analyzes the website visitor’s behavioral data to predict abandonment, Exit Bee tracks the visitor’s cursor movements and helps you retarget your abandoning visitors with custom exit intent campaigns. Exit-intent technology is known to boost e-commerce sales. It enables you to create various campaigns for growing your email list, reducing cart abandonment, etc. (Basic plan starts at $9 per month)
Live chat is the fastest way to engage your customers. Zopim enables you to talk to your customers in real-time and assist them in making purchase decisions, increasing your sales. (Free plan available)
11. Search Spring
A popular site navigation solution, Search Spring enables e-commerce businesses to connect shoppers with relevant products and boost sales. It offers advanced website search and category navigations to enhance the customer’s on-site experience. (Request consultation and pricing)
Customer relationship management refers to the practices, strategies and technologies used by brands to manage, and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the entire customer lifecycle. The main goal of using a CRM is to be able to improve business relationships with customers, boost customer retention and drive more sales.
A few CRM tools that easily integrate with e-commerce websites include:
Another handy CRM tool, Infusionsoft is a complete sales and marketing automation software to small businesses. It combines CRM, email marketing, lead capture and e-commerce. (Plans start at $199 per month)
A cloud-based customer service platform, Zendesk offers ticketing, self-service and customer support features. It provides you with insightful data to build meaningful customer relationships. (Plans start at $9 per month)
One of the first and foremost things small e-commerce businesses should do is set up an analytics tool on their website. This lets them understand what their customers are engaging with the most, what is making them lose prospects and other aspects of conversions.
Here are a few e-commerce analytics tools that are a must have:
A comprehensive e-commerce analytics solution, Kissmetrics offers key insights and timely interaction opportunities to turn visitors into customers. It provides you with actionable data to boost customer acquisition and retention rates. The data provided can also be used for making decisions on the layout of your website as well as its marketing. (Plans start at $200 per month)
16. Crazy Egg
Crazy Egg offers heat map and scroll map reports that help in understanding how your website visitors engage with the website. This data helps you make further improvements to your store to cater to what your visitors want to see more and boost your conversions. (Plans start at $9 per month)
F. A/B Testing
A/B testing is important to measure the impact of the smallest of changes you make on your e-commerce website. Testing out different layouts, colors and copy on your website helps you determine what converts best and leads to higher conversions.
While there are many tools available to conduct A/B testing, here are the nifty ones:
One of the most easiest A/B testing tools, VWO enables you to easily change headlines, buttons, images, and other elements to create multiple variations of your website. It then allows you track revenue, interactions, and other conversion goals to understand which variation works the best for your business and why. (Standard plans start at $49 per month)
A popular tool for building, publishing and testing responsive landing pages without HTML, Unbounce can be used to create multiple variants of product pages, which can be split tested over a set period of time. You can then track the performance of each variant to understand which one resonates with your customers the most. (Plans start at $49 per month)
Another popular tool for A/B testing your e-commerce web pages is Optimizely. It enables you to create, test, personalize and optimize different variants of the web pages for maximum results. (Free plan available)
Over to you
Depending on what your e-commerce business has to offer and the type of visitors your website gets, choose tools that will compliment your business goals. It is important to keep in mind the budget you want to set aside before investing in a tool - if you do, you must give it a minimum 3 months run period to understand if it benefits your business or not.
Is there a tool that you use on your small e-commerce website and think should be a part of this list? Feel free to contribute to this post by dropping a comment in the box below.
Pavlos Linos is the Founder of Exit Bee, a software that makes use of behavioural analysis to convert your website visitors with highly targeted messages and offers exactly when they are about to leave the website. You can connect with him on Twitter for quick and insightful conversion chats!