I have seen many business owners that are going online for the first time, scratching their heads contemplating which tools to choose for their eCommerce site out of the numerous options at their disposal. So I wrote this quick guide underlining the most useful tools to build an eCommerce website and which one you should choose.
The most important tool for building an eCommerce website is the CMS platform on which it is based. Platforms like Shopify give you a quick start for some fee, WooCommerce helps build a complete and powerful website on WordPress, and WIX gives a full-fledged website that is easy to start with.
Understanding which platform you should choose, and what other tools you should use to build a successful eCommerce business will help you avoid costly mistakes down the line. In this article, I have tried my best to help you make the right decision.
If you are a business owner who wants to start selling on an eCommerce store quickly without much hassle, you should go for Shopify. It is a platform specialized for eCommerce and provides end-to-end eCommerce solutions. It is so easy to set up that I often joke with my clients that it’s a ready-to-use eCommerce website waiting for you to customize and put your name on it.
The ease that Shopify offers comes at a price, so choose this only if you have some cash to spare. After a one-month free trial, Shopify costs you around $30 a month for the most basic plan. As your business grows, you might need to go for the advanced plan, or even Shopify Plus, which are more expensive. Apart from the monthly fees, Shopify also charges you some amount for every transaction.
If you already have an offline business and are looking to expand online, or you are looking to start your business in both online and offline modes, Shopify can once again be the best choice for you. With the Shopify POS (Point of Sale) offering, you get some amazing hardware and software tools that can help you integrate your whole business smoothly.
If, on the other hand, you would rather want to build a full-fledged website, that offers features other than just eCommerce, WooCommerce is the go-to platform. WooCommerce is built on WordPress, the world’s most popular and one of the most powerful website builders.
WooCommerce is free, but you might need to invest the time and effort to learn WordPress, which has a bit of a learning curve. If on the other hand, you choose to hire a web design agency, you can get a great, professional-looking website but once again they have their own price.
Thanks to the large community of WordPress developers, you get some powerful integrations that add numerous functionalities to your website. You can add marketing integrations, analytics, and SEO plugins and you can create a very attractive design for your site using some page builders. With WordPress, you can also use its blogging capabilities to grow your brand.
If, however, you do not want to go through the trouble of learning WordPress or hiring an agency for your website, you can use WIX for your eCommerce website. This platform offers an end-to-end solution where you can buy your domain, get your hosting, build your website, and add eCommerce functionality without any third party’s involvement.
WIX is extremely beginner friendly and almost intuitive for anyone trying it for the first time. You just need to input some information like what kind of store you need, how many products you want to sell, configure payment methods, and add shipping options. All this can be completed within minutes.
WIX provides you with a lot of conveniences, but as you might have guessed, it is a little expensive. After the 14 days trial period, WIX charges you $34 a month, plus some charges for every transaction.
eCommerce tools are apps, plugins, or other software that can integrate with your eCommerce website and help you run the business smoothly. They can be extremely crucial to give you a competitive edge by automating or streamlining certain business processes.
Although there are many eCommerce tools that can help you manage your business, the three main categories are the tools that help you in marketing your business, tools that help you with sales and logistics, and tools that help you with customer services and CRM.
These eCommerce tools can integrate with your website either as third-party plugins, like in the case of WordPress or can be an app within the platform, like in the case of Shopify or WIX.
When it comes to marketing, the most powerful way to build your brand over time is through SEO. The best SEO tools for your eCommerce website depend on the platform that you are using.
If you are using WordPress and WooCommerce, you can use Yoast SEO or All in one SEO (AIOSEO). The AIOSEO offers you a step-by-step workflow while you’re creating your page or writing content, that improves your chances of ranking. Yoast SEO gives you suggestions to improve the SEO performance of your content while you are creating the content.
If you are using Shopify, you can use an app like SEO Booster, which offers SEO metrics that you can improve to maximize your ranking potential. There are other tools like TinyIMG or Crush.pics that you can use to optimize your images and improve your page load speed, which in turn boosts your search engine rankings.
Apart from SEO, you can use any of the email marketing tools like Mailchimp or GMass. GMass is a simpler tool most suitable for email outreach for example if you are looking to pitch your services to potential clients. Mailchimp is a more comprehensive email suite that is used for running email campaigns and sending newsletters or promotional emails.
Having a good logistics tool can make your life a lot easier while running an eCommerce business. A comprehensive logistics tool provides shipping and fulfillment services for you and can be integrated into your eCommerce website.
A good shipping and logistics tool should have features like Order management, rate comparisons, tracking, and pick-up and drop management. Shipwire, ShipRush, Packlink Pro, and Fulfillment Bridge are some of the logistics tools that you can explore for this purpose.
Shipwire is a complete dropshipping platform, while ShipHero is a third-party logistics provider. ShipBob is a logistics software solution. All of these integrate seamlessly with eCommerce CMS platforms like Shopify.
A CRM tool improves your customers’ experience every time they interact with your business and makes your life easier while doing so. It can be anything that can help make your customers’ interaction smooth, for example, a centralized repository of customer data that is accessible to all departments the customer interacts with.
It can also be an email tool that automates repetitive emails, like welcome emails, promotions, or newsletters, which brings about smoothness and consistency in the customer experience. Or it can even be a tool that makes customer service easier through better interaction within your teams so that you can quickly resolve customer issues.
You can explore tools like Omnisend, Zoho CRM, or Salesforce Customer 360 for these purposes.
The abundance of eCommerce tools has made it rather confusing for any business owner looking to start up an eCommerce business. You should start with one step at a time. First, choose the eCommerce platform most suited for you and build your online store.
Spend some time understanding your needs and the other eCommerce tools available in the market, while your eCommerce store gradually builds traffic and starts making sales. Do not be in a rush to get every tool known to mankind, rather be slow and intentional in your decision-making and add a new tool to your arsenal as and when it is needed.