Running an efficient ecommerce business has never been easier than it is today.
And starting an ecommerce business is an increasingly attractive prospect. Especially with the proliferation of handy ecommerce tools that can help do everything from saving abandoned carts, to capturing high volumes of email addresses, seamlessly processing orders, managing inventory, and so much more.
However, like any entrepreneurial endeavor, starting an ecommerce business comes with its own unique set of challenges, risks, and rewards.
Navigating the seasonality of products in your industry and handling your own order fulfillment can be overwhelming. That is, unless your business leverages dropshipping or an order fulfillment center that handles the packing and shipping logistics.
Enter: The world of ecommerce enablement tools. These tools are designed with the purpose of helping increase your sales, reduce costs, and run a more efficient organization. Now, let’s explore the six types of ecommerce tools you need to be using today.
1. Shopping Cart Abandonment
On average, nearly 70% of online shoppers abandon their carts before they complete the checkout process.
This means most ecommerce businesses are losing 7 out of 10 potential customers for one reason or another. This ranges from high shipping fees to slow delivery times, a bad checkout process, or just online window shopping.
One guaranteed way to capture some of these flee-ers is to install an exit-intent popup on key pages throughout your checkout process (and on product pages) where you can display an offer for free shipping or a limited-time discount.
While it’s unrealistic to change the minds of every abandoning shopper on your website with a well-timed offer, research does show that exit-intent popups can increase conversion rates by as much as 10% when deploying the right offer.
2. Lead Capturing (and List Building)
You can still win over the shoppers that visit your website and don’t become customers right away.
But in order to do that, you’ll need to capture their email address so that you can send a well-positioned offer to their inbox while your product is still top of mind. AddThis has built a set of lead capture tools that are highly customizable, have the ability to easily turn on and off or tweak for specific promotions, and come with several different placement options.
Capturing the email address of a prospective customer is one thing, but getting them to convert and become a customer is an entirely different challenge.
It requires first taking the time to develop a clear persona of who your target customers are. From there, you can use that valuable information to craft a compelling email subject line, write copy that elicits a positive emotional response to your product, and get them back to your product page before they find an alternative.
In addition, you can incorporate their information into your greater digital marketing strategy with tactics like paid retargeting advertisements on display networks and social media platforms.
If you’re not educating your audience with content that moves them through the purchasing process, recent blogging statistics suggest that you’re missing out on massive selling opportunities—as 71% of people report consuming blog content during their buyer journey.
Regularly delivering informative content to the potential customers on your email list is one of the best ways to keep them engaged and stay top of mind until they’re ready to buy.
3. Intelligent Ecommerce Website & Checkout Process
Having an ecommerce store that’s fast, comes with an intelligently designed checkout process, and is backed by a support team that’s efficient at resolving technical issues (like server outages or a spike in traffic that slows things down) is extremely important to make sure your site remains up and generates sales at all times.
BigCommerce and Shopify are two of the leading ecommerce software platforms. They both have an easy setup process (without the need for tech expertise), a fully featured platform ready to collect orders, and a marketplace of other apps you can connect to further expand your store capabilities. As an added benefit, their checkout have been tested and optimized through years of experimentation on thousands of online stores.
The only potential negative of choosing a platform like this to run your ecommerce website is that their monthly fees can add up quickly compared to building your own site and checkout process.
That said, their prices can be a bargain for what you’ll get. Plus, as an added bonus, most ecommerce platforms also provide easy templates for you to start a blog and regularly publish content to help bring your audience back to your site. You’ll just need to apply the audience persona you’ve been developing and learn how to write a blog post that’ll appeal to both their product needs and aspirational desires.
4. State-of-the-Art Inventory Management Software
When I launched my first business back in 2009, I packed and shipped every order out of my garage outside of my full-time job.
Today, it’s possible to run a flourishing ecommerce business without ever touching an order yourself. The advent of inventory management tools like Inventory Source and TradeGecko can automatically sync your inventory, push live updates to your website based on stock levels, and offer fulfillment and tracking functionalities.
Plus, these order fulfillment ecommerce tools all seamlessly integrate with platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce, and offer custom integrations.
5. Product Research & Search Visibility Tools
As an ecommerce store owner, one of your priorities is ensuring your products are in high demand. You will want to strategically manage the seasonality of certain product categories as well.
Tools like Jungle Scout and AMZScout help you identify the top products within your industry and track their Amazon performance over time. They provid valuable data to inform what you should be selling (and when). Whether you’re selling on Amazon or from your own ecommerce website, these tools will give you priceless product research insights.
Knowing which products you should be selling is only half of the battle, though. It’s equally as important to understand where and how customers are discovering those products. They can come from search, social, or referral traffic.
If your website traffic relies on search engines, it’s crucial to monitor your product pages’ organic visibility. Use tools like Nightwatch, allow you to see how your most important keywords perform—showing you what needs attention.
6. Live Chat
Today, your buyers want information right away. If they can’t get it quickly, they’ll look somewhere else.
Ecommerce stores are increasingly employing live chat to help connect shoppers to the right people on your team. That way, they can immediately alleviate concerns, explain features, and steer buyers toward the right decision.
Tools like HubSpot’s live chat software allow you to easily customize your chat widget to fit your visual brand, create targeted messages for product pages or audience segments, and store conversations. That way, the rest of your team has full visibility into their message history directly within your CRM, should they come back again with more questions.
Over to You
When launching an ecommerce store, it’s important to plan strategically.
It’s important to choose the right tools, software, products, and platforms that can scale with your store’s growth. Even still, dialing in your store is only a small part of the journey to building a successful business.
It’ll take time, effort, and creativity to generate traffic to your store, build an engaged audience, and convert them into paying customers. Once you figure that out, your ecommerce store will already be ready to scale.
Ryan Robinson is a blogger, podcaster and side project aficionado that teaches more than 400,000 monthly readers how to start and grow a profitable side business on his blog, ryrob.com.
Last modified: August 16th, 2019