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To get started and thrive in the eCommerce world, you’re going to need some tools. In the same way a builder can’t do his work without a hammer, or a carpenter can’t work their wood without a saw, there are a range of tools you’ll need to sell online.

Some eCommerce tools are essential. Others are nice to have, helping you to grow faster and work smarter. In this article, we’re going to cover 9 essential eCommerce tools that your business should invest in to reach its maximum potential.

Let’s get started with number one.

An eCommerce platform (or several!)

As your online store’s bread and butter, an eCommerce platform is an essential tool for selling goods online. eCommerce platforms enable you to showcase your products in the way they deserve, and provide the crucial functionality to allow customers to buy from you.

The eCommerce industry is enormous. As such, there are tons of eCommerce platforms out there for you to choose from, many of which have pros and cons depending on varying factors, including the size of your business, technical knowledge, functionality requirements, budget, desired flexibility, and more.

Popular eCommerce platforms for SMEs include:

For larger businesses and enterprises, popular eCommerce solutions include:

Those platforms are just a fraction of the ones available, but they’re definitely the most popular. Also remember that many social platforms offer eCommerce solutions, such as Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.

A content management system (CMS)

Content management systems (CMSs) help you to develop your brand and reach an audience with text, images, videos, rich media, and more. The vast majority of modern websites are built with the aid of a CMS.

There’s often an overlap between a CMS and an eCommerce platform, as most eCommerce platforms offer CMS functionality. For example, Shopify, BigCommerce, Wix, and Magento all have CMS features.

Sometimes, a CMS will support a plugin to add eCommerce functionality. For example, WooCommerce is a plugin for the most popular CMS on the planet, WordPress.

Payment gateways

A set of eCommerce tools you will need are payment gateways. Offering your customers more flexibility when it comes to payment can increase the conversion rate of your website, but as a minimum you’ll need one.

Most eCommerce platforms have built-in functionality to take payments via a selection of gateways. Common out of the box payment gateway integrations include Visa, American Express, Mastercard, Stripe, and Paypal. Each payment gateway will have its own fee associated with collecting payment; usually a small percentage of sale.

In addition to supporting common debit and credit cards, we’d always recommend taking advantage of payment providers who offer a Buy Now, Pay Later option, such as Klarna. Giving your customers the option to spread the cost over a series of interest-free payments is a great way to encourage larger spends or make a purchase they otherwise wouldn’t have.

Buy Now, Payer Later gateways often have a higher fee attached, but they take on the credit risk.

Shopping cart tools

Shopping cart tools enhance your customers’ shopping experience and can improve checkout rates by guiding them through a smooth checkout process.

Most eCommerce platforms have built-in shopping carts that are optimised for all devices, and may offer additional functionality to enable you to integrate third-party shopping carts or even your own bespoke solution.

Having a smart shopping cart tool is essential for both security reasons and conversion rates. You can use a shopping cart tool to personalise the checkout process, offer discounts and additional value, and make it easier for customers to shop with you.

A customer relationship management tool

Now we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to highlight some eCommerce tools that can help you run your business more effectively. The first of these is a customer relationship management tool, or CRM for short.

CRM tools centralise your customer data and enable you to manage relationships with existing and potential customers. With all your customer data in one place, you can segment your contacts into different buckets for nurture campaigns and to attain business intelligence insights.

Some popular CRMs include:

Marketing tools

All eCommerce businesses should have a suite of marketing tools at their disposal in order to maximise their reach. The digital marketing sphere is vast, with multiple channels available to you for bringing traffic to your website and getting eyes on your products.

No one business’ digital marketing strategy is the same, and the channels you should prioritise will depend on multiple factors, including your industry and brand. That said, we’ve listed some useful tools below, broken down by channel.

Organic search tools

Organic search refers to traffic that comes to your website from search engines, like Google and Bing (but most people choose to allocate resources to Google search as it’s the biggest search engine by far).

SEO (search engine optimisation) is a website optimisation technique that marketers use to design their pages to encourage higher rankings on search engines, thus bringing in organic traffic. Organic traffic is generated by users that click your web pages from a search engine, but doesn’t include ads (see more about paid ads in the next section.

Marketers use SEO tools to conduct keyword research, audit their website for technical errors, and generate content ideas, with the goal of bringing in more organic traffic through relevant search queries and a well-performing website.

Common SEO tools include:

Paid search tools

Paid search is driven by users that click your business’ ads on search engines like Google and Bing. You can also run ads on social media platforms and third-party websites, but paid search specifically is associated with search engines.

There are several tools you can use not only to set up advertising campaigns on these platforms, but also track and report on your campaigns to allow you to make data-driven optimisations.

To run paid search campaigns, you’ll need a Google Ads account for Google and a Microsoft Advertising account for Bing. In addition, you can use tools like WordSteam and Optimzr to manage, optimise, and even automate your campaigns.

Email marketing tools

Email marketing tools enable you to tap into your customers’ and prospects’ inboxes directly for a variety of marketing purposes, such as personalised discounts, information like latest news and product launches, as well as informative content like blog posts and whitepapers.

Modern email marketing platforms can serve as powerful tools in your arsenal. When utilised effectively, these platforms enable the automation of email content based on touch points and customer segments. While the initial setup requires substantial effort, the system becomes self-sustaining once configured correctly.

Some popular email marketing tools include:

In addition, many CRMs (including the ones we mentioned earlier in the article) have either built-in email marketing tools or supported integrations.

Social media marketing tools

Tools for social media marketing are primarily used to schedule posts and track your stats. As of 2023, many of these tools offer AI-supported functionality to help you craft posts, too.

All eCommerce businesses should have a good social media presence, so you should consider having a tool at your disposal that will let you schedule content for and track all your platforms in one place. These include:

Content creation tools

So far, we’ve covered lots of tools that can help you improve your sales numbers and create better customer experiences. However, there is little point in having a website or social media platforms if you have no content to go on them!

There are so many different types of content, so it’d be impossible to list the best tools for each type in just one segment of an article. Common content types include text, video, or image, but there’s plenty more such as whitepapers, podcasts, GIFs, animations, emails, and more.

That said, most pieces of content can be summarised as text, video, photograph, or audio. Most pieces of content you produce will combine these elements together.

If you’re just starting out with a content strategy, here are some of the best tools to get started with:

  • Microsoft Word or Google Docs for crafting, editing, and proofreading your written content.
  • Grammarly to help you avoid typos and grammatical errors.
  • Canva the most accessible drag and drop graphic design software. Canva has an extremely generous free version.
  • Davinci Resolve for a beginner-friendly video editing experience. It has a great free version and fairly priced paid version where you’ll only need to pay once.

An analytics tool

eCommerce analytics tools help you to track and analyse the performance of your website, as well as user behaviour. Understanding how people are travelling to and using your website provides the vital insights required to improve conversion rates and better allocate marketing spend. You can also see how your website is trending over time.

The most popular analytics tool – by far – is Google Analytics. GA is easy to set-up and use, and has tons of reporting functionality. With Google Analytics, you can see everything from most popular pages, most converting pages, traffic by type, bounce rates, and much more.

For more in-depth analytics tools you could use something like Lucky Orange or Hotjar, which records user behaviour on your website and helps you to improve conversion rates and the user experience.

Inventory management software

Last but certainly not least on our list of eCommerce tools is inventory management software. As an eCommerce business, your inventory is your greatest asset, especially when you begin to grow. As such, having an inventory management tool to track and optimise your stock profile is absolutely essential.

Inventory management tools help you to ensure that you always have the right amount of stock on hand to meet your customer demands, without overstocking and thus eroding profit margins through storage costs.

They’ll also give you a wealth of data about product performance, helping you to identify the lines that are most critical to your business’ success, as well as the ones that could be detrimental.

Unlock your eCommerce potential with James and James

And now for a bonus tool – James and James Fulfilment!

James and James are an industry-leading eCommerce fulfilment provider with global locations. We combine great processes with great technology, resulting in fast, accurate, and cost-effective shipping to customers across the world.

We also have our own inventory management software called ControlPort, which tracks inventory and orders in real-time and provides businesses with unrivalled levels of inventory data which can be used to make actionable decisions that enable business growth.

To learn more about our fulfilment process, global network of fulfilment centres, and award-winning inventory management platform, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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