Whether you’re trying to get out of your dead end job or you have a wonderful idea that you think has great market potential, you may have thoughts of setting up an ecommerce store to make your dreams come true.
The cool part is that launching an online store isn’t all that expensive or difficult today. You have all sorts of online apps, website builders and extensions that pretty much do all the grunt work for you.
In fact, there’s no need to find a developer anymore, since with the avalanche of website builders a regular person can launch an online store without any coding or development knowledge. The only problem is that you have so many amazing ecommerce tools to choose from.
Therefore, we want to go over some of the essentials, or the tools that you’re going to need in order to find any kind of success with online commerce.
WooCommerce stands as one of the most useful, user-friendly ecommerce plugins, especially if you’re fond of WordPress. Here’s how it works: You download the plugin for free and install it on your WordPress site.
After that, it turns any WordPress theme into a fully functional online store. Yes, lots of steps are involved in-between that, but you basically receive a user-friendly module on the backend for creating products, setting up emails, managing the design and connecting with customers through social media.
You’ll need to pay for hosting, but both WordPress and WooCommerce are completely free.
If you’re a little intimidated by WordPress (this happens for beginners,) you might consider another option that’s just as reliable.
Although you don’t technically have full control over your site, Shopify serves as an “off-the-shelf,” complete ecommerce store builder. So, instead of constructing your site from scratch (like with WordPress,) you pay a monthly fee for a whole suite of features.
Shopify has themes, thousands of plugins, a beautiful design interface and some handy built-in tools for things like social media and shipping.
When it comes to analytics, you’ll need to install Google Analytics. However, I kind of feel like that’s a no-brainer. However, if you’re interested in expanding your data possibilities, consider the Kissmetrics platform.
Once installed on your ecommerce store, Kissmetrics provides tools for learning where your best customers are coming from. This way, you can target those people and really start boosting your profits.
In addition, the tool has options for converting more of those customers and seeing the types of products they are prone to buying.
Once you have an online shop, people are going to start talking about your brand. Since all the social networks are hard to keep your eye on at all times, Brand24 does most of the work for you.
This smart social media monitoring tool lets you know when someone mentions your brand on places like Facebook and Twitter. They also have a handy feature for monitoring trends in discussions about your company.
So, if someone is trashing your company on Facebook (and others are joining in) you can address the situation and try to protect your brand.
Monitoring your social media is only one part of the puzzle. You’ll also want to figure out a way to consistently post to your social accounts so that your customers know when you have new products or deals.
The only problem is that online business owners don’t have all the time in the world to sit on social media. Therefore, Hootsuite offers a system for scheduling your posts and measuring your return on investment.
For example, most companies go on Hootsuite and schedule a collection of Twitter posts a few months or weeks in advance. This way, you knock it all out in one swoop, and you don’t have to think about it every day.
Sometimes you can go with a regular shipping program through a platform like Shopify. However, more often than not, you’re going to want a more efficient plan for logistics and order fulfillment.
That’s where Shipwire comes in. This lifesaver allows you to automate and optimize your shipping, using a large network of warehouses around the world. Not only that, but you receive features for monitoring things like quotes, inventory, deliveries, carriers and returns.
Email marketing is often the lifeblood of an online store. Yes, you can market on places like Google and Facebook, but that’s not going to get repeat customers. One of the biggest failures you can make with an online store is not collecting emails from customers.
You can embed a MailChimp form on your site for collecting the email addresses. After that, MailChimp provides several amazing email templates and design tools for sending out interesting newsletters.
For example, you might want to let your customers know that a brand new product was just released. They also have automated emails for receipts and promos. In case you want to explore other email marketing apps, you might like the Campaign Monitor vs Mailchimp crazily in-depth comparison.
Quite a few live chat tools are available for you to choose from, but we like LiveChat because of its expansive feature set. For example, you gain access to features like chat tags, timelines, notifications, transcripts, canned responses and more.
The reports are amazing, and you can customize the way your live chat boxes work. Running an online store is not complete with this truly effective customer service tool.
Oberlo is for those people who don’t have the cash to start their store. Or maybe you just don’t have an idea for an original product. Oberlo connects to Shopify and AliExpress, pulling products from AliExpress and putting them in your store.
This is called dropshipping, where you don’t store or ship any of the products. It’s all done for you, so you can keep costs low.
Are You Ready to Start Your Online Store?
We recommend checking out all of the ecommerce tools above, but your journey is most likely going to start with a platform like WooCommerce and Shopify. Regardless, we wish you luck! Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions about making a store or if you have any other ecommerce tools that work for you.