Want to make a profit on Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Jet, or any other online marketplace? Then you’re going to need the right e-commerce tools.
Many online sellers go into business with dreams of financial freedom earned through passive income, only to realize that the business is anything but passive. Between updating listings, optimizing website performance, getting orders out the door, maintaining the books, and so on, managing an online sales operation is a lot of work.
This is why e-commerce tools are essential. Behind every successful online seller is an array of time-, money-, and sanity-saving apps and services. Make no mistake: e-commerce can certainly be a great way to earn an independent living on your own terms, but that doesn’t mean you need to do it alone. No seller can’t afford to manage everything manually, especially those aiming to grow and scale their businesses.
Based on our experience in the e-commerce landscape, here’s a list of 14 of the most useful e-commerce tools out there.
E-commerce Tools: Websites and Hosted Shopping Carts
BigCommerce is a go-to e-commerce solution for merchants who sell through their own websites. The platform includes everything you need to build, launch, and drive traffic to your shopping cart or online storefront. In addition to its hosted e-commerce capabilities, BigCommerce makes it easy for sellers to list products on marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Instagram. There’s a reason they call it BigCommerce: users tend to see big profit increases year after year.
Shopify is another leading all-in-one platform providing tools that facilitate sales everywhere you do business: a hosted storefront, online marketplace sales, social media—even the trunk of your car. One significant benefit of Shopify is flexibility: unlike BigCommerce, Shopify doesn’t limit your subscription options by your number of sales, meaning you can sell as much you want using the basic plan. Other than that, the two services are fairly comparable, so the ideal choice comes down to which features and limitations, such as number of themes (Shopify has more) or transaction fees (BigCommerce doesn’t charge any), are most important to your business.
WooCommerce is yet another online storefront solution, albeit very different than the two above. For one, it’s an open-source WordPress plugin, which means it’s highly customizable, but it only works on sites built on Wordpress, and you’ll need to download, install, and set it up yourself. But unlike Shopify, BigCommerce, or other alternatives, WooCommerce is completely free—there are no subscription costs, no premium plans, and no transaction fees.
E-commerce Tools: Shipping
Let’s talk about order fulfillment. ShipStation is perhaps the number one e-commerce shipping platform because it makes fulfillment a cinch: you can create shipping labels, comparison-shop between carriers, take advantage of carrier discounts, send order updates, and process returns from any device. The cloud-based software allows you to largely automate your shipping processes, so you can speed up turnaround and eliminate guesswork.
ShipWorks is not only a viable alternative to ShipStation, but for some sellers, an easier and more cost-effective software solution. Like ShipStation, ShipWorks integrates with most major e-commerce tools and marketplaces, allows users to shop between live carrier rates, and offers custom labels and batch processing. One downside, however, is that the software is exclusive to Windows. If you need to be able to access your order management shipping options from your phone, tablet, or Mac computer, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
One of our personal favorite e-commerce shipping and fulfillment solutions is Desktop Shipper. Desktop Shipper provides the same automation, real-time rate shopping, discounting, and batch processing features as to ShipStation and ShipWorks, all backed by a truly responsive support team.
E-commerce Tools: Business and Product Management
That’s right: we included ourselves on this list—because we’d be withholding information about how to achieve e-commerce success if we didn’t. In a nutshell, SellerActive automates multichannel e-commerce. We provide the tools and capabilities you need to expand into new marketplaces, keep your listings synchronized, and utilize smart features such as repricing to manage and grow your sales everywhere you sell online.
QuickBooks is the premier accounting solution for businesses of all sizes. Despite their ubiquitousness, the QuickBooks Desktop and Online services seem almost tailor-made for e-commerce businesses. Sellers can confidently accept payments, track their income and expenses, run reports, minimize their tax liability, and pay their employees, vendors, and contractors on time. QuickBooks also integrates with many e-commerce tools, including SellerActive.
SkuVault is a cloud-based inventory and warehouse management system that takes the time and frustration out of keeping items in stock and accounted for. SkuVault users lower their out-of-stock rates by 90%, fulfill orders 87% faster, and ship items to the wrong address 83% less of the time than they would otherwise. Additionally, the service reduces labor costs and provides advanced inventory reporting, so users can find opportunities to save even more money.
Miscellaneous E-commerce Tools
10. Google Analytics
If you’ve ever tracked general website traffic, you know the power and depth of Google Analytics. But did you know that it can provide you with detailed e-commerce insights? Online sellers can use Google Analytics to understand their customer conversion rates, the value of each online session, overall sales and revenue trends, and much more.
Search engine optimization still is and will likely continue to be an essential component of online marketing. It’s also a key ingredient to e-commerce success, particularly in light of the rise of multichannel e-commerce and the lengthening of customers’ paths to purchase: you should be aiming to rank at the top of search throughout the shopping journey. Moz is here to help. In addition to the company’s SEO products, the Moz blog features a wealth of information about boosting online sales performance.
What kind of messaging resonates with your customers? Do certain steps in your sales process get in the way of conversions? Find out these answers and more with Optimizely, which gives you the tools to completely personalize each shopper’s experience.
Social media management is much more complex than it once was, thanks to the proliferation of social networks and the increased scrutiny brands and platforms face from consumers and regulators. Hootsuite simplifies publishing and community engagement across social media platforms, so you can focus on driving traffic to your store rather than keeping up with a chaotic deluge of tweets, posts, photos, videos, and messages on multiple apps and sites. Check out their guide for using social media to engage with qualified e-commerce sales leads.
Finally, for all your inbound marketing needs, there’s HubSpot. From email campaigns to landing pages to blogging, HubSpot’s CRM software and suites of marketing and sales tools do it all, with extensive e-commerce platform integration and plenty of features available for free. HubSpot is also known for detailed educational content, and their e-commerce guides and training sessions are no exception.
These are just 14 of the tens of thousands of digital e-commerce tools out there. For more online marketplaces, platforms, accounting software, and other online retail tools, check out our integrations portal.
Have an e-commerce tool you’d like to share with the world? Share your recommendations with us in the comments below!