Don’t even begin to believe that starting and running an ecommerce business is easy. It’s just not.
If you thought this was something everyone knew, you’d only have to read Armando Roggio’s post on Practical Ecommerce to realize that the ecommerce business model would easily make you believe that there’s nothing much to invest.
Online businesses just don’t feel as intensive as offline businesses or as brutal as retail. Forget the “feeling”. Dig the reality.
Those reasons to fail are easily avoid. The investments are mostly upfront and then recurring payments to a few fantastic tools you can use.
Talking about fantastic tools, it’s hard to just mention one or two tools for a particular process or business function. So, let’s consider these tool sets instead:
Social media works like an engagement engine allowing you build a community (next best thing to a blog) and a real-time possibility to interact and community with your existing and potential customers. In addition, all those conversations can be used to amp your digital presence or get you leads, in different ways.
- Social Media
Your business isn’t complete without people to complete the equation. That equation won’t be complete without social media. That’s where most of your target audience is, all day long, every single day.
o HootSuite: If nothing, HootSuite University is enough to recover your $10 spent per month for accessing it. Apart from that, HootSuite allows you to have multiple conversations at the same time, manage multiple accounts, add team members, bulk upload to schedule multiple updates, and even use many third-party apps to help you manage your social profiles better.
Did we mention that they have a brand new interface? Until a few days ago, the interface wasn’t much to write home about.
o Bufffer for business: Just like HootSuite University is built to educate and inspire users to use social media for business, the Buffer blog is a truly authoritative source on all things social media. But that’s just the education part.
Just like HootSuite, Buffer for business includes similar functionality as that of HootSuite. Only the interface is much better.
o Snip.ly: While it’s not anything like HootSuite and Buffer, it does something else no other tool does: it makes every update on every social network you use to work harder and get you what you want out of the effort you put into social media.
So, Snip.ly lets you “snip” your social updates so that you can specific, customized Calls to action at the destination of every link you post on social media — if you wanted your fans or followers visit a landing page, signup for a newsletter, visit your product page, leave you a feedback, or even if you just wanted to say, “Hello Beautiful, You are such a rockstar!”
- Multichannel Ecommerce Management
If you wanted to sell, you would not just sit in one place. If you could, you’d want to be all over the place, wouldn’t you? In the world of ecommerce, multi-channel management maximizes your digital presence by helping you sell on your own ecommerce store, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and any other platform that allows you to sell.
You can’t literally manage your sales across platforms without some help. Can you?
o ShipStation: Integrating with almost every popular platform and with shipping and logistics solutions, ShipStation is a resource you’d have wondered how you lived without. It plugs into marketplaces and shopping carts and allows you to manage orders, fulfillment, shipping, inventory, and more.
o Agiliron: What if you could get an enterprise level multi-channel management solution for ecommerce, which doesn’t cost as complicated as it sounds? How about streamlining your business with a flexible, on-demand application to smoothen your ecommerce business workflows? Agiliron gives you a completely integrated, customizable, software-as-a-service, platform to manage your ecommerce sales across multiple platforms.
- Email Marketing
If there was only one singe digital marketing channel you want to pick for marketing, pick email marketing: it’s easy to launch, doesn’t cost you as much as PPC does, gives you a whopping 4300% ROI (according to Direct Marketing Association), and it’s still the only digital marketing route that allows you for long-term, one-to-one lead nurturing capability. If you are convinced enough, here are some ecommerce ready email tools:
o Mailchimp: It’s easily the most popular email service provider and it does everything it can to help you tap into the powerful opportunity email marketing really is. It’s free to start for up to 2000 subscribers. You can drag, drop, and create awesome templates that are responsive from the start. Mailchimp also has an entire string of automation campaigns that can be triggered based on user behavior on your ecommerce site.
Customer comes in, checks out a product, graduates to the shopping cart, and doesn’t buy? Trigger an email sequence.
You get the idea, right?
Since email truly has the capability to bring back all those customers who abandoned your shopping cart (over 68% of them do, according to Baymard Institute), investing in a tool such as Vero is the best kind of money that left your wallet.
- Customer Service
If you are selling, you are serving. The better you serve, the more you’ll profit. Customer service departments aren’t cost centers. They are rainmakers. Try it to believe. To help you try, you now have access some remarkably efficient tools today.
o ZenDesk: Start with one agent or start with as many as you like. Put ZenDesk in and take awesomeness out. Delight every customer with instant solutions to their issues, problems, questions, and even build a complete knowledge desk to ease your own customer service workflow.
o HelpScout: Your help desk doesn’t have to be boring. It doesn’t even have to be pre-filled with canned responses. You can have character, humor, and style too. HelpScout helps you deliver delightful customer experience. Using a variety of third-party apps, email integration, docs, and built-in reports make it a complete solution for your customer service processes.
o Grexit: Just in case you aren’t ready for ZenDesk or HelpScout or if you think that those tools are way too big for your business, you can use Grexit — a humble Gmail plugin that transforms your Gmail inbox into a collaboration tool. Use it for customer service, sales, project management, sales, marketing, or even hiring people.
The tool sets you see here are fairly general. There are so many more tools that it’d took an entire book and a website to actually do justice to cover the fantastic array of web-based apps critical for your ecommerce business.
So, we have to ask: what are your perennial favorites?
Hiral Rana works with E2M – a digital marketing agency. She is head over heels in love with SEO and social media marketing. She wants to play an intrinsic role in the evolution of digital marketing by exploring its wealth of possibilities and opportunities. A music lover and an adventure seeker, you can connect with her on Twitter and Google+