Before I sat down to pen this article I knew I wanted to make something different. A quick Google search for ‘ecommerce tools’ will bring up thousands of posts. Instead of throwing together a list of tools everyone already knows I wanted to dig a bit deeper and share the tools I’ve personally used and tested with clients.
Now, I’m not going to promise you earth-shattering results overnight. You wouldn’t believe me if I did. Hard work and luck still play a role as always.
In this article I share my 9 favourite ecommerce tools proven to boost sales and satisfy your customers. If you are an ecommerce store owner, give these tools a try, you won’t be sorry you did.
Online retail may have a bunch of things going for it. But one distinct disadvantage it has vis a vis brick and mortar stores is that shoppers miss out on the ubiquitous touch and feel element of shopping. If your customer can’t see how awesome our product is, how will she ever buy it?
Salsify is a one-of-its-kind Product Information Management system, or PIM as the insiders call it, that enables you to build product catalogs for your ecommerce store at scale. Salsify lets you create rich, detailed product pages that draw the shopper in and give them a taste of their product. It also helps you manage every aspect of product content – from descriptions to product titles to keywords to even images. You can import product data in you’re a bunch of different formats like Excel, flat files, etc. and can transform it within Salsify using their pretty neat editing tools.
My favorite part of Salsify is how it optimizes your product content to match the channel you’re selling on.
For example, you can create a different product description for your website and a completely different one for selling on a marketplace like Amazon, and yet another one for selling via social media.
How’s that for building product pages that speak volumes?
They say an image can speak a thousand words. Now, image search and reverse image search have been around on Google, Pinterest and the like for a while. But what if your customer wanted to buy a shirt just like the one his friend has on? How about letting them find the same or similar shirt on your website using just an image of the shirt they like? Say hello to image recognition in ecommerce, thanks to Syte.
In the image below, the customer likes the shoes the model is wearing. So what does she do? She simply uploads the picture on your website using Syte and Syte’s artificial intelligence technology browses through thousands of pictures of shoes that you have in stock to showcase the ones that are the same or as close as possible to what the customer uploaded.
I like that Syte is not just a product locator that uses reverse image search. It takes on the mantle of style guru with its personalized recommendations using people’s image uploads.
Let’s say for the same pair of shoes in the image above, the shopper wants inspiration on how many other ways she can style the shoes. Syte will go ahead and pull images of social media influencers dressed in the same shoes, but in different outfits. The customer now has a range of different ways to style the same pair of shoes and she has the option of buying the other accessories that the social media influencers have used to spice up their shoes. Love, love, love this!
Whoever said ecommerce is all about selling big on your own website? Probably someone who’s never heard of a little something called Amazon. Or eBay. Or Google Shopping. You get my drift.
Just as it’s important to optimize your sales on your own website, it’s even more important to be able to sell without a hitch on third party channels like marketplaces, product advertising networks or even social media. Juggling all the third party channels that matter is enough to drive the best of ecommerce sellers crazy. So when the average Joe wants to put his stamp on these networks, the most obvious choice he turns to is ChannelAdvisor.
ChannelAdvisor does one thing exceedingly well – it connects your product catalogs to the marketplaces, ad platforms and social networks that matter. I say “exceedingly well” for a reason: with features like its algorithmic repricing tool, demand forecaster, and a product content optimizer dedicated to crafting superior listings on marketplaces, you cannot go wrong with ChannelAdvisor.
Another strength the platform brings with it is its mastery of product shopping ads on networks like Google Shopping, Bing Shopping, Pinterest, Facebook and the likes. The platform lets you syndicate your entire catalog seamlessly to each network, optimizes product data – such as titles, content, keywords, and pricing – in order to make your listing as competitive as possible. It doesn’t stop there and goes on to help you maximize the clicks and conversions you get from these networks.
4. BigCommerce for B2B
As the average consumer matures into a seasoned ecommerce shopper, demand for traditionally offline categories like B2B or wholesale products has grown online as well. In fact, 2017 saw B2B ecommerce generate $7.6 billion in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) worldwide, per a Statista report.
However, selling online is not as simple for B2B companies due to the inherently complicated sales process for B2B products. BigCommerce is a fantastic solution for B2B sellers who’ve tried selling online with little to no success. Just like its B2C counterpart, Big Commerce’s B2B platform lets B2B companies set up fully transactional websites from scratch. From designing your own SaaS solution online to uploading inventory, processing payments to shipping or service delivery, this version of Big Commerce offers a turnkey solution to aspiring B2B sellers.
B2B selling does have some quirks that set it apart from B2C sales, even when it comes to goods. Pricing is a key distinguisher. Not only do B2B sellers trade in bulk, they sell the same products at different prices for B2B and B2C buyers. In fact, pricing can often be tailor-made for each buyer in the form of custom quotes – you can see this in action on Selininy.com:
As we see in the screen-grab above, the BigCommerce platform takes this difference into account, helping you display custom pricing based on the customer who’s signed in. This customization can go down to the SKU level, and can be easily modified to protect your business from B2B price wars.
My favorite bit is how the platform lets you send out quotes to individual customers and accept payment in ways that B2B buyers will recognize immediately, e.g. card on file payments, allowing different payment limits for different users from the same company, and so on.
Customer experience is a mantra that has retailers, both online and offline, falling over each other to please their shoppers. For good reason too. Gartner’s research shows that 89% of companies expect superior customer experience to be their competitive edge in the market.
So how do you deliver this superior, competitive customer experience to your customer? One option is Monetate.
Monetate is a multifaceted platform that lets you offer cutting edge, personalized experiences by connecting different data sources and making sense of the chaos. For example, you can use data that flows into Monetate from your CRM platform and your website to send personalized push notifications or showcase personalized content on your webpages based on contextual, behavioral and demographic data, in real time.
CRO wisdom says you should never run a banner or launch a landing page without testing all the conversion factors thoroughly. Monetate’s robust A/B testing platform allows you to run experiments live on the website and offers in-depth analysis on which version would work better.
Not only can you build segments on the fly with Monetate, you can also target content at these real-time segments with its strong content delivery features. In an ecommerce context, this targeted content takes the form of product recommendations. Monetate unifies a decent product recommendation engine with extensive user information to deliver product recommendations that the average recommendation engine cannot conceive.
Earlier, we saw how you can syndicate your products to different marketplaces and other third party channels. However, one common factor among all these third party channels is that the customer has hundreds, if not thousands of options to pick from on these sites for any single product they want to buy. While product descriptions, keywords, positive product reviews etc. help in making your case and putting your product near the top of the buyer’s consideration list, often clinching the sale boils down to plain and simple pricing.
Wiser‘s automated price monitoring and market intelligence function informs you about pricing changes among your competitors for your top products and helps you price your products in such a way that strikes the perfect balance between competitiveness and profitability. This means, your product has a much higher likelihood of winning the “Buy Box” on Amazon or converting a customer on Google Shopping, without you having to constantly (read, manually or by building custom scripts) monitor prices listed by your competitors.
An exceptional aspect of Wiser is how it straddles the online and offline world with equal ease. While monitoring your competitors’ moves like best performing promotions, price fluctuations etc. online, Wiser also reports on your competitive status in-stores. From the amount of shelf space your products enjoy, to compliance problems due to store negligence or errors, to understanding the efficiency of in-store visits, Wiser gives you best-in-class ecommerce competitive intelligence.
7. Shopify POS
So Wiser tells you how well your products compete with others’ in stores and online. But you still need a way to help a customer whip out their wallet and pay you for your fab product.
For sellers who own both online and brick and mortar stores, Shopify’s integrated retail POS (point of sale) system is your answer to the question “How do I accept payments, offer promotions, manage inventory and update customer data for my stores and ecommerce site simultaneously?”
The upside to Shopify’s POS is that not only does it offer you a shopping cart with a plethora of payment options for your online store, you also get set up with hardware like a POS scanner, card reader, secure till, and more to help you sell seamlessly in-stores as well as online.
Whether a purchase is made in-store or online, you can use the POS to automatically reconcile your inventory after each transaction. Further, you can collect valuable customer information at checkout, process it through your CRM, and use it in personalized email campaigns later.
Want your sales associate to be able to checkout customers in the middle of an aisle? Use Shopify’s mobile POS option on your associates’ smartphones or tablets. Want to know if that product you’ve run out of in-store is available online? Shopify’s cross platform inventory syncing tells you in a jiff. Want data on your store performance, top selling products or best performing promotions? The analytics suite that comes with the platform keeps you up to date on a real-time basis.
What more do you want to sell omnichannel?
You’ve heard the aphorism “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.” But what if I told you, you can also have all the birds in that bush, besides the one in your hand? Hello, retargeting.
Most marketers are familiar with retargeting and probably already apply it extensively on search and display ads across the web. One place that few think of applying the principles of retargeting is your own ecommerce site.
If a shopper has shown interest in an item once, what stops you from identifying her the next time she visits and offering her an irresistible reason to buy that product she almost bought the last time around?
OptiMonk helps you reduce cart abandonment by offering shoppers a reason to convert just as they’re about to leave, or promote your most attractive offers and promotions (with highly customizable light-boxes that follow complex rules and filters for maximum impact) should users continue to browse around your website without showing buying intent. You can then go on to capture emails and sell better to a clean, opted-in list of shoppers.
There are many reasons to love Amazon’s Prime service. My favorite reason is the fast and reliable shipping that I have come to expect out of every Prime order I place. I’m not alone. A vast majority of shoppers consider fast and hassle free shipping a prerequisite of online shopping.
However, setting up shipping and fulfillment services that deliver reliably every single time can be quite a challenge, especially if you sell hundreds of SKUs across multiple online channels. Capturing, syncing, and processing order information from each channel can be messy if left to manual processes.
ShipStation eases this complex process with its comprehensive shipping and order fulfillment platform. Starting at just $9 a month, ShipStation connects your online stores with appropriate web interfaces for the top shipping carriers. It helps you design, build and print shipping labels for each package from right within the platform, minimizing external grunt work and the possibility of making costly mistakes.
ShipStation’s smart automation options let you set up predefined rules for shipping specific orders, reducing manual intervention and speeding up processing times.
For example, you could choose to ship all international orders via Fedex only, or include an automated return shipping label with each order, or even automatically apply insurance on items worth above a certain dollar amount to minimize the risk of damage in transit.
So, as promised, I’ve kept up my end of the bargain and showcased only those tools that will undoubtedly move the needle on your ecommerce sales and conversions. How about you hold up your end of the deal and start implementing these on your site, like right now? You’re welcome for all those extra sales that are about to starting pouring in!
About the Author:
Jaydip Parikh is the founder of Tej SolPro – a leading SEO agency which provides white hat SEO services to clients across the globe. Jaydip has more than 15 years of experience in the field of sales and digital marketing. He has taken lectures on various topics of digital marketing at numerous renowned institutes. He regularly speaks at various conferences and events, both online and offline. He is known as Jaydip Baba in the digital marketing industry.