Join the online shopping revolution and set up your eCommerce store
Creating your own eCommerce platform today is something that can be filled with adventure as well as trepidation. With so many different competitors out there, it is hard to stand out from the crowd.
Furthermore, what tools are the best to help you navigate the best course for your business? That is why we created the Ultimate Ecommerce Guide - we want to give you some eCommerce tips to get you started on the right footing.
First things first, you'll need to actually set up a shop to be able to push out your eCommerce products! Here are the platforms which we believe are best for this.
One of the most powerful eCommerce plugins available on WordPress. WooCommerce now powers over 30% of all eCommerce sites on the web.
Pros: The plugin has hundreds of paid and free extensions that help you do whatever task you need for eCommerce. This allows you to sell digital and physical goods, ship products, provide a number of payment options, and design your store to fit your clients’ needs.
Cons: It is a plugin to WordPress. The other platforms are standalone. That means WooCommerce needs to integrate into someone else’s framework.
A premium eCommerce platform designed specifically to help you sell in more ways than ever before. They have many beautifully designed store themes.
You can read more about Shopify on Collectiveray here.
Pros: you can improve your social commerce functions on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest through the Shopify blog integration. If you already have a website, you can add Shopify buy buttons to a site in minutes. This way if you have a website or blog that is already generating traffic, you can add new ways to convert that traffic into revenue. Furthermore, Shopify has several tools to help you sync in-store and online store purchases. Retail owners can manage their entire inventory in one place.
Cons: Shopify is a proprietary system that requires you to pay monthly. If you stop paying years from now, you can lose your information.
An open-source eCommerce platform that works on multiple sales channels. Magento is great for visitors who use desktop, mobile, and tablet devices.
Pros: The platform focuses on delivering personalized shopping experiences for customers, so they get what they want when they want it.
Cons: You need a developer to help you set up Magento. Fortunately, you can rely on Jaagers for your Magento developing needs.
If you want an eCommerce system with high-performance speed for your enterprise-level eCommerce site then consider Magento Enterprise. It is a fully fletched system for developing an eCommerce system taking into consideration all aspects required.
Pros: Magento Enterprise has many great features like customer loyalty incentives, seamless integrations with third-party solutions, and scalability.
Cons: You might want to use a website designer to help you navigate through the confusing setup. Fortunately, you can reach out to Jaagers to help you with your implementation of Magento Enterprise or see our full guide on how to hire a Magento developer.
An eCommerce platform that helps businesses increase traffic and sales. They have all the tools you need to optimize your site for search, social media, and email marketing.
Pros: They have promotions and coupons to increase sales. You can also use their multi-channel marketing integrations on Facebook, eBay, Etsy, Google Shopping, and Nextag.
Cons: This is another proprietary platform. The fees for Bigcommerce start at $30 per month and go up from there as you start to grow. Furthermore, they also charge you 2% of your transaction fees on every deal you make.
Online Shopping and eCommerce Payment Providers
Most eCommerce clients leave at the shopping cart. That is why one of the best ways to retain them is by using an easy to use payment provider.
Here are some questions you should ask to ensure you have the right provider for your eCommerce site.
- What payment providers are compatible with your eCommerce platform?
- What is the schedule of payments?
- What fees does the payment provider charge?
- How reliable is the payment processor? Is it secure? Do the payments work with your eCommerce platform?
- How many payment options does the provider have?
- Does your eCommerce platform work in multiple countries?
- Is it easy to use?
With that in mind, here are some of the best payment processors for online transactions. Our eCommerce startup guide would not be complete without them.
A cross-device payment processor that completes payment in a single click. Full API set up to help you integrate payments across the web.
Pros: You can use Stripe for marketplaces, mobile apps, or subscription services.
Cons: Billing clients directly through Stripe is like pulling teeth. They have several buttons and mobile payment features, but it is virtually impossible to directly bill a client through the site unless you have developer chops.
Integrates well with Bigcommerce, Shopify, Wix, WordPress, and Magento.
Pros: PayPal has online payment buttons and solutions for merchants and point of sale solutions. Furthermore, they provide debit cards for purchasing business goods and services with your revenue.
Cons: Sometimes their transaction fees can add up quickly. They would have received a perfect 5/5 if not for their high transaction fees.
eCommerce Shipping Tools
Next up on our eCommerce website guide is how to ship your products to your customers - because if you don't get shipping right, you're really going to struggle to get your business off the ground.
Free Shopify app that auto tracks shipments from UPS, USPS, FedEx, and 320 other couriers.
Pros: You can also display the tracking results in your store. They have options for tracking shipments in the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia & New Zealand, Latin America, the Middle East, and other locations throughout the world.
Finally, AfterShip has a premium option to notify customers when products are in transit, out for delivery, or delivered.
Cons: Maybe a bit more functionality on the admin panel.
Premium Magento shipping option that works with all of the major shipping carriers. You can also print shipping labels for companies that need it.
Pros: The platform saves you time from dealing with all of the hassles of shipping.
Cons: Only supports US vendors, so not useful overseas.
Bigcommerce shipping app that works with USPS, UPS, and FedEx. This app provides the best shipping rates in the industry.
Pros: You can also create printing labels for all the different shipping carriers. Instead of doing this one at a time, having a system in place to do it bulk can save a lot of time.
Cons: They have many added expenses like getting USPS integration. Furthermore, you cannot delete orders once they are synced up with BG store.
An Ecommerce Analytics plugins for Magento sites. Track your buyers, loyal customers, and your biggest client refund offenders.
Pros: SavvyCube analyzes which products sell the most goods. Compare your sales on a granular level to determine how to improve your traffic, sales, and repeat buys.
Cons: Could add some additional personal preferences to the analytics.
Bigcommerce analytics tool to help you evaluate the products you sell,
Pros: Identify business opportunities in your eCommerce store. Their dashboard puts all data in one spot. You can also report merchandise by SKU’s.
Cons: Does not work with older versions of Bigcommerce.
Full website analytics software to help you analyze the traffic to your site. Furthermore, you have A/B testing to increase the efficiency of the products you sell online.
Pros: Evaluate the insights from customers (such as time on site, product landing pages, and bounce rate) to improve your conversion rate, as well as track the traffic to your site.
You also have a number of other enterprise-level tools with Google Webmaster, like Structured Data Testing, and Google Merchant Center.
Cons: Services divided up by different platforms, which can make it un-user-friendly, and difficult to integrate stats. Furthermore, you need classes to fully understand how to use the software.
Accounting for eCommerce
Ecommerce produces a lot of transactions that need to be recorded for taxation and budgeting purposes. Therefore, you should look into accounting software to handle some different tasks including:
- Inventory management: Ensure you have enough inventory and can fill it fast enough to meet client demand.
- Merchant integration: The accounting software needs to integrate with the payment, shipping, and product management software.
- CRM- Additionally, most businesses do not look at how the accounting software integrated with your CRM. However, these two systems working in tandem allow you complete tracking ability of your client and systems.
- Estimates- If you have any estimates for your business, you can run them through your accounting software.
- Budgeting- Verify that your income and expenses match on a profit and loss statement. Otherwise, you will have no way to know whether your business stays on track financially.
- Automated invoicing- Reduce your paperwork and time spent doing payment collections. This can be a tedious process, and automation provides your business with continual income.
- Payroll- Keep on top of all employees and contractors’ paychecks. Additionally, you need accounting software to stay on top of payroll tax regulations and laws.
- Tax prep- Ecommerce has a lot of tax preparation from sales and income tax to going through a large list of transactions. Make sure every transaction is listed properly.
Here are two accounting tools that can help you accomplish your goals.
Manage all of your income and expenses through a cloud dashboard.
Pros: They have several apps that help you connect QuickBooks to platforms like eCommerce, CRM, payment processors, billing & invoicing, and shipping.
Cons: Sometimes bulky to go through transactions, and mistakes and duplicates found.
SEO for online shopping
WordPress plugin helps you optimize your site for search engine traffic. Yoast has a full set of tools from keyword ranking tools to XML sitemaps to page analysis for companies looking to seriously increase their search traffic.
Pros: Yoast is the number one SEO plugin on WordPress. It is used by millions of WordPress sites around the world to improve their search traffic.
Cons: Bulky plugin that has too many features and interrupts other plugins. Can slow down site speed.
The Google AdWords tool is the basis for most third party programs’ keyword research data.
Pros: The Keyword Planner provides keyword ideas, as well as estimates on the number of visits per month for every keyword.
You can also use this for paid Google AdWords campaigns.
Cons: Google has a tendency of shutting down useful keyword functions for marketers. Always makes a user a bit wary when using the Keyword Planner.
Track trending and similar websites to determine their search engine strategy. The pro version even helps you break down your competitors’ website traffic statistics.
Pros: SimilarWeb works with several different platforms and browsers to provide the best strategy for people to use to find the data you need from your competition.
Cons: Free version is useful for insights. However, the Basic and Advanced plans have huge price tags that make them out of reach for most small businesses.
eCommerce and Social Media
Schedule posts for your articles across social media with ease.
Pros: You can schedule posts for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. The pro version allows 200 scheduled posts in your queue at once compared to 10 posts for free users.
Cons: It would be nice if they had more bulk scheduling features for non-content posts.
Another social media tool that helps you schedule bulk social media updates. Additionally, you can manage up to 100 social profiles community management through Hootsuite.
Pros: You can use Hootsuite also to listen and track various social media conversations to see what is trending in your industry. Finally, Hootsuite provides users with in-depth analytics to help you track how well your social media campaigns are going.
Finally, Hootsuite integrates with over 80 different applications like Instagram, YouTube, and Reddit, as well as traditional social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.
Cons: Can be an extremely confusing platform to use. The UI is simple in some places and extremely complex in others. For example, adding accounts with a team is a nightmare. Furthermore, they still have not figured out how to schedule images onto social networks. The images are just links to the images. Not cool!
Email tools for eCommerce
Email marketing automation software platform to send out marketing emails to different lists. AWeber makes it easy to segment your email marketing strategy. Break down users into different email specific segments based on their response to your emails.
Pros: You can also set up an autoresponder sequence that delivers emails to new subscribers on a specific schedule. AWeber also has customizable email templates to increase your conversion and deliverability rate.
Cons: It would be nice to be able to send out individual emails to prospective clients to entice them to buy. Maybe a CRM like addition.
The only email marketing company to provide automated email marketing tools, landing pages, and webinar software in one place.
Pros: Marketing your webinar can sometimes be challenging. For businesses who need to give their clients extra information to close the sale, a webinar can be very helpful. Having an all-in-one system makes this a lot easier. You can also share your emails out to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. Like AWeber they also have a solid email template creator, so you can create responsive emails that work on any device.
Cons: All-in-one systems usually have a slower speed, because of all the software.
Great service that is useful for businesses that are starting. Because of their dynamic email marketing software, businesses can use MailChimp to scale their email marketing efforts as they grow larger.
Pros: MailChimp is famous for their offer to allow marketers 2,000 free email accounts and 12,000 free emails for beginning email marketers.
Cons: Stop banning affiliate marketers. Legitimate business practice and their policy on affiliates is frustrating.
Part email marketing tool, part CRM. This enterprise-level platform is for experienced email marketers.
Pros: You can do everything on Infusionsoft from managing your client tasks throughout the day to automated follow-up email tailored to specific actions for clients and prospects to lead scoring to online storefront integration.
Cons: Expensive and requires a lot of training to understand the system. The only email marketing system where they encourage you to spend another $1-2K with a consultant to set up an email list.
Ecommerce sites require a lot of time to get off the ground. That is why you need the right tools and resources to ensure your business can do just that.
The tools we provided in this guide can help you find the right marketing mix to connect and convert your customers. If you are interested in starting your eCommerce system, let our Magento specialists help you today at Jaagers.
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