Whether it’s an all-in-one website builder, an analytics plug-in, or shopping cart software, ecommerce tools are integral to the success of ecommerce stores worldwide.
These tools do more than just help online stores run smoothly. They also help these businesses grow and keep pace with consumer demand—and stand out against the competition.
What are ecommerce tools?
Ecommerce tools are pieces of software like apps, platforms, and plug-ins that help business owners manage their online stores.
While there are many different kinds of ecommerce tools, they all share a common purpose: to streamline, organize, and automate the processes of running and growing an ecommerce store. Examples include drag-and-dropwebsite builders, inventory management software, and analytics tools, among others.
Why are ecommerce tools important?
Building software like mobile apps and shopping carts from scratch can be time consuming and expensive. But with a robust set of ecommerce tools, it’s possible to streamline the process, manage your online store efficiently, and keep costs down. Beneficial features include:
- Tools to build and host an online store: Ecommerce tools are literally the building blocks of any online store. Ecommerce platforms typically offer tools like website builders to help easily build an aesthetically pleasing online store, and web hosting, which enables shoppers to access and shop on the site.
- Analytics tools: Analytics help online stores identify what’s working and what’s not. Tools like Google Analytics let you track metrics like key performance indicators (KPIs) and offer insights into profitability. SEO analytics can help you discern how to bring more traffic to your ecommerce store by increasing the ranking and visibility on search engines.
- Tools for day-to-day operations: If you’re running an online store, there are a lot of moving parts to keep track of. Some of the best tools an ecommerce business owner can use are those that help organize the day-to-day business operations of the store, like making sure internal business operations are taken care of alongside organizational needs.
- Marketing tools: Marketing campaigns help ecommerce sites establish brand identity, increase traffic, and convert leads into repeat customers. With the right marketing tools, online businesses can track a campaign’s effectiveness, automate content creation, and maintain relationships with online shoppers via email, social, and even a dedicated blog.
- Tools for customer service: A PwC report on customer experience found that superior customer service attracts customers who are more likely to subscribe to newsletters and make repeat purchases. Armed with customer service tools, online stores can provide care for shoppers, nurturing them along every step of their customer journey.
7 types of ecommerce tools
There are numerous ways to create, manage, and boost your ecommerce website. Below are seven types of ecommerce tools that are most commonly used by online businesses.
1. Ecommerce platforms
The first step to building an online store is choosing the right ecommerce platform. An ecommerce platform is essentially the software that an ecommerce store uses to take care of core needs, from product pages to order fulfillment. Examples include:
- Shopify: Shopify is an all-in-one ecommerce platform that helps online businesses get up and running. Offerings include a robust set of ecommerce tools like a website builder with paid and free themes, built-in marketing tools to help build, execute, and analyze digital marketing campaigns, a shopping cart with 100 payment gateways, and multi-channel selling.
- Wix: Wix offers a drag-and-dropwebsite builder for websites. As an ecommerce platform, Wix covers the basics: customizable templates, web hosting, and domain name registration. Capabilities also include tracking orders and accepting online payments. More advanced features like analytics tools and robust inventory management may require investing in additional plug-ins—or choosing another ecommerce platform altogether.
- BigCommerce: BigCommerce is an ecommerce platform built for enterprise businesses. It offers web hosting, numerous customization options, SEO analytics tools, and multi-channel selling. But as a bigger platform for bigger businesses, some of BigCommerce’s tools aren’t as nimble or user-friendly as other options built for small businesses.
- Big Cartel: Big Cartel is an ecommerce platform built with artists and creatives in mind. In terms of ecommerce tools, Big Cartel offers customizable templates, domain name registration, and some basic marketing tools. It can be a good place to start an online business, but not necessarily a good place to scale one: payment and integration are limited, and pricing is based on how many products are sold at one time.
- Squarespace: Squarespace is primarily a website builder that can also be used as an ecommerce platform—as long as you pay for and enable certain features. However, once you’re up and running, the platform offers inventory management tools and an option to add a Shopify Buy Button to streamline sales.
2. Content creation
Creating content for an ecommerce website can be a powerful way to increase visibility. It’s also fairly straightforward, thanks to ecommerce tools like:
- Canva: Canva is an ecommerce tool that helps teams—even those with little to no experience—create aesthetically pleasing designs. Whether designing a brand identity or just creating supportive imagery for your online store, Canva’s drag-and-drop tools make it easy to create and share well-designed assets.
- WordPress: Not all ecommerce websites will need a dedicated blog. But for those that do, a content management system like WordPress may be helpful. WordPress can help in developing a blogging strategy to build and nurture customer relationships, establish a brand, and generate recurring traffic.
3. Communication and internal organization
Ecommerce tools can also be beneficial for the inner workings of an online business. This could mean anything from having a dedicated space to communicate with employees to a platform to streamline project management tasks.
- Slack: A messaging platform designed with workers in mind, Slack lets you and your employees chat with each other in real time. This can be a productivity booster for remote workers, especially because Slack enables teams to get organized, manage each other, and communicate about daily to-do’s.
- Coda: Coda is a robust productivity tool that can help manage different aspects of your business—think marketing calendars and tracking docs. It’s both highly editable and customizable, making it a great tool for organizing projects internally. And as an added bonus, Coda offers a Shopify pack that integrates with your Shopify store.
- Monday.com: Monday.com is a flexible and customizable project management tool that automates workflows and centralizes work processes in one place. Online stores can utilize Monday.com to stay on top of inventory management, keep track of important metrics, and more.
4. Sales and logistics
Sales and logistics are a significant part of running an online business. While some ecommerce platforms offer these tools as part of their overall services, there are also a few prominent stand-alone options.
- Shipwire: Shipwire is a global fulfillment platform that fulfills orders for direct-to-consumer, retail, and dropship channels. By integrating with your existing shopping cart and marketplace, Shipwire provides logistical support and enables both national and international shipping.
- Veeqo: Veeqo provides both fulfillment and inventory management tools for ecommerce websites. Think of it as a one-stop shop for order fulfillment—with real-time inventory updates, order management, and reporting and forecasting tools to help prepare for your business’s future.
There are many different marketing tools, from content marketing to paid ads. Among the options:
- Mailchimp: Email newsletters are a powerful ecommerce tool: They provide a direct channel to customers and offer a dedicated space to share updates, promotions, and other information. An email platform like Mailchimp streamlines the marketing process by helping you build, send, and track email marketing campaigns. An added bonus: Mailchimp integrates with Shopify, meaning it syncs your Shopify data—including customer, product, and purchase data—to Mailchimp.
- Constant Contact: Constant Contact is an all-in-one marketing tool most popular for its email marketing services. The user-friendly platform can be a good fit for new business owners because it can help online businesses build and manage email lists, track outgoing emails, and more.
- Buffer: Establishing a consistent social media presence is an easy way to increase your online store’s visibility. Buffer is an easy-to-use social media management platform that makes the process easy. It’s a fairly straightforward ecommerce tool that enables online stores to schedule social media content—via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn—in advance.
Ecommerce analytics measure user behavior, performance trends, and return on investment (ROI). With the right tool, it’s easier to make informed decisions that potentially increase sales and reduce costs.
- Google Analytics: With an ecommerce tool like Google Analytics, it’s possible to gather insights about returning visitors and data around real-time stats like: How many people are on the website? Where is the traffic coming from? How are visitors engaging with products?
- Optimizely: Optimizely is a digital experiences platform that lets you experiment with comparative research known as A/B testing and deliver personalized, targeted messaging to ecommerce site visitors. In practice, this means you can gain insight into the efficacy of your experiments and use that data to uncover what content will (and what won’t) convert.
7. Customer service
An ecommerce tool that helps support online shoppers during their customer journey is crucial. Ideally, you’ll want a customer support platform that both helps retain repeat customers and attracts new ones.
- Acquire: Acquire’s platform helps online stores provide high-quality customer support, streamlining workflows and customer information for customer service agents. Think of it as a unified experience: Customer service representatives can see queries across all digital channels in one place and resolve issues more efficiently.
- Zendesk: Zendesk is a popular customer support platform and ecommerce tool that puts all of your support tickets from different channels—social media, email, and chat—in one place. With Zendesk, it’s possible to embed live chat into your Shopify-powered site, easily access relevant customer data, and troubleshoot support tickets faster.
Ecommerce tools are integral to the success of online stores. With the help of the right ecommerce tools, businesses have the capabilities to:
- Design and build an ecommerce website that’s aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate
- Use analytics tools to measure user behavior and uncover what’s working on the ecommerce website
- Automate workflows and keep day-to-day operations organized
- Build marketing campaigns to establish brand identity and gain greater customer visibility
- Offer robust customer support that encourages repeat customers
Ultimately, ecommerce tools not only help establish online businesses—but also help them to grow.