As you build your Commerce business, you are going to look for all of the help you can get.
And the good news is that there are a whole host of business applications, eCommerce tools and platforms out there that can help you with a wide range of tasks from building your storefront on the web, to getting customers to it and managing your relationships with them.
But where should you start as you explore your options?
Here is our handy guide which will give you a head start on things, as we consider:
- What are eCommerce tools?
- Why are eCommerce tools important?
- 9 eCommerce tools to consider for your business
What are eCommerce tools?
eCommerce tools can take a range of different shapes and formats from simple plug-ins to fully fledged business applications and software or platforms.
And they can range in focus from very niche use cases like SignNow – which is an electronic signature solution – to the likes of Shopify and Wix which are broad-based platforms that cover a much wider range of functions from building your website to getting more traffic to it.
However, the core focus of all of these tools is that they are specifically designed to help you establish, grow and streamline your eCommerce store with the minimum amount of hassle.
In functional terms, they cover a range of areas, including:
- end-to-end eCommerce offerings
- analytics tools
- marketing tools
- customer service tools
The type of eCommerce tools you choose are going to vary depending on a number of factors including the depth of your requirement, budget and expertise in these key areas.
But the process always starts with some research into what is out there.
Why are eCommerce tools important?
The reality is that eCommerce tools are the rails that your business runs on and they deliver a myriad of business benefits including helping you to:
- Drive growth – marketing tools are key to the promotion of your eCommerce business and they can help you to build brand awareness, drive prospects to your eCommerce storefront and convert them into happy customers that keep coming back for more.
- Keep customers happy – once you have customers onboard it is more important than ever that you keep them happy. In fact, according to Microsoft, 56% of customers say that customer service is “very important” in brand choice and loyalty. So having the right type of tools in place to let them contact, resolve issues and manage their relationship with you is vital.
- Improve performance – one of the key aspects of eCommerce businesses is that, by their very nature, they are big generators of data. And having analytics tools in place to measure performance in key areas like search performance and optimisation, campaign performance and website engagement are particular areas that drive profitability and ROI in your eCommerce business.
- Streamline business operations – with eCommerce businesses there a lot of moving parts. From ensuring that you have enough product in stock to meet expected demand, to tracking sales and orders and ensuring that everything gets shipped on time (and you can effectively manage returns). So, tools to help you streamline and automate these processes are essential for the smooth running of your operations.
9 types of eCommerce tools for your business
In this section, we provide and eCommerce platform comparison that takes a look at some of the eCommerce platforms and tools that are available for your business.
Why do you need an eCommerce platform?
A central eCommerce platform is going to be the glue that holds your eCommerce business together.
Whilst it is true that you are potentially going to want to mix and match a range of tools – with a variety of uses – the likelihood is that you are going to need one central tool to manage the core of your business operations.
Including your website, marketing and sales and right through to operations and fulfilment.
Some eCommerce platforms to consider
Here are some options that might be worth a look.
Shopify is a complete eCommerce platform that is designed to let you start, grow and manage your business all in one place.
It has features and functionality that span the breadth of eCommerce business requirements from the ability to:
- start your business from building your website and setting up the functionality in your store
- find business apps that help with the process
- sell across on and offline channels, taking payments and facilitating checkout
- market to and nurture customers and prospects with customer insights
- manage your business from shipping to measuring your performance
- has over 70 responsive and quick-loading themes available off the shelf
- offers a lot of functionality all under one roof and will appeal to non-technical users with lots of out of the box functionality
- enables highly effective multi-channel selling which includes POS for bricks and mortar locations
- has more than 4,100 integrated apps that allow you to add business functionality to your store
- limits on SKUs and product variant limits might make this difficult to scale
- if you have a lot of inventory to manage it can be expensive as a solution and also complex to manage
- challenges with ranking and issues with things like URL structures can make SEO a challenge
- adding apps can add cost to the platform quickly
Individuals and small businesses can sign up for £25 per month for a plan with online credit card rates of 2% and 25p and basic reports.
Then tiered pricing takes you to a Small Business option for £65 per month and on to an Advanced option for medium to large businesses for £344 per month – that includes custom reports and online transaction fees of 1.5% and 25p online.
GetApp provide healthy ratings for Shopify, with a 4.5 out of 5 score based on 6,136 reviews that you can read in detail here.
Wix is an all-one-one eCommerce platform that enables you to sell on a range of channels including through your:
- eCommerce website
- social media channels
- sales channels
- face-to-face with POS
It enables you to start your eCommerce operation by helping you get your website and store off the ground.
And then to sell through a variety of channels – and manage the financial and marketing aspects of your business all from one dashboard.
- one of the easiest eCommerce applications to use with a good selection of free themes
- their app marketplace has over 300 apps to help build your business
- superfast hosting ensures your website is fast
- the quality of the website builder functionality is not matched by the eCommerce capability which can be limiting
- tests poorly for SEO despite attempts at improvement
- no support for merchants selling wholesale
- limited support is available and as your business scales you are going to find it restrictive
Wix have quite a detailed tiered pricing model that starts at £7.50 per month for 2 GB of storage and light marketing suite up to a Business Elite package for £119 per month with unlimited storage, advance marketing, analytics etc.
There is also an Enterprise option with pricing on request which includes advanced features like SSO, custom integrations etc.
With ratings of 4.4 out of 5 on GetApp, Wix is worthy of consideration.
BigCommerce is a leading eCommerce platform and a good choice for people who want to start an eCommerce store.
As well as those who have a brick-and-mortar store and want to expand their operations to include online orders.
BigCommerce is a core tool within the eCommerce industry as it:
- provides a wide range of options to enable you to build your own website presence including Low/No code, headless or multi storefront options
- enables you to optimise your marketing efforts across search, social, ad and affiliate – and 180+ marketplaces
- can increase your conversion rates with superior UX checkout and industry leading payment capabilities
- can help you grow revenue with native Multi-Storefront, B2B+B2C, omnichannel Click and Collect, and Commerce-as-a-Service
- relatively easy to set up with limited technical expertise due to drag and drop interface
- has good levels of SEO performance
- abandoned cart feature has advanced capability
- has over 600 app partners to help you build out a solution
- the costs can begin to stack up for you if you are driving volume
- some tests have raised concerns over the speed of themes
- can be easy to get locked-in to the platform with high switching costs
BigCommerce has detailed pricing plans that start from $29 per month for a basic plan with up to 3 storefronts but no abandoned cart functionality.
This then moves up to a Plus Package that includes the cart functionality and other extras for $79 per month and their Pro version for $299 per month – which also includes custom features including product filtering and custom SSL amongst others.
There is an enterprise plan available on request too.
Like the other platforms reviewed above BigCommerce has good reviews on GetApp which make it one to explore.
Why do you need an analytics platform?
Building your eCommerce website and getting customers to it is a big undertaking but the work doesn’t stop there.
To be effective and grow you are going to need an analytics tool that helps you:
- track and report on the activity on your websites and mobile apps
- understand customer behaviour, where are they going in your website (and just importantly not), where are the drop off points that you can improve on?
- get a picture of the type of people who are visiting through audience profiling data
- use predictive analytics to bring all of this data together and make more informed decisions for improvement to drive more growth
Some analytics tools to consider
There are a plethora of eCommerce analytics tools to choose from but here are a few to get you started.
Corvidae is an attribution and analytics platform that helps make better decisions about where to place your marketing budget to drive the growth of your online store.
It is fully cookieless and provides you with one, single view of the entire customer journey all in one place.
It’s unique AI-driven approach allows you to break down the silos that exist across organic, paid search, social and other marketing activities.
Showing you what is driving conversion in your customer acquisition activity and providing proactive insight that allows you to move spend to the places it is going to be most effective.
- uses AI and Machine Learning to create a clearer view of the impact of marketing touchpoints right across the customer journey
- delivers attribution that amplifies customer acquisition by helping you switch spend to where it will have most impact
- cookieless solution which is GDPR compliant out of the box which protects the investment you are making in marketing measurement
- Corvidae is already providing ground-breaking attribution for eCommerce brands, helping them optimise their customer acquisition
- Corvidae works best when it has enough data and digital touchpoints to ingest. So, eCommerce businesses who are spending less than £250,000 per year on digital advertising may not be best suited for this tool.
Corvidae offers custom pricing based on the level of data within your business and add-ons including integrations. If you’d like a free quote, get in touch with our team.
Industry-leading businesses are switching to Corvidae to futureproof their analytics and boost customer acquisition.
Watch our short video below to hear how we’re helping them solve their marketing challenges:
Google Analytics (GA) is an analytics platform that is designed to help eCommerce brands get a comprehensive picture of customer activity and behaviour across all marketing channels and a range of devices.
It helps you better understand how customers are interacting with your website and mobile apps with metrics that vary from basic page view type metrics to more detailed audience segment analysis.
You can use it to identify what is an isn’t working on your website and get a complete view of the impact of your digital media campaigns.
- measure performance and conversion right across the customer journey
- leverage eCommerce functionality in the monetisation feature
- detailed reporting enables you to dig into metrics like order value, affiliate ROI measurement and abandoned cart data
- can be a complex tool to pick up initially, so be ready for a steep learning curve
- there are concerns regarding the illegality of GA in Europe and worries about GDPR compliance
There are two versions of GA available depending on your needs:
- GA4 is the free to use version which will potentially be good for starters but, if you need to scale quickly, it is likely that you will hit constraints around volume and customisation.
- There is a paid version of GA which is aimed at Enterprise level customers called GA360 which costs upwards of $150,000 per year.
GetApp reviews GA360 as 4.7 out of 5.
Why do you need a marketing platform?
Driving growth in your eCommerce business is going to be a key objective.
Marketing has a pivotal role to play in that due to the very nature of your digital operation.
And there are a wealth of tools out there that can help you to:
- increase traffic to your site
- understand the behaviour and preferences of prospects
- convert them into brand loyal customers
By focusing on the way that you acquire, nurture and eventually build profitable relationships with your customers, you can boost revenues and ROI in your eCommerce business.
Some marketing tools to consider
Here are some options that might be worth a look.
Mailchimp is a marketing automation and email marketing tool that helps eCommerce brands to engage, nurture and convert prospects by building, sending and tracking the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns.
This is the ideal way to share product updates, special offers, promotions and other incentives to encourage customers to come back more, engage more and ultimately spend more too.
It has a number of useful integrations with not only other marketing platforms like HubSpot, Salesforce and Facebook but also leading eCommerce platforms too.
- fairly easy to pick up and get up and running
- streamlines the process of creating, managing and measuring your email marketing campaigns
- has integration with eCommerce platforms including Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce and Adobe Commerce amongst others, and range of premium and custom features
- if you want to customise your marketing, there are limits
- if you need to scale your business and work with complex automation, you are potentially going to hit a ceiling
- customer service is reported as being a challenge
Packages start from free with 1 seat and 1,000 monthly email sends and scales in a number of steps up to premium for £292.28 per month to include 150,000 monthly email sends and unlimited users.
Mailchimp is awarded a very decent 4.5 out of 5 on GetApp.
It helps you to build your audience and publish instantly in a few short clicks across a number of platforms including Facebook, X (Twitter) and Instagram.
The focus is on streamlining the process of posting and analysing engagement on social media but it has recently launched AI-driven content tools to complement the process.
- it is easy to understand and configure
- incorporates a free image creation tool that lets you make social media images easily inside the app
- you can publish to multiple platforms at one time and also use third-party tools for bulk upload of content if required
- no real-time monitoring of mentions and response via the platform
- only manages part of the process which means you might need other tools, for example, for engaging with social posts
Pricing for Buffer starts from free which allows you to connect up to three channels with basic tools and tiers up to an Agency licence for $120 a month for 10 channels and team features like custom access and permissions.
Buffer gets a 4.5 out of 5 rating on GetApp.
Customer service platforms
Why do you need a customer service platform?
The cost to acquire new customers is going to weigh heavily on any eCommerce business and keeping them as repeat customers is going to help boost your profitability over time.
And good customer service is at the heart of this. In fact, research by Salesforce has uncovered that 89% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience.
So, you need a way to effectively gather, manage and analyse the myriad of customer requests, queries and issues that come in from a wide range of channels.
Some customer service tools to consider
Here are some options that might be worth a look.
Zendesk enables eCommerce companies to build long lasting relationships with their customers by leveraging a comprehensive business customer service application.
It enables you to pull all of your customer service tickets together in one place – from chat, social and email – and provide high quality customer support by streamlining the experience for customer service agent and customers alike.
It improves time to value for customers and reduces the effort that it takes to close out customer tickets which means that you can keep your costs down.
- it is simple to set up and use
- it provides a single dashboard driven approach to managing all of your customer service requests all in one place
- provides support across channels like support and service teams so that customers get a single experience of working with your brand
- the solution can take quite a long time to configure if you have very specific customer needs
- can work out costly for small or medium-sized users of the application
- there is anecdotal evidence that getting support for end users is challenging
Zendesk has a fairly detailed and complicated pricing model which starts at £45 per agent per month for a Team package with core functionality.
Rising through tiers to a Professional package for £89 per month with extended functionality. And Enterprise pricing available on request.
According to GetApp, Zendesk has a 4.4 out of 5 rating from 3,725 reviews.
Acquire is a customer service application that helps you to improve your eCommerce customer service with powerful workflows and digital channels.
It is an omnichannel approach that allows your customer service teams to flip between channels like web, chat and email to communicate with customers on the channels that best suit them.
Features like a unified view of individual customer conversation history ensure that your teams can provide highly personalised services to customers that strengthens the relationship with them.
- easy for your teams to pick up and use
- single interface for managing customer contact across a range of channels
- built in SLAs enable you to keep tabs on of status on requests and issues
- can be a costly product for small and medium-sized businesses
Pricing starts at $500 per month plus $25 per agent per month for a core Self-Service solution.
There is also an enhanced integrated solution for $2000 per month and $45 per agent per month with much deeper functionality.
Acquire is rated 5 out of 5 on GetApp – although it is worth noting that this is based on only 20 reviews.
That concludes our review of some of the types of tools that might be useful as you build your eCommerce business.
We have quickly flipped through a number of categories from eCommerce platforms to specific tools that will help with:
- Customer Service
However, we have only scratched the surface in each category but we would encourage you to explore your options in more depth.
The reality is that the tools that you decide to bring on board need to be right for your budget and expertise levels – and choosing the right one is crucial for your customer acquisition and success of your business overall.
To find out more about how to supercharge your customer acquisition, download our eBook below.