Even before the pandemic came along and upended everyone’s lives, e-commerce was big business. As quarantines and lockdowns made it impossible to shop in the same ways, businesses and consumers alike looked to the Internet for solutions. The move resulted in a $219 billion boost just to e-commerce in the US. It also helped drive home to would-be entrepreneurs that e-commerce was a viable option. Of course, starting an e-commerce business depends on assembling the right tools. Keep reading for some key pieces of software that will help you get your e-commerce enterprise off the ground.
Every e-commerce business depends on having a website. For the DIY personality, you can use a content management system like WordPress that lets you pick from existing pre-made themes. Some themes are free, while you can get premium pre-made themes from theme developers. You can even get developers to make you a custom theme.
For those who value speed, you can look to options like Wix or Shopify. Wix is a cloud-based system for creating and hosting websites. It features a drag-and-drop website editor and options to remove Wix branding for a fee. Shopify is a full-blown e-commerce platform that lets you build a shop with e-commerce tools baked right into the website.
Companies like Wix offer plug-ins to add e-commerce functions to your website. In the case of WordPress, you have several e-commerce plug-in options. One of the most popular choices is WooCommerce. WooCommerce is highly customizable, which makes it flexible enough for most kinds of businesses. Plus, you can get started for free.
If WooCommerce isn’t exactly to your tastes or doesn’t quite fit with your business model, there are alternatives available. Some of the more popular options include Magento, OpenCart, BigCommerce, and PrestaCart.
Marketing is an inevitable and inescapable element of e-commerce. You will need to create images to support your marketing efforts, such as product images, infographics, and even images for ads. Again, there are several options. Your choice will depend both on your existing skills and your budget.
A user-friendly option that operates on a freemium model is Canva. The free tier offers you a decent set of editing tools and partial access to the image library. It does limit the available file formats for downloading, which may or may not be a problem for you. Paid tiers provide expanded access and file formats for downloading. Photoshop Express offers a comparatively lightweight version of the software for free. For more heavy-duty editing, though, you’ll want either Photoshop Lightroom or the full Photoshop software which both have subscription fees.
People often look down on email list marketing, but it remains one of the highest ROI marketing options out there. To make it happen, though, you’ll need email list management software. Mailchimp is one of the most popular options, largely because of its freemium model. You can use the software for free until your list exceeds 2000 subscribers.
Other options include HubSpot, Constant Contact, ActiveCampaign, and Sendinblue. Some of these offer free tiers, some free trials, and some charge a subscription fee from day one.
Whether you run a brick-and-mortar coffee shop or an e-commerce business, you must track the finances. Otherwise, you cannot ever know for sure if you’re making a profit or even what things help you make a profit. Popular options include QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Xero, Wave, and Zoho Books.
Once your business grows to a certain size, you’ll probably start looking at cloud services. While cloud services can provide you with valuable information and powerful analytics options, you still face problems like cloud migration. You’ll likely want help developing a strategy for transitioning to and using cloud services and software.
Launching your e-commerce business and making it a success will require that you leverage a wide range of software. Some of the software choices are obvious, like e-commerce plugins and website software. Other types of software might not spring right to mind, such as email list management and accounting software. Cloud software and services may only be a glint on the horizon. Make sure that you look at more than one option for each category so you end up with software you can comfortably use.