Starting an online business or propelling your existing business has never been easier and more cost effective. If an entrepreneur has the ability, will, and appetite of risk then there are extremely effective tools available to help manage and grow online businesses. My estimate is under $500 monthly!
Let us analyze these tools and the contribution they can make to grow your online business:
Web footprints: Website Builders:
No need to go for a customized website, always start with top free website builders tools and spend some money to get content written and visual banners made. Good visuals will help your site to stand out from the clutter.
Shopify stands out in the web builder category and there is plenty of support available through the Shopify community to help get you up and running in no time.
Wix is another platform that helps building quick and effective websites. The key is to choose the right theme that fits within your business needs and ensure the theme is responsive and works on all browsers. Point to note: Eventually, you will need your website to be indexed by Google Search and need to get Search Optimization done. So your online/ecommerce site needs to be compatible for Search Engine Optimization and meta-tagging.
Inventory: Key to product availability
In the market of online sales, the availability of products is key and the front end of the website should be linked with backend inventory management, so customers are not disappointed. It is important to remember that unprofessional inventory management will lead to disgruntled customers and loss of sales. It is advisable to sort this piece out before launching your business.
Quickbooks is a convenient tool used to monitor inventory management, pricing and invoices for e-commerce businesses. It is on a monthly recurring payment regime, so no upfront cost and licenses can be increased as users grow, very flexible.
TradeGecko is another inventory management tool with lightspeed retail power.
This inventory management software caters to larger businesses with multiple warehouses and extensive product lines. Businesses will have real-time access to stock levels, costs, and tracking information. It is a good tool to have for migrating customers who already have a brick and mortar business and now want to venture out in online space.
Point to note: Starting point in inventory is extremely important as it commences the entire management tool, so if you have a warehouse, please do a stocking first, have write offs and then input the starting numbers into your inventory management system, else the errors will quadruple in no time.
Fulfilling your customers’ orders are the most critical aspect of the supply chain. It requires an entire team effort and bringing a customer to your website, getting an order and delivering it. Nobody likes late arrivals or refunds, here’s how you can ensure the process goes smoothly.
Oberlo is the best tool available in this category, hands down. They not only ship the products for you to your customer’s doorstep, but also facilitate the procurement process for you. Their best feature is seamless integration with Shopify, all in one drop shipment tool Oberlo can be your advantage and differentiator.
Point to note: You need to work with one reliable drop shipment partner, as swapping will lead to customization of your checkout process and you want a tool like Oberlo that is compatible with your web builder tool in a seamless way.
Your entire profitability will depend on this tool and you have to be extremely careful on picking this one up, as where there is opportunity to make sales, there is an equal opportunity of fraudsters targeting your site.
Square is by far the best and complete payment gateway you should use. It will facilitate your online sales and also provide the point of sale equipment that works conveniently with phones and tablets to facilitate physical sales. The processing fee it on a higher side, but that is a cost of doing business. Remittances are quick and easy and directly links up with you bank account, so funds can be remitted directly.
Paypal is also another safe and secure payment gateway to be used amongst more professional users. For eCommerce users its an additional step during checkout, and that might shy off some of the customers. But if you are dealing with virtual services, Paypal is the tool for you.
Point to note: Avoid using Stripe as it is prone to fraudsters and its dispute reconciliation process is flawed, most of the time the fraudsters get away, and Stripe simply shrugs off your claim as in their terms of usage (which you unknowingly accepted) the entire responsibility of customer credibility lies with you.
You need to manage your social touchpoints along with your website, so instead of scrabbling from one social platform to another, you can use one tool to do that for you. These marketing tools integrate social networks for your and also give you insights about your post engagements.
Hootsuite is a great tool that can integrate your social platform and help you schedule your posts, updates and interactions. You can also define your team here and create a delegating environment, authorizing who as the right to do what.
The key advice here is test the waters before investing. The online ecosystem has evolved and become extremely vibrant, giving entrepreneurs the leverage to scale up without any upfront investment and adopt pay as you go model. Again do you have the will to succeed? If so, there are tools to support you. Good luck!
Chris Mcdonald has been the lead news writer at complete connection. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides. Chris is also an author of tech blog Area19delegate. He likes spending his time with family, studying martial arts and plucking fat bass guitar strings.