5 basic tools to build your E-commerce
Jumping into online business is an exciting adventure, but it can also be a bit stressful at first. One of the most frequent questions is what are the basic tools in setting up an e-commerce?
Having our own online store requires a, fortunately increasingly accessible, technical aspect for those who aren’t overtly technical, thanks to the various solutions that have been created.
In other cases, there are complex tools that help us improve productivity and enhance our business’s performance. They may not be functionally basic, but they are strategically, and in a business sense, so we can consider them as such and gradually fill up our toolbox throughout this post.
What tools do I need to build an e-commerce?
We’ll list 5, but we could really include quite a few more. We want to stick to the initial premise: they have to be tools we consider essential. Perhaps in another post we can incorporate other beneficial aspects, but we guarantee you’ll be covered with these.
#1 – CMS or e-commerce platform
Obviously, first things first. If you don’t have CMS (Content Management System), bluntly, you don’t have e-commerce.
There are many options on the market, but which one do you choose? This depends on your needs. For example, we can start with WooCommerce, which is very popular among WordPress users; Shopify is a simple but powerful option, and PrestaShop or Magento for ambitious projects.
As a main piece of advice, we’d tell you not to rush into choosing a CMS. Assess the pros and cons, learning curve, management possibilities and simplicity when building up in the medium term. Of course, read through this list and make sure your content manager is compatible with the rest of the tools that we mention.
They’re all excellent, but it’s important to opt for a CMS that doesn’t fall short on features from the beginning; one that’s flexible so it can grow when your project demands it.
#2 – Payment gateway
We already have the online store with our products in the “showcase”. Now we need to be able to sell them to start making money, which we can’t do without having at least one payment option.
It’s another world full of possibilities, but keep in mind, you need something that’s compatible with different forms of payment (credit/debit card, PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay direct link, etc), that is secure and has reasonable commissions.
A great option for us, based on those criteria is Stripe. Its recent growth has been high, which isn’t a coincidence as they’ve been perfecting their payment tool to be one of the most advanced. You don’t have to worry about integration, it’s ready for any CMS or platform and has an API that delights any developer.
#3 – Customer service and sales assistance scheme (livechat and chatbot)
In reality, this is practically two different tools, or an all-in-one if you choose Oct8ne.
If there’s one thing we’re especially proud of, it’s that we have created a customer service tool that helps us in all phases of the customer journey. Thanks to the Oct8ne chat, we can influence the detection, evaluation and conversion phases with recommendations and interactions in real-time. We can be proactive by using triggers to create automated messages at critical moments or answer frequently asked questions. If you need an agent to look into something further, that’s also possible with the livechat.
If they don’t receive good service, your customers can get frustrated or quickly opt for other options on the market. Incidentally, Oct8ne can be fully integrated with any professional e-commerce platform.
#4 – CRM to manage customers
As the business grows, the database also evolves and managing customers becomes more and more complex. If we want our e-commerce to remain solvent and efficient, one of the most basic tools is a CRM. What does CRM do? Basically, it consolidates the entire relationship with the customer or lead so we know exactly what phase they’re in and what actions we need to take to activate, encourage or revive the purchase, respectively.
A good CRM should allow you to manage contacts and tasks, track emails, manage sales funnels, share calendars, etc.
Here the price range is pretty broad, so we’ll recommend two alternatives: Hubspot, which isn’t the most powerful but it more than ticks the boxes, or Salesforce, which is simply overwhelming in terms of options and possibilities.
If we’re talking about basic tools for e-commerce, surely the first one makes more sense for the simple reason that it’s free.
#5 – Email marketing platform
Email is a vital part of communication in e-commerce. We’re not only talking from a promotional standpoint, which is also important, but the truth is email is essential in many cases.
Some clear examples are what we call transactional emails that range from the welcome email to the purchase confirmation or order tracking. These are all essential, of course, in addition to newsletters and promotional emails that are still highly effective, despite the increase in SPAM.
Our recommendation? Mailchimp has been the leader for many years. Due to its simplicity, usability and price, it could be considered a basic tool for online stores. However, there are other options you can explore too, like Mailrelay or Mailify.
With these 5 basic tools, you can build your e-commerce and watch it grow; we hope they’re useful.