Whether you’re starting from scratch or you’re already an established online seller, it’s always a good idea to spend some time perfecting your brand.
Here are eight essential ecommerce tools that every online seller needs. Even if you’re an experienced internet trader, it’s worth reviewing this list to see where you might be missing a trick.
1. The right ecommerce platformFirst and foremost, you need somewhere to sell your products. There are two main options: selling on a marketplace and creating your own online store. Combining both can also be a powerful strategy.
Online marketplaces – such as Etsy, Amazon and eBay – are excellent, especially if you’re just starting out. It’s easy to get set up, and the sites already draw a huge amount of traffic, allowing you to access a wellspring of potential customers.
However, marketplaces do have their drawbacks. Listing and transaction fees add up, especially when you’re selling at a higher volume. And it can be hard to build your brand when you’re pitched on someone else’s website.
Creating your own website is a great option for bigger brands, or if you’re growing your business. It gives you greater flexibility and control over your brand experience and offering, and creates more marketing opportunities.
2. A payment processing systemNext you’ll need to consider how you’re going to process digital payments. Some marketplaces and sites, such as Shopify, will already have payment processing systems in place, but if you’re selling from your own custom website you’ll need to get one set up. Worldpay, PayPal and Opayo are three of the top names in digital payment processing, but there are plenty of providers to choose from.
3. Courier integrationLogistics can eat up a huge amount of time for online sellers, so it’s definitely worth looking into courier integration. Companies such as Parcelhub and Courier API integrate with your website or marketplace and streamline your shipping. They can automate certain processes, connect you to multiple carriers (and offer discounted courier rates) all through one slick interface.
4. A customer relationship management systemCustomer relationship management (CRM) systems offer another ecommerce tool to save time and money as an online seller. They take the heavy lifting out of emails, invoices and customer tracking with easy, automated processes.
You can also use this tool to boost customer satisfaction. This has become especially important in the wake of the Covid pandemic, which saw increased expectations and lower levels of brand loyalty among online shoppers.
Having a CRM system in place makes it easier for you to keep the lines of communication open. This means you can get to know your customers better, create more touchpoints, and ultimately engage with them more frequently and more positively.
It will also help you collate data and analyse your customer’s purchasing habits, which opens up valuable opportunities for increasing your sales.
5. Social mediaSocial media isn’t just a must-have marketing tool, it can also generate sales and enable you to interact with your customers. That said, you shouldn’t be on a social platform just for the sake of it. Each channel offers something unique, and you need to focus on the activity that best suits your business.
Instagram is great for brand building and gaining new leads; Facebook lends itself well to more news-like content. There are plenty of platforms, but you don’t need to be on every one. Pick the channels that match your brand and use them with purpose.
If keeping track of all your accounts is giving you a headache, you can use a social media management tool, such as HootSuite, to run all your social assets from one interface. Easy.
6. An email marketing platformYou’ll also want to get set up with email marketing. Sending communications straight to your customers can be a great way to boost both sales and loyalty. You could put out a monthly newsletter linking to your latest blog posts or offer subscribers exclusive discounts. Just make sure you handle your customers’ data in line with the GDPR.
7. Analytics softwareAs with payment processing, this one isn’t so much of a concern if you’re only selling on a marketplace, as they usually have their own analytics tools in place. But if you’re selling from your own website, something like Google Analytics is a vital tool to make sure that your site is functioning efficiently.
Monitoring your metrics is vital. It allows you to see how your online visitors move around your site: where they enter, where they drop off, and at what point they make a purchase – or abandon their basket. These insights are gold dust in ecommerce.
8. Foreign exchange servicesIf you’re trading overseas, finding a good currency exchange provider is a must. Bank and marketplace converter exchange rates are often uncompetitive, and some providers charge additional fees for managing your international payments, which can eat into your profits.
With a dedicated provider, such as Currencies Direct, you can maximise your profits with competitive rates and specialist services, all without the hassle of setting up bank accounts abroad.
Our free multi-currency accounts can help you simplify your cross-border trade and increase profitability. There are no monthly fees, and you can manage all of your overseas exchanges from one easy-to-use account.
So, those are our eight essential ecommerce tools for online sellers. With them at your disposal, you’ll be well equipped to run and grow your online business.
If you’re an established or new online seller and have international payments to manage we can help you maximise your returns and protect your profit. Get in touch with our team on [email protected] or call +44 (0) 20 7847 9400.
Currencies Direct is one of Europe's leading non-bank providers of currency exchange and international payment services. Since we were formed in 1996, we've maintained our focus on providing innovative foreign exchange and international currency transfer services to corporations of all sizes, online sellers and private individuals. We have also expanded our services to provide dynamic and pioneering "business to business" solutions to help companies, tier 2/3 banks and other non-bank financial institutions to process their international payments. Our headquarters are in the City of London (United Kingdom) and we have operations in continental Europe, Africa, Asia, and the United States. Currencies Direct is jointly owned by private equity firms Palamon Capital Partners and Corsair Capital.