If you’re dreaming of becoming the next ASOS, Birchbox, TOMS, or Dollar Shave Club, a plethora of online tools and resources are available to help you launch a successful ecommerce business. With more and more consumers choosing to shop online amidst COVID-19, there’s no better time to launch an ecommerce website — especially in growing industries like grocery delivery, smart home products, fitness, and digital health. Below, we highlight five of the best tools and resources for new ecommerce businesses — helping you define your target market, choose the right ecommerce platform, market your products and services online, and deliver excellent customer service.
1. Market Research Services
As you get ready to launch an ecommerce business from home, you’ll need to conduct a great deal of market research in order to find your niche and business model, identify your target audience, and calculate your startup expenses. To begin, check out public data sources like the Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS) and U.S. Census Bureau, and search websites like Statista and Pew Research Center to find statistics, industry studies, and current demographic trends. Furthermore, conducting market research is made easier than ever thanks to online freelance platforms like Upwork, especially if you don’t have the time to do your own research. Through Upwork, you can find professional market research services that fit your budget and timeframe, whether you need help now, within the next few weeks, or at any point in the future. You can also use online job boards to search for other types of freelancers for your ecommerce business, including the following:
- Content writers
- Inventory managers
- Customer service coordinators
- Social media managers
- Order fulfillment specialists
- Graphic designers
- Interactive advertising specialists
If you’re new to working with freelancers or independent contractors, you’ll also need to understand your obligations as the hiring employer. To pay your freelancers, for instance, you may wish to use PayPal, Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), or an accounting software system like QuickBooks, Wave, or FreshBooks. Each freelancer must also provide you with a completed W-9 form.
2. Ecommerce Platforms
In addition to utilizing professional market research services, you’ll need to select the right ecommerce platform for your new business. Like a brick-and-mortar retail store, this online platform will serve as the face of your new business — and it’s important to choose a website that best suits your specific needs. When comparing ecommerce platforms, a few possible options to consider include WordPress, WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, Squarespace, and Bigcommerce. Jake Rheude of Small Business Rainmaker offers some tips for choosing the right platform for your online store, or you could sign up for the Ellipsis Website Program where you can get a custom website and help with setting up and managing your online store.
3. Payment Processors
To accept payments on your ecommerce store, it’s also important to choose the right payment processors for your online business. Payment processors like Square, Stripe, PayPal, and Shopify, for instance, can be used to accept credit and debit cards online. Moreover, mobile wallets such as Google, Samsung, and Apple Pay provide customers with the option to pay with their mobile devices for a faster and more secure online shopping experience.
4. Marketing and Advertising
To drive potential customers to your new online store, you’ll need to use a few marketing and advertising tools or enlist the help of an experienced marketing agency. Ellipsis Marketing, for instance, can help with everything from email marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), to Google Ads and social media management. Plus, the Ellipsis team offers a variety of programs and plans to fit your budget, which you can even try out at no charge to determine whether these services are right for you.
5. Help Desk Software
To keep your customers satisfied and coming back for more, you need to provide great customer support and respond to any inquiries or complaints as quickly as possible. And with helpdesk software systems like Freshdesk, HappyFox, Zoho Desk, and Zendesk Support, you can track all customer interactions, create a positive shopping experience, and ensure your customers are able to reach you whenever they have a question or concern. Specific features vary by product, but many top-rated help desk platforms offer chatbots, live chats, asset management, and custom reporting.
The Bottom Line
Starting an ecommerce business is hard work, but these five tools and resources can help with everything from marketing and advertising to customer support. With these great tools at your disposal, you’ll be running a successful ecommerce business in practically no time at all!
This article has been contributed by Marissa Perez from BusinessPop.net. Marissa has spent the last 10 years honing her marketing skills and now she wants to share her knowledge with those who have decided to take on entrepreneurship. She co-created Business Pop to provide insight and advice to those who aspire to succeed in owning a business.