Are you interested in starting an online business? We’ve compiled an awesome list of 10 essential tools for helping you get started selling online today. Many of these tools are free and allow you to quickly get started with everything you need to set up an online store. We will discuss software to start selling online, credit card payment processing, along with marketing essentials and productivity tools to improve your workflow. We also use many of these tools at Chatstack to help manage, improve and grow our business.
Magento is the industry leader for online shopping cart software, trusted by more than 240,000 merchants worldwide. Industry leading brands such as the Nike store, Samsung and Ford all use Magento. In addition to these global companies, Magento is used by thousands of small business online stores as it is a very flexible and highly customizable system.
Magento is known to be the most comprehensive open source e-commerce solution available on the market. The software offers extensive customization, payment methods and shipping and handling options. The store’s appearance, content and functionality can be managed via the intuitive administration interface.
With such a large market share in the e-commerce market, there are a significant number of Magento developers available for outsourcing any development work that you require and for assistance in setting up and maintaining your store.
Free community edition or paid enterprise editions.
When you have your online store setup, you’ll need to be able to accept payments online. Ideally you will want to accept all the major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express. This is where Stripe comes in, allowing you to accept credit cards online without and hassle of signing up for a merchant account directly with your bank. Stripe is also one of the few providers that allow you to accept multi-currencies.
It’s a great solution for merchants to start processing payments at a reasonable cost and with minimal hassle. Stripe is easy to get started and its services are free to setup with no monthly fees. You will only incur a small charge on each successful transaction, which is instantly deducted from the funds that you receive when you make a sale.
2.9% + 30 cents per successful charge.
Email is an essential communication tool to interact and help connect with your customers and Office 365 does a fantastic job of managing your emails and boosting your productivity. We recommend Microsoft’s Office 365, as it offers a business grade service at an affordable cost with reliable access to communicate and collaborate from almost anywhere. Office 365 is used by large international companies that include British Airways, Caltex and Aston Martin and is easily scalable as your company grows.
Office 365 is a cloud based service, which gives you reliable access to Word, Excel, Outlook and the entire suite of Office applications from virtually anywhere with a web connection. With Office 365, Microsoft takes care of all the dirty work, so you don’t have to. You get all the benefits of using Office, without any of the worries of updating and maintaining it.
Starting at $5 / month for Business Essentials
Blogging is one of the most valuable communication channels for businesses to engage with customers. Not only is it great for your customers, but the search engines love relevant content and you will be rewarded.
While most online e-commerce platforms have a built-in blog with their own content management systems, we believe WordPress does a much better job, as it was specifically designed for this purpose and is a much more customizable blogging platform.
WordPress is one of the most powerful publishing platforms available and comes with a wide range of features. It currently powers nearly a quarter of new websites and is trusted by some of the biggest brands in publishing, such as CNN, Forbes, eBay, UPS, Reuters and NY Times.
WordPress is easy to use, with an intuitive interface that makes adding new pages, blog posts and images simple. It offers you complete control over the content of your website and is 100% customizable with the ability to extend the functionality of your site with plugins.
Google Analytics is an excellent tool for monitoring the performance of your website. With Google Analytics, you can keep track of your site visitors and monitor site website conversion rates. It is the best analytics platform available and it’s available for free!
Google Analytics provides a wealth of valuable data at your fingertips. You can view the demographics of your audience and who is visiting your website. Viewing customer acquisition reports provides information on how your visitors arrived at your website and how long they stay. Customer behaviour details what they are doing on your website and how users interact with the pages on your site. Lastly, the all important conversion tracking allows for goal and event tracking to track your conversions and sales based on the actions of your visitors.
Google Analytics provides great insight into the behaviour of your visitors. Knowing your website audience is an important factor to improving and growing your business.
Chatstack is a self-hosted live chat software package and this list wouldn’t be complete without an awesome live chat option . Live chat allows you to connect with your customers, which has proven to improve conversions, increase sales and give you an edge on your competition.
A major part of an online business it providing exceptional support and this can be achieved by chatting with your customers, so you can gather real-time feedback to improve your website. Invite customers to chat so that you can assist them and provide answers to their questions, just like a real store and reduce shopping cart abandonment and close the sale.
Chatstack will help you enhance the customer service experience for your business, create increased brand loyalty and take your business to the next level.
$99 for the Starter license.
Trello is an awesome project management tool that allows you to organise everything in a flexible visual manner using boards, cards and lists. You can create as many boards, cards, and teams as you like and it’s all free.
Simply open a card and you can add comments, upload file attachments, create checklists, and add labels, due dates and more. You have complete control over who sees your boards. You can share boards with your team and keep everyone connected for easy collaboration.
We use Trello at Chatstack to arrange and organise our development roadmap, issue tracking, manage our documentation and support site and content marketing strategies. Trello has everything you need to get things done and makes it easy to manage your projects and tasks.
Free or paid Business plans starting at $8.33 / user / month.
Email marketing is the most effective way for businesses to connect to consumers and grow your business. MailChimp is an easy option to get started with email marketing. The service is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. Simply put, MailChimp just works and it’s so easy to get started. Paid plans can get quite pricey, however, we suggest that you worry about that when it becomes a problem and focus on initially growing your email list.
MailChimp offers you the ability to create and schedule automated emails and you can easily connect your shopping cart with your MailChimp account and you can send triggered emails based on sign ups, website views and more. Users can segment your email lists by sign up date, location, purchasing activity and more. Not only can you optimise your email marketing with powerful A/B testing functionality, but MailChimp offers advanced analytics where you can monitor your sales and website activity.
Free forever for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month.
Slack is an awesome team communication tool that any businesses with a team must have. For most businesses, it’s overwhelming to keep track of communications in emails, text messages and all the other methods of contact. Slack brings all your communications together in one place.
Slack allows your team to chat, collaborate, share files internally and easily search communication histories. Have fewer meetings and start communicating via. channels and direct messages. Slack is accessible anywhere and is available on mobile devices for iPhone and Android.
Many businesses and start-ups now run remote offices where each employee works remotely and may even be located in different countries. Slack is a great option for starting a new business and allows you to communicate and collaborate with ease.
Free or paid plans starting at $6.67 / user / month.
Social media marketing is important for any business and enables you to learn about your customers, connect with them and establish brand recognition.
Buffer is a great social media management tool that helps share your content quickly and easily on social media. Buffer allows you to calculate the best time to share your social media posts and allows you to schedule many tweets and posts to be posted during such times.
Over 2 million marketers are using Buffer to help manage their social media. Originally Buffer was designed for Twitter, however, it now allows users to connect to Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. Save time so you can focus on other parts of your business by scheduling posts to all your social networks.
Free or paid plans starting at $10 / month.