Starting an online venture is no easy thing, at least for most people. This is because to be an online entrepreneur, you need to be constantly searching and exploring new market opportunities while at the same time, ensuring that all the managerial aspects of your existing business are in check.
There is a lot of potential in online ventures, and this can be attributed to the ever-increasing use of the internet in this web-dominated age. An online retail business provides a lot of conveniences. Additionally, e-commerce enables you to overcome geographical limitations, meaning that you can sell your products or services to a customer that is halfway across the world. It also allows your existing and potential customers easy access to information regarding your products, services, available deals, coupons, bargains, and so on. Most importantly, the costs of setting up an online retail store are relatively lower than traditional retail.
Amidst all these benefits, however, e-commerce entrepreneurs need to make the best use of technology for them to stay on top of their competition. This includes using tools that improve customer experience, boost marketing, improve efficiency, and make bookkeeping easier.
This having been said, here are some great tools online retail businesses should consider.
1. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Online Retail Tools
The most important aspect of running any business is ensuring a healthy relationship and interaction with clients. This should also apply when conducting business in an online setup. CRM tools facilitate this healthy relationship while helping you to identify new prospects as an online retail entrepreneur. Healthy communication is vital not only in building a strong relationship with your existing customers, but also in attracting new ones. From Hubspot CRM to Freshsales, Pipedrive, and Zoho, there are many different CRM tools out there that you can choose from. Let’s take a look at the three types of customer relationship management tools.
- Operational CRM – When operating an online venture, it’s very important to collaborate all the business processes with the various units of your business such as the technical team, sales team, and marketing team. The main purpose of operational CRM is to convert leads into contacts. Operational CRM is divided into three main categories that include sales automation, service automation, and marketing automation. These are major aspects that help to improve customer interaction and customer retention services. It also involves utilizing communication technology such as phones, emails, social media, and mails.
But on the latter, not so many people realize the importance of mails in an online venture. For instance, if you are considering starting a customer loyalty program, you’ll need an efficient mailing service. This will help to ensure that your clients receive their coupons and other freebies in time and what better way to achieve this than to use a franking machine. Lewis from FP Mailing.com says that this efficient tool for shipping allows you to print postage stamps and your company logo on all your outgoing mails. This not only ensures that your clients receive posts carrying a marketing message but that they are also professionally crafted. Isn’t this good for business?
- Analytical CRM – When running an online business, it’s very important to analyze data from various points of your business operations. This will allow you to get better insights into the status of your organization. This way, you can make better decisions to improve the effectiveness of your marketing strategies and the quality of customer relationships.
- Collaborative CRM – Collaborative CRM aims at improving the quality of customer service. Information gathered from your clients will provide you with a better understanding of the market and insights on how to target clients with specific products/services. But for this to happen, all units in your online business including the sales team, marketing team, and support team need to operate harmoniously. Collaborative CRM is exactly what you need to effectively achieve this.
2. Marketing Tools
When running an online retail business, you want to ensure that you avoid repetitive marketing strategies. One of the most important things when running an online retail store is to run a successful marketing campaign. Fundamentally, learning what your competitors are doing wrong and finding the means to improve your marketing campaigns is the key to running a successful online retail business. This means that you need to supply your clients with fresh personalized ads that are based on the current market trends. To achieve this, you’ll need to utilize an all-inclusive marketing tool that combines various services such as social media marketing, email marketing, and automated email response services. The benefits of using marketing automation tools include:
- Improving customer experience
- Increasing the scope of your marketing campaign strategies
- Helps to cut down on marketing costs such as hiring staff
- Creating a platform for strategic thinking
- Improving customer retention
- Empowering staff to improve results
- Increasing revenue
3. E-Commerce Shopping Carts
If you are running an online retail business, it’s very important to provide your customers with a simplified self-service option of purchasing goods and services. Now, we cannot debate the importance of a shopping cart in your online retail business. It’s most likely that you are familiar with the concept of a shopping cart, but if not, here it is. A shopping cart is a software that allows customers to purchase products and services from a retailer’s online site. In addition to this, it also provides the customers with payment options and relays this information to the merchant.
How It Works
Upon selecting several items for purchase, a customer will be prompted to add them to the shopping cart. After checkout, the shopping cart software calculates the amount of the total order including shipping costs, handling/postage costs, and taxes.
The main benefits of having a shopping cart on your retail website to your customers include storing product information, customer management, facilitating customers to order products, and showcasing products and services. While including a shopping cart on your retail website is beneficial to your clients, it will also provide you with statistics that allow you to monitor sales and create SEO optimized keywords that help to target the right audience. The immediate benefits of shopping cart applications include:
- Safer shopping
- Ease of payment
- Functional catalogs and product display
- Integrated chat support framework
- Improved interaction
4. Accounting Tools
Managing the accounts of your online retail business can be a real hustle. As earlier mentioned, managing an online business involves managing a lot of books of accounts. From your staff to shipping logistics, production, sales, marketing, and maintenance, there are many areas that need you to track money in and money out. All these are elements that are fueled by cash and it’s, therefore, important to invest in retail accounting software that helps manage all your accounting processes. These accounting solutions are user-friendly and will help you to manage and keep your financial matters in check.
With a well thought out plan and a strong-willed spirit, an online business can thrive. Though it’s not always as easy as it sounds, utilizing the above tools in the everyday running of your online venture will go a long way into providing you with sustainable insights on how to stay on top of your competition. Remember, the secret lies in setting your business apart from the rest.