Running an online shop cannot be easy. But it can be made easier with the right set of tools.
As a seller, you’re not just involved in creating or sourcing the items and listing them on your shop. You’re involved in a whole gamut of operations that often takes an entire company to run – from managing inventory to doing the math for the expenses to tweeting a thank you for that customer who just mentioned you on Twitter.
Here’s a list of 10 tools that will help you run your online store smoothly. Note that there’s almost very little learning curve involved (except for #8) in using these tools: you can get started in a few hours.
#1. Canva for all things design
Not everyone of us is a Photoshop jedi. But many times, we do need something crafty – a beautiful flyer, a presentation deck, a logotype, a business card – and in those times, firing up Photoshop can be daunting and Paint won’t cut it.
That’s where Canva scores. With thousands of ready-made templates, beautiful typography, a bunch of free and paid images that you can use and a super-easy drag-and-drop, you can create wonderful images for your flyer, a book cover etc.
Best of all, Canva is free to use. Many stock images within Canva are free. A few are paid but only when you want to export your work.
#2. Hootsuite to manage mentions and replies
Managing three or four social networks can become a chore in itself if you try to go at it without any help. One of the costliest ways of doing this is hiring an intern and trying to teach her the tone of your brand. An easier way is to use a tool like Hootsuite.
Hootsuite helps you integrate about 35 social channels – most of which we’re not concerned about here. But it includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and lots more (no Pinterest yet).
With Hootsuite you can:
– track who is using a particular hashtag (great to reach out)
– manage all your mentions and replies easily
You can also schedule posts but we’ve got a better tool for scheduling posts for your shop’s products.
Hootsuite has a free plan that can get you started. Most important features, however, are with the Pro plan which costs $9/month.
#3. Mint for money tracking
There are a ton of money-tracking / expense-tracking apps for both Android and iOS (and the web) but I’ve found Mint to be one of the best. A lot of their efficiency comes from having been in the expense-tracking market for so long.
Mint works as an Android/iOS app and on the web and has a comprehensive support for integration (with your bank accounts) and beautiful charts for the reports.
Spreadsheets do the trick but a specifically-built expense-tracking app can cut a lot of time out of your expense tracking exercise. Best of all, Mint is free.
#4. Klout to track your social media score
Coming back to social media: how do you know if your social media efforts are paying back? One easy metric to measure is what’s now popularly known as the “klout score”.
Klout is a simple way to figure out your klout score – which is a combination of how many people follow you, who follows you, how many people see and interact with your tweets (or posts) and how many times you get mentioned or retweeted.
Klout is good as far as this metric is concerned. Don’t even bother using it to schedule social shares. You can get started with Klout for free.
#5. Feedly to keep up with all your reading lists
One of the core things an entrepreneur does is to read a lot. Your bookmarks probably have a ton of websites that you like – many of them certainly blogs.
Feedly is a great way to keep a tab on all these websites/blogs and find new reading material on them whenever something gets published. But that’s not the only thing Feedly is great for.
Feedly tells you exactly how popular a story has become (through the flares). You can tailor your daily social shares based on this. (Remember, 60-80% of your social shares should be curated content). You can get started with Feedly on a free plan which has almost all the necessary features.
#6. Mailchimp to create and manage subscriptions
As cheesy and cliched as it sounds, “money is in the list” is the go-to mantra for every ecommerce website. Building and managing an email list of people who are interested in what you sell is fundamental to success.
While there are several email list managing apps and good old Gmail is great, Mailchimp is a no-brainer when we’re talking about:
– managing and tracking email list subscribers
– creating beautiful emailers to send
– creating ready-made email subscription boxes
With Mailchimp, you can get started with 2000 subscribers and 12,000 emails a month for $0.
#7. Evernote for those notes and random ideas
It helps a lot to note down any and all random ideas that occur to you (about the products, about your shop’s design, about selling, about marketing etc). Writing / typing down notes helps free-up your brain.
Evernote, like Google Keep, is free to use (with paid upgrades) but for most purposes, the free app/plan is enough.
#8. Google Analytics for website analytics
Anything that is measured has the scope to grow. When it comes to your shop, you need to be measuring how many users visit your shop, how many stay and for how long, what do they do, where they come from etc.
Google Analytics offers a free and probably the simplest way to track all these things. “Simplest” however can be very relative and it can take a while before you figure out the best way to use Google Analytics data.
All it takes to get started is a Google account.
#9. Around to manage social media for your shop
While Hootsuite can be a great tool to manage replies and mentions, Around works the social media routine exclusively for your products. With Around, you can quickly import all your shop’s products and start scheduling them to be shared on Facebook, Pinterest, Stumbleupon and Twitter. It can also automate a day’s worth of social media shares for you by randomly picking products and sharing them on your social profiles throughout the day.
#10. What’s your favorite tool?
Your turn now. Tweet us what’s your one favorite tool that you use a lot in running your shop!