It’s never been easier to start an online business. With plenty of ecommerce platforms to choose from, it’s fair to say your foundations have already been laid, regardless of what it is you want to sell. The one you choose will depend on your own needs and preferences, but popular examples include Shopify, Magento 2.0 and BigCommerce.
These tools are immensely useful, even in their most basic form, but there are ways to really maximise their potential. For us, the key lies in finding the right plugins and extensions. Thankfully, you needn’t traipse through the thousands available in each respective marketplace – we’ve brought the most useful together in the handy list below.
We’ve focused on the three platforms mentioned above, with some of our favourite extensions listed for each. Happy downloading!
Magento says its growing extensions marketplace “helps merchants do more with their online stores,” and it’s difficult to disagree.
Magecheckout – Designed to make the checkout process a whole lot easier for your shoppers, this popular extension is a great way to stop shoppers leaving before they’ve finished buying. It puts everything your customers need on one page, from address, through payment details to delivery options. It also integrates various payment options.
It comes with some pretty impressive success stats, too – the company claims an average conversion rate increase of 30 per cent, sales growth of 60 per cent and a decrease of 66 per cent in cart abandonment.
Magento Connector (Bronto) – As we said before, anyone can open an online store nowadays, so it’s important that your marketing is on point. Bronto’s automation wizardry will help you achieve that, and this tool makes it possible through Magento.
Plug it in and you’ll be able to seamlessly import a wealth of valuable purchase data from your store into Bronto’s own platform. You can then develop ultra-targeted email and promo campaigns to really engage with your target audience.
Product Questions – If you’re going to build valuable relationships with your audience members, you need to be open, honest and approachable. Product Questions allows you to maintain dialogue with the people who are buying or who may soon buy your products by adding a question and answer thread on each product page.
You’ll get notified whenever a question is asked, but other customers may also offer help if they know the product well. Every response is rated for usefulness, so it’s easy for users to find the most helpful answers.
Shopify is a great tool for building attractive ecommerce sites that ooze with functionality. The wealth of extensions on offer only make the prospect more appealing.
Order Printer – You can do most things online these days but when the order’s complete and the customer has paid, you can’t get around having to actually send the product. You can make the process a whole lot easier, though.
Order Printer is a free tool that allows you to print everything you might need when sending things out to buyers – from invoices and packing slips to returns info and address labels. It keeps all of it organised, and offers bulk printing options to keep your costs and time investment to a minimum. The result is a more efficient delivery process for you and your customers!
Plug in SEO – If you want to be seen by your audience – the majority of whom will be using search engines – you need to consider search engine optimisation (SEO). This is the act of making sure your site shows up for relevant searches on sites like Google and Bing.
It’s a complex world, SEO, but this extension makes everything a lot easier to understand. Plug it into your site and it’ll highlight all of the little things that need fixing – it could be a case of missing meta tags, for example, or poor loading speeds. Heed its advice and you should see pretty quick results.
eBay Importer – Gone are the days when eBay was seen only as an auction site. Now, retailers of all kinds use the platform to sell new goods, and there’s every chance you are too. If so, eBay Importer will be massively useful.
It allows you to copy your eBay catalogue over to your Shopify store, so the two are properly integrated. It’ll automatically handle all of the little details too – including images, variations and listing categories.
American firm BigCommerce was only founded in 2009 but its ecommerce software has already been adopted by some of the world’s biggest businesses – Toyota, Ubisoft and Gibson included. It, too, has some extremely useful extensions.
Mento – Social media provides a huge marketing opportunity for your business, and Mento will help you capitalise. It’s designed to eliminate the time-consuming task of manually posting promotional info on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr accounts – it’s all taken care of automatically.
You can make use of pre-generated social posts covering your various products, publishing them across all of your relevant channels as and when you feel necessary.
InStockNotify – This handy little tool gives customers an option to enter their email address and receive stock updates when the product they want isn’t available.
It might sound like an extremely simple idea, but it’s one that really can help to boost sales in the long run. Rather than leaving customers disappointed with not being able to get hold of the things they’re after, you have a chance to start building relationships. They may even opt in to other promotional correspondence.
LiveChat – Speaking of building relationships, LiveChat will allow conversation between you and your customers to flow. It gives your site basic instant messaging capabilities, ensuring visitors can get in touch quickly and easily when they have questions to ask. Unlike email, this works in real-time, so as long as you have someone there and ready to talk, it should speed up the process of turning prospects into brand advocates.
…And one for luck
To complete the 10, we’ll finish on a powerful tool that works across Magento 2.0, Shopify and BigCommerce.
MailChimp, as you may already know, is one of the business world’s leading email marketing services. Its goal is to help you reach your audience effectively and efficiently with automated, targeted email campaigns. Plug it into your chosen ecommerce platform and it’ll give you the power to recommend products to individual customers based on their purchasing behaviour – if someone buys a camera, for example, they might be sent information on compatible lenses.
It also covers follow-up correspondence to help you maintain relationships with customers and reporting, so you know what works and what doesn’t.
And with that, we’re at the end of our list. Be sure to explore your relevant app stores to experiment with the thousands of extensions out there – you’re sure to find something helpful, and many come with free trials. Good luck!
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