Over the years building ecommerce websites and growing them with digital marketing, we have picked up a few tools of the trade and learning resources. Shopify apps, technologies, learning resources, you name it. If you are interested to know the technologies we work prior to working with us or simply curious as to what tech stack an ecommerce might need, this list will prove insightful.
FYI, this list will be a work in progress as we find new apps and resources we love to work with. So without rambling on too much, here are the ecommerce tools and resource we work with or recommend to clients, broken down into categories.
Tools for building your ecommerce website
To build an ecommerce website you are going to need an e-commerce platform to build it on. Whilst there are many out there, we use and recommend Shopify. It’s fast and simple to get up and running without any coding knowledge. Shopify is a self hosted solution so you never need to buy hosting from a hosting provider.
Shopify claim that 800k business are powered by their platform and over $100B+ has been sold on Shopify. Don’t be fooled thought, Shopify is not a marketplace like Amazon or eBay with responsibility for your customers or your products, its a software as a service so you have full control of your customers and products.
A sample of what you get:
- A drag and drop store builder
- All websites are automatically optimised for mobile
- Get paid with Shopify Payments or with tons of 3rd party providers like Stripe or Paypal
- Detailed dashboard and analytics so you get an overview of your ecommerce performance.
- Mobile app so you can keep tabs on your orders while on the go. Cha-Ching!
- Discounted shipping within the US.
- 24/7 phone & email support
- Extensive ecommerce learning centre from designing your store to running your business, you will find Shopify Academy, guides, blog, business encyclopaedia, forums etc.
- Shopify POS so you can sell in-store, at Christmas markets or even trade-shows.
A domain is the address where your website lives on the internet. For example oglesbymedia.com is our domain name. You’re going to need a domain name so your ecommerce store can be found online by your customers. We use and recommend Blacknight for all of our domains and use them to manage most if not all our client domains too. You can search and buy a domain name in just a matter of minutes. Pick and choose from any of the global (.com .net or .org etc.) or country & region specific domains (.ie , .eu, .com.au, .co.uk etc.). Many brands will buy up a few to cover future expansion plans. Also your domain name will also be used for a professional email address.
Brackets is a text editor used for editing code. While Shopify has its own build in code editor, we find it can be easier to use Brackets. Very useful for showing two window panes of code like Html and SCSS side by side for styling elements or even page sections. It also has a live mode with Google Chrome to edit and see changes in real time. Only thing to note is, it does not work natively with Shopify’s “liquid" code out of the box, so you will need to download an extension to enable liquid syntax highlighting.
Brackets is also essential for stripping copied text of unwanted formatting before pasting into Shopify. Simply copy into Brackets first, then copy from there into Shopify.
If you want to be taken seriously, a professional email address is essential for your business. Our go to service for this is G-suite and its perfect for any size business. From budget conscious solo entrepreneurs to multi-national corporations and everywhere in between. When building websites, we setup G-suite and connect it to a domain name (see Blacknight) as standard for all of our clients if they don’t have it already. A professional email is also necessary requirement for email marketing.
G-Suite is not just a professional email address, it comes with a full suite of productivity software tools. At just €5.20 per user per month(basic plan), this suite of software tools is a humongous bang for you buck.
A sample of what you get:
- Professional email address per user. ( e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Gmail for business
- Team Calendars
- Google Hangouts for video meetings and team chat
- Collaborative Google Docs, Sheets and Slides for creating/editing documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
- 24/7 phone and email support
- Mobile device management
- Google drive: 30GB online storage per user on Basic plan. Unlimited on higher plans.
- Comprehensive admin and security controls to mange you and your team.
The debut theme that comes standard with Shopify is great for starting out but if you really want to level up your store you are going to need a premium theme. Probably the best premium themes on Shopify with the most comprehensive support service are from Out of the Sandbox. They have been consistently producing world class themes used by major brands like K-Swiss and Jay Leno’s Garage. Our first ever Shopify website for herbal vape brand, Goboof was built with their Parallax theme.
A great alternative to Out of The Sandbox themes, Archetype product excellent fully featured and speedy themes. We love working with Archetype themes, especially the Impulse theme which is designed for larger stores. Actually we built Surfdock, My Sisters Cottage and Shell Shock’s ecommerce websites with their Impulse theme. Arguably one of the best features are the pre-built section for pages other than the homepage. It only comes with one but very easy to make more if you have learned some basic liquid and html code.
Optimise your Shopify notification emails to sell more, and match your brand perfectly. Design all 18 email templates at the same time.
Whilst Shopify comes with receipts, orders and other transactional emails out of the box, they are limited in design and frankly quite boring unless you are an expert in HTML and Liquid. Orderly Emails comes to the rescue with more customisable and beautiful on-brand designs to give your business a high qality and professional look.
Selling your products on a subscription model? Selling tea or coffee by the month. Maybe subscription goodie box. Well, Shopify can’t do that right out of the box(pun intended ). You’re going to need an app for that and Bold Subscriptions does the trick.
A sure fire way to help get online sales is, having top quality product photos. In fact, having high quality, crystal clear photo’s can have the biggest impact on growing ecommerce sales.
- Poor photos = poor sales.
- Good photo’s = good sales,
- Great photo’s = you see where we are going with this?
If you’re not confident with editing your photos or just don’t have the time to learn or even do it, Pixc comes to the rescue. Pixc integrates with your shopify store and with a bit of tech wizardry and human touch, you get your photos looking their best. As Pixc say it best “Ecommerce photo editing done for you”.
Of all the apps on the Shopify app store, this one is probably one of the most essential, if not the most essential. Shopify do back up the hole ecommerce engine but if store owners make a mistake editing their store or delete products and collections by accident, its their responsibility. Actually this happens more than you think, especially when teams of people are working on a store at once. Rewind Backups help store owners with recovering their store at any point in time. Can’t recommend this app highly enough.
There are no shortage of tools to collect reviews. Trustpilot and Yotpo just to name a couple are really great but very expensive. Our recommendation for small business owners is to just use the simple and free Shopify product reviews. Takes 5 minutes to setup and with a small bit of work, can easily be integrated with Klaviyo to send out post purchase review requests.
A tool for creating different shipping rates by post code or zip code. As the post office and most couriers in Ireland have the same standard rate for all of Ireland, we use this inexpensive tool to help Irish clients sell into Northern Ireland with the same shipping rate. As Shopify treats the UK as a single zone, this means you can have a different shipping rate for Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK.
An essential and free tool for helping you mange your GDPR responsibilities. You still need to write your own Privacy and Cookie policies but this tool will create the notice bar on your site and allow you to manage GDPR data access or removal requests at the click of a button. Bonus: your customers can decide for themselves which cookies can be active on your site.
Tools for marketing your ecommerce website
We are a full believer and practitioner of StoryBrands marketing philosophy. E.g. an effective ecommerce website must clearly tell me 3 things:
- What is it?
- Why should I buy it?
- How can I get it?
If your customer doesn't understand a web page within 5 seconds or less, they will leave and never come back. Or worse, shop with your competitor! This principle also applies to your sales emails, adverts, SEO, brochures, business cards etc.
Using StoryBrand, we’ve seen the biggest impact to increase online sales for our clients. It’s so effective, we use it for all projects now. You can sign up for their workshops online or in Nashville, USA or get the book, Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller.
Fact 1: it’s easer to sell to an existing customer than to acquire a new one.
Fact 2: It’s vastly cheaper to sell to an existing customer using email marketing than any other channel including social media.
Fact 3: Klaviyo is the number 1 email marketing platform for small business owners using Shopify.
While we do, and have used other popular email marketing software like Mailchimp, we only recommend Klaviyo for our ecommerce clients. Nothing comes close to its business intelligence, deep Shopify integration, ease of use, email automation, documentation, and resources. Simply, Klaviyo is our number one ecommerce marketing tool for growing and retaining customers.
This is the tool you need to get your business on the map. Literally. Google maps! Whether your business is serving local customers or not, its a great idea to build yourself a profile on Google My Business. Not just for restaurants or physical brick and mortar shops, online stores can benefit from local SEO too by registering and building out a profile.
A simple little piece of software to schedule and publish your social media posts from multiple accounts in one location. A time saver for marketers who struggle to manage multiple brand accounts across multiple channels like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Don’t have the time nor inclination to learn Adobe Photoshop? Then Canva is the tool for you. Loaded with tons of pre-made design to edit, Canva is a very simple but effective design tool to create social media graphics. Anyone can use it and it only takes a few minutes to get the hang of it. We actually use this all the time to create Social media headers.
So there you have it, the ecommerce marketing tools and resources we use here at Oglesby Media to help our business and our clients. Do you have a favourite Shopify app or resource? Let us know in the comments below.
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