The most common question we get asked at EcomCrew is “What do you use for…”. We decided to put together a list of all the tools Grant and I use day-to-day in order to run our ecommerce businesses. Some of the links below include affiliate links, which means we will make a small commission if you sign up there. Keep in mind that we only recommend products that we actively use ourselves.
BigCommerce was the first ecommerce platform Grant and Mike used when launching Treadmill.com. Since then they have launched CuttingBoard.com and IceWraps.com on this platform. BigCommerce is a great hosted cart solution with plans starting as low as $29.95 per month.
Shopify is another great hosted cart solution. Shopify has quickly become the market leader, so Grant and Mike have launched a couple stores on this platform to familiarize themselves with other platforms. EcomCrew's Shopify stores include ColorIt.com and ChoppingBlocks.com
Updated: We just wrote an entire page on ecommerce inventory management platforms with a breakdown of services and pros and cons of each. The top 7 platforms are all broken down in a feature matrix and we have also included.
3PL (3rd Party Logistics Providers)
Amazon FBA is our go to solution for 3rd party logistics. Most people know you can sell existing manufacture's products, or your own branded products on Amazon. However, did you know that Amazon can also be used to fill orders from any other channel? For instance, if you get an order on eBay, you can use Amazon FBA to fill that order. Since we already sell on Amazon, it's naturally convenient to use them as our 3PL with the same pool of inventory. Most modern inventory management platforms mentioned above, can automate this flow so a multi-hannel fill order can be completed without touching a thing. It's like magic.
IronLinx is a great 3PL provider with warehouses in PA. IronLinx has helped CuttingBoard.com cut their shipping costs significantly by having a warehouse on the east coast to ship to our customers. Since CuttingBoard's products are a bit heavier than some of our other sites these savings are quite significant. IronLinx was a better solution for CuttingBoard over Amazon FBA since most of their items are classified “oversized” by Amazon.
Phone.com is a great solution for small to medium sized businesses. Starting at just $9.99, phone.com allows you to have a large business image at a small price. We typically add on a true 800 number for just $4.99 more and for under $15 a month you have a very professional image. Phone.com allows you to setup custom greetings, opening hours, routing, queuing, and more. We just have the phones route to our cell phones to make sure the calls go anywhere we are.
Olark is a live chat plugin that works great with BigCommerce and Shopify. They allow you to set rules based on time on site and / or visited pages to send automated greetings, or just let the customer engage you when they are ready. The Crew has seen a big increase in conversion rates during live chat hours and Olark has become our goto software solution. We tested several live chat plugins and Olark seems to be the best value for the money and has software that works great. They even have a mobile app so you can take chats on the go with you.
Helpscout is a help desk management software that is actually free for most small ecommerce businesses. We only had to upgrade to a paid plan recently when we added a couple more support reps and stores. There are plenty of help desk management platforms, but Helpscout has become our favorite. In fact, we use other software in the past that cost way more per month and found it to be less effective. Helpscout has been a great find.
99 Designs is a wonderful crowd sourcing platform to get any type of design work done. We have used 99 Designs for all sorts for graphics work from logo design to full blown website design. You set the price you are willing to pay and designers submit designs to you that you then get to rate and comment on. Depending on the price you set, you can typically count on 20-50 designs to pick from with any one project. You only pay for the design if you are happy.
Shipstation is the market leader when it comes to shipping software. They integrate with USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, and more. By signing up with Shipstatoin you get Commercial Plus pricing with the Post Office, that is normally reserved for Fortune 500 type companies. If you have an ecommerce business and ship any of your own items, Shipstation is a must in our opinion.
Unishippers is a shipping consolidator for UPS and domestic LTL shipments. After signing up for Unishippers we have been able to cut 20%-50% off our shipping costs, depending on the situation. They have also saves us a tremendous amount of money for inbound LTL shipments when we purchase inventory. If you need to ship with UPS, or you order large amounts of inventory at a time from your supplier you really should check them out.
Inxpress is another freight consolidator, but for DHL shipments. DHL is the best option for shipping items to your international buyers. Inxpress is an LTL consolidation company as well.