We probably all use software and services like Gmail and Photoshop in our ecommerce businesses, but what are some of the lesser known software and services you should be using in your ecommerce company?
In this post, we'll take a look at ten of the lesser known software and services that we use in our ecommerce companies. These range from Gmail extensions to currency exchange services. On the podcast, Episode 89: The Technology Stack, we also went into greater detail on a lot of the software and services mentioned here. Hopefully at least one of the packages mentioned here can help improve the productivity and results in your company.
For software/services where we include an affiliate link we've included an option with and without the affiliate link to try and give some measure of objectivity to the list.
Project Fi (Google)
Google has its own cell phone service if you didn't know called Google Fi. There are two big advantages with Google Fi. First, its pricing is probably the most transparent of any carrier. You get charged $25 a month for calling/texting and then $10/gb of data per month. However, more importantly for international roamers like me is that there is NO INTERNATIONAL ROAMING. You get charged the same $10/gb regardless of whether you're in the United States, Canada, or China (three countries I'm frequently in). My local carrier in Canada, Bell, charges $6/mb of data when roaming (seriously). Especially in China, where local Wifi is absolutely terrible, Google Fi has been a real life saver. The downside is that as a local cell phone service Google Fi isn't actually that cheap. You're also required to use a Google phone to activate your plan.
TranferWise is a service that allows you to exchange currency at nearly the spot rate. The spot rate is the rate that you see published on websites like xe.com or in the paper. The problem with the spot rate is that it is almost impossible for you to get it – banks almost always charge a 1-3% commission. With TransferWise you get the best exchange rate I've ever seen from the simple fact it matches buyers and sellers. Each year I transfer no less than $250,000 of USD into CAD and TransferWise would have likely saved me about 1.5% on this amount. The downside is it takes a day or two for the funds to get transferred into your account and TransferWise does charge a fee (that still works out much less than the commission banks will take). Still, if you're transferring anything more than a few hundred dollars you should definitely look into TransferWise as it will likely save you a big chunk of change.
Cost: Free up to 10 messages, $4.99/month for Unlimited
What we use it for: Email
I use this handy little Chrome Extension for Gmail to schedule individual emails to be sent in the future. Often I'll want to send an email I've written in the future rather than immediately. For example, often I'll write an important email and want to let my mind marinate it for a few hours before I send it in case I think of anything else I need to add to the email. Yes, I could just save it to my drafts folder and send it later but often I'll forget to actually send it! Boomerang actually has a host of other handy features specifically automatically sending a followup email to people if they don't reply to your initial email.
Cost: Free up to 50 SKUs, $200/month after
What we use it for: Order/Inventory Management
This is order management software that I've bee using since 2013 – at the time it was about the only software that connected with Amazon, eBay, and Magento. Now there's a lot of software that does this. However, I still like Linnworks for a couple of reasons. First, it has a free option and after that it is a flat monthly fee opposed to a ‘per order' fee. Second, you can automate almost anything through its very strong scripting features.
On a side note, if you have an ecommerce business selling across multiple channels and doing more than $500,000 or so in sales you should really examine using some type of order management software.
AMZ Scout FBA Calculator Chrome Extension
What we use it for: FBA product research
This great Chrome extension gives you estimate sales and Amazon Fees of almost any item fulfilled by Amazon. We've compared the estimated sales to our actual sales and the numbers are very close (they also jibe well with Jungle Scout as well). If you already have some type of Amazon sales estimator Chrome extension then this isn't really a replacement for it but if you don't currently use anything then this tool is invaluable.
Affiliate Link: https://clickfunnels.com/?cf_affiliate_id=650013&affiliate_id=650013
Non-Affiliate Link: https://clickfunnels.com
Cost: $99/month and up
What we use it for: Promotions, contests, collecting emails and other funnels
ClickFunnels allows you to create, you guessed it, funnels. A funnel basically is a lead page/magnet with the intent of completing an action, either a signup or purchase. ClickFunnels is extremely valuable for content based companies but for ecommerce companies it can be extremely useful as well. Mike is a huge advocate of contests and promotions and he uses ClickFunnels extensively to get people into his funnels (we'll be doing a more extensive case study on this soon).
Cost:$49/month and up
What we use it for: Facebook ads management
AdEspresso is pretty much THE software to use for managing Facebook ads. The most popular thing to use AdEspresso for is for A/B testing of Facebook ads. If you're only running a few Facebook ads you can probably get away without using AdEspresso. If you're running hundreds or thousands of ads then you should definitely give AdEspresso a try.
Cost: $77/month and up
What we use it for: Amazon dashboard
Sellics is essentially an Amazon dashboard. It tries to combine the features of other Amazon products like Jungle Scout, Restock Pro, etc. but it incorporates a couple of added features which we primarily use it for. First, it gives you an estimate of your true product profitability taking into account expenses such as Amazon Fees, advertising fees, and Costs of Goods. On top of this, it also helps manage your Amazon PPC.
Cost: Free and up
What we use it for: Social competitions and contests
You've probably encountered Gleam before, whether you know it or not. Gleam is used for social competitions, things like “Like us on Facebook and get 10 votes” or “Tag us on Instagram and get 5 votes”. If you have any desire to increase your social following then Gleam can help magnify your results.
Cost: $49/month and up
What we use it for: Retargeting
We use Shoelace for retargeting primarily through our Shopify stores. What? You're not retargeting?! Then you should be right away!
Shoelace's big benefit over doing remarketing on your own is allowing you to escape the pitfall of retargeting the same ad to everyone over and over. It accomplishes this through what Shoelace calls journeys. Essentially a journey is just a sequence of ads that change over time to your audience, instead of reserving the same ad over and over.
Below are the software both Mike and I use every day in our businesses. These are probably software and services you use every day in your company so we'll refrain from going into any depth on any of these.
- Google Apps (Dave and Mike)
- Accounting: Quickbooks (Dave and Mike)
- Email: Klaviyo (Mike), Mailchimp (Dave)
- Website Hosting: Shopify (Dave and Mike)
- Content Management: WordPress (Dave and Mike)
That wraps up ten of the lesser known software and services that we use on a near daily basis. Hopefully at least one of the software/services mentioned here can find a spot in your daily routine.
Are there any software and services not mentioned here that are critical to your ecommerce business? If so, share them in the comments below.