Back in 2011, when I was managing an ecommerce startup, I could count on only two hands the selection of digital retail tools that I could choose from. But today, as a digital marketer for a retail brand, you probably find yourself overwhelmed by the vast array of tools out there. From online store building tools, to analytics and conversion optimization and all the way to customer engagement – there is a tool for practically anything these days.
But how do you choose? What are the best tools in each category and which tools will make your brand stick out among the competition?
I have researched and compiled a recommended list of digital retail tools to help you choose the ones most relevant for you.
Dive into this post to find digital retail tools for:
Building an online store
Increasing online traffic
Increasing the visibility of your products
Adding customer reviews
Optimizing the checkout process
Increasing engagement with your buyers
Optimizing the shopping experience on mobile
Building Your Ecommerce Store
The first step to get your brand to sell online, is to actually build an online store. You can build a store from scratch, but that would take a lot of resources and require constant update and maintenance. Another option is to use an off-the-self platform, and there are a few in the market that are pretty savvy, built to provide a great customer experience across different devices.
Before getting the tools, make sure to have the right strategy in place. Learn the secret recipe to creating the ultimate ecommerce experience
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1. Magento: Magento offers a fully customized, modern approach to the commerce experience. Their skilled solutions allow search engine optimization and catalogue management. Utilize these tools in order to control the look, content and functionality of your website. Additionally, with Magento you can even utilize their self-serve features, allowing customers to order products with ease.
2. SAP Hybris: This is a flexible tool that helps you adapt to your customers. They offer omni-channel software that can handle even the most complex of B2B environments. They deliver real-time data, while offering the best customer experience possible. With SAP Hybris you can offer that one to one marketing approach. Their approach keeps their customers coming back. This allows businesses to react quickly and make changes accordingly.
3. Shopify: Want more control? Shopify provides you with the power to control the design of your website with the ability to choose from over a hundred different templates. Maybe you want to custom design your theme without any HTML or CSS restrictions? This tool will improve your SEO, track your sales trends and wake the whole shopping experience easier to manage. Choose from their array of apps in their marketplace, choose according to the functions you would like to add to your store.
4. BigCommerce: This great option in order to show you the basics of how to build your online store. Check out their full spectrum of apps. These apps can help add functionality to your store, reduce physical work on your part and at the same time help you grow your business. The bottom line is these apps are going to promote your products more effectively and save you time and energy.
The 1st step in your #ecommerce strategy is to build your online store. @Shopify @magento & @WooCommerce are amongst top 5 recommended tools
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5. WooCommerce: The solution for complete control to anything you sell might be WooCommerce. Its popularity is clear boasting 37% power of all online stores putting it as one of the most popular eCommerce platforms on the web. The designs are clean and simple and give you the ability to customize your store to match your brand. The Storefront platform offers a responsive layout that is flexible and setup for enhanced SEO performance.
Getting Trffic to Your Ecommerce Store
The next step is to get visitors to come to your website. Just like when opening a new store, you need to promote it to make people aware of its existence. If you are a brand with a large following on social media or a comprehensive mailing list, you should probably start with notifying your existing customers and followers that you now have an online store as well. But as for the next steps, you would probably want to get a bit more creative. Here are five tools to spark your creativity.
1. Idomoo: Video is the new kid on the block. But as with any other channel, to reach maximum ROI your video ads need to be personalized for each customer. Idomoo is a personalized video cloud-based platform that delivers customized real-time video. A truly revolutionary way to communicate with your customers. In fact, Idomoo says that they make video advertising, targeting and re-targeting easy on a large-scale. Their technology is also proving their success in the results. According to Idomoo they have seen a 15x higher ROI than any other digital marketing communication channel.
Once you created your online store, it’s time to bring on the traffic! @LinkBig4U @sitescout & @Idommoo are here to help! #ecommercetools
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2. AppNexus: A cloud-based software platform that optimizes the programmatic online advertising. Their platform allows you to connect directly with the top of the world's largest buyers. The AppNexus console allows you to track down the right inventory to buy daily.
3. Link Big: This tool is designed to automatically drive traffic from Instagram to ecommerce sites/apps. Link Big's smart bio-link allows each follower to be lead to the exact item they just saw, liked and wanted to reach out to. Other brands currently only have one link in their Instagram bio which only leads the follower to their homepage. What are the results? Link Big saw a 50%-300% traffic boost, a CTR of 8% a retention rate that multiplied by 3X.
4. Google AdWords: Google AdWords is still the best platform to get your website viewed by millions of people who are searching for products on Google. Use it to promote your website on Google’s search results (either desktop or mobile), as well as on Google's GDN (Google display network). Today, you can even use Google Adwords to build video marketing campaigns to be featured on YouTube. Yes, Google is big, they hold many keys – and it’s up to us as marketers to use them in the most effective way to promote our brand.
5. SiteScout: SiteScout's performance controls give you the ability to optimize your campaigns and help you reach your desired goals. They offer real-time bidding and reporting which allows advertisers to keep an eye on their campaigns and optimize them for the highest possible ROI. It is also possible to use the SiteScout platform to reach clients via other networks, such as Google, Appnexus, and Adtech.
With traffic acquisition costs on the rise, you want to make sure you are making the most of every single visit. One way to assure that you maximize the results from your ecommerce is to optimize the conversion rate. Putting it in simple words: making more visitors buy more products.
1. ClickTale: ClickTale gives you insights into the consumer's behavior, their wants, and their needs and throughout the entire digital journey. Clicktale takes a pro-active approach to examining and acting upon your conversion funnel. With their visual map of where your users are dropping off along the funnel, what they do after they leave and how what you can do to get them back. This data is collected from mobile and desktop and theories are tested without collected any new data. Understand the reasoning behind your user's actions and be better informed.
2. Twiggle: imagine how frustrated it is to go on an online store, type in your search query and get results that are completely different from what you expected? Twiggle is a search engine for ecommerce websites, built to think like a human. While most search engines breal the search query into words and look for each separately, Twiggle identifies the meaning and serves far more accurate results, increasing conversion rate significantly.
3. Optimizely: With the help of Optimizely's visual editor you are able to make changes to your site or app with ease and without any programming. Thanks to the Stats Engine you are clearly able to see the results of your tests.
4. Reactful: With Reactful you can predict the intent of your visitors and react accordingly, in real time. This will increase your chances of reaching your conversion goals. "Working with Reactful has provided a meaningful business impact, delivering 20% lead conversion growth on our corporate website".
5. Banana Splash: Banana Splash is designed to help business turn mobile visitors into customers. This is accomplished with their custom layers and real-time personalized messages that magically convert them in just one click. If you are faced with the common issue of lots of traffic from mobile yet, your conversions are dropping, then it may be time to knock on Banana Splash's door.
Increasing Visibility of Your Products
Now that you have built your store and got the traffic flowing in, how do you get people to actually buy the products? In the physical store they can see a 360 degree view of the product, feel it, and even try it on (if it’s a clothing item or shoes). With the help of technology, you can now bring most of this experience online as well. Here are five tools to help you get there:
1.Hexa: Hexa is an automated platform that makes it easy to create and scale 3D content, using 2D images. By embedding only one line of code on your ecommerce website, Hexa Enables the creation of virtual equivalents of items and displaying them in 3D. This helps shoppers better understand how your product will look like in real life. They can even move the item and see it from different angles - a fun and improved customer experience.
2. Sirv: Sirv creates an impressive image of your product and it creates 360 degree spins for your customers viewing pleasure. Deliver high resolution images to your website quickly and efficiently and please your customers with the images speed and quality. The images uploaded are available immediately and can be re-sized for any screen. The benefits to your team are great: time saving, faster and more efficient workflow among your team and the ability to store and organize all your files in one secure location.
3. Webyclip: Want to take your customers on a journey of your product line? With WebyClip you can access their #Videotized technology used by successful websites such as eBay. Just install WebClip's widget onto any of your pages and watch your conversion rates climb!
4. Sizer: Help your customers find the right fit. Sizer is a revolutionary Virtual Fitting Room which provides fit recommendations to help shoppers choose the right size for their body. This is a different type of solution that reaches a whole new level of engagement and personalization.
5. Zeekit: Zeekit takes virtual fitting to a whole new level. With Zeekit, your customers can see how an item looks on them, get personalized size suggestions, and share their new looks with friends. In order to use the app, shoppers take a picture of themselves in tight fitting clothing and upload the picture to the app. Using the image, the app can detect how different articles of clothing will fit the shopper’s body and allow users to “try on” any products available on the Zeekit app. Customers can see how the clothing looks on their body without ever actually entering the dressing room.
Featuring Users’ Reviews
Reviews are another great way to help your customers feel secure about buying the right product for them. In fact, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. With the help of these tools, you can feature reviews from past buyers directly in the product page to increase the level of trust and help your customers know they are making the right choice.
1. Google My Business: This is a single location platform that allows you to manage your online presence. Including seeing reviews of your business, tracking your ratings over time and responding to reviews as the owner right on the dashboard. It is also possible to go directly to your channel via the dashboard.
2. Yotpo: The Yotpo tool enables you to generate more reviews that also allows you to increase your sales and build your community. The tool sends an automatic email to your customers following a purchasing encouraging them to submit a review. These reviews have proven to significantly increase site ranking on Google.
3. Trustpilot: Trustpilot review tool allows customers to connect and build trust with companies through consumer’s gathered feedback. Unlike most tools that allow customers to write reviews only on the product, Trustpilot in addition to this allows the customers to write seller reviews as well. This added benefit helps enrich future customers experience with both the product and brand.
4. PowerReviews: According to Forrester, 55% of online shoppers are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question. This is where PowerReviews introduced Social Answers allowing you to provide fast answers to questions from your online shoppers. The Social Answers FAQ software is not like your typical Q&A, this is actually in the voice of the shopper. Included is keyword-rich content in order to improve your organic search traffic and assist your shoppers from honing in on their purchasing options.
5. Loox: Like they say, “a picture says a thousand words”. Loox really took this saying to heart and found a new well to pass over information with their visual reviews. Loox enables you to send automatic, fully branded, review requests and reminders to customers, and incentivize them to add their photo. As a result, products with customer-reviews that include photos, increase conversion by up to 91%.
Optimizing the Checkout Process
Have you ever been in a situation where you were at a store, collecting all your favorite items, then coming to the cashier to find a long queue? How frustrating is that? In the online world, the checkout and payment process is the most crucial step of the buying process. In fact, 44% of UK shoppers abandoned at least one online shopping transaction last year having become frustrated with the length and complexity of certain older forms of identity verification. Using technology to simplify the checkout and payment process is one investment that is bound to pay off.
1. Authorize.net: Authorize.net Payment Gateway provides you with complex and secure infrastructure in order to guarantee fast, reliable and secure transactions of data. Authorize.Net's services are there to suit the needs of your brand, offering online, retail merchant, mail order/telephone and mobile solutions. Merchants can log into the secured website interface and can manage their transactions, account settings, view account statement, generate reports and more.
2. Zooz: A simple, single inclusive platform for all your platform needs. Their flexible solution, Smart Routing allows merchants to connect seamlessly and optimize all transactions in a secured manner. Zooz offers process payments via PayPal, the ever popular option. It offers and all around improved user experience, quick and easy payment options as well as multi-payment methods utilizing data parameters such as risk score, geo-location, and card type.
3. Stripe: Secure card details are transmitted with Stripe.js to Stripe via browsers. Enjoy the seamless integrated mobile payment option like Lyft, Postmates, OverAhead, Istacart and others that use Stripe's native iOS and Android libraries on the go. You can also add Apple Pay or Android pay as well. See your transaction information in real-time, and freely export in various formats.
4. Blue Snap: Want to try out a revolutionary Checkout Conversion Calculator then you need to check out Blue Snap. According to Blue Snap you could be losing up to 42 % of your potential sales and not even realize it! Be sure to evaluate your checkout process today. This is a stress-free, easy checkout option that supports 180 countries, 110 payment types and 29 languages. With their BuyNow Hosted Checkout Pages customers benefit from localization options such as: local currencies, languages, and payment types.
5. Square Up: Square Up gives businesses the ability to securely swipe all types of major types of credit cards from any location with their Square magstripe reader. The reader accepts credit cards, gifts cards and even send invoices. In addition, you can also make quick deposits. See the deposits within only 1-2 business days. The customer support team is available by phone, email as well as Twitter so you can get answers on demand from their Support Center.
Acquiring customers is a hard and costly process for retailers. But once someone has bought from your brand, if re-engaged, they are more likely to return and buy again. Conversion rates for returning visitors can reach as high as twice of that of new visitors. As a marketer, your low hanging fruits are the customers who are already familiar and trust your brand and you should focus your efforts on engaging and re-engaging them with every channel available to you. Here are some tools you need to consider:
1. Mapp CEP (Customer Engagement Platform): Mapp’s Customer Engagement Platform allows marketers to engage customers across Email, Mobile, Social, Web or any combination of these channels. It is a cloud-based, all-in-one integrated digital marketing platform that enables you to quickly and easily take full advantage of the many ways to communicate digitally with your customers. Integrated with a native DMP (Data Management Platform), this robust tool helps you connect your advertising and marketing efforts for maximum results and more control over the full buying cycle of your customers.
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2. Bllush: User generated content is king. The amount of media uploaded by real people today is staggering. Approximately two billion images are uploaded each day to social media. Bllush leverages user generated images to increase engagement with product in ecommerce stores while inspiring users to try (and buy) more items. Bllush ads a seamless addition to your website that provides relevant stories about your products, latest trends, how-to guides and event or news coverage. Each story is shoppable, with links to purchase similar items from your store.
3. Liveperson: Message your users via the channel of their choice. Not just that but make Liveperson offers engagements set up from anywhere and however you want- that means customized to your needs. Your consumers can contact you or start up a conversation with you when it is convenient for them. Their terms, their concerns, their needs. You can even engage with your consumers via mobile messaging, that’s right brand and consumer connect to offer the consumer the full experience of service.
4. Proonto: want to provide online customer support, without having to train your associates and hire more manpower to handle the channel? Proonto’s got your back. Proonto is more than a platform, it is also a marketplace of trained ecommerce sales providers who are available to not only assist your customers as they reach out for help, but also to actively approach customers and increase purchase interest.
5. mmuze: while proonto is built on human interaction, mmuze is an AI (artificial intelligent) platform that uses bots to engage your customers in real time. Customers can ask questions about inventory, style or help with finding the right size, and the bots will answer in real time and in a humanely voice. Your associates can even help train the bots and help them learn the language of your brand. This is the future of digital retail. Available for you today.
Ecommerce Analytic Tools
Do you want to get true insights of what visitors are doing on your website? Do you want to know what works and what doesn’t work? This is where analytic tools come into the picture.
1. Google Analytics: Google Analytics is the basic tool that marketers use to get a high level picture of what goes on in their website. To make it truly effective, you can use advanced features such as conversion tracking and goals setting. With mobile playing a strong part in any digital retail strategy today, companies with mobile apps can also use Google Analytics for Mobile Apps in order to measure the impact their app is having on their business.
2. Kissmetrics: Kissmetrics according to ecommerce platforms, "is the first tool any website owner should install on their site, there are certain features that make them an absolute must on ecommerce sites". So why is this? Their tool is the most comprehensive analytics solution. With their powerful analytics tool you are given the ability to receive vital information that as a result increases customer acquisition and retention rates. The information you receive is highly detailed which allows you to make more informed decision on layout and more.
3. Datorama: This is a platform that assists executives, analysts and professionals to manage and perform tasks based upon huge amounts of data. Datorama extracts what you need in order to make smarter decisions and yield positive results. This tool gives you the freedom to make real-time adjustments in media spend and resource allocation creates a map of all of your data within minutes, monitors KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) correlated with every marketing channel.
4. Cooladata: There is no need to have dedicated resources for analytics with CoolaData. CoolaData has the power to combine behavioral data with both external and internal sources. Their behavioral analytics is a cloud-based analysis service similar to the components of the Google Cloud Platform. The difference with this service is that the components are already assembled and there is no need to integrate the needed components. You can also implement your own applications via a SDK (software development kit) that is provided by CoolaData. It is also possible to connect to the data of other analysis tools such as Microsoft Excel.
5. Cyfe: Looking for a tool to monitor multiple websites, top referring domains, search engines and SEO keywords ranking? Cyfe is the all—in-one online business dashboard that helps you monitor all your data from one place. That includes: social media, analytics, marketing, sales, support, and infrastructure.
Optimizing the Shopping Experience on Mobile
1. Zuznow: Zuznow works solely on HTML results that are sent to the mobile user in real-time. No API requirements and no interface with application code. Why do they do this? It's because they are ensuring there will be no changes or modifications on the original web application. The secured information remained encrypted with the Zuznow platform. It is completely invisible to the eyes beyond their platform.
2. Shopgate: Shopgate offer the total mobile package. This package includes mobile web shops, iPhone & iPad Apps and Android Apps. Customize your mobile store design in just a few clicks. It's that simple with Shopgate.
3. CEP Mobile Marketing: Mobile engagement has become an essential part of every growing business' marketing repertoire. The majority of top brands are creating individualized experiences for customers via their mobile apps as apps are where users spend most of their time. Yet, over 80 percent of apps are deleted after only one usage. The secret to creating a long-lasting relationship lies with mobile engagement. Take advantage of push and in-app message, automated yet personalized messages for the most engaging solution for your customers.
4. Localz: A highly effective approach to bringing together the online and offline. By using beacon and other location technology you can help your customers find what they are looking for, claim coupons and engage with an in-store associate using their own smartphone. With 82% of smartphone users browsing and shopping via their mobile devices, this is quickly becoming a trend not to be ignored.
5. Appsflyer: With your consumers constantly switching between devices and engaging with your brand across multiple touchpoints, marketing ROI is best measured when data is all connected rather than siloed. Easier said than done… But with a simple server-to-server integration, AppsFlyer enables you to know how your mobile campaigns impacted post-install and retargeting-driven actions on your desktop/tablet website or physical shop – and from there the path to smarter campaign optimization is set.
Over to You
Wow, that was quite a list. When I started out the research for this post, I did not imagine getting to as many as 45 digital retail tools! But research is only the first step, it is now up to you to decide which tools you’d like to implement.
Using the right tools without the right strategy in place will not get you far. Retail customers expect a seamless experience across all channels – web, mobile, email and social. To help you in building your multi-channel retail digital strategy, we created the secret recipe to creating the ultimate digital retail experience.