The digital space is making it increasingly easy for people to set up shop, quite literally, and get started selling things online. The Internet has become the world's largest mall. Anyone can sell anything, keep a small business running, or even aim to become the next retailer like Amazon. Of course, it takes the right tools.
Today, there are a host of storefront apps and tools that give you a place to sell your wares and the digital world has plenty of available real estate. It's easy to open your store and you won't even need to worry about building codes—the hardest decision, in fact, is picking the platform where you'll open up shop. You can choose from online marketplaces, social networks, hosted online stores, single-product pages, self-hosted stores, and several other options.
Some people start out with Etsy or by selling things on Facebook Marketplace until they feel that it's time to upgrade. Today, however, many people are going straight to Shopify, one of the most popular eCommerce sites available today. Fortunately, that means that there are also tons of apps available for integration with your Shopify site if that's the route that you decide to go. You'll just have to decide what's best for your needs.
The entire realm of online shopping got a very simple start. Even before the pandemic, online shopping was becoming the norm for several people. Companies even started offering things like groceries and essentials online well before COVID-19, and now it seems like anyone can buy just about anything online.
1991 was when the World Wide Web was originally launched. By 1994, people were using it to sell stuff and that summer NetMarkets and the Internet Shopping Network, the first actual "eCommerce" stores, were born.
In 1995, Amazon and eBay were founded. Check out the image below—that's the original Amazon.com website from 1995, which already offered over 1 million titles at that point. Amazon was originally built and branded as the world's largest online bookstore, after all, before becoming simply the world's largest online retailer.
For years, online shopping remained primitive, as most people were leery of sharing their personal information and uncertain about how exactly online shopping worked. Essentially, we were supposed to trust that you'd send your "virtual money" out into the ether, and in return, you'd receive a product that you picked off the computer screen, never having to enter a store.
While most people are going, "well, yes, that's how it works," in 1995, people had no idea how it worked—online shopping was brand new, and it was going to take some time for it to fully become what it has today.
Speaking of what it has become today, the eCommerce market has access to dozens of tools, apps, and platforms that can make online business easier and help you create the next best hot store on the World Wide Web.
There are several ways to start online storefront businesses and several tools available today to help with them. The apps available will make it easy for you to get things done. While they're listed as Online Storefront Apps, they're apps that are designed to work with your storefront and make your job that much easier.
Check out tools that help with things like:
· Managing inventory
· Managing and processing payments
· Handling tasks and integrations (Zapier)
· Invoicing and billing
· Expense tracking
· One-click features
· Themes and templates to set up your site
· The entire customer buying journey
In the list below, we've included an array of apps that can help with different areas of your eCommerce, from solutions like Zapier to automate tasks and integrations to tools like Oberlo that help you source suppliers and find products to import for your own Shopify store.
Take the time to compare the features and see how they can help improve your Shopify eCommerce store and then choose the ones that you like best. While we've covered a few of the top apps here, you'll also find thousands of other apps and tools that can help you improve your eCommerce operations.
If you want an integration that takes a lot of the work off your hands, ask how our virtual receptionists can act as the face of your Shopify store to help with customer questions through live website chat and other services while also taking control of your mission-critical services so that you can focus your efforts on your business.
Now, back to the apps.
Zapier is a great tool that you'll see on a lot of our lists around here. That's because it's a versatile solution that can assist with automating tasks between all of the other tools and apps you use. With this tool, you can create "Zaps," which trigger certain tasks and events. In the case of your Shopify store, you can trigger a welcome email to send when someone signs up for an account for the first time, for one example.
Zapier can link your Shopify store to MailChimp, Gmail, or even your ActiveCampaign marketing platform so that you can automate lead generation and other tasks to help streamline efforts while you're taking care of the rest of your business. If you want, create Zaps that notify you directly every time a sale is made, a customer is created, or something needs your attention.
Plus, Zapier offers free solutions and the paid plans start at just $19.99 per month if you want something more.
If you're tired of cart abandonment, PushOwl is a tool that needs to be on your list. Abandoned carts are one place where businesses are missing out when it comes to big potential, and it's important to maximize your marketing efforts there however you can. With this tool, you'll be able to encourage customers to come back to their carts and finish their transactions.
PushOwl works by sending tailored reminders and campaigns to your customers and potential customers. It also sends review notifications and lets you know which pushes were effective so that you can track your success. You can even start using it for free, with up to 500 impressions included. If you like it, it's only $19 per month to get a paid plan. If you want to look into a better way to get customers back, cart abandonment should be on your marketing agenda.
Those who are building a Shopify store will need people to fill out forms for shipping and billing, among other things. The good news is that in addition to the features included in the website, tools like Form Builder exist. This tool allows you to create unique forms for your customers that are easy to fill and even include auto-fill features. You can let people place custom orders, make donations, and more.
Form Builder is a one-click install and it's easy to get started. Plus, you don't have to be a coder to create professional, beautiful forms that will keep your customers engaged and remind them that you're trying to help them. When you make things easy, people will have fewer reasons to reconsider or stall on their purchase. You'll be able to get more leads and conversions with this tool because you can create the perfect custom shopping experience and more.
Form Builder has a basic plan that starts free, but it's somewhat limited on features. If you want to make sure that you have all the features, upgrade to the Pro Plan for just $10 per month.
This tool is all about SEO and making sure that people can find your shop organically and based on keyword searches. When you install the app, it will start to automatically detect all of the different SEO elements on your store, from blog content to keywords, site speed, and even broken links. You won't have to do the work yourself anymore, which means you can spend more time on other things.
Plug in SEO sends email alerts whenever you have an issue with SEO and gives you free instructions on how to fix things, too. It can even help you make improvements to increase traffic and so much more. It's essentially an app that will take SEO off your hands and it's got all the features and tools that you need without a huge cost.
In fact, Plug in SEO is a free app with basic scanning features, and if you upgrade to the premium version, it'll only cost you $20 a month.
Printful is an online printing service that will allow you to create custom creations without spending a fortune on setting up your own print shop. You can create an account and then design and sell things like mugs, t-shirts, posters, and other custom items. It's great because you don't have to set up your own inventory and you can quickly process transactions without having to worry about handling product.
When using Printful, the app will take all orders and process them immediately, acting as the face of your business. It allows you to sell items without having to be involved in the production process, which can be really expensive for printing and customization. While the app is free to install, you'll be charged a small processing fee for each order that you take. Still, it's more than reasonable for what you get.
Oberlo is an app that everyone can benefit from. Also available in the browser, Oberlo allows you to source products from various creators and manufacturers around the world. You can find items that you want to buy and resell and even get updates on the latest items and hottest trends to ensure that your Shopify store is always maximizing profits.
This dropshipping service can help you in several ways, but namely, it makes it easy for you to sell items on Shopify and ship them directly to the customer from your supplier, tracking everything in real-time and with less work on your hands. For those who want to go the dropshipping route instead of keeping inventory, this app is a great choice.
Oberlo is free to use, but you'll probably want to upgrade eventually to access all of the features. Fortunately, the premium plan only costs about $29 to start.
Although we don't have the time or space to cover them all in-depth, you can also check out the apps below for more tools to assist with your Shopify store. Whether they're online storefront apps, marketing apps, communication apps, or anything else, they can help you improve your business and build your online store a lot quicker than you could on your own.
2. Shopify Email
7. Fancy FAQ
8. Change Commerce
9. Shopify Local Delivery
14. Return Magic
15. Referral Candy
While you're busy building your Shopify site with the apps and tools on this list, you can count on our virtual receptionists to provide you with the professional service and solutions that your customers need. We can help with all of your mission-critical services, even handling things like online order inquiries, customer service, and even managing lead intake and new customer acquisition.
As a small business or solopreneur, you're limited on time and resources. That's to be expected, and that's exactly why we're here. Whether you've considered a partnership before or you're just now looking for a little more help, we have the tools and solutions that you need. Reach out to us now to find out what we can do.
To discuss your needs, schedule a consultation or call (650) 727-6484. We'll walk you through our process and services to help you understand all the ways we can take care of your business while you're taking care of setting up shop, from simple services to a customized plan for total management of 24/7 messaging, live chat, phone answering services, and more.
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