Today, eCommerce is a very plug-and-play realm. Bespoke builds and heavy customisations are largely a thing-of-the-past; instead there is often a tool out there which solves the piece of the jigsaw which you seek answers to.
In this article, we’ve collated a list of the 5 apps, tools and services we feel today’s retailer shouldn’t be without. From increasing buyer-seller communication and after-sales contact, customer loyalty, mobile friendliness and checkout ease, there is something in this list for all.
Launched in 2007, Zopim is a real-time chat service connecting online shoppers with retailers in a convenient and innovative ‘chat widget’ on the bottom right of a retailer’s website. If this sounds familiar, you will be one of more than 200 million shoppers who encounter a Zopim chat widget each month. Zopim is used by more than 70,000 businesses worldwide, and last year became part of popular helpdesk solution Zendesk.
Why we like it: Zopim is such a well-designed app – the dashboard is really well thought out and it can be used on some eBay listings. It’s also really straightforward for your customers to make use of too.
Pre-built plugins are available for most shopping cart platforms, with a free trial and even a free single-agent tier available. For more information, or to take a trial, visit http://www.zopim.com/
While a British company, PostcodeAnywhere can work with global addresses in more than 240 countries, and its unique ‘Capture+’ service reduces entering addresses down to a single field. This has huge potential to boost conversion amongst mobile shoppers, making address entry as simple as typing in one box.
Why we like it: We'll let the demo of the technology at the top of http://www.postcodeanywhere.co.uk/speak for itself on this one. It’s truly a revolution – an autocomplete search box for your customers’ addresses.
3. Mailchimp & Mandrill
Quite the household name, Mailchimp is used by thousands around the world for Mailing List management. It has plugins available for many shopping cart platforms, and (on self-hosted shopping carts such as Magento) can also be used with sister-product ‘Mandrill’ to handle transactional emails (order notifications, shipment confirmations and such).
Why we like it: Mailchimp is really easy to use – while what it does can be a technical concept at times, it makes sure that you don’t need to be a HTML expert at all stages along the way. It even has a free tier which allows smaller retailers to send newsletters without cost provided its self-promoting footer button can be displayed on your emails. Sign up at http://www.mailchimp.com/
The default Twitter app is great for sending the occasional tweet here and there, but it has limits. Tweetdeck was created by a British developer as a 3rd party app, but it was so good Twitter themselves decided to buy it. Instead of the single column which the Twitter client for Mac & Windows allows you to view, Tweetdeck allows you to set up multiple columns. Each column can be used to monitor – for example – tweets to a hashtag, tweets by another user, inbox messages and more. You can also schedule tweets for publishing later on.
Why we like it: With the slightly controversial API access limiting Twitter has embarked upon over the past few years, Tweetdeck is one of the few remaining products which gives retailers access to an experience we like to think of as ‘Twitter PRO’. Scheduling tweets can be a really useful tool in tandem with a scheduled blog post. Download it for free at: http://www.tweetdeck.com/
Typically when a customer orders from a larger retailer, they receive notifications along the way of where their parcel is. Unfortunately this level of after shipment communication has long been impossible for smaller retailers to achieve. Enter Aftership – number 1 on our ‘Top 5 Apps’ list.
Why we like it: A simple plugin enables Aftership to automatically contact your customers with updates on order statuses fetched from your shipping partners. While there are likely a small handful of carriers it does not support, Aftership works with more than 249 carriers worldwide, so it’s likely that your carrier(s) of choice will work.
After tracking information is entered for an order, Aftership automatically begins checking for updates. It is intelligent enough to classify updates into specific categories such as transit notifications and delivery attempts, and the system can be told to call to a custom script on your website when a stage is reached if you wish. If you have a tracking number to hand, you can try Aftership instantly on their home page - http://www.aftership.com