Starting a new ecommerce business can be a whirlwind of responsibilities and decisions — like choosing which ecommerce apps you'll use to run your business. When your time and budget are limited, how do you determine which apps and plug-ins will:
- Be easy to manage?
- Have the biggest impact on your business?
- Make sense for an new store’s priorities?
Some ecommerce apps are a must-have right out of the gate, while others can wait until you get more budget and staff.
To help determine which apps are necessary for your new business, we share the most important criteria early-stage brands should look for in an app before covering nine ecommerce apps that every online business needs to download.
Key ecommerce app features small businesses should look for
Most new ecommerce businesses don't have the budget or the sales volume to justify purchasing a broad range of ecommerce apps right away. So, you'll need to narrow down your selection to the apps with great bang for your buck.
With that in mind, here are the most important features that small business owners should look for in ecommerce apps:
Provides flexible, affordable pricing
Some ecommerce solutions can cost thousands of dollars a month or more, putting them out of reach for most small businesses and early-stage brands.
These high-priced apps are almost always geared toward larger organizations anyway, meaning that you aren't likely to need all of the features they offer until your business grows.
The good news is that there’s also a wide range of affordable ecommerce apps designed to support smaller stores and brands — those are the ones we’ll focus on below.
Automates manual tasks and ecommerce processes
Starting a new business requires a lot of hard work. The more manual tasks and workflows you can automate, the more time you have to focus on important activities like developing new products and growing your audience.
Creating automated email marketing campaigns rather than sending out emails manually is one example of how apps that offer automation features can save you time. Using automation to provide canned responses to common customer questions is another example of the time-saving benefits that automation can provide.
Monitors ecommerce performance
Whatever function of your ecommerce business that an app is designed to facilitate (whether it's customer support, marketing, sales, or order fulfillment), it also needs to be able to track your store's performance in these key areas.
This is especially important for small stores, who don’t have full time data analysts to pull insights from tools. Choosing apps that provide detailed analytics and reporting will give your business the data and insights it needs for continual optimization.
Integrates with other ecommerce tools
Integrating all your ecommerce apps can enable powerful new features and capabilities. For instance, integrating your customer support app with your order tracking and fulfillment app might allow you to easily provide tracking numbers and order updates when customers request them.
Along with choosing apps that offer a broad range of possible integrations with other popular ecommerce tools, it's especially important to ensure that the apps you select are capable of integrating with whatever ecommerce platform you use.
Supports your most important ecommerce KPIs
When you don't have the budget to purchase every app you might want, it's important to focus on the apps that align most closely with your important KPIs. Business of all sizes, but especially small businesses, do well to focus on one area at a time. Are you looking to:
- Increase customer satisfaction?
- Boost conversion rate?
- Raise brand awareness?
- Improve customer retention?
Identifying the KPIs most important to your business and choosing your ecommerce apps based on these KPIs will ensure that you purchase apps that will have the biggest impact on your store's success.
Offers "try it before you buy it" model
When budgets are tight, you need to ensure that the app you purchase will meet your business's needs before you break out your wallet. For this reason, small businesses should prioritize apps that offer a free trial, a free version, or, at the very least, a free demo.
Includes customer success or support
Ecommerce apps are often challenging to set up and use. And as a small business owner, you can't afford to spend all your time troubleshooting issues with your ecommerce apps. This makes it important to choose apps with high-quality customer support or customer success services.
Offers additional pricing plans
While it's great to find an app with free or affordable pricing, you also need solutions that can scale alongside your company. Choosing apps with multiple pricing plans allows you to upgrade your subscription as your company grows, without having to switch to a new app.
The best apps necessary for small-but-mighty brands
Now that we've covered the specific criteria that new ecommerce stores should look for in their apps, let's take a look at a few of the most essential ecommerce apps to set your business up for success.
1) Shopify: An ecommerce platform for building your online store
The first and most essential app for anyone starting a new ecommerce store is an ecommerce platform for building and hosting a shopping app or website. As the most popular ecommerce platform on the market today, Shopify makes it easy for new stores to offer online shopping essentials, like:
- Mobile optimization for shoppers on mobile devices
- Multiple payment options (like credit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, and more)
- Simple checkout processes to limit cart abandonment
With Shopify, app development is easy-breezy: You can build a customized online store using simple drag-and-drop commands. Best of all, Shopify has an app store full of integrations with just about all popular ecommerce apps and tools, enabling you to expand on all of these features. For example, you can download a Shopify app to:
- Sell your product on marketplaces like Amazon or Ebay
- Search-engine optimize (SEO) your store
- Add pop-ups to reduce shopping cart abandonment
Take a look at how Shopify integrates with Gorgias to save time and provide personalized customer experiences.
- Easy-to-use store creator
- Hundreds of customizable themes and templates
- Hundreds of apps and integrations available on the Shopify app store
- Intuitive and easy-to-use interface
- Affordable pricing
- Great customer support
- Not as customizable as more advanced ecommerce platforms such as Magento and BigCommerce
- Does not support email hosting
Shopify offers three pricing plans:
- Basic plan for $29 per month
- Shopify plan for $79 per month
- Advanced plan for $299 per month
While Shopify is a favorite choice for many, it’s not the only ecommerce platform. Popular alternatives include WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and Magento. We recommend staying away from general website builders like WordPress and Wix, which offer limited support for ecommerce.
2) Huboo: Order fulfillment and tracking
Huboo is an order fulfillment solution that enables effortless order tracking and much more. With Huboo, you can outsource all of your company's order fulfillment responsibilities, shipping your products in bulk to Huboo warehouses, where they are stored, picked, packed, and delivered on behalf of your brand.
Customers demand the ability to track their orders. 90% of consumers who engage in online shopping actively track their packages, with 20% of consumers tracking their packages multiple times a day. If you want to keep your customers happy and avoid a flood of "where is my order?" tickets, you will need to provide order tracking.
Using your Huboo Dashboard, you can see sales and listings by channel, courier tracking, inventory, costs, and billing, making it easy to provide order updates to your customers.
To learn more about Huboo, check out our Huboo partner page.
- Capable of integrating with all popular sales channels and marketplaces
- Huboo Dashboard for easily tracking orders along with important fulfillment metrics and KPIs
- Wide-ranging fulfillment network in the EU and UK capable of fulfilling orders all over the world
- Helps eliminate fulfillment errors with 99.9% picking accuracy
- Removes the burden of order fulfillment and warehouse management
- Per-item pricing adds to your company's shipping costs
- Does not accept bulky, chilled, or frozen goods
Huboo charges per-item rates for every package shipped, varying based on the package size and how quickly it is delivered. For a detailed breakdown of these rates, check out Huboo's pricing page.
3) ShipHero: Warehouse management and order fulfillment
Another excellent warehouse management and order fulfillment app, ShipHero offers two solutions to ecommerce stores:
- A warehouse management system for managing your own warehouses more efficiently
- Completely outsourced fulfillment.
With ShipHero’s fully outsourced fulfillment services, store owners can ship their products in bulk to ShipHero warehouses, where they are picked, packed, and delivered with 99%+ shipping accuracy.
ShipHero’s warehouse management system lets you automatically process orders and returns, manage your inventory, and access insightful analytics and reporting.
- Fully outsourced warehouse management and order fulfillment
- Built-in reporting features covering everything from COGS to Picker/Packer Efficiency to Replenishment
- Automation rules, including smart warehouse routing, shipping method mapping, and address validation
- Provides the option to manage inventory and order fulfillment yourself using ShipHero’s warehouse management system or the option to outsource these responsibilities
- Includes excellent automation features for improving order fulfillment efficiency and accuracy
- Enables 30% faster shipping and a 35% reduction in warehouse costs
- Somewhat difficult to set up and navigate by some reports
- Higher shipping costs
ShipHero offers three pricing plans for its warehouse management system:
- Standard WMS for Brands plan starting at $1,850 per month
- WMS for 3PLs plan starting at $1,995 per month
- Enterprise WMS for Brands plan with custom pricing available upon request
However, pricing for their outsourced fulfillment services is only available upon request.
4) Gorgias: Helpdesk and live chat
89% of customers are more likely to make another purchase with a company following a positive customer service interaction. While most brands want to offer great customer experience, doing so as a small team can be difficult.
Luckily, helpdesks like Gorgias make it easy to offer great customer support without all the hassle, thanks to automation and self-service features.
Thankfully, Gorgias makes it easy for brands of all sizes to offer personalized customer support via an industry-leading customer support platform. This includes features such as:
- A centralized dashboard for managing tickets and customer messages across numerous support channels
- Automation of tedious customer support tasks
- Help Centers and other self-service support options
- A fast-loading live chat widget for offering live chat support
- And much more
- Macros and Rules to provide automatic, personalized responses to common customer questions
- Centralized customer support dashboard that pulls in and organizes tickets from live chat, email, social media, SMS, phone, and more
- Advanced automation features to automatically respond to up to 30% of support requests
- Detailed customer support data and analytics for further fine-tuning your support services
- Broad range of customer support tools and features in a single platform
- Revenue-generation focused so that you can turn customer support into profits
- Can take some time to master all of Gorgias' tools and features
- Revenue statistics are only available on upper-tier plans
Gorgias offers five pricing plans:
- Starter plan for $10 per month
- Basic plan for $60 per month
- Pro plan for $360 per month
- Advanced plan for $900 per month
- Enterprise plan with custom pricing available upon request
5) Klaviyo: SMS and email marketing
Klaviyo is an SMS and email marketing platform with unparalleled personalization possitbilitieis. With Klaviyo, you can:
- Design attractive custom emails and text for your ecommerce website’s shoppers without any coding experience
- Manage and segment contact lists with built in customer relationship management (CRM) features
Create and launch automated SMS and email marketing campaigns
- Track the results of those campaigns with detailed reports
Email marketing remains one of the most effective of all digital marketing channels and is something that every ecommerce store should take advantage of. Plus, SMS marketing has been one of the most trending marketing channels for the past few years thanks to texting’s highly visible push notifications.
Take a look at how Klaviyo and Gorgias integrate for even more powerful experiences.
- A/B testing and segmentation features for honing your email marketing strategy
- Drag-and-drop email builder
- Advanced campaign automation
- Easy to set up and use
- Affordable pricing, including a forever free plan
- Limited SMS marketing features
- Support team is sometimes unresponsive
Klaviyo offers three pricing plans:
- Free plan for $0 per month that supports up to 500 monthly email sends
- Email plan with pricing based on how many contacts your business has
- Email and SMS plan with pricing based on how many contacts your business has
6) Canva: Design and content creation
Whether it's creating graphics for your emails, website, social media posts, or anything in between, creating and running an online store requires you to design a lot of content. Canva makes content design and creation easy regardless of your artistic experience.
With Canva, you can use attractive design templates and user-friendly drag-and-drop commands to create all manner of designs, including logos, flyers, banners, and much more.
- Drag-and-drop content designer
- Premium content library with 100 million+ photos, graphics, video, audio, and fonts
- Time-saving design tools such as Magic Resize and Background Remover.
- Very easy to use regardless of your design experience
- Advanced functionality that rivals expensive competitors like Photoshop
- Can't move one design to another, requiring you to create each design completely from scratch
- Limited video editing tools
Canva offers three pricing plans:
- Free plan for $0 per month
- Pro plan starting at $12.99 per month
- Teams plan starting at $14.99 per month
7) Typeform: Customer feedback surveys
Customer feedback is an invaluable resource for ecommerce stores of all sizes, enabling you to take a data-based approach to optimizing your store's customer experience.
With Typeform, you can start gathering more customer feedback by using templates to create customer feedback surveys.
Along with these customer feedback survey templates, Typeform also offers signup forms, report forms, order forms, and a ton of other professional templates.
- Hundreds of high-quality survey and form templates
- Quiz maker for creating customer quizzes (such as product recommendation quizzes)
- Brand kit for creating a set of custom fonts, colors, and media that you can use on any form
- Supports a long list of integrations with other popular ecommerce tools
- Makes it easy to create high-quality customer feedback surveys regardless of your design experience
- Only for creating surveys and forms; you'll need integrations to actually send these forms out and gather responses
- Offers mobile app for iOS but not for Android
Typeform offers three pricing plans:
- Basic plan for $25 per month
- Plus plan for $50 per month
- Business plan for $83 per month
8) Triple Whale: Analytics and reporting
Triple Whale is a complete ecommerce hub for Shopify stores that lets you track the metrics that matter most to your brand in one easy-to-use dashboard.
Triple Whale's attribution features allow you to track how much you spend on each marketing channel and your return on these investments. If you are looking for a single solution that gives your brand access to all of the data and insights it needs to grow and improve, you'll find a lot to like about Triple Whale.
- Six attribution models and journey mapping for unlocking key insights in real-time
- Creative analysis tools for measuring ad performance
- Mobile app for viewing your data on the go
- Real-time insights provide much more flexibility and proactivity than monthly reports
- Single source of truth for your ecommerce store
- Somewhat costly for the features that it provides
- Only available for Shopify stores
Triple Whale offers five pricing plans:
- Dashboard plan for $100 per month
- Attribution plan for $300 per month
- Full Whale plan for $450 per month
- Custom plan with custom pricing available upon request
9) Recharge: Subscription management
It might surprise you to learn that 54% of online shoppers are subscribed to at least one ecommerce subscription. Leveraging the subscription model is a good way to create a reliable, recurring revenue stream for your business. However, it's also a model that entails its own unique requirements and complexities.
The best way to create and manage a subscription service for your online store is to utilize a subscription management app, and Recharge is a great one to consider. Recharge lets you quickly set up a subscription program, packaging your products or services into monthly or annual subscription plans.
The app processes recurring subscription payments and makes it easy to manage every aspect of your subscription programs, providing detailed analytics into the performance of your program. Recharge also allows you to create a customer-facing subscription management portal where customers can easily view, change, or cancel their subscriptions.
Learn how Recharge and Gorgias integrate for powerful subscription management.
- Developer Hub for quickly creating and setting up subscription offers
- Analytics suite that provides insights into revenue, customers, and subscriptions
- Subscription management via RechargeSMS or a customer portal
- Gives customers the option to skip or delay deliveries rather than canceling, helping reduce customer churn
- Makes it quick and easy to create subscription offers
- Limited customization options
- The only subscription management app on the market for Shopify stores
Recharge offers three pricing plans:
- Standard plan with no monthly fees and 1% + 10 cents per transaction
- Pro plan for $499/month and 1% + 19 cents per transaction
- Custom plan with tailored pricing available upon request
Learn why ecommerce stores of all sizes favor the Gorgias app
Choosing the right customer support platform is just one of the many vital decisions you will need to make as an ecommerce store owner. While you’ve got plenty of options, only one is exclusively built for ecommerce and offers features and plans that scale from small stores to large enterprises.
If you want to get started enjoying the many benefits of the best ecommerce customer support platform on the market, sign up for Gorgias today!