The Covid-19 pandemic boosted this business model between 2019 and 2020, which according to the United National Commission on Trade and Development (Unctad) grew 23% in the world's most important economies, including the United States, China and the United Kingdom.
The trend continued in 2021. In the specific case of the United States, the world's leading economy, the rise in electronic commerce was 19%, according to the Statista outlook report , which estimates that by 2025 progress in the sale of products and/or services online will grow up to 73% in this country.
These are some data that demonstrate the value of e-commerce , the prospects in the medium term, and how it has become an indispensable means for business growth in today's times.
But an online store or offering products through the Internet is not only about having a web page to offer them, but also the user experience must be transferred to the digital medium, while taking advantage of the tools offered by the ecosystem of the web to get to know customers better, optimize costs, simplify processes, make the business more efficient in general.
For this there is a series of tools that cover each one of the aspects of the business that go from the creation of the web page, optimization of the online and offline website to be found by the target audience through search engines, management of images, process automation, payment simplification, knowing the impact of marketing campaigns, to name a few.
In a world as competitive as e-commerce is, taking advantage of digitization is imperative to be at the forefront, especially when it comes to knowing the customer, their preferences and improving the user experience.
It all starts with the website. Today practically all companies have a website, but those who want to be part of e-commerce must adapt it for sales. This means including the necessary plugins to optimize the entire purchase process, from the deployment of products or services, through payment and shipping options (when applicable), to monitoring to have feedback on the process experienced by the customer . .
Plugins are accessory programs, which take care of specific actions. They are usually part of the configuration of the platform that is used to create the page, but the variety of these will vary depending on the plan that has been contracted with the platform that hosts the web page.
Wordpress is one of the most popular, and within it there are dozens of plugins that can be incorporated into the virtual store (or are included depending on the plan). In some other cases a monthly subscription must be paid for certain plugins.
When talking about an online store , one of the most used plugins is WooCommerce, which allows the creation of virtual stores; Approximately a quarter of e-commerce in the world is powered by WooCommerce.
It is an open source program through which you can sell any type of product or service, from physical items, online services, to content subscriptions, for example. It has integrations that allow you to accept payments through various forms such as debit cards, credit cards, PayPal, electronic transfers, Mercado Pago (Mercado Libre), among others.
Likewise, it allows the registration of products, their editing, reactivation of an abandoned shopping cart, recurring payment, Facebook store, to name some of the features of this plugin.
The fact that it is open source software is one of its differentiating characteristics, which allows the company to make connections with other software and thus maintain the company's identity in its online store . However, precisely the fact of having open source can be one of the complexities of the plugin, since the integration of other software to WooCommerce may require a programming professional to develop it.
Leaving aside the functionalities of the payment process in the virtual store , other plugins that can be added are those such as Shipment Tracking, so that customers have the opportunity to track their orders; Menu Caching, to optimize page load time; Automate Woo, as a marketing tool, to name a few.
The latter allows you to send follow-up emails to customers to get feedback on the product or service they purchased; identify past customers who are inactive to "target" them with automated marketing campaigns; generate personalized promotional coupons to improve sales, among other things.
One of the most important aspects for e-commerce is that customers find the product through the Internet, that is, in search engines, especially new prospects. For this, SEO positioning (Search Engine Optimization, for its acronym in English) is essential, and therefore the content that is displayed on the page.
Yoast is a plugin that allows you to easily optimize your posts so that they can be indexed by search engines. These publications can range from descriptions of products or services, the copy of the page, to the content of the website's blog, the latter highly recommended when having an online store, as it not only helps in the web positioning of the company, but it is also a means to show relevant information on the subject to customers and gain brand credibility.
When talking about electronic commerce, no aspect should be left aside, going through the images that are used, the configuration of the page to offer the best experience to the users, the organization of the products in this virtual showcase, the administration of the business, to mention a few, and for each of them you can find various tools for e-commerce that help optimize the business.
Perhaps one of the simplest aspects, but of great value to take into account, are the images used in the virtual store . Especially when it comes to physical products, their graphic representation must be attractive enough to captivate the customer. However, this can make these images too heavy for the configuration of the page, and this ends up affecting the loading speed of the website, with its negative effect on the user experience.
To avoid this, there are tools that compress the size of images while maintaining their quality. There are dozens of options online for this feature, including Compressjpeg, Webresizer, Compressnow, to name just a few.
Broken links and duplicate content in the virtual store are other technical reasons that impair the user experience, but there are also simple tools that help detect it.
In the case of broken links (code 404) it is essential to detect it as soon as possible to remove it from the website, and identify if said page has been replaced by another or if it is necessary to create a new page to replace said content. Broken links not only affect the user experience, but also do not add any value from the point of view of the positioning of the business on the web.
Among the tools for e-commerce , Screaming Frog is one of the most used in the world, and there are also other options such as Siteliner. The job of this software is to deeply scan each one of the pages of the website, in this case the virtual store , for a complete analysis of its technical details, including the presence of broken links or duplicate content. Screaming Frog also analyzes off page elements of the page for SEO optimization.
One of the key elements for the competitiveness of a business is its prices, and within a universe as wide as e-commerce it is quite a challenge to find the best strategy, but there are also e-commerce tools designed for it.
Pricing software allows you to carry out a market study to obtain relevant data for the trade in terms of prices, such as the behavior of competitors, the price index against them, conversion rate, profit margin of the products, among other things.
These types of tools not only focus on monitoring, but through them tasks such as automatic repricing can be automated, according to business rules if deviations are detected in it.
Among these programs are Price Seeker, Flipflow, Repricer, Upshelf, among others.
The organization of the store, both based on the products displayed and administratively, can also be automated.
In the first case, there are tools that use artificial intelligence to create a user profile, and thus organize the items in the virtual store according to the preferences of said person, with the aim of maximizing sales; Smart Hint is one of these tools for e-commerce.
Administrative operations such as invoicing, controlling cash flow, managing inventory, managing accounts receivable and payable can be left to programs like Tiny ERP or Bling.
And although the use of a whole series of new tools for e-commerce can be a headache for the administrators of a virtual store , there are also programs that allow the integration of different tools to simplify and optimize processes within electronic commerce.
For example, you can have sales software integrated with the CRM platform to follow up with a customer when they cancel an order and get feedback on that decision.
There is a lot of information generated by each of the applications that is an input for others, and with tools such as Make, Workato and Pluga, this data can be integrated through an automated process that ends up optimizing time.
Interaction with customers is always vital, even more so in an environment where they cannot be contacted physically but rather virtually. Within this specific context of e-commerce, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools play a fundamental role, as they allow all buyer information to be in one place.
In this way, the strategy can be complemented with marketing campaigns, segment customers to send exclusive promotions, real-time metrics, automate tasks such as sending emails after a purchase, to mention just a few of the features.
Through this type of tools for e-commerce , customer satisfaction can be ensured, through comprehensive experiences for users. Among the most used CRM software are Shopify and Hubspot.
Finally, once all the tools are in place, it will be necessary to evaluate the behavior of the virtual store , the marketing campaigns, the user experience, all aspects must be measured to know what is being done well and what is not.
The business decisions that are made today must be based on data, and e-commerce is full of them. The best known tool to analyze this data is Google Analytics, which allows you to have a global vision of the traffic that you have on the web page, identify where they come from, how they interact on the page, among many elements that are analyzed and that are placed disposition of the administrators of the company.
There are other similar programs such as Contentsquare, Adobe Analytics, Kissmetrics, Open Web analytics, Mapp, among many others.
In general, there are countless tools for e-commerce that can be used to automate and optimize each aspect of the business in a virtual store , and whose objective is none other than to help companies maximize profits within the new and competitive world of digital commerce.