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8 Tools You Need for Your Online Business

July 21, 2021 16:08

8 Tools You Need for Your Online Business

8 Tools You Need for Your Online Business


When you own your own boutique, the buck stops with you… but that doesn’t mean you should be doing every single task required in your online boutique all by yourself. 


Sure, you may not have the resources to hire an entire team, complete with a customer service person, a fulfillment expert, a merchandiser, a virtual assistant, and an accountant. But nowadays, you don’t need an entire dedicated team to run a successful business. (Though it can definitely help!) It’s possible to take many time-consuming tasks off your plate… without necessarily passing them onto another person.


Software and online platforms can help you automate processes in your business, saving you loads of time and allowing you to focus on more important things. (Like finding new customers and sourcing fabulous new products!) Nowadays, software can help you manage customer relationships, your online store, accounting, bookkeeping, inventory, and more. And the best part is, it doesn’t cost near as much as it would to hire someone to do those things for you. Many software solutions are totally free – though it’s worth investing in, your time is valuable!


While it’s possible to run the show without the assistance of many of these tools, they’re key to freeing up your schedule, staying organized, and scaling your business. Read on for a list of eight tools any boutique owner needs for their online business!


8 Tools You Need for Your eCommerce Business

Website on a desk screen next to lamp

  1. A Website

Sure, it’s possible to run things as a brick-and-mortar boutique or stick primarily to social selling. But a quality eCommerce website can unlock all kinds of doors for you. It helps your business appear more professional and can allow you to reach a much, MUCH larger customer base than patrons of your local mall. And with all sorts of awesome website builders out there, you don’t have to be a coder or hire an expensive web developer to create a beautiful website.


There are so many popular website-building platforms out there that it can feel overwhelming to choose just one. If you’re a total newbie when it comes to designing a website, look for one with an affordable price, an easy-to-use interface (both for your and your customers’ sake!), powerful features, and lots of customizability.


A few of the easiest and most popular website builders include, Shopify, GoDaddy website builder, Weebly, Squarespace, and Wix. eCommerce plans may range anywhere from free to around $29 a month, depending on the builder. All of these plans include eCommerce selling features so your customers can place orders and process payments online.


Interested in learning more about how to create a boutique website and which platform to use? Check out the easiest website builders for boutique owners here.


  1. Social Media Management Tools

Social media is an excellent tool to help get the word out about your awesome products, find new customers, and connect with existing customers on a deeper level. But whether you’re ultra-savvy when it comes to social media or you can’t tell a hashtag from a hashbrown, keeping up with posting and engaging across multiple platforms can get pretty draining.


While there’s no substitute for genuine interaction and high-quality content created by a real human, social media management tools can help you batch your content and schedule regular posts without having to click the “share” button. Platforms like Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to schedule posts across multiple platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more. It’s a great tool to help you stay active on multiple social media platforms and post regular content without being glued to your phone all day. It can even help you keep track of engagement metrics so you can know when and what to post more of. (Just remember to still engage with your community often through comments and messages – software can’t do all of that for you!)


checklist with red marker

  1. Inventory Management Tools

Every boutique needs a great selection of fabulous products… but keeping track of those products can be tricky. (Especially if you have multiple locations, carry a wide variety of items in different categories, or have similar products in different sizes or styles!) Even if you’re just getting started or only offer a very small selection of products, implementing a good inventory management system can save you tons of time.


Inventory management is the process of ordering, storing, and using a company’s inventory. Inventory management software combines physical products with digital organization, allowing you to keep track of how many products you have in stock, sales data, and when it’s time to place a new inventory order. Whether yours is a brick-and-mortar store or an eCommerce store, it’s crucial to keep track of the items you have in stock so you don’t miss out on potential sales just because you didn’t have the right products in stock.


There are many inventory management strategies and platforms you can use to streamline your inventory management tasks. A few of the top affordable inventory management platforms for small businesses include QuickBooks, Zoho Inventory, Shopify, and Square.


Read the Small Business Owner’s Guide to Inventory Management here. 


  1. Customer Relationship Management Tools

Customer relationship management is the combination of strategies and technologies used to manage all of your company’s relationships and interactions with both current and potential customers. When used wisely, it can help your company stay connected to customers, be more efficient, and drive sales. 


Whether you realize it or not, you may perform customer relationship management tasks every single day. Every time you send a promotional email, respond to incoming queries or answer a phone call to your work phone, you’re working on strengthening customer relationships. Customer relationship management technology helps you manage all of your contacts and keep track of who’s who. At a glance, you can see which customers have ordered from you multiple times, which people on your mailing list have never made a purchase, where your customers are located, and more. This can allow you to get to know your customers better so you can better serve them. 


Software platforms such as Salesforce Essentials, Bigin, StartBooking, Capsule, Freshsales, and Vtiger offer powerful customer relationship management features built for small businesses. Many other platforms such as Shopify, Square, and Quickbooks may also include some basic customer relationship management features.


Strengthening customer relationships isn’t just the right thing to do – it can also impact your bottom line in a big way. The number one reason customers switch brands is that they feel unappreciated, and studies show that building customer relationships can drive sales, increase customer retention, and reach a larger audience.


chat feature on phone

  1. Customer Communication Tools

Customer relationship management software helps you keep track of all of your many customers and leads… but what do you use to start the conversation and hold their attention? Customer communication tools can help you engage with your customers, answer their questions, and continue advertising to them once they’ve opted in.


You might use any or a combination of the following:

  • Website chat software – this allows customers to get in touch with customer service instantly on your website, without having to pick up the phone. It allows you to guide the user throughout the website experience while they’re already there, which can help you raise conversion and generate leads. You can allow users to reach a customer service representative via chat or use a Chatbot to automate support.
  • Email marketing software – email marketing platforms like Mailchimp and Klaviyo allow you to create and schedule newsletters, promotional emails, abandoned cart emails, and more to your entire mailing list, without having to manage campaigns straight out of your email.
  • SMS software – this allows you to reach customers via text instead of simply via email. It’s a powerful tool since many customers check their text messages dozens of times a day and open all of them.


  1. Accounting/bookkeeping tools

Sure, you might be plenty savvy when it comes to keeping up with the latest trends, making your customers’ days, and cultivating a pretty social media account. But if you feel totally lost when it comes to managing your boutique’s finances… well, you’re not alone. Keeping track of income, bills, expenses, and profits can turn into a real headache… and falling behind or reporting your income incorrectly can turn into a major problem by the time tax season rolls around.


If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the accounting and bookkeeping tasks that go along with owning your own business, you don’t have to do it all on your own. (And you don’t have to shell out the big bucks to hire an accountant either!) Nowadays, you can automate many accounting and bookkeeping tasks with the help of software.


Accounting software can help you with day-to-day tasks like budgeting, generating sales reports, and inventory management as well as help you keep accurate records for tax purposes. It can record the flow of your company’s money, process invoices, process payments, help you keep track of your bills, offer payroll services, help you calculate taxes, and generate powerful reports. All of which can help you save time, prevent errors, stay organized, and focus more time and energy on growing your business!


Quickbooks Online, Xero Accounting, Wave Accounting, and Freshbooks all offer powerful bookkeeping features at an affordable price. (In fact, nearly all Wave Accounting features are available for free!)


Learn more about the best accounting software for your boutique here.


POS system in store

  1. POS system

Imagine: your customer finds an item they’d like to purchase, gets out their wallet to make a purchase… and then what happens? That’s where a POS system comes in. A POS or point of sale system is the place where a customer makes a payment for products at your store, whether online or in-person. In the old days, a POS system was essentially just a cash register – today, most POS systems have gone digital. 


POS systems are usually made up of hardware, software, and payment processing components, allowing you to accept payments, virtually keep track of inventory and sales, and make sure your money ends up in the right place. 


A good POS system can help you track and record data from each sale, manage inventory, report sales, process payments, and monitor multiple locations.


Two of the most popular POS systems for boutique owners are Shopify and Square. Shopify is especially ideal if yours is primarily an eCommerce store, while Square is great for smaller boutiques that primarily sell in person.


Learn more about the best POS system for boutique owners here.


  1. Business plan

If your business is going to be profitable, you’ve got to plan for success. Creating a business plan can help you have a sound strategy from the get-go. And no, a business plan doesn’t have to be some super complicated, 100-page document with graphs and charts and loads of confusing numbers. With a little research and patience, you can create a short business plan that will help you keep the big picture in mind: what your business will do, who your business is going to sell to, and how your business will make money.


Most business plans consist of five sections: an executive summary, opportunity, execution, company summary, and financial plan. Together, these sections outline what you’re selling, the problem you’re solving, your competition, how you’ll reach your target customer, your company’s structure, an estimate of your startup costs, and a forecast of how much you think you’ll sell over the next 12 months.


Many business plan software platforms can help walk you through the entire process for a low fee, including LivePlan, Venngage, Formswift, and more. But of course, you don’t need an online platform to create a great one! 


Learn how to create a business plan for your online boutique all on your own here.



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