What tools and apps do you need for an ecommerce store?

What tools and apps do you need for an ecommerce store?

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When I think about the Juni Store, I get this vivid image of myself as a gardener. Strange comparison, right? But hear me out on this one… 

There’s this overgrown, abandoned patch of land in front of me, and all I've been told is to transform it into a beautiful garden. Without the hard work of first preparing the soil, any seeds I sow will fail to take root and ultimately die. There’s a lot of grind and a lot of patience involved — that’s unavoidable. But one thing is for certain: without the right tools there will be a lot more grind and I’ll waste hours of my time doing more manual work.

It’s very similar when you’re growing an ecommerce store. You need to put in the groundwork to select and use the tools that will help your store to thrive. Just like a gardener might need a strimmer to cut back the weeds or a rotavator to prepare the soil, I need to find the right tools for customer support, marketing, inventory and more. So let's dive into what those tools might be.

What do you need in an ecommerce tech stack?

When building your tech stack, it makes sense to first think about what functions you need to fulfil and where using a tool will make your life easier. Here’s the function I’ll need to cover for my ecommerce store. See how it compares to your own list:

Hosting my store

The most basic requirement is an online store: a place to sell products.

Ordering and inventory

A tool for managing and processing orders. Will my ecommerce platform be able to do this or will I need an additional tool to handle inventory and logistics?

Customer service

How will I manage and respond to customer service enquiries? I’ll need a tool to do this efficiently to reduce my admin.

Advertising and driving traffic

I’ll need a tool to capture audience attention, build my email list, and build hype around my store.

Planning the customer journey

I want a tool that will help me plan journeys around my store that ultimately result in sales… And I’ll also need that tool or an additional tool to show me if those journeys are working and where I can make improvements.

Managing my finances

With payment gateways, ad networks, and subscriptions to all these tools to contend with, I don’t want to waste time on financial admin. I’ll be using tech to minimise this burden.

Choosing tools for an ecommerce tech stack

There are lots of competing apps, features, and priorities when it comes to choosing tools for an ecommerce tech stack. How do you cut through the noise to find the best ecommerce apps for your requirements?

My advice is to weigh up the pros and cons of each of your options. Here are some key considerations:

Pricing

Don’t be afraid to pay for value, but don’t overload your stack with expensive tools that won’t deliver a return on your investment in them.

Setup time and cost

Some apps require additional coding and expertise to get them up and running, which will add a lot to your setup costs.

Customer service

Each tool is a new piece of software with its own quirks and bugs. Check reviews of all apps you're considering to get a feel for how the developers handle customer service.

Messy code

Some apps leave behind a lot of code that takes time and effort to remove and slows down site speed in the meantime. Always backup your shop’s code before adding a new app or collaborator.

Cross-platform management

Will the app work independently of your current or planned stack? For example, if you move to a new ecommerce platform, will your email marketing app still work?

Free trials

Apps with the option to try before you buy are great for testing tools without committing to a subscription.

Development team

Try to find apps with a bit of a team or entity behind them. Private apps and lone developer pet projects may stop working one day — and then you’ll be stuck.

One size doesn’t fit all

Just because ‘everyone uses it’ doesn’t mean you have to. Do some research and make sure that the tool — no matter how ubiquitous — is right for your needs.

My first ecommerce stack

After doing my research to find the tech and tools that are best suited to my requirements at the very start of my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve settled on my first ecommerce stack. These are the tools I think I’ll need to get my store up and running.

It will be a miracle if this turns out to be exactly what I need, but this is what I’ve chosen.

Ecommerce platform: Shopify

No leftfield choices when it comes to my ecommerce platform and content management system. Shopify has established itself as the ecommerce CMS of choice for startups and I’ve decided it’s the one for me. I’ll combine Shopify with a third-party logistics provider for inventory management.

Pros:

  • Robust inventory management system
  • Flexible and easy to use
  • Integrates with a variety of apps and tools
  • Scalable — paid plans and site structure can grow with my store
  • Useful setup automations, such as policy generators

Cons:

  • Not the best platform for managing customer service
  • More restrictive than a self-hosted platform
  • Additional payments for apps and plugins
  • Relatively slow set up process

Ecommerce sustainability tool: One Tribe

When I was considering tools for my stack, I didn’t really think I would need one for sustainability. But when I saw One Tribe, it was an obvious choice. I’ll be selling products that match Juni’s sustainability values, but One Tribe will enhance those values. It’s a Shopify plugin that reduces the carbon footprint of ecommerce sales by saving trees. Small donations from every purchase on my store will be made to carbon reduction programmes. I've taken the Growth package, which is £49 per month.

Pros:

  • Reduces my store’s carbon footprint
  • Demonstrates and enhances our sustainability values

Cons:

  • No direct commercial benefit

Ecommerce customer service tool: Gorgias

This was another no-brainer. Gorgias is the best ecommerce customer service tool I've seen so far. Again, it integrates easily with Shopify. At its core, it's a really smart support ticket platform. But there's also live chat, SMS, social media, and a host of other tools for me to investigate. That might be worth a more detailed blog post once I’ve had a chance to explore everything properly.

From what I’ve seen so far, it looks like it’s going to streamline my Shopify admin without a great deal of skill from me. I’ll be able to manage all my customer service via a ticketing system, including my social accounts. I’ve signed up for a $60 per month package.

Pros:

  • Simple, user-friendly customer service management
  • Saves admin time
  • Deep integration with Shopify and overcomes its customer service limitations

Cons:

  • Reviews suggested creating workflows can be tricky

Ecommerce page builder tool: Shogun

I want to achieve high standards of design and UX, but a custom theme is a bit too extravagant at this stage in my entrepreneurial journey. Maybe I won’t need one at all.

I’m looking forward to playing with Shogun Page Builder to create some really cool landing pages for my products. And then I’m looking forward to seeing if my idea of a really cool landing page actually sells products! I suspect there will be lots of experimentation - and probably a blog post to tell you how I get on. I'm on the Build package, which lets you create up to 25 pages for $39 per month.

Pros:

  • Flexible design for single product pages, calls to action and other elements
  • Bespoke customer journeys
  • Lower initial design and development costs
  • Free plan so I can trial it and walk away if it doesn’t do what I need

Cons:

  • Reviews suggested the app can be buggy sometimes
  • Extra layer of complexity of a ‘theme’ within a Shopify theme

Ecommerce customer journey tool: Lucky Orange

On the subject of experimenting and tweaking, I’m hoping that Lucky Orange’s customer journey tracking will focus my attention and save me some time. Its session recordings and dynamic heatmaps should be useful in helping me pinpoint places on my website where I’m losing potential customers.

I want my store to deliver a smooth customer experience, so Lucky Orange is in my stack to help me find places where people lingered too long and didn’t get as far as checking out. At $20 per month for the Business plan, I’m happy to see how it goes.

Pros:

  • Shows where customers are being lost so I can increase conversions
  • Reasonable pricing

Cons:

  • Session recording and heatmaps only stored for 30 days

Ecommerce email marketing tool: Klaviyo

For my email marketing tool, I've opted for Klaviyo. I love Mailchimp, but things between them and Shopify seem to be a bit rocky. Klaviyo integrates easily with Shopify, and I’ve heard good things about it so I’m excited to see what I can do. I’m excited about integrating real-time customer data from my store within emails. Klaviyo’s free up to 250 contacts and 500 email sends, with the first paid tier starting at $20.

Pros:

  • Integrates easily with Shopify
  • Email flows designed with ecommerce entrepreneurs in mind
  • Sophisticated but simple segmentation options

Cons:

  • More expensive than Mailchimp
  • Slightly clunkier user experience than Mailchimp

Ecommerce finance tool: Juni

Last but not least, a shout-out to the homegrown player on my ecommerce stack. I’m excited to put Juni through its paces. I’ve reeled off a few monthly payments that I’ll be making, some in USD and some in GBP. With my multi-currency account, I’ll be able to pay in the currency that makes the most sense and avoid high FX fees. When — fingers crossed — sales start coming in, Juni will also give me insights on my business as a whole, as well as individual payment gateways.

And since the Finance team is already hounding me for receipts, I’m looking forward to using Juni’s Google Ads integration. With automated receipts, I'm looking forward to having this handled for me without wasting hours of my time.

Pros:

  • Saves admin time
  • Gives me financial insights into my business as a whole and individual accounts
  • Multi-currency payments and low FX fees capped at 0.25%

Cons:

  • New to market

What’s missing from my ecommerce stack?

If you’re on your own ecommerce journey, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Which tools are you using that I should be adding to my stack? Have I made a big mistake in one or more of my choices? Send me an email to community@juni.co to let me know which apps are getting results for your store.

What tools and apps do you need for an ecommerce store?
Stephen Bourke
Ecommerce Store Manager

Stephen has over 4 years of experience running businesses and assisting entrepreneurs with Shopify stores. When he's not setting up shop, Stephen enjoys a good board game with his husband and friends. He's known for trying adventurous vegan cuisines.

Download our free whitepaper and gain important ecommerce and marketing insights, directly from Juni.

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Juni Technology AB (registration number 559248-0908) and its officers, directors, owners, employees and representatives, including its subsidiaries and officers, directors, owners, employees and representatives of its subsidiaries (“Juni”) provides this information (the “Information”) for informational purposes only and you should not construe any Information as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. The information and the opinions and views contained therein or otherwise by Juni have not been tailored to the objectives of any one individual or corporate entity, are current only as of the date hereof and may be subject to change at any time without prior notice. Juni does not have any obligation to provide revised Information in the event of changed circumstances. Juni strongly recommends you to seek a duly licensed professional to provide you with any legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice you may need. Juni expressly disclaims any liability for the accuracy and completeness of the Information. You alone assume the responsibility of evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of any Information before making any decisions based on such Information. You agree not to hold Juni liable for any possible claim for damages arising from any decision you make based on the Information.
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