Wouldn’t it be amazing is someone compiled a list of the top ecommerce resources and website tools for building an automated, online, outsourced, turbocharged ecommerce business?
Below you will find a list of all my favorite website tools and ecommerce resources for everything from researching a product/manufacture to tools for determining market size, to helping choose store/website color schemes, registering your business and importing goods.
I have used all the ecommerce resources below. I do have some favorites among each category, but I thought I would provide a bit of variety. If you have any questions about particular services or any suggested ecommerce resources to add to this list, please let me know in the comments section.
I will continue to build out this post, adding new ecommerce resources and detailed description for each section and link. I will also turn it into a ecommerce resource page to live permanently on A Better Lemonade Stand.
Ecommerce Resources & Tools
US Patent & Trademark Office – http://www.uspto.gov
Factory Sourcing Tools/Services
Makers Row (All U.S. Based Factories) – http://makersrow.com/
Fetch China – http://fetchchina.com/
Finding a Product/Manufacture
One of the first steps if you don’t already have an idea for a product to sell online is finding a few product ideas you think might have potential. These are some sites I am always scouring in search of finding a new niche to sell into. Check out my blog post, The Ultimate Guide to Safely Sourcing Your Product From Alibaba.
Alibaba – http://www.alibaba.com
Alibaba Express – http://www.aliexpress.com
EBay – http://www.ebay.com
World Wide Brands – http://www.worldwidebrands.com (Largest Drop Shipping Database)
Thomas’s Register of Manufactures – http://www.thomasnet.com
In addition I subscribe to various sites the feature new/interesting products daily for ideas and inspiration like:
Outblush – http://www.outblush.com
Uncrate – http://www.uncrate.com
The Awesomer – http://www.theawesomer.com
Charles & Marie – http://www.charlesandmarie.com
Wanelo – http://wanelo.com is like a Pinterest for trending products and stuff you want/like. It’s a great glimpse into new, interesting product ideas. I would also recommend following Tim Ferris’s profile on Wanelo – http://wanelo.com/timferriss
Spying On Your Competition / Confirming Market Size
These are all awesome tools for spying on your competitors and to help confirm market size while still in research mode. Don’t forget to check out my blog post Spy On Your Online Competition Like James Bond 007 for more information on this.
Who Is Database – http://whois.domaintools.com
Compete – http://www.compete.com
Google Keywords Tool – https://adwords.google.com/o/KeywordTool
The Wayback Machine – http://archive.org/web/web.php
Google Alerts – http://www.google.ca/alerts
Quantcast – http://www.quantcast.com
SpyFu – http://www.SpyFu.com ($79/month)
Open Site Explorer – http://www.opensiteexplorer.org (Free-$99/month)
Need to register a web address for your business? There are hundreds of services available, here’s a few I have used.
Names Cheap – http://www.namescheap.com
GoDaddy.com – http://www.godaddy.com
Domains in Seconds – http://www.domainsinseconds.com
If you need hosting services, these are the ones I have used and been very happy with.
Bluehost – http://www.bluehost.com
Rackspace – http://www.rackspace.com
Need some graphic design done? 99Designs is great for holding design contests and ranges in price from $200-$500. Fiverr is great for less creative (mostly template) but still great work at $5 a job.
99 Designs – http://www.99designs.com
Fiverr – http://www.fiverr.com
Outsourced Work/Odd Jobs
Anything that can be done without physically being present can be done with one of the following services. I have used Fiverr for Graphics and Video Intros, ELance for copywriting (I had someone write some captivating product descriptions), Odesk and Rent A Coder for programming challenges (Customizing ecommerce website templates).
Fiverr – http://www.fiverr.com
Elance – http://www.elance.com
Odesk – http://www.odesk.com
Rent A Coder – http://www.rentacoder.com
Zirtual – http://www.zirtual.com
Nothing beats your own photography and unique graphics but thats not always possible, especially during your testing phase. Here are some sites for sourcing photos and graphics.
Dreamstime – http://www.dreamstime.com (Paid)
I Stock Photo – http://www.istockphoto.com (Paid/Free)
Fotor – http://www.foter.com (Free)
When you are ready to register your businesses, these services can help you through the legal mumbo jumbo. Make sure you educate yourself on exactly what you need before you go and get it.
The Company Corporation – http://www.incorporate.com
Corporate Creations – http://www.corporatecreations.com
Legal Zoom – http://www.legalzoom.com
For your actual ecommerce site you’re going to want to use a ecommerce platform (listed later) but for testing purposes and proof of concept these sites can get you up and running in no time.
Weebly – http://www.weebly.com
SquareSpace – http://www.squarespace.com
WordPress.com – http://www.wordpress.com
WordPress.org – http://www.wordpress.org (One-Click WordPress Upload with Bluehost.com)
Strikingly – http://www.strikingly.com (Gorgeous and easy 1 page designs. My current favourite for testing)
Landing Page Creation/Testing
Create landing pages quick and easy. Ideal for testing ideas.
Unbounce – http://www.unbounce.com (Paid)
LaunchRock – http://www.launchrock.com
Lead Pages – http://www.leadpages.net
Web Form Builder
Need to capture information from customer/perspective customers etc? Use these services to create forms quickly and easily to add to a webpage to collect names, email etc.
WooFoo – http://www.wufoo.com
Google Docs – Forms – http://docs.google.com
A great tool in your research stage. Use your social networks to send out a survey to get some quick insight in your idea/market/product.
Survey Monkey – http://www.surveymonkey.com
Website/Design Color Coordinator
These website will help you better understand and choose colours for you website/logo/product packaging/branding etc. I particularly like the Abobe Kuler tool. You can use colour pallets the community has designed or create your own and name it.
Color Scheme Designer – http://www.colorschemedesigner.com
Adobe Kuler – http://www.kuler.adobe.com
Shopping Cart Platforms
A list of some of the bigger/upcoming ecommerce carts. Shopify, BigCommerce and Volusion are all hosted solutions. Magento you need to host yourself. If you are a beginner, the first three are your best options. Shopify is definitely a favourite amongst many people including myself. Check out the post Andrew Youderian did with ecommerce shopping cart expert Andrew Bleakly – Picking the Best Shopping Cart.
Shopify – http://www.shopify.com
BigCommerce – http://www.bigcommerce.com
Volusion – http://www.volusion.com
Magento – http://www.magento.com
Space Box – https://spacebox.io (Space Box is not a hosted ecommerce platform, rather a hosted ecommerce payment processor. You need to create your website and product on another platform but the beauty is it payment simplicity and the ability to do re-occurring/subscription payments.)
Payment Processors will depend largely on who your shopping cart integrates with. Everyone will integrate with PayPal and it’s the easiest to get up and running (5 Minutes). It can also be the most costly. It works great as a proof of concept stage but you will want to look into other options as you begin to sell more.
PayPal (Easy) – http://www.paypal.com
Stripe (Easy) – http://www.stripe.com (Great integration with Space Box and Squarespace. Also a good option for Canadian customers)
Google Checkout (Medium) – http://www.checkout.google.com
Authorize.net (Hard, requires application/credit check) – http://www.authorize.net
Email List Platforms
You’re going to want to begin building a marketing list so you can target promotions and specials to those who want to hear about it. Building a customer list is a fundamental component of all ecommerce businesses. Make sure you choose one that integrates with your shopping card. MailChimp and Aweber are two very popular ones that almost all carts integrate with.
MailChimp – http://www.mailchimp.com
AWeber – http://www.aweber.com
Google has a tonne of services to help you with your new business. From researching your product/market viability to managing your online advertising and analytics. They are all worth knowing.
Google Analytics – http://www.google.com/analytics
Google Adwords – http://www.google.com/adwords
Google Keywords Tool – https://adwords.google.com/o/keywordtool
Google Webmaster Tools – http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools
Google Merchant Center – http://www.google.com/merchants
Google Trends – http://www.google.com/trends
Outsourced Order Fulfilment and Shipping
Once you begin selling product and are selling product at a steady rate, you’re gonna want to outsource your fulfillment. That means that all your product will be stored on a warehouse and when an order comes in, it will go through your website and directly to the warehouse so they can pick, pack and ship your order on your behalf. There are many companies that can take care of this for you depending on the volume you plan to ship. Things to consider are integration with your shopping cart, total costs to pick and pack your product, and location of their warehouses.
eFulfillment – http://www.efulfillmentservice.com
If your manufacturing takes place in another country, you are going to need to have it imported. To do that, your need a customs broker to inspect and sign for your goods on your behalf.
Pacific Customs Broker – http://www.pcb.ca
For most ecommerce businesses starting out, a great FAQ page, email address and maybe some availability on social media sites is enough, but if you want to take your business to the next level, or maybe you are selling someing complicated that may require a phone call to solve issues for customers, you may want fax and 1-800 #’s.
HelloFax – http://www.hellofax.com (Fax)
Toll Free Max – http://www.tollfreemax.com (1800 #)
Kall 8 – http://www.kall8.com (1800 #)
Applications I use and love.
Keyword Researcher – http://keywordresearcher.org
A random list of other tool that may come in useful, depending on your particular situation.
My eCover Maker – http://www.myecovermaker.com
InstaPageRank – http://www.instapagerank.com
Domain Masher – (Mashup between a domain name checker and a thesaurus) http://domainmasher.com