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Episode 2: The Best Tech Stack for eCommerce Stores in 2018

July 19, 2018 / Chris Lema

Description


Starting an eCommerce site has never been easier, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the usual requirements of running an online business. From website development to inventory management to sales, marketing, and performance tracking, it takes a lot to power a high performing eCommerce
store.

If you’re a freelancer, consultant or agency who has thought about branching out into serving eCommerce clients, but get overwhelmed thinking about the number of tools available, fret no more. We’re here to give you the confidence you need to close new projects and build beautiful, high performing eCommerce stores in days, not weeks.

In this episode, we covered all of the bases and pulled out a handful of “best in class” tools from each category that you can choose from. You’ll have everything you need skip past the research phase and start making informed decisions about how to launch and grow a new store for
yourself or your clients.

Key Takeaways

Most Fears About Expanding Into eCommerce Are Unjustified


A lot of freelancers, consultants, and agencies are hesitant to branch out into eCommerce work because they don’t necessarily have a “checklist” to reference. They don’t know the best tools to use. They don’t have established and vetted processes to follow. They are worried about being held
liable for something like unexpected website downtime.


The truth is, it’s never been easier to launch and grow an eCommerce site than it is right now. There are a host of tools and resources available to help you create a beautiful, profitable online store that runs smoothly 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So, if you’re worried about not being able to deliver on expectations, don’t be.

Choosing the Right eCommerce Platform Depends on Your Specific Needs

Right now there are dozens of eCommerce platforms to choose from, and selecting the right one depends on how much flexibility and control you want over things like site design, product inventory, site performance, and third party integrations.

We talked about the various options available and some of the criteria you’ll want to use to determine which one is right for you.

Attracting and Converting Customers Doesn’t Have to Be Rocket Science

After you’ve built a beautiful store, your clients are going to say something like, “Great. Now how do we get customers?” If you want to be prepared to answer that question with confidence, you’re going to want to listen to this episode.

We talk about how to drive new leads by tapping into existing communities and also how to convert more website visitors into customers by leveraging on-site and off-site touchpoints to keep your brand and your products top of mind.

Not All Analytics Platforms Are Created Equally

Most people default to using the reporting functionality that is offered through their hosting platform. What they don’t realize is that running that through the same servers that manage and present your storefront can drastically slow down your site.

If you want to set up robust reporting and analytics without compromising on site performance, you’re going to need to leverage an off-site solution, and we’re here to give you a few top shelf options to choose from.


Show Transcript

Welcome to the Store Builders podcast, the place where we talk to industry experts and successful store owners about what it takes to build a thriving e-commerce business. Every episode, we deliver the raw, unfiltered recommendations that will catapult your store to new Heights. Ready to get serious about expanding your e-commerce empire. Well, then let's get to work.

Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of the store builders podcast. I'm your host James Sauers. And once again, I'm joined by Mr. Chris Lema. Chris, how are you doing?

I'm doing great. Good to be here.

Awesome. Well, great to have you here, Chris. I know the folks at home are excited to hear what we're talking about today, which is the best tech stack for e-commerce stores here in 2018.

Like most other industries, there's no shortage of tools out there, from the platform that you host your store to inventory management, sales, marketing, and customer support. So we're going to talk about each of those elements today, but I think the best place to start with is why is there a sense of fear or reservation among individual freelancers or consultants, and possibly even agencies when it comes to getting into developing e-commerce stores and offering that as a client service opportunity?

Well, I think you got to think about it from the perspective of that person who is a freelancer, developer, or an agency that has focused on, say, digital marketing or websites. And the first time, the customer says, “Hey, I want an online store. Can we build an online store?” And you're like, “Of course, wait a minute. Do we even know what we need to think about?” So sometimes, the issue is just, I don't have a checklist. I have a checklist for other things. But if you came up to me and you're like, “Hey, can you cut my hair? I guess I could look for my Flowbee in the corner somewhere. But you're like, I don't know that I have the tools. I don't know if I know what to do with cutting hair.” I've had years of hair cuts, but that doesn't mean I know what to do. Just because I've had experience doing something doesn't make me know how to do it myself.

But even if you did, there's also the notion of liability. What if it's not just building a standard e-commerce store? What if I'm connecting it to a certain bank or certain gateway, a certain financial instrument that then, am I on the hook for this? How do I make sure I'm not creating a liability? Or what if I just build a really good e-commerce store? And then it goes down. I don't think we have contract amendments that articulate what happens and limit our liability. And so what if they come and sue me because they're not making money for the next 12 minutes. All these fears spin up for people, and they just go, “you know what? I think it may be better if I just let someone else who specializes in e-commerce do it.”

Today there's no better opportunity to help people get online with stores. So, how can we help you figure out how to get past some of those things, how to not worry about some of those things so that you can actually get focused on doing that part of e-commerce that you may be good at. If you're a digital agency, if you're a freelancer, you may be really good at designing the look and feel of something and you go, I could bring all my design talents. To an online store. I just don't know if I know enough about the store part to not put myself in jeopardy. Just not being 100% sure that they know the checklist of what they have to do, that they know how to protect themselves, that they know how to mitigate the liability issues and they've thought through the contract pieces, Those are the areas that keep people from just going no, I'll build a regular website and let someone else do e-commerce. But as I said before, no better time than now, to step into and build a store for someone else.

And it sounds like some of the perceived risks are two fold, one, you're worried about the outcome for the client and some of the liability, say if the site goes down or something like that, and it's a huge part of their business. Are you going to be held responsible for that? Then there's also the side of the freelancer or the agency where, what if we get some scope creep here because we run into an integration that we're not immediately familiar with, and that we have to figure out, and that's not additional billable hours. So then we're putting ourselves at risk from a profitability standpoint. I think those are all valid concerns that you raised, and today we're going to kind of systematically dispel each of them as we go through our conversation about the best tech stack, because it's never been easier to get started building e-commerce stores.

I think that leads us into our next point of discussion. For these developers and freelancers and agencies who are building online stores, who are some of the big players out here today in terms of platforms and hosting services to actually facilitate, locate, and power the backend of the site? And then what are some of the criteria that they should be using to make a decision on which one is best for them and for their clients?

Absolutely. That's a great question. The reality is there are more platforms than ever for e-commerce. Let's list out a couple of them and get people going. One of the ones that's been around a long time is Miva. Miva, you may remember them through Miva Merchants, or Yahoo stores. They are less talked about these days, but one of the things that they spent a lot of time figuring out was the pricing game. How do you find the right product at the right price? So they do it based on annual merchant revenue, so if your annual merchant revenue is under a hundred thousand, their starter plan starts at like $79, based on how much revenue you’re generating, that's how much you’re going to pay for, for your platform. But it includes hosting, the actual e-commerce platform and everything else. But you might go, okay. $79 may be too much if I'm just getting started.

If I wanted to cut that in half, you might look at Squarespace. Squarespace has an e-commerce platform. It's Squarespace for online stores, and its $26 or $40 if you're doing it yearly, and if you know their platform, if you've heard of Squarespace, you know, Squarespace are those people who are like, Hey, we'll make it look really pretty and make it easy for customers themselves. So if you're a developer, who’s like I want to put this together and walk away and let the customer add more stuff and change products and change stuff. I just want to hand it off and move on, you might be inclined to look at Squarespace.

Of course you can't talk about e-commerce without synonymously thinking about Shopify. So there's definitely Shopify out there and you can get started as low as $29. Right now, Shopify is a little different in that it is a whole platform. They have some themes. You can also buy some more advanced themes but you're going to have some transactional fees. And that can start getting kind of expensive depending on what payment gateway you're using. So if you use their gateway, you pay them through that, but if you use a different payment gateway, like Stripe, you're going to pay an extra fee to Shopify for using Stripe, but that comes with a ton of features. Of course you don't control performance, because it's someone else's platform. You just gotta be aware of that.

Another one out there is BigCommerce. They’ve been around a long time and the last couple of years, they've been building a whole lot of features, adding some performance. There's a lot of stuff out there. Again, you're in someone else's platform, someone else's playground, but you have a lot of features, a lot of capability, a lot of what we call Omni channel, through online stores. So you can sell through eBay or Amazon or Google and also have your store on them. If you're trying to do omni-channel, they have a lot of stuff going on, and their price points are going to be a little different and a little more expensive. And so you just kind of know going into it that while there's a $29 plan, most people are starting at $79 and going up right to $249 and from there.

Then you get into the platforms that are open source and built on your own stack, the most well-known and some of the largest ones are Magento and WooCommerce. In both cases, you have your own hosting, but you get to build on the platform on top of that. Now you're not in someone else's garden, you're building on your own land. You're doing whatever you want. You have a lot of control over that, and you're not paying the same kind of transactional fees or anything else. So you may pay for hosting, but you're not going to pay for the platform and you’re definitely not going to pay any transactional fees.

Magento, for the longest time, people are at 1.x they're now trying to make the move to 2.0, unfortunately the challenge with that, just so you're aware is that it’s not really a migration, like an upgrade button. It's like a replatform. The 1.x to 2.0 is a big shift AND Magento just got bought by Adobe. So you got to figure out, what does that mean? It could be great. Could be scary.

And then of course WooCommerce, which is my favorite. It's the one that I work with the most. You can upgrade between versions of that without any drama. A ton of free themes. Also some paid themes. And of course there's a lot of hosting companies to do it, but for example, Liquid Web, where I work, created a custom dedicated hosting platform for that.

So the first part of the question is there's a lot of platforms. You have a lot of opportunities to think about this.

The second part of the question was how do you choose?

I dropped a couple little hints, but if you were doing omni-channel right now, if you were saying, I'm going to sell it on as many channels as possible, I want to drive this forward and I want to get that out of the box. I think my default recommendation of store builders would be to go take a look at BigCommerce. Yeah, there are others that are going to talk about, we do this kind of thing and we do that kind of thing, but maybe the one that does that best would be BigCommerce and, and the thing about BigCommerce, you could back to this with Magento and custom code your own thing. BigCommerce is going to be faster than Magento. It's going to be cheaper than Magento. Building it out is going to be easier. So there's a lot to be said for how easy it is. In fact, more and more stores today are leaving Magento and going to BigCommerce or Shopify or WooCommerce than are sticking with Magento. I probably wouldn't spend a lot of time jumping onto that platform. I probably would look more at some of the others, but if I was doing that, I would look at BigCommerce right now.

If I was starting something, super small and just trying to test things out. If I was just playing with the testing out, but I was not a developer at all. So you're a store builder who's not a store builder. Let's just talk about that. You're a designer and you like to design stuff and now your friend comes in with, I need a little store and you're like, I'm not a full store builder. I don't have tons of experience, but I can make sure it looks good and just get some things done. You might look at Squarespace. Squarespace is going to lean into your language, and is going to make sure that you're visually oriented first. They're going to help you get some stuff, but if they want to do membership stuff or if they want to do subscription stuff, I've a good friend of mine who runs a coffee store and the store was great and it was selling t-shirts and mugs and other things. And then she got to a point where she was like, I want to sell the beans in a subscription. Squarespace is not going to give that to you. You're going to be migrating the store.

So if your customer is like, I'm visually oriented, but also the store builder is like, I don't know a lot. I would rather have a platform that does a lot for me. You might look at Squarespace, but not if you're going to do any subscriptions right now.

You might say, if I want subscriptions, I look at Shopify and Shopify does have subscriptions, but if you're out of that stage of “I'm just testing something” and you're into the “I want to run something, I want to play with it,” Shopify is going to have a lot going for it, but you gotta understand, people say, I don't want to look at WooCommerce because I got to look at all those plugins. Shopify has all those plugins. Every feature you add is going to come with a price tag. Typically it's a monthly price tag added to your Shopify and it's code you don't get to see a review. So there's going to be some issues. A lot of people are like, I don't care. I'm not going to do that. I'm just going to plug it in and be done. But if you're a store builder, you don't want to be the person that adds a component. I was talking to a Shopify guy just like two weeks ago: customer, not a builder. And he's like, my builder built a site, a T-shirt store, built it on Shopify, added the plugins we needed so that we could do the things we want, and then our site's super slow and we can't get it fast no matter what. So I pulled up my sample t-shirt store on WooCommerce, and it loads in 0.7 seconds. And he's like, oh my God, we're loading in like six seconds. How do I get over there? But when I looked closer, what they were doing with shelf, I'm like, your developer just used a kind of a known plugin that's a little slower. People who choose to Shopify, if you're a store builder building on Shopify, you're gonna be better off if your customers, the stores you're building, are not super complicated, meaning they don't have all these extra bells and whistles, because then you're going to get into the world of plugins over on their platform that may or may not perform the way you want or that you're going to have to create your own and then there's a whole process for that. If you're a builder, who's going to build a lot of customization, I probably wouldn't punch Shopify, but if you're a builder who can use what's there and get going and get that customer up and running, Shopify is gonna be a great conference for you, if they're not going to grow dramatically, because you look at the price points of Shopify $29 and $79 and $200. But all of a sudden, after $299, it disappears. You're like, wait, what are my customers growing? They're like, oh, Shopify plus, which starts around $2,400. Right. That's a pretty big jump from $299 to $2,400. So then you'd be like, maybe I want to do something different.

If you're just a store, who's just trying to check some things out and validate some things, or you're a store who is growing and getting into that no man's land for Shopify, WooCommerce is where it's at because you can spin up a store for next to nothing. You can put in a couple of plugins to validate something or to add some custom features, you can do it at a different price point. Your hosting doesn't have to be as expensive and you can have stair-step functions as you move up between that $299 to $2,400. So, in the broadest terms, what I tell people is check out WooCommerce first and then everything else, just figure out the other options if need be.

I tried to walk it through in an unbiased way from the other side first. These are all the places you might go for these other stores. But my default is to say, boy, there's a lot. You can do a lot. You can do it at a lower price, mitigate the risk and get up and running for a lot less if you're playing with WooCommerce. So, um, obviously that's the one I tell store builders to check out across most opportunities, but there are a lot of other players out there too.

I think that was an extremely detailed response obviously, and I know that that's going to be valuable for our listeners. I think I probably should have prefaced this episode by saying that this is going to be a link heavy episode. The show notes are going to be very robust. We're going to have all these resources linked up for you, so make sure to check them out. But, the reassuring thought here is that a lot of this sounds very similar to what an agency or a freelancer might already be doing to build other types of websites in that there are various degrees of technical requirements, as far as how you could custom code a website. If you wanted to and integrate all these different analytics tools, or you have something like WordPress that you can build on top of, and it has plugins that can do pretty much anything you want. Now they may have an additional cost. So I think there's going to be some degree of familiarity there, but, Chris, I think you just laid out a great inventory or a great roster of tools that can meet those various requirements from the client side and the agency side.

That's kind of the competitive landscape right now. I think that's going to be informative for our listeners and obviously the next step is a client says, Hey, thanks for creating that store for me, it looks great. How do I get customers? Can you give me some customers? And we might be talking about somebody who is a marketer or runs a marketing agency, but we might be talking about somebody who's just a developer. So what kind of tools can either of those parties use to start driving leads to the store and then convert those leads into customers and optimize for that conversion rate along the way?

Yeah, that's a great question. So, every time you build a store, Customers will be like, “Hey, we need customers. How do we get customers? And they're going to look at you and you're like, I'm a store builder. I built a store. I'm supposed to also be the expert in bringing you traffic?” So I want to give you a couple of quick tips on how you can make recommendations for your customers, and also are there things you can do to help bring that along? How to capture the traffic that did come through and get them so that you can follow up with them.

So the first is to think a lot about offsite recommendations, offsite referrals, offsite links, not just what you do on the site. A lot of times what store builders do is they get focused on this is the world that I control, so therefore, this is what I'm going to do. Quora is a great question and answer platform. Quora’s awesome. So do you know that for almost every topic on the planet, people are asking questions on Quora. So let's say you have a website for watches. You go to Quora and you do a search on the best watch. Quora’s like here are all the questions. You don't even have to go to Quora. You can go to Google and type the best watch and then type in site colon, www.quora.com. And what it will do is Google will go to Quora and find all the Quora questions automatically on Quora about the best watch. And then you're going to see, “what's the best watch for a man for under $300,” and, “what's the best wristwatch brand,” and you have all these questions. You realize if you're a store owner, who is selling watches, why wouldn't you go to Quora and give them your answer? We sell a lot of stores and we sell a lot of watches in our store, and these are the top brands that we see at our store. And those are links back to your store. That's off site. That's not happening on your store. Quora is fantastic for them.

Facebook and Facebook ads. Facebook is a great place to pull an audience back to your store. Shopify. If you look at Shopify, I think it was this last quarter when they released their information, they said something like 90% of their traffic came from social media. Now let's not talk about the SEO challenges of that. Shopify stores are not as discoverable as other stores, but think about what they're saying. They're saying people who run Shopify stores are often using Instagram and Facebook as the places where they are buying their traffic. They are literally going and saying, let me put the ad, make sure the ad looks good, put the texts, put the link. I have bought tons of products from Facebook. They're not from Facebook. They're often from Shopify. But I'm scrolling through my Facebook list and then I get really good looking shoes. And of course Facebook is doing retargeting and knowing what else I've clicked on. But I see the shoes and I go, “I like those.” I click learn more. And I’m at the shoe site and I go, oh yeah, I need it. Do they have my size? Boom. Bought. And that was a Shopify store. I can tell by checkout. So offsite traffic, lead gen, is critical and places like Facebook and places like Quora can bring you a very focused and interested audience.

So that's one part of the equation, but the other part of the equation is what happens when people come to your site. So I gave you those two ideas off your site. Here's two ideas on your site. There's a plugin called OptinMonster or a SAS called OptinMonster that you can use for any platform. It's not specific to WordPress. You can use it for anything. It's a SAS, but it has a little plugin for WordPress you can drop in, and when people are about to leave the site, they pop up what's called an exit intent pop-up. So people are about to leave and it pops up and you can control it on the pop-up, but you can also do it, not just exit intent for the site. You can do exit intent on a product page, and when it pops up and you go, Hey, I know you're taking off, but if you really like these shoes, we do a promotion for shoes on this store. Once a month, we send out a coupon for shoes. So if you want that coupon, put in this information here. We will only use this email. That's the GDPR side of things, but we'll only use this email to send you coupons for our shoes on our store. We will not send you newsletters. We're not saying anything else, but just this; if you want it, put it in. OptinMonster will let you shape and configure that so that you get people's emails and you can send them back that coupon. And you're like, yeah, but if I can't send a newsletter and I can't send the other things, you can still get a hold of that person who came through and then took off. You're like, whoa, wait, now I have their email and I can follow up at least with shoes because that's what I know they were looking at and they cared about it.

The same thing happens when people put stuff in their cart: cart abandonment stuff. There's a whole bunch of players out there. One of my favorites is called Jilt. Jilt is a platform for both WooCommerce and for Shopify that will track someone who's going through, add some to the cart and then leave and you can send up to as many as you want, but you can configure and chill, like say four emails. So 6 hours later, 24 hours later, 3 days later, 7 days later. Monetate did a study in 2017 that said that the magic number is seven days for when people won't return unassisted, meaning if you don't send them anything after seven days, they're gone. You're not going to see them again. So how do you accelerate them coming back? Well, cart abandonment emails. The number is about 70% of people or 70% of items that get put in the cart are left in the cart and never closed down. And you can shape those emails. So the first time it's like, “Hey, did you get distracted?” And then, “Hey, we're still here waiting for you.” And the third one might be like, “We're still holding your spot in line.” And the fourth one, my favorite, you might put something like, “Hey, just a heads up. We understand that you were in this. So we're going to clear out your cart. We're going to empty your cart.” And the crazy thing is, as store builders, we think, oh yeah, whatever. But for consumers who are browsing, they use their cart now as a to-do list, they use it as a scratch pad. They were up at one in the morning. I'm not talking about just me. There's others of you like me out there you're at one in the morning. You don't even remember how you got to that pair of shoes or to that blow dryer to that whatever. But you got there and then you're like, oh my God, I love this. So you add to cart, but then you're like, it's two in the morning. I cannot trust myself. Should I really buy a $400 hairdryer? I'm going to have to explain myself, just hold on. Then you leave. Right. You go. And five days later, six days later, you're like, I don't even remember where I found it. I don't remember what I did in searching to get back there. But you get that email and it says, “we're going to clear out your cart,” and you're like, no, no, no. Don't clear up my cart. Now I've got to look at it closer. And I gotta decide, do I want a $300 blender or not? Right. Can I explain to my wife that I really need this money? The notion that they're going to empty my cart means I'm going to lose it and I'm never gonna know again where it was. So it triggers us to come back and click. So as a store builder, integrating in something like a Jilt or integrating in something like OptinMonster can dramatically improve that foot traffic that's going by, how you bring them in and hold them in.

So it sounds like you covered both angles there, which is really how do we generate leads? Where do we find potential leads and get them coming into the site? And then once they're there, how do we convert them and retain them? So I love that you covered both aspects of that question and in line with that thinking; So you built a shop and your client's happy. You're starting to drive customers there and convert them to clients even happier because they're bringing money in, but now they want some level of oversight and visibility into the specific performance analytics and reporting that are associated with that. How many visits are we getting? What is our conversion rate? What is our abandoned cart rate? That kind of thing. How do we segment these people to make sure that the offers we're presenting them with are more targeted and more relevant to them? What kind of tools and strategies do you have for somebody that's looking into reporting and analytics for their clients, a store builder, that's trying to serve their clients in that capacity?

Great question. So, most people use the reporting that comes with the platform. They use the reporting that is like here it is. It's available. And then you're like, wait, every time you're crunching those numbers, every time you're pulling together things and trying to segment data and whatever else, you're slowing down your own store. The CPU, the servers, everything else behind the scenes that's involved in doing that work is now doing that work instead of serving your customers and carts. So you're like, I need to change how I do this. I'm a big fan of off site analytics, which often uses JavaScript. It tags some things and you can, it can be lightweight if you're careful about it. So there's several players out there that do this stuff. You may look at something like MIxpanel. Mixpanel is a product that does it at a price point that a lot of people can look at and go, yeah, this is pretty good. You could look at a slightly more expensive price point is Heap Analytics, and I'll tell you, Heap Analytics is incredible. The thing I love most about it is that you don't have to create events. If you go to Google analytics, you have to go into Google analytics and create events so that you can track events. And the only data you get on events in Google analytics is what you did after you created the event. Same thing with Mixpanel. But if I go to Heap, I don't have to set up anything in advance, which means, James, if you showed up to me right now and said, “Can you tell me how many people are buying from the state of Michigan and buying jerseys for Michigan state basketball? Can you tell me about this piece? And also people who've bought other jerseys?” and you're like, “Well let me go to Google Analytics, set that up, and I'll know in 30 days.” You're like, no, no, no, no. I want to know about the recent ones. I can't do that with Mixpanel. I can't do that with Google analytics. And you're like, but I have Heap and well, we tracked everything. We stored everything. So you can come back later and just say, “Hey, what about this?” and create them and it'll go, oh, you want to look at that month, last two months, last three months, last six months? We'll show you the data. We have it all. So Heap is very powerful. The thing about heap though, is that you have to know what questions to ask. If you're a store builder, you know this already, your customers don't know what questions to ask. They just don't. So when you're sitting there consulting with them and talking about it and they go, “I want to send out coupons. I don't know who to send the coupon to,” and you go, “Well, shouldn't you send it to people who've only ever purchased using coupons,” and they go, “How would I find that out?”

“You need to create that segment. Oh, you haven't created the assignment, have you?”

“No. And I don't know how to create that segment and I didn't even think of that segment.”

And you're like, “So now I'm telling you which segments to create. I've stepped out of being a store builder. Now I'm a store consultant, right?” That's where I love Glew, because what Glew does is Glew auto segments everything. It segments all your buyers and it segments all your products. So it'll look at your products and say, “Okay. Which products are hot, meaning which products are, quarter over quarter, doing better, because they're comparative to a baseline so they can say, if on average you sell t-shirts, if it takes you six months to get to sell a hundred units, but this product has sold 70 units in the last week. That same period over period, high growth piece, we've already segmented. Now you can just see hot products right here. Or we can go into segments of people and automatically see which segments of people like value shoppers, or people who've made repeat purchases and only ever use coupons. But what about big spenders? People who are buying only products that are in the top 10% of your product catalog based on price. I want to know who those people are. So Glew doesn't just give you the offsite reporting. It's not slowing your sites down, but Glew also brings you that auto segmentation, automatic dynamic, and it works with Magento. It works with Shopify. It works with WooCommerce. It works with BigCommerce. So it's not like you're picking a platform, an intelligence platform, analytics platform that only works with one particular kind of store. It works across the board.

What I love about the three options you shared there in this general category is that, as a store builder, what I'm hearing, if I put on my consultant hat for a second, is monthly retainer for reporting analytics and consultation around how they can make even more money from their store. So you can have this nice little package store creation. Or you can have an ongoing relationship with your client and expand that client lifetime value by doing the more consultative work of setting up the reporting and analytics, reviewing that and coming up with different tests or marketing strategies or tweaks to the store physically that can optimize conversion rates and revenues. So I love that. I love that upside for the store builders who are listing. If you are one of those store builders and your head's kinda swimming with all this stuff that we've shared. We shared some platforms and we've shared some marketing tools and tactics. We've shared some reporting and analytics tools. Again, everything's going to be linked up in the show notes, and I would reiterate that we're going to go deeper into some of these things in future episodes. So obviously subscribe to the podcast. We're going to talk about exit intent. Pop-ups um, abandoned cart emails, maybe even retargeting and pay-per-click ads. We're going to give you the knowledge and skills you need to serve your. Even better and be more effective as a store builder in that capacity in future episodes. But for today, if you have any parting words, Chris, I'd love to get those from you, but we're going to wrap it up today by just saying everything that we've talked about is in the show notes.

These are the best in class tools that we recommend in 2018 to build an e-commerce store. And I would encourage anybody listening to go explore these tools, test them out, start using them with clients and see it and just enjoy the results you get, because these are really the front runners in the industry right now.

Yeah, I think what happens when I talk about these things with people, when I go, “Here are all the different e-commerce platforms,” and, “Here's a buyer's guide to choosing which one,” or, “here's the analytics tools,” and, “Here's how to do offsite, bringing traffic over,” or “onsite how to collect that information.” I think a lot of times what happens is people start getting that look in their eye of yeah, maybe this is too much for me. So my encouragement is to just start in one spot. Your customer doesn't need you to be an expert in every single thing on day one. Start in one spot. Obviously, because I think WooCommerce is an open platform and it can be run on multiple different hosts and you can put it in a place like if you come to liquid web and you're hosting a serious e-commerce store,, we put Glew in place automatically. We put Jilt in place automatically so you don't even have to pay for that. It's included in the product price, but you start somewhere and you try and you play and you learn and you grow and you get better at building better stores and you get better at building better value for customers. But you can't do that just in your head. You've got to actually put fingers on keys and start. And so a lot of times it's just easy to get overwhelmed and stressed. And my recommendation is just to start.

Yeah, and I love that. Get off the sidelines and get into the game. Start using one tool with one client and get your legs under you and just kind of iterate from there and evolve and learn and get better. That's what we do in other aspects of our life. Why wouldn't we do that in business and why wouldn't we do that with our e-commerce stores? So I love that as parting wisdom from you, Chris, and we're going to wrap it up with that. But folks, as I mentioned before, everything that we talked about today is in the show notes. And we hope to see you on the next episode of store builders. Chris, thank you so much for your time today and we'll talk to you soon.

To WooCommerce and how building space used to be. You could do a fully custom e-commerce store and code it from the ground up. Or you could use something like WordPress that would have a bunch of plugins. So we talked about the different e-commerce focused options there and how there is a spectrum. And it just depends on what your client's needs are and how much control you want to have over, not just the look and feel of the site, but also the functionality and the performance on the backend, how fast it loads and inventory management and things like that.

We also touched on some marketing best practices so that when your clients come to you and they say, “Hey, you designed a beautiful store, but now I need to know how to drive more customers to that store. Can you help me with that?” You can respond with yes. And you have a handful of tactics that you can deploy for your clients that start driving results, ASAP. And then finally we talked about reporting and analytics so that you can test and measure and maintain visibility and control over how those marketing efforts are performing and how the store is performing so that you can be a strategic advisor for the clients that you are building for. And so if you're feeling overwhelmed by any of this with all these tools and analytics and marketing strategies that are available to you.

My encouragement to you would be just kind of pick one and test it out and start applying it to the business and learning from that real-world experience. You can read reviews, and you can read sales pages and landing pages all day. But the single best and most influential course of action you can take is to, in fact, take action. So choose the tool, test it out, start using it, see if it works for you. And if not, you can always take one step back and restart and choose a different tool in the same segment. But the point here is we've shared some of the best in class examples from each category so that you don't have to go search through hundreds of options. You can search through five and pick the one that best meets the needs of you and your clients. So that wraps up our conversation about the best tools and software, and strategies for building an e-commerce store in 2018. Of course, we're going to click down deeper into each of those business functions, like marketing analytics and sales and the tech stack, in future episodes.

But until we talk to you the next time, you can always find us at www.store-builders.com. We'll have all the resources we talked about today linked up in the show notes, and that's the best place to stay informed between now and the next time we publish an episode with a bunch more e-commerce goodness.

So until then, best of luck in all that you do, and let's see those stores keep growing. Take care.


Resources

WPQuickStart
StoreBuilder by Nexcess
The fastest (and easiest) way to build a Store on WordPress
WooCommerce
Fully Managed WooCommerce
Affordable, highly-performant, and easy to scale ecommerce hosting.
Magento
Fully Managed Magento
Fully featured ecommerce platform that’s built for high-traffic sites.