Building an ecommerce business takes dedication and motivation, but it also takes money. As a startup, you just don’t have limitless capital to play with. This is a tricky position for any business owner to be in because to grow you need cash but you need cash to grow.
It’s the ultimate chicken and egg problem.
But sometimes all you need is a little ingenuity and the right tools to keep your business moving forward.
Fortunately, we live in a digital age, where low-cost ecommerce tools can help you bring together your entrepreneurial plans. Everything from graphic design to social media management is at your fingertips with the tools we’ve included below.
They’re smart, easy to use and totally free too. Perfect for when you’re trying to make an omelette with no eggs…
- Online Store – SquareUp
- Design – Canva
- Free images – Pexels & Unsplash
- CRM – Hubspot
- Banking – Tide
- Social Media – Buffer
- Bonus tools – Shopify
Sell Online Easily With SquareUp (Ecommerce Platform)
Looking for an affordable way to sell online and take payments securely? SquareUp is the platform for you.
SquareUp (formerly Square) is the first place a new ecommerce business should head to. This clever platform provides you with everything you need to accept payments simply, securely and quickly.
Whether you have a website already and just need to add payment links, or you need a website for your business and an easy way to take payments online, then SquareUp can help you.
Sign up fast and free – without long term contracts or monthly fees. The free version gives you access to everything you need to run your site and take payments. Fees then start at 1.9% for EEA and UK card transactions.
Create Eye-Catching Designs With Canva (Graphic Design)
Need to create graphics for your business in a hurry? Using Canva you can design professional-looking images without breaking the bank.
Canva is popular with business owners and designers worldwide. With a huge array of pre-designed templates, Canva allows you to freely and easily create professional-looking graphics of all kinds – even if you’re not a designer.
If you need to create social content, flyers, posters, and even short promotional videos, Canva is the graphic design tool you need to make it easy – for even the least tech-savvy entrepreneur.
Canva’s free version is more than enough for many ecommerce businesses, giving you a huge library and making it easy to add text or graphics to images and documents.
The Pro version at £99.99/year offers access to more of their images and templates which can make the designing process quicker and easier. Meanwhile, the Enterprise version at £24.99/month focuses more on giving you team management capability if you need to grant access to your staff.
Find Royalty-Free Images With Pexels & Unsplash (Stock Images)
Don’t want to pay every time you need a stock image for your website or social posts? Pexels and Unsplash could be the solution.
No matter what your eComm niche is, you’ll need royalty-free images to use on your website, in your advertising and on your social media. That’s where Pexels and Unsplash come in, giving you an easily searchable database of categorised photos, graphics and icons that you can use in your marketing for free.
Occasionally there are stipulations attached to the images – for example, you might need to credit the creator – but often they’re free to use however you choose.
Keep Your Customers Happy With Hubspot (CRM)
Want to manage customer contacts all in one place? Hubspot could be the answer.
While Hubspot is often thought of as subscription CRM software, they actually have a free version that is a must for eComm entrepreneurs on a budget. The best thing about this tool is how much you have at your disposal, from customer contact management to analysis and record keeping.
If your business is growing and you want software that can scale with you, then a free CRM software like Hubspot is an ideal place to start.
Take advantage of the free version, with access to all the essentials. Paid plans start at £38/month, but take your time deciding which package or bundle is going to work best for you, as Hubspot has multiple paid options all with specific tools.
Manage Your Money With Tide (Banking)
Need a secure business bank account without extortionate fees? Tide is an affordable and popular bank that you won’t find on the high street.
Tide is part of the fin-tech banking revolution. It’s an app-based bank account provider for small and large businesses alike.
As an FSCS protected bank account, Tide is a safe option for your money. In addition, Tide features accounts and tools that are designed specifically for business owners and freelancers to help them get a solid grip on managing their business’ finances.
If you’re searching for a budget business bank account that can scale with you, it’s worth investigating both Tide’s free and Plus (£9.99/month) plans. These are some of the best value, purpose-built accounts available.
Streamline Your Socials With Buffer (Social Media Marketing)
Ready to take your social media to the next level with scheduling and analytics? Buffer can be your social media marketing hub.
Buffer is the go-to social media marketing tool for business owners on a budget. The user-friendly platform allows you to track content performance, as well as create and schedule it all in one place.
If you need basic publishing tools and a straightforward landing page builder then Buffer is right for you.
Spend a little more on their £4/month Essentials plan and you can access engagement and analytics along with planning tools.
Bonus: Free Retail Tools From Shopify (Ecommerce Selling Platform)
In addition to being a reliable and easy-to-use ecommerce platform, Shopify has also created a fantastic range of tools that provide “Everything you need to sell and grow your retail business”.
Shopify Tools is a must for ecommerce sellers wanting to pool all of their efforts – and save money at the same time.
Is Your Ecommerce Business Ready For Success?
With these tools and your own business smarts, your ecommerce venture can run smoothly- even on a budget. You can cover the basics of CRM, graphics, social media, images and payments quickly and cheaply with the tools we shared – so go forth and get started!
However, budgeting isn’t the only challenge you’ll face in your start-up phase. ecommerce businesses face a lot of legal challenges today too, from contracts and employment law to protecting your assets and intellectual property. If you’re an entrepreneur who wants complete control over your business, including the legal side, then find your ideal legal specialist with LegalDrop here.
Suggested further reading: Ecommerce Compliance Checklist