Sometimes that little extra “umph” in “triumph” comes with a price tag. Earlier, we listed out the free eCommerce tools that online stores of any size can use. Not to diminish the importance of these free tools, but if you have the budget and resources for paid eCommerce tools, the returns are greater. Generally, the paid eCommerce tools need to offer stronger benefits and advantages to justify their cost over their free competitors.
Here, we list 9 paid eCommerce tools for serious online stores that can pay a little extra for a little extra in return. Take a look and see if any, or all, can fit into your site’s strategy.
Ranked as one of EMEA’s top 500 fastest growing tech companies in 2016, Upstream already boasts an impressive array of namebrand clientele like Petco, Toys R Us, Lowe’s, and Purina.
What they offer is product intelligence: up-to-date pricing data in real time, tracking competitors’ pricing, product assortment optimization, and more. Long story short, this is the go-to company for help with your pricing strategies.
They also offer “predictive and prescriptive analytics” to give recommendations and insight on what to include in your product range, and how much to charge for it. If you’re a company that focuses heavily on statistics and like to stay ahead of the game with predictive analysis, Upstream can show you how to optimize their pricing.
Judging by web design’s history of rapidly adopting new technologies, self-learning sites will soon be a mainstay of eCommerce. Unbxd offers tomorrow’s hottest trend today, with a “context aware” search program that “understands your shopper’s intent,” and a personalized suggestion system that “monitors the shopper’s behavior to provide 1:1 personalized recommendations.”
To put it simply, Unbxd personalizes the shopper’s experience based on their behavior, at least in Site Search and Product Recommendations.
Unbxd’s software gives your site the ability to learn about each customer, increasing accuracy with every new click. This makes the product suggestions more likely to catch their attention, and makes their searches far more effective (the founders were inspired when they realized it was easier to do product searches in Google than on the site itself).
How can we be sure self-learning sites will take off in the future? Because the exact same thing has been happening over the last couple of years with live chat.
Implementing live chat lets you get around a lot of the common problems with eCommerce. Compared to brick-and-mortar stores, online stores lack the immediate and personable sales assistance, let alone the other questions and concerns that arise from buying products online and getting them delivered to your house.
Live chat avoids these problems with immediate, ideally around-the-clock assistance just a text box away. These customer service representatives often stop trouble before they start.
Zendesk is one of the best paid eCommerce tools for live chat and other assorted customer relationship services. They have a variety of pricing plans for different budgets with free trials, and at the moment are offering a 20% discount on for registering on an Annual Payment term.
4. Bounce Exchange
If search-learning tools for live chat or navigation are becoming standard, the next of our paid eCommerce tools is a bit more on the avant garde. It’s a more experimental technology, though users attest to its functionality.
Like other “exit intent technology” software, Bounce Exchange monitors user behavior — particularly mouse movements — to determine when a visitor is about to leave the site and/or abandon their cart. Anticipating a departure, Bounce Exchange immediately and automatically sends them an “exit intent pop-up,” a last second incentive to stay, such as notification of a sale, or even a special coupon code just for them.
Every exit intent software has their own algorithm, but Bounce Exchange’s is considered the most effective, or at least the most popular. Their algorithm is so successful that, outside of eCommerce, they’re able to detect potential paid subscribers on news sites just by their reading behavior.
On the downside, the site has been criticized for using False Dilemma pop-ups, i.e., forcing the user to click something like “I don’t want to make money” to exit the pop-up. This phrasing may come across as condescending, but in large numbers can boost sales. If you’re prioritizing UX above all else, keep this in mind. Otherwise, Machiavellian business folk won’t mind.
Formerly “Sumo Me,” Sumo is a grab bag of interactive tools all designed to improve conversion rates. This is one of the paid eCommerce tools that keeps on giving, with an multi-pronged strategy that aims to raise conversions at every corner of your site.
Among the specialty features are:
- Email List Pop-Ups — These pop-up email calls-to-action responsive for mobile devices, but more importantly are customizable to your site’s personality and look, which can make an enormous impact.
- Welcome Mats — Like Bounce Exchange’s exit pop-ups, except they appear at the entrance to inform about sales or solicit email addresses. At the Pro level, you can use gifs or animation, and A/B test variations for the best fit. You can even hire professionals to create custom templates just for you.
- Scroll Box — Similar to email pop-ups and welcome mats, the scroll box offers a similar message, but instead of dominating the entire screen only creep in from a side during the user scroll. Again, Pro options include A/B testing and professional customization.
- Smart Bars — Smart bars are small sticky menus that stay onscreen, but out of the way, as a small but consistent reminder to convert.
- Heat Maps — While not as specialized as Crazy Egg, Sumo still offers some heat mapping options for paying customers.
- Email Tool Integration — All these methods of collecting emails sync up seamlessly to the most popular email tools like MailChimp.
On top of all that, Sumo boasts its easy setup, said to be under “37 seconds.” With no coding necessary and a free demo version, you could conceivably have it up and running before you reach the end of this list.
Even if you haven’t read our Ultimate Guide to A/B Testing Your eCommerce Store, you’re probably still aware of just how crucial A/B Testing for all web design, let along eCommerce conversions. The concept is that you offer different people two versions of a page and see which one the masses prefer overall. You can use this to test on-page elements, such as the color, wording, and placement of calls-to-action.
Optimizely makes it easy to conduct A/B tests on your existing clientele — after all, who knows their preferences better than they do. Seemingly minor characteristics like color or phrasing can have enormous impacts on sales, although they’re difficult to guess without concrete data. Optimizely can also be integrated with popular existing eCommerce analytics software.
It’s worth noting that Optimizely offers Pay As You Go billing, which charges by the amount of unique visitors tested. This scaleable price means smaller eCommerce sites can still afford A/B testing, as long as their traffic is low enough. A Pyrrhic victory?
7. Crazy Egg
While we’re discussing user testing tools, let’s talk about Crazy Egg, which does for click testing what Optimizely does for A/B testing. Crazy Egg monitors what your users click on (or don’t click on), giving you insight on layout design, site flow, which elements get the most attention, and how successful your current product showcases are.
Crazy Egg can even get into the specifics. It can divide your clicks by which channel they arrived on, so you know which ones to invest more attention in. It organizes data by heat maps overlaid on the screen, the easiest way to understand what the clicks mean. It also offers heat maps for scrolling, so you see how much attention each screen gets the longer the shoppers has to scroll.
One of the most useful benefits Crazy Egg provides is revealing situations where users click on something that’s not clickable. Such errors are hard to anticipate during the design process, so click testing after updates can circumvent some damaging UI faux pas.
8. Sprout Social
Sprout Social is a social media manager like Hootsuite, but at the the paying tiers offers more features. While the two are comparable head-to-head, in the long run Sprout Social offers more robust features, but not for free.
With Sprout Social, you get more advanced versions of the organization and post scheduling features at the free tiers, as well as a unifying dashboard to command all your channels from one location. However, according to the Social Driver blog, Sprout Social pulls ahead over Hootsuite at the paid tiers, overwhelming the latter with unique features. These extras include:
- Tagging Assistance
- SEO Aids
- Asset Libraries
- Reporting and Analytics
- More Profiles per Account
- Team Collaboration Systems
- Customer Service Aids
Hootsuite is fine when you’re on a budget, but if you really want to maximize your social media effect and don’t mind paying to do so, Sprout Social is the logical “upgrade.”
Last, we end our list of paid eCommerce tools with a service rather than software. Invodo provides eCommerce company with media creation solutions: custom video, custom photography, and even some revolutionary interactive elements.
We’ve spoken before on the sheer importance of visuals for eCommerce, not just for entertainment, but in that higher-quality media makes the shopping experience more real. HD product photographs can reveal details relevant to the shopper (texture, embellishes, etc.) that a standard definition photo might miss.
The trouble is that filmography, photography, and animation are all skillsets in and of themselves, just as demanding as eCommerce. You’re no more qualified to make a video than Stanley Kubrick would be to run an online shoe store. Invodo gives you the opportunity to outsource the media work to genuine professionals.
For eCommerce, this of course means top-shelf product photos and videos, company photos and videos, background media, or whatever else you need that can’t be built with code. This even includes some 3D capabilities.
On the cutting edge, Invodo is starting to offer more experimental techniques, such as augmented reality, interactive story-telling modules, and retail installations. For a fee, Invodo offers a shortcut past the dreaded time-suck of researching and sifting through media artists until you find the right one.
Did we miss any paid eCommerce tools? Did we include your favorite? Share your opinion in the comments section now.