New Feature Enables Etsy Sellers to Shoot and Edit Product Videos From Smartphones

Etsy has launched a new feature within its mobile app that guides sellers through the process of shooting, editing and publishing simple videos on their smartphones.

With it, the Brooklyn-based DIY-craft ecommerce site wants its sellers to make more videos showcasing the stories behind their products.

The Shop Videos feature on the Sell on Etsy mobile app officially launches today on iOS and Android phones and tablets. Sellers can also produce and edit videos externally and use the new feature to publish videos on their Etsy pages.

The release of the app comes as American adults are spending more and more time consuming video content online. Year by year, more and more of the video content being consumed is being watched on mobile devices, according to a 2015 report from digital marketing information agency eMarketer.

Etsy has seen 60 percent of traffic coming from mobile, according to a recent quarterly financial report. At the same time, the ecommerce platform acknowledges that not all of its 1.5 million sellers have access to expensive professional recording and editing video equipment.

The video editing software walks users through the process of filming short video segments, stitching those clips together and overlaying background music to smooth out the transitions. In a cute nod to the creative community, the available music is written and performed by Etsy employees.

It’s definitely a nice perk for Etsy sellers, but it’s also strategic for the site to get more of its sellers making and producing more videos. Consumers are “more likely to purchase an item when they know something about a shop and the people behind it,” according to the blog post promoting the new video editing feature. The more videos Etsy users create, the more crafts they sell, in theory, and the more money Etsy makes.

Etsy makes 3.5 percent commission on every sale on top of a 20 cent charge per listing. And Etsy sure does need to find a way to pump up revenues. Since going public in early 2015, shares of Etsy have fallen from $30 per share to less than $7.

It’s 2018 But Nearly Half of US Small Businesses Still Don’t Have a Website

20151020164526-small-business-owner-on-laptopFor some of us, that is: It may be 2018, but 46 percent of  U.S. small businesses still don’t have a website for their company, according to a report released by business-to-business research firm Clutch.

Of the more than 350 small businesses surveyed — the majority of which have less than 10 employees and less than $1 million in annual revenue — cost was listed as the second-most popular reason for not having an online presence. Lack of technical know-how and the need for upkeep were other popular reasons, while 12 percent said that they use social media in place of a static site.

The most popular justification for not having a website, however?

Nearly a third of surveyed respondents said that they didn’t have one because it wasn’t relevant to their business or their industry. That could be a problem. As Max Elman, the founder of Razorfrog Web Design, said in a statement released with the report:

“No matter what type of business you run, if you have customers, it’s necessary to have some sort of information online, at least a page describing who you are and offering contact information. It’s essential to have this information indexed and shown to those looking for you.”

The founder of a company that builds websites, Elman is perhaps not the most objective source. But he has a point: More than 80 percent of Americans say they do online research before making a purchase.

Related: How to Market Brick and Mortar to the Web

For the 64 percent of small businesses that do have a website, many could use a technological upgrade: Nearly a quarter of these businesses said their websites weren’t compatible with mobile platforms. Of the online improvements business owners planned to make, search-engine and social engagement topped the list with 40 percent each, followed closely by improvements in content and design.

The report concludes, as expected, that all small businesses in every industry can benefit from a website, be it a single page or more elaborate setup.

In other words, if your business doesn’t have a website, it’s probably time to change that. And if your business already has a website, particularly one that works on mobile, you’re further ahead of the game than you likely thought.

Sticked

7 Online Marketing Tools That Are Totally Worth the Investment

To do online marketing right, you’ve got to buy the right tools. But what tools are the “right tools”?

After all, some tools are free. Some tools are really complicated. Some are insanely expensive. The point being that with marketing tools, it’s hard to make the right decision.

There are so many alternatives available, and if you haven’t had the chance to experiment with different ones, choosing with confidence becomes especially difficult.

The following list should help. I created it for the agency marketer who’s “trying to do it all.” For the entrepreneur who’s “trying to get her business off the ground.” For the experienced digital marketer who “wants to improve his game.”

Consider this your online marketing-tool cheat sheet — one that can help you skyrocket your marketing.

1. Email marketing (and more): InfusionSoft

What it does: InfusionSoft is a bit on the pricey side, but it’s a powerful tool. Its best features are its automation features, which make it insanely effective for marketing campaigns. My delivery rates with InfusionSoft have been excellent!

How much it costs: InfusionSoft is a powerful yet costly email marketing tool. A one-time startup fee of around $2,000 will get you set up. Thereafter, fees range from $199 to $599 per month.

Why it’s worth it: InfusionSoft saves a lot of time. You’ll have to learn the system and get it set up. But once you’ve completed the setup, it’s pretty smooth sailing. Plus, with high deliverability rates and the ability to scale, you’re set for life.

2. Content Marketing: Buzzsumo

What it does: Buzzsumo allows you to find the most shared content on certain topics or websites. You also can filter the lists according to type of content (e.g., infographics, blogs). Buzzsumo’s advanced features, such as “influencers” and “monitoring,” are powerful ways to get ahead of the competition.

How much it costs:

Limited results: Free

Pro: “Our starter plan is ideal for bloggers and small teams.” Costs $99 per month.

Agency: “For agency teams, with all Pro features, API access & more.” Costs $299 per month.

Enterprise: “Ideal for brands and publishers. Advanced functionality for large teams.” Costs $999 per month

Why it’s worth it – Buzzsumo is a content marketer’s dream come true. If you’re searching for trending subjects, analyzing effective headlines or trying to understand how to create the next viral topic, Buzzsumo is the answer.

Related: 11 Marketing Tools Worth Trying in 2016

3. Graphic Design and Visual Content: Canva

What it does: Not everyone can afford to hire a graphic designer. But nearly any of us can learn to do some basic design ourselves. Canva makes design easy and fast. Its tagline, “Amazingly simple graphic design software,” is spot-on. Canva’s templates are optimized for social media, and they are stunning. A few customizing clicks, and you’re set with eye-popping visual content.

How much it costs: Canva charges nothing for using the cloud-based software. If you use “premium elements” (certain images, etc.), you can pay as you go. Canva For Work is an advanced feature of the tool that charges a monthly subscription of $12.95.

Why it’s worth it: You don’t want to skimp on graphic design. Great visual design has a huge impact on how people perceive your brand and interact with your content. Canva will make you look good. And that’s priceless.

4. SEO and Site Speed: Pingdom Website Speed Test

What it does: Improving website speed is one of the fastest ways to improve your SEO and conversion rates. Pingdom’s website speed test helps you do that. Its free report provides instant analysis, plus tips on improving your site speed.

How much it costs: The speed test itself is free. Full website monitoring costs from $13.95 to $454 per month.

Why it’s worth it: For large websites that receive a lot of traffic, full-time monitoring is essential. Just minutes of downtime can cost you traffic and revenue. A monthly cost for Pingdom, to check your website’s status, speed and alerts, can save you money in the long run.

5. SEO: Ahrefs

What it does: Every marketer needs to understand SEO. Ahrefs makes this job simple and straightforward. You can track keyword performance, measure your social metrics, perform backlink analysis, analyze your content, explore trending content, measure your keyword positions and do keyword research. It’s a robust all-in-one SEO tool that will put you on the path to outrank your competitors.

How much it costs: Plans range from $79 to $2,500 per month.

Why it’s worth it: There are plenty of free SEO tools, but few of them provide the full breadth of reliable information that Ahrefs does. Ahrefs’s quality data and reliable results are an essential part of dominating SEO.

6. Social Media: Buffer

What it does: Buffer is social media automation tool. You can schedule updates for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn. With a handy browser extension (click to schedule an update), mobile app, calendar, link shortening, optimal timing and social analytics, it’s hard to beat.

How much it costs: Buffer has a free plan with limited features. Its additional plans range from $10 to $250 per month.

Why it’s worth it: When it comes to social media, saving time is critically important. This is exactly what Buffer does. You can fully automate your social media posting, plus set up an ideal posting schedule in seconds. In business, time saved is money saved.

7. Marketing Schedule: CoSchedule

What it does: CoSchedule helps you plan your marketing, organize your campaigns, plan your content and get ahead. Marketing needs to be organized, and so does scheduling. It’s not enough to simply create content and make updates. CoSchedule helps to streamline the process. Its integration with Chrome, WordPress, Google Docs and Evernote makes the process even easier.

How much it costs: Coschedule ranges from $15 per month for a solo user to $600 per month for larger agency users.

Why it’s worth it: Staying organized and saving time are the two main benefits of CoSchedule. If your marketing is a jumbled mess of time lines, interest, tweets and unfinished campaigns, CoSchedule can help you sort that all out.

Conclusion

If you’re a marketer, you need tools — good ones. It doesn’t make much sense to skimp on marketing tools.

Why not? When you skimp on tools, you hinder your marketing from getting better. So, regardless of whether you choose these specific tools or not, make it your goal to find tools that you use regularly. Better tools are equivalent to better marketing. Whatever the tool you choose, make sure that you understand it well and that it makes a measurable improvement on your marketing efforts.

6 Steps to Branding Your Business

Starting a business presents a unique set of problems, but branding that company in a way that appeals to the masses oftentimes presents an even bigger and more challenging proposition. That is why, Jim Signorelli, founder and CEO of marketing firm ESW Partners, has created a six-step process that businesses with hundreds or dozens of employees can follow to help strengthen their brand identity.

While branding is often associated with large corporations and pricey advertising agencies, the truth is that companies of all sizes have a brand and can benefit from telling their story.  According to Signorelli, the process to telling this story and identifying the brand is as simple as telling a story.

“The brand is substituted for the main character who is described as having functional capabilities and is additionally infused with values and beliefs that resonate with audiences,” Signorelli said. “In all cases, the brand’s ultimate goal, apart from increasing sales and profits, is to influence a relationship with the prospect.”

Step One: Collect the Back Story: Successful brand stories must start by gathering relevant information, which includes an assessment of the brand’s culture and the problems and opportunities it faces with competition in the marketplace.

Step Two: Characterize the Brand: Once some information is collected about the brand, a more detailed explanation and understanding of the brand’s values and beliefs is needed to further shape the brand story.  Signorelli describes this as setting up guardrails on a brand that will help it stay focused on strengths and avoid weaknesses.

Step Three: Characterize the Prospect: With background information collected, Signorelli believes the next logical step is to identify potential needs that the brand can appeal to with potential customers.

Step Four: Connect the Characters: Creating a strong brand story that appeals to potential customers is not of much use unless that story can be connected to prospective customers. The hope with creating a strong brand story is to build a relationship that is based strongly on values and beliefs.

Step Five: Confront the Obstacles: Signorelli notes that there are four significant challengesthat affect the development of the brand story. These challenges include awareness, comprehension, confidence and affinity and need to be addressed in order to fully connect with customers.

Step Six: Complete the Story Brief: The last step in this process involves connecting what Signorelli refers to as the inner layer and outer layers. Outer layers include the function of the brand and what customers desire, while inner layers include what both parties subscribe to.

9 Steps for Sticking With Your Marketing Plan

In The Marketing Plan Handbook, author Robert W. Bly explains how you can develop big-picture marketing plans for pennies on the dollar with his 12-step marketing plan. In this edited excerpt, Bly explains the nine steps you can take to make sure you’re getting the most out of your marketing plan.

Consistency is important when you’re trying to implement a long-term marketng plan, so resist the temptation to abandon a strategy if it doesn’t work immediately. Give it time to work. These nine steps can help you make the most of your well-crafted plan:

  1. Every day, be renewed by your vision. Your mind can be your greatest asset or your most tiring obstacle. So begin your day by renewing your mind with the clarifying power of your vision. When W. Clement Stone and Earl Nightingale both said, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve,” they knew these were far more than simple words on a page. There simply is no substitute for the power of belief. When you believe, obstacles that would throw your entire day into chaos suddenly become bleeps that you just intuitively know how to solve without expending valuable time or energy. Don’t laugh this off as touchy-feely. This is one of the most inexpensive and profitable investments you’ll ever make in yourself. Just do it.
  2. Focus on your niche. Become the expert in all things involving your niche. Don’t limit your knowledge to the services you offer. The more you know about your niche’s priorities and challenges, the more valuable a resource you can become to them. Become familiar with other professionals who can assist your niche with challenges outside your expertise. When you’re tempted to work with clients outside your niche, make sure the time and payoff will be worth it and won’t draw you away from your commitment.
  3. Stay close to your ideal client. Networking, surveys, online community forums, trade magazines, and associations are all great ways to keep sharp about the things that matter to your ideal client. Also, stay on top of the news, and ask yourself how your client’s needs will be affected by changes in the business and world environment.
  4. Keep your eyes on your competition. If your clients stop think­ing that you offer a competitive advantage in addressing their needs, you lose and the competition wins. Enough said. Don’t be the last to know what your competition is doing.
  5. Make sure you’re positioned to win. If you’re doing the first four steps, you’ll know when it’s time to change your tune, tweak your message, and speak a new language that’s more in tune with what your ideal client needs. Ask yourself, “Is my unique selling proposition still unique? Does anyone do it better? What one thing can I do to serve my clients better?” That’s how you stay unique.
  6. Take action every day. Stick close to your plan. Follow your schedule. Complete the actions you say you’ll complete in your daily sched­ule. At the end of the week, give yourself a grade for effort. Then give yourself another one for accomplishment. If you’re getting A’s for effort and C’s for accomplishment, trouble­shoot.
  7. Focus on one marketing project at a time. One of the greatest mistakes people make in setting goals is trying to work on too many things at one time. There’s tremendous power in giving focused attention to just one idea, one project, or one objective at a time.
  8. Ask yourself good questions. As you think about your goals, instead of wishing for them to come true, ask yourself how and what you can do to make them come true. The subconscious mind will respond to your questions far more effectively than just making statements or wishes.
  9. Congratulate yourself. You’re halfway home. You’ve done something that less than 3 percent of the population has done — set goals and create a plan for achieving them. Every study on the subject tells us you’re far more likely than most to succeed with your plans if you’ll only do one thing: take action!

10 Business Lessons I Learned Studying My Competition

Our competition isn’t just there to beat. They can also teach us how to get better at what we are doing so that we can beat them at their own game. I see my competition as a bar set for me to jump over.

In the business world, anything goes. While some people like to think of scoping out and spying on the competition as a bad thing, I love looking at everything they are doing through a spy glass. This gives me insights into what’s working and I should focus my time on and what isn’t working and I shouldn’t waste my time.

Here’s what my competition is teaching me about productivity across various aspects of their company that’s helping change my business for the better:

1. Content.

While I never copy my competition’s content, I read what they have, if they use a call to action, how they approach what is shared and how often they update their content.

Look to see if your competition is using video, infographics or some other type of content that resonates with your shared audience. It’s also good to know where they are sharing this content to see if there are any places I’m missing opportunities to add or share information. Reading the competition’s content showed me how to say it differently. Had I not looked at the competition, it would have taken me longer to shape my content strategy. I avoided misstepped that would have cost me prospects or customers.

I recently found out that my competitor has a piece of content that ranks well. They attract nearly half their organic traffic to their site each month from one term. I created a much better version of this and push it hard. I don’t look at this as bad or negative. I see this as a big opportunity to give users an even better experience.

2. Online marketing.

To see if my marketing strategy would work, I considered what the competition was using as their primary messages in terms of a value proposition and the visuals they used to communicate that. I didn’t want to copy it, but I wasn’t going to do anything so different that the audience would be confused. I tracked my competition’s online campaigns on various sites and paid advertising platforms like Google AdWords to see what they were saying.

Kompyte and Perch are new tools that make it easier to stay on top of what the competition is doing. By using these I speed up how long it takes me to formulate the differentiation position that dictates the messages I select.

Related: How to Compete in a Crowded Marketplace

3. Search.

By looking at their website and overall content platforms, I compiled a list of keywords the competition uses. I took these keywords to search engines to determine if the rankings they received were better than my own. When they were, I compared the keyword terms and added those to my online presence, including website, landing pages, pictures and headers.

Available analytics tools from ComScore and others yield deep insights into the results of what your competition is doing. This has changed how I approach search engine optimization and resulted in a higher ranking for my company.

4. Customer engagement.

I learned what works effectively with my target audience by observing what the competition did on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Rather than experimenting with the type of social media content, time of day and frequency, I saw how their followers and fans responded. This saved me many trial runs and resources.

In the long run, I approached customers and prospects differently than if I did not consider what the competition was doing. The result was conversations where previously there had been silence.

5. Brand management.

Since I had never developed or managed a brand before, the competition provided a baseline for me to learn how the process works, how to define brand attributes and then how to use this image to craft and manage the reputation process. It also guided what I could do with my own brand to set it apart and provide more value, yet included the attributes that our shared audience wanted.

6. User experience.

Reading the comments and feedback that the competitions’ customers provided in social media, blog posts and forums is an invaluable source of intelligence about a shared audience. I even asked a few questions on these posts to get the competitions’ customers to explain how they felt about their experience with the competition. This told me what type of user experience they are looking to develop.

Related: Don’t Declare War. Respect Competitors, and Capitalize on Your Own Strengths.

7. Product development.

To shape the type of solutions my business offers small business owners and companies, I tried what the competition offered. My product development became more productive when I could see what features were working and what were not. Then, I exploited these differences and added my own spin. Studying the competition triggered new ideas about how to approach development, making it easier to pinpoint where and how changes in my product could propel it farther ahead.

8. Social media.

Studying how the competition used social media saved considerable resources. I started looking at what sites they used and discovered the results of those efforts in terms of fans and followers. I also considered what they were doing on professional sites including LinkedIn to see how they presented themselves professionally. When I tried the social media sites the competition was not using I found they were missing some key platforms, giving me an advantage.

9. Research.

My competition did the heavy lifting for me when it came to target markets and state of the industry. They did not do all the research and hand me a white paper, but using Google Alerts to keep tabs on the competition provides an ongoing stream of information about their strategy, performance and any pivots. This can all be discerned from sales letters, email campaigns, press releases and mission statements. This was certainly more productive than creating my strategy in a vacuum and hoping it would meet the market need and beat the competition.

10. Company culture.

Although I was not privy to the internal workings of the competitions’ organizations, I did create a more productive team by studying how they defined their culture and addressed values, motivation, training and retention. Their hiring literature and employee programs provided new insights on best practices designed to get the most from my team. That enabled me to design a culture around what I wanted to achieve and put it into place quickly, with few changes afterward. Additional information about hiring practices, benefits and perks helped me provide a more effective way to onboard talent.

I’m too busy to reinvent the wheel. Everything I observed my competition do shortened my learning curve and sped progress toward what I was trying to achieve.

I learned from their mistakes and from their processes, ignoring what didn’t work and benchmarking best practices. Scope out your target audience and the overall external environment, but it’s just as important to track the competition.

4 Rookie Errors That Stunt Your Online Business

As our society moves further into the digital age, more of the income from businesses will come from sales online. Every year, we see sales shift from physical stores to the websites of companies, and online business. There is a tremendous opportunity.

While the opportunity is there, so is the competition from many other entrepreneurs who are trying to reach the same people. There’s a lot of noise online from self-appointed experts claiming they know how to write copy that converts. You’ve probably seen a Facebook ad or two that makes crazy claims of success.

There is a way to grow and build a thriving online business despite the competition. It starts with making smart choices. There are four dumb mistakes even those who are smart make without even realizing it. These mistakes could be keeping you from growing your business and reaching your goals.

1. Focusing too much on the “busy work.”

There are many components and things that need to be done to build an online business, or the online part of your business. It’s easy to get stuck on what I call the “busy work.” The busy work can be things like:

  • Always making changes or adding different things to your website.
  • Spending too much time on social media marketing.
  • Constantly checking your stats and getting caught up in what they mean.

All of these things are necessary for building an online business, but only in moderation — there has to be a balance. Most of your focus online should be to build a loyal and engaged audience. You can have the best website in the world, but if no one sees it, you won’t make money. Focus on the things that build your audience instead of the busy work.

Related: Stop Wasting Time, Especially When It Comes to Social Media

2. Chasing what’s hot at the moment.

As I write this, Blab, Periscope, and Facebook Mentions are currently the new “must use” tools/strategies. In six months, who knows what will be the new hot thing. The point is, there will always be some new shiny object that people will say you need to use to grow your business.

They may or may not help your business, and that’s the point. You should know what would help you where you are in your building efforts. This has to be about what’s right for you, not what’s hot. Chasing what’s trending will have you busy, but broke.

3. Not planning content and promotions.

A lot of websites post content based off of what’s on their mind or what’s popular. This is a bad strategy. A good content strategy starts with what promotions you will be having. The content is then designed to answer questions and demonstrate value in a way that makes your leads want to buy into the promotion when it’s offered.

One example. Let’s say you’re in the relationship space and have a course that helps couples. You plan to offer this course in February. Your content in January should be helpful tips, tricks and advice for couples. At the end of January, you simply let your audience know you’re offering more extensive help in your course. The content you created led to the course. This isn’t to say you’ll never cover a trending topic, but you have a definite plan that leads to income for your business.

Related: 5 Tips to Creating a Successful Content-Marketing Campaign

4. Chasing after people who aren’t interested and won’t be.

Facebook groups are a valuable resource for entrepreneurs. Groups are your chance to connect with your audience in an intimate way. One thing you notice in Facebook groups is the people who use the group as an attempt to get new business. They’re constantly posting sales pitches that get ignored because they look desperate. You also see this a lot through email — the cold pitches that are so far off it’s an easy delete.

It works the same way with any of your marketing efforts made to people who aren’t interested and probably never will be. Go where your audience is and where they spend money. Get exposure in mainstream publications, such as Entrepreneur, The Huffington Post, and so on. Instead of chasing the same audience as everyone else, chase the millions who read these publications every day.

It took eight months before I made real money in my online business. I spent too much time on the busy work and chasing what was popular in my niche. I wasted the one resource I can never recover: my time. Once I shifted my focus, I was able to grow my business. Today, I’m in love with writing, speaking all over the world and consulting entrepreneurs/companies.

If you are making any of these mistakes, make a shift. When you focus on making connections and building trust online, you will stand out from all the others shouting for attention. Being different is the secret to reaching people and building a business you cherish.

The 6 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Small Businesses

If you were to track the rise of ecommerce in today’s business landscape, you’d have to go back to the dot com crash of 2000. Despite a tanking economy, the businesses that survived the crash quickly started adapting their selling methods, because, even with an economy going down the drain, it was clear that the Internet would hold the key to the future of sales.

Fast forward to 2015 and the U.S. Census Bureau releasing a report on the dollar amount of ecommerce sales that took place within the first quarter of the year — the total amount was 80.3 Billion — and it’s clear to see that ecommerce is only getting stronger. Today’s consumer has time management and convenience on their mind when it comes to purchasing those sweet luxury or necessity items that you’re marketing to them. But, to be on your A-game, you have to be using the right platform to maximize your sales potential.

Related: The Top 5 Reasons You Should Start an Ecommerce Business

Whether you’re struggling to create a pre-ordering option within your current ecommerce marketplace, or you’re anxious to find out how your warehousing setup will interact with your online store, there are plenty of ecommerce options out there that can help your business succeed.

It’s in that spirit that I’ve taken the liberty of listing out some of the best platforms that I think small to mid-size businesses should be using right now. Here they are in no particular order.

1. Symphony Commerce

The first ecommerce platform I want to talk about is a SaaS (software-as-a-service) type of solution. Of course, I’m being a little biased by putting this first, because I believe that SaaS can be a wonderful solution for businesses of any size — not just big businesses that can afford the overhead cost of farming projects out.

Symphony Commerce, however, is a bit more than a typical SaaS platform, in fact they market themselves as a commerce-as-a-service provider. Not all brands are equipped to transition their physical experience into a digital one, which can make hiring information technology (IT) professionals to run your online store a bit of a headache — and that’s why Symphony Commerce can be an asset to the right kind of company. By off-loading the architecture and backend duties that are critical to maintaining an online store, you can focus on the core aspects of what makes your business tick.

Symphony Commerce isn’t for everyone, though. While the pay-as-you-go pricing makes it an ideal option for a small but fast-growing company, this is a platform for businesses that are already running at full speed. If you’re still in the do-it-yourself phase of getting your business together, it would be better to build a small but functional online store with a site builder such as Squarespace.

2. Squarespace

Speak of the devil! Squarespace makes this list, because its fully loaded ecommerce platform is affordable and can actually help you sell as a small business. No matter which Squarespace template you select — which is another strength of the platform, as you can choose beautiful layouts without having to know a stitch of code — you’ll be allowed to upload an unlimited number of items to your online store and have full control of your inventory management, meaning that it’s easy to offer different variants of the same product type as well as control your inventory stock.

This is definitely an ecommerce platform for the type of business that you can run from your living room, and while your site will look great, Squarespace won’t offer you a lot of capabilities in search engine optimization (SEO) or customer relationship management (CRM). Still, it’s a great platform for any type of business from small retailers to professionals wanting to sell their services.

3. Magento

Magento is an extremely elastic ecommerce platform in that it can fit the needs of small or large businesses, making it probably the most scalable platform on this list. The platform owes its popularity to the fact that it’s open source, which means that adding features is extremely easy. For example, if you’d like to increase conversions on your site, you can add Nosto, a free extension that tracks unique visitor behavior and offers them suggested items based on their online actions.

While Magento can be a great option for growing companies, it is a platform that’s more mature (i.e., complicated to use) than the average platform meant for first time ecommerce retailers. While that shouldn’t deter smaller business owners when it comes to integrating Magento into their workflows, I do suggest that you make sure you’re confident in your ability to learn the ins and outs of using such a sophisticated platform before implementation.

Related: The 5 Most Innovative Trends in Ecommerce to Watch for in 2016

4. CommerceHub

CommerceHub is a cloud based service that allows retailers to dramatically increase their inventory and product offering to the consumers that support their business.

How do they accomplish this? Essentially, CommerceHub works as a merchandising and fulfillment platform that connects online retailers to suppliers — which, as anyone who’s tried to build a relationship with suppliers knows, is a major milestone to reach. Simply put, working with a quality supplier is a goal that can elude many businesses that haven’t yet obtained brand recognition.

The cloud based technology that CommerceHub offers can empower startup ecommerce companies — who traditionally have had to compete with larger retailers to find sourcing partners — to reach 100 percent compliant integration with any product source and allows those retailers to effectively become the middle man between wholesalers and the consumers.

Like other solutions on this list, CommerceHub isn’t necessarily for the early-stage startup as before you can drill down relationships with suppliers, you first have to have created a strong sales funnel that can support a product-delivery pipeline. It is, however, a great option for any startup that’s already on pace to hit quarterly sales numbers on a consistent basis, as well as mid-sized companies that want to build more consistency in their sourcing practices.

5. Drupal Commerce

For my money, Drupal Commerce is definitely one of the more actionable and powerful commerce systems on this list. In fact it’s the only commerce platform that’s built within an entire content management system (CMS). Users of Drupal Commerce can easily customize their workflows, which makes this option ideal for marketers who don’t necessarily have a great deal of expertise working in the backend of ecommerce platforms.

Drupal commerce is also extremely flexible in that it’s highly modular and configurable, which means that it’s built to scale. But this probably isn’t an option for the do-it-yourself entrepreneur. In order to use Drupal Commerce to its full potential, you’ll at the very least need to hire an in-house developer that can help you set up workflows and the overall configuration of how you want your commerce platform to function.

That being said, this is a highly valuable tool that doesn’t come with licensing fees — making it not only a powerful solution but an affordable one as well.

6. Shopify

As the name would suggest, Shopify is all about helping you set up an online store so that you can sell online, and in my opinion, it’s one of the more powerful all-in-one ecommerce platforms out there. It’s also one of the most popular ecommerce building sites on the market today, as Shopify reports that they now have over 100,000 stores using their platform.

With Shopify, you can upload an unlimited amount of products with easy control over variants and overall inventory. It also comes with a discount code engine, and you won’t have to pay for transaction fees. The real beauty of Shopify — and what makes it scalable for any type of business — is their app store, which offers over a 1,000 helpful apps both free and paid.

For example, you can choose marketing plugins that help boost SEO, sales apps that help you customize your product list and social-media apps that help you track your followers to see who has converted and who is most likely to convert — and all of said apps integrate seamlessly with your product pages, shopping cart and Shopify backend. If there’s a drawback to Shopify it’s that it has so many options to choose from that if you’re unseasoned in the ecommerce landscape, it can quickly become overwhelming. Still, this is an extremely powerful tool that doesn’t require a strong tech background to use.

There are more than enough ecommerce platforms out there that can help you fulfill every vertical you want your digital market place to cover. However, picking an ecommerce solution means investment in both time and money. Before settling on any platform I encourage you to do an internal audit of your current needs.

For example, you could be in the market for a relatively cheap solution now, but, as you scale, you know that you’ll need your ecmmerce platform to integrate with other systems like a CMS and CRM. If this is the case a platform like Squarespace might seem enticing in the early goings but could end up costing you in the long run due to its low scalability. You might instead choose Drupal Commerce, as it’s an extremely elastic solution that can integrate with almost any other platform.