Startups tools and products round-up: simple solutions to start an online shop

The latest software and product launches to help you start your business

In the last round-up, Startups reported on an e-commerce solution from Actinic. This week, two new shop-builder tools go head-to-head and we introduce a platform for streamlining your social media.

 
 
ShopBuilder

Free for a 20MB website, with packages up to £25 per month for 10,000MB

Designed for complete efficiency and usability, Moonfruit’s ShopBuilder platform offers a simple ‘out of the box’ e-commerce solution. With a large range of contemporary online shop templates, entrepreneurs can customise a page to their brand in a matter of minutes and – with automatic Paypal integration – start selling immediately, without having to set-up a merchant account.

Moonfruit’s easy-to-use website building solutions already have an army of four million fans, and an incredible 2,000 e-tailers developed pages with ShopBuilder just in the 12 hours before the new tool was officially launched. The UK online retail sector is forecast to be worth over £37.3bn in the next two years.

Furthermore, the Shopbuilder works instantly across web, mobile and Facebook, so every time the web page is updated those changes automatically appear on the shop’s Facebook page. Correspondingly, from day one a smartphone-tailored website can be accessed from a mobile phone, without having to manually set up a separate m-commerce page. Integration with eBay, Etsy and other online marketplaces is set to follow.

Storefront

From £15 per month, with a 14 day free trial

Similarly, Mr Site recently debuted its Storefront tool, which is designed to offer entrepreneurs an e-commerce shop with the professional appearance and functionality of major e-tail outlets, such as ASOS and John Lewis.com.

The main difference to Moonfruit’s tool is that Storefront offers the opportunity to create discounts, offer codes, gift vouchers, reward point schemes and wish-lists, to entice customers to buy. Also, on a Storefront site shoppers are able to ‘e-mail a friend’ product pages, leave reviews and set up accounts, through which they can receive newsletters and special offers.

Storefront currently accepts payment through Nochex, Paypal and RBS Worldpay, and ShopBuilder will also soon offer additional payment platforms.

iContact

From £6.30 per month, with a 30 day free trial

In the same way as these tools allow entrepreneurs to manage their e-commerce through a single all-in-one platform, iContact has launched a new product to streamline digital marketing through email and social media.

The tool seeks to increase brand exposure and reach by integrating existing email marketing campaigns with Facebook and Twitter, without the need to log in. Furthermore, social media posts can be drafted, reviewed and scheduled in advance – increasing the efficiency of digital marketing by allowing start-ups to manage all their social media posts at one time.

Entrepreneurs can then view detailed analytics and track their customers’ engagement, helping them to develop smarter social media campaigns.

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