There are a lot of ecommerce resources publicly available. To help you cut through the overwhelming amount of choice, we’ve put together a quick hit list of resources and tactics to enable you to be more productive in business and stay up-to-date on news within your industry.

We’ve limited and categorized the list for easier handling. Our goal is not to overwhelm you, but rather give you a solid foundation on which to get started.

Productivity Tips for Business Owners

Everyone is looking to save time and money, and yet, there is no one more eager to streamline their day and be more productive than those running their own businesses. Here are some great, simple and inexpensive tools to help you be more successful in business, as well as throughout the day.

  • Get design help on the cheap
  • Streamline your bookkeeping: This is a huge painpoint for so many start up businesses. Keeping sales and finances in order is typically fun for few people and a natural skill for even less. Although you’ll want to hire a professional to make sure your business is on the up-and-up, try QuickBooks and Xero as they will likely integrate with your ecommerce platform.
  • Schedule social media: Social media is a 24/7 gig. To stay on top of hot topics and trends, schedule your Tweets and Facebook posts. This will also allow you to test different times of day to see which posts gain the most reach. For an in-depth look at social media analysis, check out the comprehensive social management guide from Hootsuite or even Buffer. You can start free and work your way up their plans.
  • Improve your email marketing efforts: Are you trying to use you personal email for email marketing? Stop! There are a lot of email marketing tools out there to help you work smarter with pre-built templates as well as scheduling and list segmentation functionality. Test out options like MailChimp or Constant Contact as they will likely integrate with your ecommerce platform.
  • Schedule shipping pick ups: At no extra charge (unless you want a time outside of your normal mail delivery hours), you can schedule your shipping provider to pick up a shipment rather than waiting in line at their offices. Check out options for FedEx, UPS and USPS.
  • Manage your email inbox: Boomerang for Gmail writes and schedules your emails to automatically send or “boomerang” emails based on specific criteria. For instance, you can state that, “If nobody responds to this email within X amount of days, bring it back to the top of my inbox.”
  • Collaborate and manage projects: CentralDesktop is a great option for growing businesses struggling to manage it all. From one private, secure, centralized website you get integrated file sharing, project management, workflow automation and centralized communication from any device. Also check out Trello as an alternative option.
  • Share resources: There are so many tools out there to help you share notes, ideas and even files. Try out Google Drive or Evernote as a start. Also, for larger items like images and video, try Dropbox. Dropbox will sync and share documents, photos and videos among all of your staff.
  • Get an answer: LazyTweet is a Q&A tool for those of you who are too lazy –– ahem, busy –– to do your own research. Simply tweet your question, and include the term “lazytweet” as either a hashtag (#lazytweet) or @message (@lazytweet). Typically those who follow the hashtag notice the question and are able to find you an answer.
  • Take care of yourself: Forgetting to take care of yourself is a common issue for entrepreneurs, as we tend to be go-getters and operate at speeds unknown to those in other realms. Get yourself something like a Fitbit so you stay active, monitor your sleep and eat right. Try out a financial service like Mint to stay on top of what you’re spending. Get yourself a virtual assistant like EasilyDo to help you stay on top of what needs to get done. Set up a few triggers on If This Then That so you can stay socially relevant without having to manually Tweet or post on Facebook. Finally, download an app like that allows you set goals like increasing productivity, improving your health, etc. Then, the app will make sure that you actually reach those goals.

Keep Track of Great Content

There’s a lot of information out there concerning small businesses and ecommerce, and it can be difficult to keep track of it all. Here are three tools to help maximize your time so that you never miss a thing.

  • Google Alerts: Get email notifications at whatever cadence you’d like any time Google finds new results on your industry, competition, related news and more. For example, you can set a schedule to receive email updates about a new product or industry in which you’re considering expanding. You can also set up a Google Alert to find out where and when someone posts content about your product or service online.
  • Feedly: Feedly allows you to organize any and all blogs publications you’d like to watch via a simple (and pretty) RSS feed.
  • TweetDeck: This tool can feel overwhelming at first but it is extremely powerful. You’ll be able to follow what everyone on Twitter is saying about your industry, get involved in tweetchats (and perhaps run your own), follow experts in ecommerce, and track what your competition is doing.

Follow the Best Blogs

Staying on top of industry information, government regulations, general ecommerce best practices and online marketing trends, to name only a few, is going to be key to your success. Although we’ve shown you how to manage all of the information out there in the section above, here are some great blogs to help you get your educational journey kick-started.

  • Competitors: So many online merchants forget to subscribe to their competitors’ blogs. This will help to ensure you don’t miss a beat when it comes to your industry, your products and what your competition is doing to market themselves. You don’t have to help them promote content, but you should know what they are saying to their target audience.
  • The Big Guys: According to a recent Bigcommerce client poll, the following business publications are the current industry favorites: Inc, Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur.
  • MarketingSherpa: Often referred to as “the marketing bible,” you’ll find just about anything from how to brand your business to how to write a whitepaper.
  • Buffer: Although this is a great social scheduling tool, Buffer’s blog is also a great place to find advice on social media marketing, general marketing and building a successful business.
  • Small Biz Survival: Yes, this blog tailors content to small towns and rural businesses, but what applies there also applies across the industry.
  • Bigcommerce: Bigcommerce’s Blog covers topics on increasing conversions, how to best market your site, omnichannel optimization and features interviews with small business owners who are offering their success advice to the masses.
  • Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That!: Looking for information on how to help ensure your business stands out from the rest? Andy Sernovitz’s blog is stellar for small businesses who need to find or maintain a “shtick.”
  • MOZ: This blog covers industry topics concerning SEO, marketing and how to increase conversions. Particularly helpful articles include this SEO guide, anything Whiteboard Friday related and info on search engine ranking factors.
  • Duct Tape Marketing: Great tips on simplifying your marketing tactics, specifically around social media. Also, if you’re into podcasts, John Jantsch will share simple and affordable tips.
  • Practical Ecommerce: This publication covers all aspects of ecommerce from branding and marketing to shipping and delivery.
  • National Retail Federation: The NRF’s blog is a great ecommerce resource for keeping up with all new legislation changes and industry trends.

Do you have specific sites or resources you use to stay on top of industry news and trends? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.