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More Tools Won’t Solve All Your Problems

Chapter 16 by Dennis Hammer

Since you’re using Shopify and Oberlo, it’s clear you understand the power of automation for ecommerce businesses. There’s no need to perform any task that software can do for you, right?

Once you see an automation system in action, it’s tempting not to fall in love. What else could be automated? What other functions can you delegate to apps and tools so you can finally achieve that passive income stream you’ve always dreamed of?

While it’s true software can go a long way to simplifying your life and your business, there’s a limit to this power.

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Tools Don’t Have All the Answers

If you read up on a lot of ecommerce topics, you’ve surely come across countless articles listing “The 10 Best Ecommerce Marketing Tools” or “The 15 Tools Every Entrepreneur Needs.” These articles make it seem like all you have to do to create a profitable store is install the tools.

But this is far from the truth.

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There’s no combination of apps that will build and run a business for you. Yet, time and time again, we meet ecommerce entrepreneurs who are obsessed with the next revolutionary tool. Some of them fork out hundreds of dollars a month subscribing to tools they don’t even use (and probably never will).

Have you ever asked questions like these?

  • “What’s the best email marketing tool?”
  • “What’s the best app to start a customer loyalty program?”
  • “Which tool will convert my blog readers into customers?”
  • “What’s the best marketing app stack?”

If you’ve asked yourself these questions, you’re missing the point.

Tools are just… tools.

They don’t solve your problems. They can’t make decisions for you. What they do is optimize processes.

Without a process, a tool can’t offer any value.  

Here’s a simple example:

Say you want to fasten two pieces of wood together with a nail. In other words, you have to bang the nail through one piece and into the other.

That’s the process.

You could hit the nail with anything–another piece of wood, a rock, or even your hand (if you can tolerate the pain). But it’s smarter to use a hammer because it’s a tool designed for this specific process. It’s not the only way to bang a nail in, but it is one of the best ways.

Your tool is only as good as your process.

If you don’t have (or understand) a process, the tool is useless. What good would a hammer be if you didn’t know you had to bang it against a nail?

Furthermore, any tool or app you integrate with your website adds bloat to your code, which could affect your website’s performance and functionality. “While apps certainly add a myriad of functionality that may be vital to your business, they can also cause more issues than they’re worth,” says Shopify expert and digital marketer Michael P. Hill. “Having too many apps installed makes it more complicated to troubleshoot problems that come up with your store–problems that could cost you sales. Think of it this way: Every time you add a new app, you’re introducing another variable into your store and more opportunities for issues.

Choose Tools That Support Your Process and Strategy

Before you install a bunch of apps and subscribe to a whole lot of services, you need a process and strategy to grow your business. Once you know what to do, you can incorporate the tools to do the what better, faster, or automatically.

Here’s an example:

Say you sell a small line of novelty products people don’t buy more than once. Your customers might refer their friends, but they don’t buy your products a second or third time. In this case, installing a customer loyalty app to encourage repeat purchases won’t help your business. It doesn’t make sense to spend money on an app that doesn’t impact sales, despite countless marketers recommending it.

Let’s look at a few real-life examples:

Zendesk is a powerful (and popular) customer service app, but it only works if you devote yourself to responding to customer tickets. RetargetApp is an awesome tool for recapturing your prospects from Facebook, but it only works if your customers use Facebook often. Hotjar is a great way to learn what people see and don’t see on your site, but only if you use the information to optimize your conversions.

In conclusion, tools only add value to your business if they support your process. Your tools can improve something that already works, but they won’t solve problems on their own.

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Focus on Your Sticking Points

Rather than searching for tools that might make your life easier, it’s smarter to start with your problem. What do you wish was easier, faster, or automated? What could be better?

Are your customers unaware you offer free shipping? Add a free shipping bar.

Do you think they would buy additional/related products at checkout? Upsell them.

Are you tired of emailing your customers their tracking information? Automate it.

You don’t need more tools or the perfect tools. (They don’t exist, by the way.) You need tools that solve your specific problems.

next: Chapter 17

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