2009 Awards: Readers Pick the Best Small Business Tech Tools - Page 4

By SmallBusinessComputing.com Staff | Posted February 02, 2009
Hardware     Software/Services     Security     E-Commerce    

Ecommerce

E-Commerce
eBay Alternative
Bonanzle
   Runner-up: eCrater.com
Online Marketing
Google AdWords
   Runner-up: Clickable Pro for Advertisers
Storefront/Shopping Cart
SearchFit eCommerce Platform v8
   Runner-up: Volusion
Free E-Commerce Tool
Google Analytics
   Runner-up: Widgetbox
Site Merchandising Tool
PowerReviews
   Runner-up: Bazaarvoice

eBay Alternative

The challenges of becoming a viable eBay alternative are daunting, and yet this year we saw a host of startups take on the task with gusto while other more established ones did a stellar job of gaining market share and adding new features.

The runaway winner in the eBay Alternative category is Bonanzle. This startup combines an easy listing process with cutting-edge features such as on-the-fly image cropping and live chat and an avid seller community. The founders are scaling up to meet increasing traffic, and we can only hope it continues to thrive.

In second place is eCrater.com, a free Web store builder and marketplace that includes free Web site hosting, a free sub-domain and automated posting to Google Product Search. It's notable for its simple listing process, affordability, uncluttered interface and a vibrant seller community.

Online Marketing

Google scored top honors again with Google AdWords. Given the search engine's dominance and popularity of its Analytics, it's not surprising that AdWords got the most votes.

Even with the power and resources of such a large company behind it, AdWords wouldn't be so popular with our readers if it weren't simple to use, affordable and flexible enough to meet the needs of small businesses.

The AdWords site includes tools to help you determine the cost of keywords as well as choose them. Once you are enrolled, Google sends you a monthly report listing where your ads appeared, the number of clicks, cost and conversion data. You can also check results weekly, daily, or even hourly — and instantly add keywords or remove ones that you feel aren't working or don't need anymore.

Second-place goes to Clickable Pro for Advertisers, an online advertising Web service for creating and managing search marketing campaigns from a single interface. This relative newcomer to e-commerce search marketing had one goal in mind when launching in 2006: to bring simplicity to search marketing for small and mid-sized businesses. The company seems to be doing just that.

Storefront/Shopping Cart

Perhaps no other decision you make as an e-commerce business owner is as important as the software you select for your storefront. Fortunately you can find a variety of storefront offerings that include every service you need to run an online store.

The latest trend is integrating SEO into the storefront technology, in essence an "SEO shopping cart" that offers product page naming and flexibility in setting up title tags, alt tags and meta tags and so on.

This year's winner, SearchFit eCommerce Platform v8, does all that and more, and we look forward to watching the trend take hold as the year progresses.

No stranger to our annual awards, Volusion, placed second this year with its Gold Plan edition, which offers a new social commerce feature. With clients such as Barack Obama, whose campaign used the platform for its official online store, Disney and a slew of smaller online boutiques, this company offers affordable plans and features to suit any budget or e-business.

Free E-Commerce Tool

Google Analytics wins the top spot with nearly four times as many votes as the runner-up, Widgetbox. Google Analytics strikes the perfect balance of being easy to use, if you're not very tech-savvy, and yet having enough advanced features that you don't need to invest in a third-party program.

And though Google Analytics is free, it offers many of the features that enterprise-level analytics programs provide. For instance, seven new features, including advanced segmentation and custom reporting, make this analytics package even more formidable in the data-tracking arena. The new toolset gives users more detailed data on who is looking at their ads and then let them segment the most relevant information into charts, reports and graphs that are easy to read.

Widgetbox, a free online directory of Web widgets, scored the runner-up position. It lets you search for widgets, and, once you find a good match for your e-business, lets you customize the mini-application and add it to your own Web site or online publishing spaces.

Site Merchandising Tool

Site merchandising means different things to different people. For some, it's how you display your inventory online, for instance, by showcasing your most popular products or showing specific sets of items for certain demographics.

For others it's offering products based on the customer's behavior on the site. Yet another way to merchandise your site is by letting customers review the products you sell, and both the first- and second-place winners this year are pioneers in the field.

PowerReviews narrowly beat out Bazzarvoice to win the day. Both companies have been in the forefront of making customer-review technology accessible and easy to manage. Price was the one obstacle that kept small online storeowners from adopting the technology. Now all that's changed as PowerReviews offers its Express plan for only $80 a month.

For its part, Bazaarvoice has continued to add new features to its service to remain ahead of the latest trends. The ratings company now also offers Bazaarvoice Ask and Answer, a customer support app, Bazaarvoice Stories, which lets customer share testimonials, and a mobile application called MobileVoice.

To request an .eps version of a Product of the Year Award logo click here.

Awards by Category:
Hardware     Software/Services     Security     E-Commerce    

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!



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