Running a brick and mortar store requires a surprising amount of software! There are lots of different options out there for any pain point you might have in the running of your shop. As a shopkeeper myself, I know what it’s like to search and search for the right solution. Here are my top software picks for everything from email marketing to inventory.
Email Marketing: Flodesk
Flodesk is a new visually appealing and user-friendly email marketing platform.
I was a Mailchimp user for years and was always frustrated or unhappy with the design. Thankfully, I found Flodesk.
Flodesk is really ideal for the rookie email marketer. It’s great for branding your emails, has beautiful premade templates to choose from, and it is a simple platform to work in.
If you need more robust features, like segmenting and workflows, Flodesk does those too. But Flodesk’s simplicity makes it a great place to start building your list.
Your email list is more important than EVER. To learn about starting your email list, be sure to listen to Episode 21 of the Savvy Shopkeeper Retail Podcast.
If you’re a big ecommerce seller, Flodesk may not be the best fit. It does have a native integration with Shopify. If you use a different ecommerce program, you might be able to use Zapier to connect with Flodesk. For more advanced features, Klaviyo has an impressive suite of Shopify tools.
Video Conferencing: Zoom
Zoom is a video communications company, with an easy, cloud-based platform for video and audio conferencing. With many of us shopkeepers shifting to teaching workshops and classes online, Zoom is a really affordable option for teaching online.
With their free plan, you can host up to 100 participants for 40 minutes or less per meeting.
The first level paid plan, called the Zoom Pro plan, allows you to host up to 100 participants for up to 24 hours per meeting. This plan also gives you admin control over your meetings.
I taught a class on Zoom on how to use Zoom for teaching online. So meta, right? If you’re a Shopkeeper’s Learning Lab subscriber, you’ll find the lesson under the Technology Module.
Graphic Design: Canva Pro
Canva is a graphic design platform that allows users to create social media graphics, presentations, posters and other visual content.
Canva is the software I use for ALL of my graphics and design. I make social media graphics, Instagram stories graphics, printable flyers for our store, slide decks for presentations and online classes, in-store signage and so much more.
If graphic design scares you, Canva is the solution! It will surprise you how easy it is to do design work. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of templates to choose from.
I want to say that Canva’s free plan is great, but the PRO plan is even better! You can save your brand colors, create multiple folders for organization, you can add team members and so much more. And if you have more than one business, you can save multiple “brands” and multiple folders to keep you organized.
Human Resources: Gusto
Gusto is an all-in-one HR management tool for small businesses. It manages payroll, benefits, insurance, time tracking, hiring, and onboarding processes for businesses based in the United States.
After COVID-19 hit and many of us were mandated to close, we all learned some BIG business lessons. One lesson that I shared in episodes 25 and 26 of the Savvy Shopkeeper Retail Podcast is the difference between a 1099 employee and a payroll employee.
If payroll scares you, Gusto might be a great solution. This is an online service that simplifies payroll for small business owners like us. I personally don’t use it, but I’ve gotten great feedback from multiple shopkeepers who love using Gusto to manage their payroll.
Online Store Front: Shopify
In the past, I have created many websites using the Shopify platform. I don’t currently use Shopify, but I do recommend it for brick and mortar store owners.
It’s an all-in-one tool: a website, a point of sale system, and with the ability to add apps to the system, you can integrate email marketing, inventory management and so much more.
Way too many independent retail business owners are manually adjusting inventory between their POS and their websites or other tools they use. Using Shopify means that you don’t have to constantly be matching your inventory between your store and online systems.
Shopify is definitely an investment, and with each app you add there’s an added cost. But the feedback is consistently good from those who use their entire package.
You can waste hours and time putting a bandaid on issues related to inventory management, OR you can invest in a system that simplifies it.
Project Management: Trello
Trello is an easy, free, flexible, and visual way to manage your projects and organize anything. In Trello, you start with a board, then you have lists and then there are cards under each list.
If you’re looking for a place to brain dump, partner up with a team member on a project where tasks involve steps and collaboration, Trello might be worth looking into. They do have a free plan, which I still use!
If you want to start blogging for your retail business, there’s a blogging lesson in the Learning Lab of the Shopkeeper’s Academy where I talk about how I use a Trello board to keep my blogging projects organized. There’s also a phone app so whenever a new idea pops into my head, I just go into the app and add the idea to my blogging board.
One member of Master Shopkeepers learned about Trello in a masterclass I taught and built her entire employee handbook in Trello. It’s impressive! And what a great idea, because we all know rules, boundaries, systems, and processes are constantly changing. So instead of having to print out and waste paper on new 30-page handbooks, this is a digital version that can be updated regularly!
Shopventory is a cloud-based, real-time inventory management solution which can be integrated with a range of point of sale systems, including Square, Clover, and PayPal Here point of sale (POS) systems. It also integrates with ecommerce options such as Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce, as well as QuickBooks Online.
This can get confusing because Square offers Square for Retail for inventory management, Shopify offers apps for inventory management. Be sure to do your own research to determine if Shopventory is something that is necessary, or if the features are appealing enough to pay for it.
Because we have Square and a Woocommerce store, we needed something that would integrate with both systems. That’s where Shopventory comes in.
I haven’t used other inventory management programs, but I like that we can turn products, entire categories, and subcategories on and off so they don’t appear online. I like the ability to run a report that shows me inventory that’s older than a specified number of days.
If you’re a brick and mortar store owner I can’t begin to express how important it is for you to have accurate data about your inventory. If you haven’t started logging your inventory into a system so you can calculate inventory turn or run other valuable reports, start researching your options for a system that’s compatible with your POS.
Online Teaching: MemberVault
MemberVault is a content hosting platform that you can use to provide free and paid content access to your students and clients. It is comparable to course hosting and membership hosting platforms such as Teachable, Thinkific and Podia.
If you are a brick and mortar store owner who teaches classes online, MemberVault is worth considering. MemberVault is owned by a husband-wife team who are constantly improving the platform and their support is impressive. You can embed videos, add pdf files, and more.
I can go and on about MemberVault because it’s where I house the Shopkeeper’s Academy. Feel free to check it out and see if it would work for your online courses.
Form Creation: Typeform
This online software specializes in online form building and online surveys.
Let me first say, you can use Google Forms for free. But if you’re looking for a more branded, robust online form builder, Typeform is a great choice. Their paid plans start at $35/mo.
When I say branded, I mean that you can make your forms look pretty and match the brand of your business with colors, images, template designs, etc.
I know we all love free, but some shopkeepers put a lot of effort into their brands. If design is important to you, this could be a good option.
And it’s not just pretty, it’s helpful! I use it for both our store and Savvy Shopkeeper. For my brick and mortar store, I use it for custom services. It’s for customers who want a quote and are considering hiring us for custom painted furniture services.
We ask a series of questions like type of furniture piece, dimensions, if there’s any damage, what color they’d like, and more. It gives us the ability to quickly look at their answers and reply to their email with an estimate for the project. It saves us a ton of back and forth in emails, it stores their answers, and it makes this process efficient.
Find the Tools That Work For You
No matter which software or tools you choose, the key point is that they make your work easier, more efficient, and simpler. I highly recommend researching the tools above to see if they could work for your store! Let me know in the comments if you switch to one of these tools—I would love to hear about how they work for you.
- Shopkeeper Shoutout: Kelly of 714 Home (Image of Kelly and her beautiful Checkout Counter)
*Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links or referral codes, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link or using the code. I make recommendations because I believe they are useful to shopkeepers. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
- [01:39] Shopkeeper Shoutout to Kelly of 714 Home
- [04:09] Flodesk (email marketing)
- [07:13] Zoom (video conferencing)
- [08:24] Canva Pro (graphic design)
- [11:16] Gusto (HR management)
- [14:23] Shopify (ecommerce)
- [17:37] Trello (project management)
- [19:55] Shopventory (inventory)
- [22:10] MemberVault (online teaching)
- [23:24] Typeform (form creation)