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Tech Chat with small businesses

Tech Chat with small businesses

Small business owners have a special kind of tech support: each other.

Small business owners have a special kind of tech support: each other.

You're in good company

Our Entrepreneur Advisory Board (EAB) and FedEx Small Business Grant Contest winners understand the challenges you face because they've been there–in many ways, they're still there. Here, they share what they've learned about the importance of tech and how it can help drive your business.

Platform management

Whether you’re starting up or scaling, make sure you do your research. Choose the platform that lets you deliver the customer experience you envision—and makes you a competitive online presence. Check out these options and success stories.

Whether you’re starting up or scaling, make sure you do your research.
Choose the platform that lets you deliver the customer experience you
envision—and makes you a competitive online presence. Check out these options and success stories.


No pressure...but choosing your platform is possibly the most important decision you’ll make. Every business has unique needs, so you’ll need to pick an e-commerce platform that meets yours. The good (and bad) news is there’s no shortage of viable options. With the advice of fellow business owners, you'll be selling and scaling in no time.

Shopify is an e-commerce platform that lets you set up an online store for your dream business, so you can sell to customers anywhere. 

  • Easy to manage
  • Low cost of entry
  • Built-in expandable tool set
  • Packed with features at any level
Brian Munoz of Penny Luck

"Shopify is key to business owners who use multiple channels, making it easy to sell goods to customers beyond your online store. You get incredible analytics to help you scale—and it’s reasonably priced."

—Brian, Penny Luck

Magento empowers thousands of retailers and brands with the best e-commerce platforms and flexible cloud solutions to innovate and grow rapidly.

  • Highly customized
  • Great for beginners
  • Adapts as you scale your business
  • SEO-friendly
paul swisco

"Magento is an open-source platform. It has zero license fees, and you can choose your own hosting service, but what really sets them apart is their flexibility to customize."


BigCommerce is a leading e-commerce software platform that provides companies with everything you need to fuel your business with all the capabilities of enterprise e-commerce—without the cost or complexity.

  • Comprehensive list of tools
  • Pro support
  • Great for fast-growing businesses
  • Loads of built-in sales features
david sharkwheel

"BigCommerce is solid when it comes to handling orders, products, sales analytics, marketing tools, and customers. It supports thousands of products and variations and is hassle free. It may not be ideal for start-ups, or those who don’t want to pay for custom coding."

—David, Shark Wheel

WordPress is a free, open-source website creation platform and one of the easiest and most powerful blogging and website builders in existence today.

  • Access to thousands of templates
  • Completely free
  • User-friendly for tech novices
  • Large online support community
Tivan Amour from Save My Sales

"WordPress is the most versatile website builder tool on the market for content sites like blogs or B2B companies. It’s not [the best solution] for e-commerce, though."

—Tivan, Tone

Channel management 

As you scale, you can use a platform that lets you expand your business to other channels. Diversifying gives you the opportunity to create new revenue and add to your customer base.

ChannelAdvisor is a multichannel, cloud-based inventory management software with a mission to connect and optimize the world's commerce.

  • Allows for easy flow of data
  • Helps you expand to new channels
  • Powerful shipping system
  • Great for growing business
  • Easy to increase global sales
Jon Szablowsky of eKitchenWorld

“If you have complicated data and lots of SKUs, ChannelAdvisor is a good choice. It’s expensive and setup can be complicated, but if you’re doing at least $100K a month in sales with a good margin, it may be worth the cost.”

—Jon, eKitchenWorld

Web integration

Connect your apps to each other so they can communicate and cooperate without any effort on your part.

Zapier is an online automation tool that connects Gmail, Slack, Mailchimp, QuickBooks, and more of your favorite apps. 

  • Allows small businesses to run effectively with fewer employees (great for small and big teams alike)
  • Makes management easier
  • Automates workflow for accounting tasks
  • Streamlines important hand-offs
  • Capable of connecting hundreds of apps
Andrea Sreshta of LuminAid

“Zapier is a time saver. There are free and paid options to choose from, depending on how much you want to integrate, and you don’t need to know how to code.”

—Andrea, LuminAID


A big part of selling your product is selling yourself. Successful marketing starts with these fundamental, tried-and-true tactics and tools to help you get the word out and manage customer relationships—leading to traction and longevity.


Email is a basic but very powerful marketing tool. Use it to reach new customers and drive traffic to your site. Know how to send your marketing campaigns to the right audiences at the right time.

Mailchimp is a marketing automation platform focused on contact management practices, beautifully designed campaigns, and powerful data analysis.

  • All-in-one multichannel platform
  • Helps personalize, optimize, and automate campaigns
  • Detailed analytics
  • Simple and customizable interface
  • Flat rate for packages
Ben Martin of Dauntless Wine

“Mailchimp is perfect for start-ups. It’s easy to use, with templates if you need them. Its system-generated code works across most email clients."

Constant Contact is an online marketing company with a platform that enables business owners to launch and monitor email marketing efforts, build websites and online stores, and utilize social media.

  • Caters mainly to small businesses
  • Versatile with attractive templates and a broad feature set
  • Free trial option
  • Hassle-free integration with e‑commerce
  • Charges by number of email addresses in your database
karen fundraising for a cause

“Constant Contact is ideal for start-ups—helpful and inexpensive. The drag-and-drop function makes creating emails easy and you can add a Google Analytics link to track conversions.”

Klaviyo is an online platform that specializes in email marketing, SMS text marketing, phone push notifications, and social media functionality.

  • Known for better A/B testing
  • Structured specifically for e-commerce
  • Unparalleled capacity to portion
  • Well known for its tight integration with Shopify
michael fiddlershop

“Klaviyo is affordable, next-level marketing. Automated email sequences free up time. You can send welcome and follow-up emails and schedule reminder emails for products that ‘run out.’” 

—Michael, Fiddlershop

Images and graphics

Email is a basic but very powerful marketing tool. Use it to reach new customers and drive traffic to your site. Know how to send your marketing campaigns to the right audiences at the right time.

Canva is a design platform used to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents, and other visual content, with plenty of templates for users to use. 

  • Thousands of template options
  • Free templates and affordable premium accounts
  • No need for bulky programs
  • Easy to use; no learning curve
Kat Samardzija, owner of Locker Lifestyle

"Canva is my favorite app and totally worth the premium subscription. I use it to make line sheets, business cards, logos. You can edit, upload, and optimize for all of your design needs."

FotoFuze lets you make professional product photography out of ordinary photographs from ordinary cameras.

  • Looks clean and professional
  • Effective way to showcase product without hiring photographers
  • Free and affordable options
  • Can upload photos directly to some e-commerce sites like Etsy
Kat Samardzija, owner of Locker Lifestyle

"FotoFuze lets you edit and enhance product photos to make them look professional, even if they’re taken with a smartphone. You can outline the features needed to be compliant for some retailers.”

Online advertising

Your online market is there—you just need to find it. Advertising online lets you target the people who are actively searching for your product or service. 

Google Ads helps you get in front of customers when they're searching for businesses like yours on Google Search and Maps.

  • Offers benefits specific to small businesses
  • Only pay for results—set a budget and change at any time
  • Increase traffic and optimize conversions
  • Provides instant access to searchers interested in your products
Bryce Jacobs of Speedy Tire

“Google Ads is a good way to build a user base and generate revenue. One tip: start slowly. See what works. Too many changes at once means you won’t be able to tell what impacts your sales.”

—Bryce, Speedy Tire

Website optimization

Your website is the face of your business—in lieu of a storefront, it's the first impression they have of you and your services. Make them want to stay and shop. Check out how some of our favorite SEO and heatmapping tools can help make that happen. Learn how you can recover abandoned carts and provide customer support that will drive more sales.  

Search optimization

When there's a lot of competition, ranking high in search results will get you to the top. From meta descriptions to keywords, here are some tools to help you make the climb.

HigherVisibility offers services including Search Engine Optimization, pay-per-click marketing and website design to help reach in-market consumers, making an impact on the bottom line.

  • An easy way to help search engines find your web pages
  • Good at local SEO for small businesses
  • Also good for multi-location companies
  • Publicly share their results as case studies
lauren something borrowed blooms

“HigherVisibility is a great third-party tool for an SEO audit. They give you ideas for the best keywords to drive sales, and even help optimize your content to keep customers coming back.”

Klevu's AI-powered suite of online products includes site search, navigation, merchandising, and personalization powered by real-time buyer intent. 

  • Self-learning
  • Helps small brands grow revenue
  • Autocompletes queries and detects inflections
  • Mobile-responsive
karen fundraising for a cause

"Klevu learns how shoppers search your site, then optimizes the results to give your customers a seamless experience. A synonym feature allows you to put in multiple meanings for one word."

Semrush helps you optimize your website with solutions for SEO, PPC, content, social media, and competitive research. 

  • Known for better A/B testing
  • Structured specifically for e-commerce
  • Unparalleled capacity to portion
  • Well known for its tight integration with Shopify
David Zamarin of Detrapel

“We use Semrush to stay on top of global trends and what’s working with internal SEO and marketing efforts. Semrush allows us to see what the competition does well or not and to implement similar tactics.”

—David, Detrapel


Imagine seeing your customers experience your site as if you're right beside them. Where do they stop and where do they linger? Is it laid out intuitively? That's what Lucky Orange heatmapping does: color-coded hot spots show you how customers engage with your site in real time. 

  • Gives you direct support and usability
  • Easy setup and comprehensive interface
  • Reasonable pricing
  • Session recordings allow for playback
Hannah Garrison of Wear Your Music

"I got to watch people walk around my store. It was like sitting on someone's shoulder and watching them experience this store for the first time...It made me able to build a better storefront."

—Hannah, Wear Your Music

Cart conversion

Abandoned carts means abandoned revenue. See how to boost conversions and recover lost sales.

Tone Messaging helps Shopify stores increase revenue with two-way text message conversations to avoid losing customers at the point of checkout.

  • Establishes a relationship with the customer
  • Allows for real-time interaction
  • Unlocks 24% more revenue
  • Great for smaller teams without needing more staff
Hannah Garrison of Wear Your Music

“It's not an auto-generated email. It's a human being, there to answer [your customers’] questions and walk them through the completion of their sale."

—Hannah, Wear Your Music

Social media

Social media isn't just for millennials and Gen-Z anymore, so your online presence is crucial to boosting brand awareness and engaging with your customers one-on-one. When done right, social marketing builds loyalty and grows your business. 


These social media platforms offer paid and unpaid solutions to get out there and engage with new customers.

Instagram Ads are posts or Stories that a business pays to display on Instagram feeds. Though they look like regular posts, they’re always identified by a “Sponsored” label.

  • Allows access to a highly engaged audience
  • 84% of people on Instagram are more likely to shop from small businesses1
  • Can help grow your following
  • Easy to track and follow results
kat locker lifestyle

“Instagram Ads are an easy way to take advantage of location-based marketing using tagging and hashtags. As the ad runs, you can track your reach and engagement and adjust.”

Facebook Ads are paid posts and messages from businesses, written in their voice to reach their audiences.

  • Target and customize based on audience interests
  • Allows you to stay top of mind with your customers
  • Need to understand the algorithm
  • Boosts your brand image (when done right)
kelly yellowscope

“With Facebook Ads you can reach your target audience in a very cost-effective manner. And you can vary your budget as needed—start small and increase as the budget allows. This is great for both start-ups and scaling businesses.”

—Kelly, Yellow Scope

YouTube is a free video sharing website where billions of people upload and watch online videos.

  • Great for self-employed people and small-scale businesses
  • Requires little time or money
  • Hundreds of template options
  • Phone app lets you create from anywhere
greg pampered tots

“Posting product videos on YouTube is a great way to engage your buyer and tap into an incredible amount of traffic. You increase your visibility and appear in other search engines.”

—Greg, Pampered Tot

Social media tools

Before you post, make it look professional. After you post, analyze. These video and tracking tools can help you step up your online presence.

Mojo is a video editor that helps you make professional-looking and engaging social media stories that disappear 24 hours after they’re posted. 

  • Great for self-employed people and small-scale businesses
  • Requires little time or money
  • Hundreds of template options
  • Phone app lets you create from anywhere
Kat Samardzija, owner of Locker Lifestyle

“You can create animated graphics for Instagram stories. It’s easy to format images, text, and colors to engage with customers. New templates and text styles are added every month!”

Splice makes it easy to create fully customized, professional-looking videos on your iPhone or iPad. Trim clips, add slow motion effects, and overlay multiple clips.

  • Unlimited project backup and versioning
  • Lets you embed videos on your blog or website
  • Has a library of over 850,000 royalty-free song samples
  • Great for small business owners with little video experience
Kat Samardzija, owner of Locker Lifestyle

“Splice lets you do quick edits to videos. You can easily upload B-roll and your own videos, as well as music, to piece together content for social media and pitch videos.”

Buffer is a publishing, analytics, and social engagement platform that helps you build your audience and brand.

  • Simpler than Hootsuite and ideal for smaller businesses
  • Lets you create a custom schedule for each platform
  • Native video and animated GIF support
  • Allows you to track your top-performing content
andrea luminaid

“Buffer offers a clean interface that allows you to cross-schedule, and just enough features to make it a good fit for a small business that may not have a strong social media presence.”

—Andrea, LuminAID


From order entry to front door, a seamless fulfillment process is essential to your success—and the more you scale, the more you should know about which shipping and inventory software to use.


ShipStation is a multi-carrier, multi-channel shipping solution designed to make shipping easier for online retailers.

  • Pricing is volume-based—upgrade or downgrade membership on a monthly basis
  • Helps streamline fulfillment with batch shipping, inventory and customer management
  • Easy to calculate shipping rates and print shipping labels
  • User-friendly interface to manage, automate, and process orders 
Jeanne Foley of SuitShop

“ShipStation integrates with other software and allows you to ship orders in-house. You can download orders from third-party sites into the interface and create shipping labels.”

—Jeanne, SuitShop

ShippingEasy is cloud-based shipping software that lets you make orders, print labels, and automate tracking.

  • Offers advanced reporting and real-time inventory syncing
  • Integrates with over 50 e‑commerce platforms, marketplaces, and carriers
  • In-depth customer service and support
  • Fully automates shipping selections by weight, destination, and more
ben dauntless wine

“ShippingEasy is the best for online start-ups and makes fulfillment easier than you could ever imagine. Just standardize your packages and weight so you can just ‘click and ship.’”

AfterShip is a subscription-based shipment tracking platform for online retailers.

  • Offers customizable monthly plans to meet your business needs
  • Recently expanded their offerings to include a returns module
  • Supports more than 350 couriers
  • Good for rapidly growing businesses
bryce jacobs speedytire

“AfterShip provides automated email and text delivery status updates to your customers. Their dashboard allows you to monitor all your shipments across multiple carriers.”

—Bryce, SpeedyTire

ReturnLogic integrates with Shopify to improve your store's post-purchase workflow with hassle-free returns, easy returns management, and powerful analytics.

  • Creates a better customer experience with one-click returns and self-service
  • Customizes the experience to your brand
  • Collects insights to help you boost sales
  • Automated workflows for customer service and warehouse teams
dana anaono

“ReturnLogic has saved us time and effort. [It's] great on the customers' side and shows us what's being returned and why. We use [it] to predict our returns and improve our items.” 

—Dana, Anaono


Finale is a cloud-based inventory management system to support workflows of your growing business.

  • Adaptable and flexible
  • Communicates across multiple channels (i.e. Amazon, eBay, and Etsy)
  • Easy to use and learn
  • Fast, connective customer service
Karen of Fundraising for a Cause

“Finale helps reduce orders with missing or wrong items. You get incredible reporting and can even customize. It’s definitely a good choice for a growing business with high volume.”

Unleashed is cloud-based software that gives product businesses clarity and control across suppliers, production, inventory, and sales. 

  • Allows you to monitor your inventory, manufacturing processes, and cash flow
  • Real-time reporting and data
  • Highlights and showcases small businesses in their Good Products Marketplace
  • More freedom to manage, move, and improve your products
kelly yellowscope

“Unleashed can revolutionize your manufacturing operations. You get tremendous control, data insights, and confidence. It gives full traceability."

—Jeff, Moka Origins

ChannelAdvisor is a multichannel, cloud-based inventory management software with a mission to connect and optimize the world's commerce.

  • Integrates with big names like Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Jet, and Houzz
  • Allows you to leverage a network of partners, like ShipStation
  • Plenty of shipping management options
  • Automates inventory synchronization and enables intelligent order routing
jon ekitchen world

“ChannelAdvisor can help you scale by expanding to more than a hundred online marketplaces. They integrate seamlessly with big and smaller emerging marketplaces and international channels.”

—Jon, eKitchenWorld

Now Back in Stock is a Shopify app that sends your customer stock alerts via email, SMS, or push notifications when their chosen items are back in stock.  

  • Range of notification options makes it flexible for your customers' preference
  • Expands your mailing list and customer contacts
  • Drives engagement and incentivizes customers
  • Potential for cross-sell with similarly recommended products
dana anaono

“[Don't lose] a customer because you don't have the size or color they want. Capture their interest [with] alerts as soon as it's available again. We convert a lot of lost sales [with this].” 

—Dana, Anaono


It doesn't matter the size of the enterprise—what goes on behind the scenes will either build or unravel a business. From accounts to finances and payroll, the right tech will make your back end the foundation of a well-oiled machine.



QuickBooks is an accounting software package developed and marketed by Intuit, used to manage income and expenses and keep track of finances.

  • Geared mainly toward small and medium-sized businesses
  • Offers on-premises accounting applications as well as cloud-based versions
  • Popular with accounting professionals
  • Subscriptions can be upgraded as business grows
kelly yellowscope

“It’s not the most intuitive software, but it provides robust reporting and integrates with many third-party applications. And invoicing is easy, which is great.”

—Kelly, Yellow Scope


PayPal is an online payment processor that lets you manage account settings, payments, business tools, security, and much more.

  • Commonly used, so it's familiar to many customers and users alike
  • Customers don't need an account to use it
  • Smaller fees than other merchant accounts
  • Integratable with many shopping systems
anne hed cycling

“PayPal is great for getting paid instantly. It’s accepted worldwide and transactions are easy. [But] if a customer pays but decides they don’t want the product, you get hit with return fees.”

—Anne, HED Cycling

Square is a mainly point-of-sale mobile payment app that also offers a suite of business software and services.

  • Sign-up process is easier and quicker than most other providers
  • Lets you manage accounts without bank delays or processing fees
  • No monthly or hidden fees
  • Like PayPal, it's commonly used and familiar to customers
Kat Samardzija, owner of Locker Lifestyle

"The rates are a little high, but the chip readers are free at the start. It’s great for expos and getting paid quickly. Just be sure to get a signature so you don’t run into any problems later.”


Zoom is an online chat software platform used for teleconferencing, video chats, and webinars.

  • Easy to join from both desktop and mobile
  • Employees can schedule their own meetings
  • Eliminates setup problems with IT support
  • Lots of interactive capabilities for participatory meetings and presentations
Kat Samardzija, owner of Locker Lifestyle

“You can use Zoom to schedule phone or video meetings with your team or B2B customers. The app syncs to your online calendar and provides a link to all invited members.”

Asana is a web and mobile team collaboration app designed to help teams organize, track, and manage their work. 

  • Easy to set up and learn
  • Centralization of tools saves you money—and the free version is extensive
  • Supports a range of different project management styles
  • Integrates with Google Drive
lea, owner of pig of the month

“You’ll become obsessed with Asana’s app. [It's] a super-powerful tool that helps you simplify and keep track of recurring tasks. You stay up to date and keep moving forward on projects.”

Cloze saves you from the data entry process by automatically keeping track of your email, calls, text messages, meetings, notes, LinkedIn, social media, and more.

  • Eliminates data entry
  • Pulls all your contacts into one place and keeps important ones top of mind
  • Makes suggestions to reach out to those you may not have contacted in a while
  • Allows visibility and sharing across teams
David Zamarin of Detrapel

“Cloze is a great tool for outreach if you are people-driven and need a good way to manage thousands of contacts and outreaches without looking like an email marketing tool.”

—David, Detrapel

Payroll and HR

Upwork connects businesses to freelancers, independent professionals, and agencies for all their hiring needs.

  • Provides freelancers' past client reviews
  • Work with individuals on an hourly or project basis
  • Allows greater visibility through promoted job posts
  • Access to top-tier talent and an online community helps small businesses grow
Kat Samardzija, owner of Locker Lifestyle, writes tips for building your social media.

“You can find remote talent for everything from web, email, and design work to bookkeeping, SEO, and IT support. Freelancers show their rates and previous work.”

Gusto provides cloud-based payroll, benefits, and human resource management software for U.S.-based businesses.

  • Great for start-ups and scaling businesses
  • Offers employee benefit add-ons, including workers comp and health insurance
  • Full spectrum of automation and tax filing assistance
  • Health benefits limited to 38 states and Washington, D.C. 
kelly yellowscope

“Gusto is intuitive and affordable. You can integrate with your accounting platform, so your bookkeeper will love it. You can start small and increase HR offerings as you scale.”

—Kelly, Yellow Scope

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