E-commerce is no longer just about a dinky virtual shopping cart and a check out process. Think about this…if social media, information gathering and sharing have dramatically changed in just the last two years alone, then what makes you think that e-commerce hasn’t also stepped it up?

Some facts to consider if this still isn’t a reality for you…

  • Americans spend 24 minutes daily on online shopping sites.
  • In 2009, the U.S. e-commerce business was set to reach about $156 billion in sales combined.
  • Of all sales, travel and audio/video rank as one of the top ten products bought online. Think of all those Barnes and Nobles and Borders book stores closing and being replaced with digital books. iTunes did the same thing to music years before.
  • With rising gas prices, more consumers are turning to company websites to purchase their luxury items with discretionary income.
  • Niche online retails such as Overstock.com and Zappos.com are leading the way by offering a one-stop shop for select goods and providing some of the best products at the most competitive rates.

Essential e-Business Apps

Last week I was raving about the Square App, which in all honesty does deserve its own hurrah. But there are many other apps worthy of your time if you’re in the e-commerce business.

ShoZu – Think of Tweetdeck or MediaFeedia on crack, and then you’ve got an idea of all the good stuff ShoZu is capable of. ShoZu lets you connect to over 50 social media sites including Blogger, Photobucket, WordPress, MySpace and, of course, Facebook and Twitter among dozens of others.

PPC Editor – Your marketing department will love PPC Editor, which lets you manage Adwords, monitor statistics, edit budgets and regulate campaigns …all from your phone. Add SEM Calculator to your bag of tricks. Search Engine Marketing Calculator offers a financial analysis on all campaigns. If you’re drooling at the thought of such a nifty app, you’ll probably also be interested in iAd, an app that lets you eye current earnings. These apps are great if you’re a small time craftsman that’s looking to earn extra income off your site. Tons of people are doing this and making their base earnings off of ads alone.

One of the things you’ve constantly got to be doing, daily, is blogging. But it’s not always easy to sit down for 30 – 90 minutes and jot one out. That’s where BlogPress comes in. Blogpress makes it easy for you to real-time blog across all major platforms, including Blogger, BlogSpot, WordPress, Drupal, Tumblr and LiveJournal. I highly recommend this app. You’ll be amazed at how much lighter your task list gets and how easy it is to stick to a daily schedule when you’re drafting a blog in your away-from-your-desk downtime or while waiting for any number of things throughout the day. Blogging is a great opportunity to showcase your products. Any e-commerce business not doing it might as well start giving money away.

You’ve all also heard about Google Analytics, but have you heard about BAM Analytics Pro? BAM plugs you into your existing Google Analytics report and lets you track stats such as visitors, traffic, ad campaigns, top revenue resources and SKUs.

If you’re at a tradeshow or conference, or networking booths, you’ve got to get your hands on PollDaddy. PollDaddy gives you access to live customer data. You do this by creating custom questions and getting feedback that you tap into a mobile screen. You can then download and analyze the data. One key question to ask (as part of competitive analysis) is what competing booths they’ve seen and which they’d rank higher than yours or rather do business with.

Most of these apps are compatible for either the iPhone or Android…or the Android and Blackberry…or one combination or the other, but never all three. Nearly every app is iPhone friendly – a clear indicator of which hardware you should be investing in.