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    Founder of UK Business Forums


Most useful software you'd recommend to people

Apr 19, 2010
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Hey everyone, I figured it may be useful to people if we had a thread where we listed software and tools we've had experience with in the past that we've found useful.

In the past, I was hesitant to pay for some software because I didn't have experience with it, or couldn't ask people I trusted questions about it. These days I wouldn't live without some of them and I think they're well worth the money.

You'll notice my two recommendations revolve around data, I'm a keen supporter of gathering as much data as possible, then putting it to good use. Every time I see someone in Facebook groups asking 'if other people's sales are down?' I just think, why aren't you monitoring all your competitor's sales? This shouldn't be something you need to ask.

So here are two that I'd recommend, it would be great if other members shared some of their most recommended tools. Be it regarding data, stock management, accounting apps etc.

Terapeak (monitor ebay sales data): I used this a lot in my ebay days, you can keep track of your competitors best selling products, research items to see if they sell prior to ordering them in, have a general idea of what way your niche is heading etc. Terapeak used to offer a free trial period, I just think most people get put off because they aren't sure how to use the huge volume of data available. I'm aware you can get some Amazon data with them, but I don't have much experience on that side of it.

SEMRUSH (SEO): I think I pay about £80 a month for this (not sure of the top of my head) at first I was hesitant to go for it, but they had a 30 day free trial that I tried out. I figured I would use it to scrape all the data I needed, then not continue my membership. I quickly learnt how valuable all their data was to me and I ended up signing up properly. These days I can't believe I was trying to do my job without it. SEMRUSH allows you to monitor competitors websites for keyword usages etc. Very useful for SEO in my opinion.


Anyway, that's two of my recommendations, feel free to add your own in. Or ask questions.
 
May 22, 2008
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Terapeak (monitor ebay sales data): I used this a lot in my ebay days, you can keep track of your competitors best selling products, research items to see if they sell prior to ordering them in, have a general idea of what way your niche is heading etc. Terapeak used to offer a free trial period, I just think most people get put off because they aren't sure how to use the huge volume of data available. I'm aware you can get some Amazon data with them, but I don't have much experience on that side of it.
Have you seen the impending change they have announced? eBay user ids will no longer be revealed - the data is becoming anonymous and you won't be able to track other sellers. All of sudden Terapeak will become a lot less useful!

http://tamebay.com/2017/01/changes-to-terapeaks-ebay-competitor-analysis-tools.html
 
Apr 19, 2010
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Have you seen the impending change they have announced? eBay user ids will no longer be revealed - the data is becoming anonymous and you won't be able to track other sellers. All of sudden Terapeak will become a lot less useful!

http://tamebay.com/2017/01/changes-to-terapeaks-ebay-competitor-analysis-tools.html

Damn, thanks for posting. I don't use it anymore, I'm sure you're right, this would make it a lot less useful. One of their most useful features was keeping track of competitors best selling items. Shame to hear this, I suspect their hands were tied in some way.
 
May 22, 2008
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Heres a few from me...

Sage 50 Accounting:
I used a couple of online accounting solutions previously and they were ok but it got difficult when we went VAT registered. Sage is proper hardcore accounting software. Its a steep learning curve if you don't have any experience of bookkeeping/accounting but once you get the hang of things it is a very powerful tool. I do all of our bookkeeping and then send a Sage export to our accountants who do our company accounts every year.

Linnworks: If you're processing large numbers of orders daily and use multiple sales platforms then you really should be using some sort of order management software. There are loads out there but this was the one i settled on a couple of years a go. It has streamlined our picking, packing and postage labelling. It also manages stock levels across all platforms. They have just increased their prices (although there is a free version for less than 50 skus / 3 channels) so this is for more than your average bedroom seller but still a viable tool for the serious seller.

Tradebox: A problem I had before Tradebox was exporting all the sales data out of Linnworks and in to Sage. It would be far easier if we were not VAT registered!! Originally I used to run Linnworks exports and then manually amend the spreadsheets to get the right formats. Then if there was a discrepancy it could take hours to track it down! Tradebox fixed all that. It is middleware between the other 2 apps. They provided specific scripts to run on Linnworks that would output the data in the correct format for Tradebox to process it and upload it straight in to your Sage database. Again, its not cheap and it did take some setting up but it has saved me literally hours of work every month. Worth every penny.

Zendesk: This is helpdesk software that centralises all of your communications in to one place. With multiple sales platforms, several members of staff and hundreds of customers, email was getting far too confusing. This is where helpdesk software comes in to its own. We tried a few but Zendesk came closest to what we needed. Its not perfect, particularly when it comes to handling ebay message conversations which it is still really bad at! The best thing about it is that an ongoing conversation is kept in a single ticket (except for eBay!!) and all previous conversations for particular customers and business are batched together. It makes checking on what was said in previous messages far easier.
 
Apr 19, 2010
2,094
606
1,045
england
Heres a few from me...
Sage 50 Accounting: I used a couple of online accounting solutions previously and they were ok but it got difficult when we went VAT registered. Sage is proper hardcore accounting software. Its a steep learning curve if you don't have any experience of bookkeeping/accounting but once you get the hang of things it is a very powerful tool. I do all of our bookkeeping and then send a Sage export to our accountants who do our company accounts every year.

Linnworks: If you're processing large numbers of orders daily and use multiple sales platforms then you really should be using some sort of order management software. There are loads out there but this was the one i settled on a couple of years a go. It has streamlined our picking, packing and postage labelling. It also manages stock levels across all platforms. They have just increased their prices (although there is a free version for less than 50 skus / 3 channels) so this is for more than your average bedroom seller but still a viable tool for the serious seller.

Tradebox: A problem I had before Tradebox was exporting all the sales data out of Linnworks and in to Sage. It would be far easier if we were not VAT registered!! Originally I used to run Linnworks exports and then manually amend the spreadsheets to get the right formats. Then if there was a discrepancy it could take hours to track it down! Tradebox fixed all that. It is middleware between the other 2 apps. They provided specific scripts to run on Linnworks that would output the data in the correct format for Tradebox to process it and upload it straight in to your Sage database. Again, its not cheap and it did take some setting up but it has saved me literally hours of work every month. Worth every penny.

Zendesk: This is helpdesk software that centralises all of your communications in to one place. With multiple sales platforms, several members of staff and hundreds of customers, email was getting far too confusing. This is where helpdesk software comes in to its own. We tried a few but Zendesk came closest to what we needed. Its not perfect, particularly when it comes to handling ebay message conversations which it is still really bad at! The best thing about it is that an ongoing conversation is kept in a single ticket (except for eBay!!) and all previous conversations for particular customers and business are batched together. It makes checking on what was said in previous messages far easier.

Thanks for contributing Dean. Lots of helpful information there.
 
SEMRUSH I don't use to track keywords of any TSC competitors, however some tools/ software I do use are:

Open Site Explorer: A free tool (more if purchased) to help with researching backlinks - competitors too - and well as any damaged links. Useful for contacting your competitors backlink sites and report any of your competitors damaged backlinks and to backlink to your content instead ;)

Link-assistant: You can download a free option (or buy) that helps with checking your online ranking, Online and Offline SEO, Audits, Backlinks tracker, link building options too.
 
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Apr 19, 2010
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SEMRUSH I don't use to track keywords of any TSC competitors, however some tools/ software I do use are:

Open Site Explorer: A free tool (more if purchased) to help with researching backlinks - competitors too - and well as any damaged links. Useful for contacting your competitors backlink sites and report any of your competitors damaged backlinks and to backlink to your content instead ;)

Link-assistant: You can download a free option (or buy) that helps with checking your online ranking, Online and Offline SEO, Audits, Backlinks tracker, link building options too.

Yeah, I often use my 5 free searches a day on Open Site Explorer. More great suggestions. Thanks for contributing Cody
 
Apr 19, 2010
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I know 5, but hey it's something - otherwise you get much much more with Link-assistant. Just download and there you go.

Yeah, I definitely find them useful. I'll have to look into link-assistant. Don't think I'd heard of that one.
 
Jul 14, 2009
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Fotosizer: resize, put a watermark,.... with 1 mouse click on all your pictures. Has a free version and a cheap paid version with some extra features

FileOptimizer: to lossless compress all images

Combine both to completely optimize your website pictures


Have tried SEMRUSH. Stopped using it. Don't know how I did it but when doing keyword research in Google I would get some Google warning resulting in being blocked on Google for 15 minutes or so. Just some basic research. Not that I was trying to hack Google ;-)
 
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Apr 19, 2010
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Fotosizer: resize, put a watermark,.... with 1 mouse click on all your pictures. Has a free version and a cheap paid version with some extra features

FileOptimizer: to lossless compress all images

Combine both to completely optimize your website pictures


Have tried SEMRUSH. Stopped using it. Don't know how I did it but when doing keyword research in Google I would get some Google warning resulting in being blocked on Google for 15 minutes or so. Just some basic research. Not that I was trying to hack Google ;-)

Great point about image optimisation. Never heard of a google block. I have in the past had the old prove I'm not a robot though.
 
Jul 14, 2009
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I use both on a daily basis. Both very easy in use. Have tried other software to resize my images. Fotosizer is the only one I found that would not turn some images when resizing. I'm using the paid version so that I can also put a watermark on my pictures.

Luckely don't need SEMRUSH. Not a single of my competitors seems to have a clue about SEO. I know my seo still has some flaws. But the websites of my competitors aren't optimised at all.
 

Jed

Feb 16, 2009
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Not software as such but Tweetdeck - If you're a heavy Twitter user this is MUST. I literally couldn't function efficiently on a daily basis without it.
 

Jed

Feb 16, 2009
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Is that similar to hootsuite? What features does tweetdeck use?
It is, I know allot of people who have tried both and the consensus is people usually prefer Tweetdeck. Give it a try :)
 
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Photoshop was invaluable to me (after I took a one week intensive course to try and get to grips with it). So many things you can do and some things are nowadays very easy to master. Saved a small fortune compared to using designers. Nowadays I believe you pay a monthly fee depending how many Adobe products you want in your package.

LibreOffice (Free alternative to Microsoft office).
 
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Jul 14, 2009
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Photoshop was invaluable to me (after I took a one week intensive course to try and get to grips with it). So many things you can do and some things are nowadays very easy to master. Saved a small fortune compared to using designers. Nowadays I believe you pay a monthly fee depending how many Adobe products you want in your package.

LibreOffice (Free alternative to Microsoft office).

There are a few free alternatives for Photoshop. Not as much features as Photoshop but great to make some graphics

GIMP: this one comes closest to Photoshop

Paint.net: as paint in Windows but with more features


Never really figured out how to correctly use GIMP. So mostly use Paint.net. But then I do not really have a lot of graphical skills. Technically making a banner is 1 thing. Making one with a great design is another thing. Appearantly the graphically creative part of my brain doesn't work quite well :oops:
 
There are a few free alternatives for Photoshop. Not as much features as Photoshop but great to make some graphics

GIMP: this one comes closest to Photoshop

Paint.net: as paint in Windows but with more features


Never really figured out how to correctly use GIMP. So mostly use Paint.net. But then I do not really have a lot of graphical skills. Technically making a banner is 1 thing. Making one with a great design is another thing. Appearantly the graphically creative part of my brain doesn't work quite well :oops:

I have used GIMP (many years ago) until I realised how to use Photoshop and Illustrator.
Inskape (not sure if that's still a thing) was an alternative to Illustrator.
 
Sep 26, 2012
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Is that similar to hootsuite? What features does tweetdeck use?
It is, I know allot of people who have tried both and the consensus is people usually prefer Tweetdeck. Give it a try :)

Plus side is Tweetdeck is free. We used them before for TSC and works great, but we already have hootsuite now, and I think is good if you have multiple social pages.

There are a few free alternatives for Photoshop. Not as much features as Photoshop but great to make some graphics

GIMP: this one comes closest to Photoshop

Paint.net: as paint in Windows but with more features


Never really figured out how to correctly use GIMP. So mostly use Paint.net. But then I do not really have a lot of graphical skills. Technically making a banner is 1 thing. Making one with a great design is another thing. Appearantly the graphically creative part of my brain doesn't work quite well :oops:
I suck at both GIMP an Paint... only used photoshop since I was in college, butthat does not mean I am an image editing expert. Suffice to say I just really suck at designing :oops: