Revised November 16, 2020
Revised January 14, 2019
Revised October 23, 2018
Most of the posts so far in this series on the best online business tools have addressed marketing functions. A few have focused on areas outside of marketing (such as the best human resources, payroll, and employee scheduling tools, and the best accounting and finance tools) or on areas with crossover between marketing and other functional areas (e.g., file sharing and project management).
Here are a dozen tools worth evaluating that cover business functions ranging from the common—word processing, spreadsheets, and business operations—to specific processes such as accepting online payments, shipping, package tracking, online fax and document management, copyright protection, and crowdfunding.
1) Open Office
Google Review Count: 197
An open source office productivity suite with applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, drawing, database management, and mathematical operations.
Sample review: “If you absolutely must have desktop applications for free, Open Office is a good alternative to the Microsoft suite.” — Shift Communications
Showcase reviews: Shift Communications
Google Review Count: 179
It’s the Microsoft Office suite online—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and email plus OneNote, online file storage, and a few extra interesting apps.
Sample review: “Love it or hate it, Microsoft Office is still basically the standard when it comes to office suites. Office Online feels much more like Microsoft Office than Google Docs does — right down to the ribbon. More importantly, Office Online saves your documents in Microsoft Office file formats like .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx…When you create a file in Office Online, it should look the same in the desktop version of Microsoft Office.” — How-To Geek
Pricing: free or various personal and business levels from $7 to $13 per user per month
Showcase reviews: How-To Geek, Siasat
3) Google Docs
Google Review Count: 166
Google’s tools for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and online file storage. Integrates with other Google apps like Gmail, calendar, maps, and Google+.
Sample review: “Google Docs…can be used for everything from content planning and creating, to data storage and mining. Also the go to tool to collaborate with a team.” — Robbie Richards
Pricing: free for personal use; $5/$10 for businesses; enterprise pricing by quote
Showcase reviews: Cent Muruganandam, Robbie Richards, Shift Communications
Google Review Count: 338
Accept credit cards anywhere. Plug the free Square magstripe reader into an iPhone or iPad to swipe credits cards, or get hardware to accept chip cards, NFC payments, or create a countertop point-of-sale device. Process payments from Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.
Sample review: “These top back-office tools will help you grow…(use) Square for accepting payments from anywhere and managing your team.” — Marketing Insider Group
Pricing: 2.75% per swipe or tap; 3.5% + $0.15 per keyed-in transaction
Showcase reviews: Marketing Insider Group
2) Invoice Home
Google Review Count: 99
Create professional-looking invoices by choosing from over 100 free templates then customizing with your logo and business information. Send invoices by email, track payments, and apply applicable taxes. Supports PayPal, Authorize.Net and Stripe payment gateways.
Sample review: “If you need an affordable invoicing tool, Invoice Home would be perfect for you…(they offer) lots of beautifully designed templates…(and) their interface is super easy to understand.” — TwelveSkip
Pricing: free or $5 per month
Showcase reviews: TwelveSkip
Google Review Count: 185
A free, universal package tracking tool. Just enter a tracking number to track any USPO, UPS, FedEx, or DHL/AirBorne package.
Sample review: “Track the status of any shipment on Google Maps.” — Siasat
Showcase reviews: Siasat
Google Review Count: 163
For anyone who sells online, ShipStation is ecommerce fulfillment software that integrates with the most popular shopping carts and marketplaces (eBay, Amazon, Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, Square…) to import your orders, print shipping labels, automate fulfillment tasks, and ship via the lowest-cost carrier.
Sample review: “Tired of spending too much time on shipping issues and trying to track down your sent out products? Want to offer a more user-friendly shipping system? If you answered yes to either of those, or just want to improve your shipment process, then (ShipStation) is a must-use.” — StoreYa Blog
Pricing: multiple levels, based on shipping volume, from $9 to $145 per month
Showcase reviews: StoreYa Blog
Google Review Count: 103
A comprehensive suite of business operations apps for small business including CRM, project management, accounting, customer service (help desk and field service), supply chain management, and order management. It integrates with Google Apps, file sharing, and payment processing systems.
Sample review: “A collection of 40 apps covers project management, customer-relationship management, time sheets, inventory and more…if you are an entrepreneur starting a business or running a business with 150 to 200 employees or less, you should be able to use Apptivo for some or all of your business needs.” — OPEN Forum
Pricing: free, $8 or $21 per month
Showcase reviews: OPEN Forum
Google Review Count: N/A
A simple business process management tool that lets you assemble teams, communicate via embedded chat, assign tasks, create workflows, monitor progress and status, and assure tasks get completed. Though it incorporates many similar features of project management tools (messaging, file attachments, accessibility across devices), kinops from Kinetic Data is designed to manage repetitive business processes—structured or unstructured—such as setting up a new employee with a laptop and work space.
Pricing: $99 per month; enterprise pricing by quote
Google Review Count: 508
A plagiarism checking and copyright protection that helps assure any content submitted to yuor site is original, and proactively scan the web to identify any instances of other sites making unauthorized use of your content.
Sample review: “Before you link to a useful resource, find out if it’s the original source of that information. (Copyscape) is also a fast way to see if you’ve been a victim of website plagiarism by checking your own pages.” — Orbit Media Studios
Pricing: free, $5 or $20 per month plus additional per-page charges
Showcase reviews: B2B PR Sense Blog, Orbit Media Studios, RazorSocial
1) Scannable by Evernote
Google Review Count: 20
A mobile scanning app for the iPhone that lets you scan business cards, receipts, documents, or whiteboards. Images are automatically enhanced. Business cards can be connected directly with LinkedIn profiles. Can also connect via WiFi to a ScanSnap Evernote Edition scanner for office use.
Sample review: “Scannable by Evernote lets you use your mobile device to take a picture of a document when you don’t have a scanner. Pull up the app, hover the camera over anything (such as a piece of paper or a business card) and it automatically scans and crops it. Hold it over a business card, and like magic it scans the card without pushing any buttons.” — Social Media Examiner
Pricing: free or $35/$70 per year
Showcase reviews: Social Media Examiner
Google Review Count: 182
Fax documents (Word docs or PDFs) straight from your PC to almost anywhere in the world, with or without a cover page.
Sample review: “If you need to send the occasional fax, use this site to upload documents straight from your computer and send them within the US and Canada for free.” — Wrike
Pricing: free for documents up to three pages; $1.99 for documents up to 25 pages
Showcase reviews: Siasat, Wrike
Online Appointment Scheduling
Google Review Count: 132
An online appointment scheduling tool that enables you to set up one-on-on meetings; automatically distribute meetings among team members based on rules; or arrange group meetings. It automatically detects time zones for attendees, sends confirmation and reminder emails and texts, and lets you set pre- and post-meeting buffer times.
Pricing: free or $8/$12 per month
Google Review Count: 89
A worthy alternative to Calendly, Appointy is online scheduling software that lets customers and other self-schedule meetings with you without the hassle of back-and-forth emails. It enables organizations from fitness centers, medical and wellness providers, and government agencies to consumer and professional service providers schedule classes, workshops, events, tours, and activities as well an individual meetings.
Pricing: free or $20/$50/$80 per month
Google Review Count: 150
There are alternatives for backing up your critical personal and business files, but when you compare, Backblaze is the pretty obvious choice. For a lower cost than most other services, Backblaze backs up all of your files, regardless of size, and provides a private encryption key. It’s rated one of the easiest services to use, and provides unlimited backup storage.
Pricing: $60 per computer per year
Google Review Count: 170
ONLYOFFICE is a highly secure platform for creating, editing, and collaborating on business documents online. It’s a full-featured office suite—documents, spreadsheets, presentations, email, CRM, project management, and calendar—available as a SaaS offering or for on-premises installation. Compared to alternatives like Office 365 or GSuite, ONLYOFFICE costs less and includes additional capabilities such as CRM, project management, and integrated instant messaging.
Pricing: $5 per user per month, with discounts annual and multi-year plans
Google Review Count: 104
Need to make a business call or sit in on an online meeting, but you’ve got screaming kids, barking dogs, or noisy coffee drinkers in the background? That’s no longer a problem. Krisp.ai is AI-powered noise-canceling technology that adapts to your voice and improves over time. Users can mute background noise during calls with a single button, and work from anywhere without worrying about noise. Krisp.ai supports any web conferencing app (Google Hangouts, Bluejeans, Webex, GoToMeeting, Zoom, etc.) and virtually any communication hardware.
Pricing: free; $40/user/year; enterprise pricing by quote
Google Review Count: 71
An all-in-one business tool that combines CRM/email marketing capabilities with interesting features like event registration, online appointment booking, billing & invoicing, and the ability to create client portals that enable customers to easily schedule or reschedule service, view and pay invoices, share documents, and more.
Pricing: $29/$59/$99 per month
Google Review Count: 20
As large enterprises deploy increasing sophisticated defenses against cyberthreats, the criminals behind those are shifting their focus to small-to-midsized businesses. The typical ransomeware or other attack can cost tens of thousands of dollars and a week of lost business time to fix. Ostra offers enterprise-grade tools as a service to provide best-in-class data protection for SMBs against known and unknown internet threats, at an affordable cost.
Pricing: contact vendor
Google Review Count: 20
Thinking of starting a new business or changing your business structure? GovDocFiling helps entrepreneurs establish LLCs, corporations, and other entities in every state and obtain federal EIN/Tax IDs. Just choose your business entity type, fill out the online business formation application, and GovDocFiling will file all necessary business formation documents with the respective government agencies on your behalf.
Google Review Count: 20
An ecommerce account management plugin, InfinitySync automatically syncs WooCommerce stores to QuickBooks Desktop, eliminating manual processes, keeping sales and inventory in sync, and simplifying the accounting process.
Pricing: $59 per month plus $100 signup fee
Google Review Count: 16
Easy to use yet powerful inventory management software for retailers, IT, warehousing, and restaurant/food businesses. Provides a full range of functionality from vendor management and purchase orders through customer management, sales orders, bar code tracking, and consignment sales.
Pricing: $175/$329/$499 per month; enterprise pricing by quote
B2B PR Sense Blog
Marketing Insider Group
Orbit Media Studios
Social Media Examiner
This was the 46th post in the Best Online Business Tools series.
#1: Best Online Business Tools Series Kicks Off Today
#2: The 12 Best Competitive Intelligence and Benchmarking Tools
#3: The Nine Best Facebook Marketing Tools
#4: The 14 Best Content Planning and Research Tools
#5: The 23 Best Content Ideation Tools
#6: The 24 Best Online Writing Tools and Apps
#7: The Six Best Google+ Marketing Tools
#8: The Four Best Online Education Tools For Business Pros
#9: The 14 Best Marketing Automation Tools
#10: The 17 Best Keyword Research Tools for SEO and SEM
#11: The Seven Best File Sharing Tools
#12: The Five Best Infographic Creation Tools and Services
#13: The 28 Best Influencer Marketing Tools
#14: The Five Best Pinterest and Instagram Marketing Tools
#15: The 24 Best Visual Content Creation Tools
#16: The Six Best Online HR, Payroll, and Employee Scheduling Tools
#17: The 20 Best SEO Rank Tracker Tools
#18: The Six Best Screen Capture Tools
#19: The 15 Best Special-Purpose SEO Tools
#20: The Four Best Online Survey Tools
#21: The 26 Best All-in-One SEO Tool Suites
#22: The 32 Best Twitter Marketing Tools
#23: The 29 Best Web Analytics Tools
#24: The 24 Best Email Marketing Tools
#25: The 28 Best Web Design Tools
#26: The 29 Best Social Media Monitoring Tools
#27: The 17 Best Project Management Tools
#28: The 21 Best Content Curation Tools
#29: The 26 Best WordPress Plugins
#30: The 14 Best Personal Productivity Tools
#31: The 11 Best Social Media Campaign Builders and Ad Monitoring Tools
#32: The 12 Best Landing Page and Form Builders for Conversion Rate Optimization
#33: The 17 Best Photo Editing Tools
#34: The Six Best Accounting and Finance Tools for Small Business
#35: The 15 Best Content Distribution and Amplification Tools
#36: The 17 Best Social Media Management Tools
#37: The 23 Best Google Chrome Extensions for Digital Marketers
#38: The 15 Best Audio and Video Editing Tools
#39: The Eight Best Social CRM Tools
#40: The Nine Best Reputation Management, RSS, and Social Search Tools
#41: The 15 Best Screencasting and Online Presentation Tools
#42: The 16 Best Sites for Free Stock Photos and Videos
#43: The 10 Best Customer Service and Customer Engagement Platforms
#44: The 11 Best Content Marketing, SMO, and Marketing Performance Management Tools
#45: The Eight Best Online Tools for Sales Professionals
#46: The 12 Best Special-Purpose Business Software Tools