What Is E-Commerce Software?
Do you ever wonder how online shopping carts work? It is through the help of e-commerce software that is able to make an online store function. An e-commerce software simplifies the shopping experience for both you and your customers. It acts as a catalog of your online store to illustrate all products and services properly with all the details needed.
Why Do You Need an E-commerce Software?
Do you wish to join the online trading industry as well? Have you ever wondered how an e-commerce software can impact the success of your business? If yes, then you have to understand why you need it. Below are the following reasons why you would need an e-commerce software:
Work in the Comfort of Your Home
If you wish to work in the comfort of your home, you might as well open up an online store and start it by preparing with the e-commerce software. You will be able to earn money by working at home while managing your online store. You have the power to decide about your working schedule plus you have your own rules and regulations.
With the help of e-commerce software, you can sell instantly and your customers can buy products from your online store in just a few clicks. Customers just have to log in to your domain, choose what they want to purchase, complete the transaction, settle the payment, and wait for the parcel to be delivered on their doorstep.
E-commerce software enables an online store to remain operational for 24 hours which is beneficial for your customers ordering from other countries with different time zones. Also, your customers will have flexibility as to when they want to place an order and do not need to follow a strict shopping schedule. E-commerce is best for people with busy working schedules and those who do not have spare time to shop in physical stores.
Accessible Across the Globe
No matter where your customers are physically located, they can be able to purchase from your online store. One feature of e-commerce software is that it enables your store’s language to be translatable to enable customers with different mother-tongues to still understand the content of your online store. It is important for it to be accessible anywhere around the world for your products and your store itself to be known internationally.
Easy Price Comparisons
When customers are buying from a physical store, they need to move from one boutique to another to compare the prices before making a purchase decision. If they decided to do online shopping instead, they can easily check every brand and its prices without any hassle.
Save Time and Money
E-commerce software does not only give convenience to your customers but also on your part as the business owner and manager. For example, it gives you a feature to automatically do the product inventory, auditing, and accounting; therefore, you don’t have to hire more people to manage your business.
Strengthens Customer Loyalty
Purchasing online usually requires a customer to create an account online and be a member. Being a member gives them a feeling of belongingness and makes them stay loyal to your store. Having their own accounts empowers them to modify their information on their profiles whenever they want.
Core Features of an E-commerce Software
Getting the wrong software can do more harm than good. It causes you to waste your time and money on a futile thing. To ensure that you're working with the best, you need to check whether it has the features listed below.
Quality Exhibition of Products
Your customers should be able to see the features of the products or services you offer through pictures or videos. Even though you have a section where you describe your items, they will still be enticed with what they see and most of them focus more on media rather than the product description.
Features Product Reviews
Reading customer feedback is greatly appreciated not just by sellers but also by customers who are just planning to purchase. This section is very important because 70% of online shoppers check customer reviews first before deciding to purchase. By reading the product reviews, customers will feel more enticed to buy your products and will be convinced more once they see the positive experiences of your previous customers.
Reliable Live Chat Services for Your Customers
With the help of e-commerce CRM software, online shoppers can communicate with your support team 24/7. Your website should enable your customers to ask you questions from the moment they visit your online store until they finally make the purchase decision. More than 50% of the customers settle a transaction when they have someone from the company who can answer all of their questions right away. Apart from the live chat, you may also put your service hotline and email where customers can reach you whenever they have concerns or inquiries.
Flexible Payment Method
To increase sales, your customers should also have choices on how they can pay their orders, examples are cash on delivery (COD), online banking and bank transfer, and other payment centers. Also, the e-commerce website should offer multi-currency features. If your goal is to serve more customers across the globe, no worries because an e-commerce software will make sure that your online store will have a feature to show the prices in the local currency of your customer.
Different Delivery Methods with Shipping Fee Calculator
To ease customers’ worry, your e-commerce software should choose how and where they want their orders to be delivered, which could be either sent to their residential or business address. They should understand that the shipping fee differs depending on the location where the parcel will be delivered. E-commerce shipping software lets customers see how the shipping fee is calculated that is why a shipping fee calculator is a great help.
Layered and Faceted Navigation
Layered and faceted navigation makes it much easier for your shoppers to find just what they are looking for on an e-commerce site. This kind of navigation divides products into rational sub-categories and displays those sub-categories as product filters. By using this kind of system, shoppers may drill down to products based on price, color, features, or attributes. This feature should be data-driven and programmatic.
Convenient Order Status Checking and Modification
Your online store should show visible icons or editing tools for updating the quantity or removing some items on the cart before checking out the order. With this, the customer no longer needs to go back to the main page and start a new cart. They will also have access to track the status of their orders using their electronic devices. This enables the customer to set the expected delivery of the parcel.
Your software should assure you that your online store is easy to be understood by your customers of all ages. Not all customers are tech-savvy, some are first-timers, some have limited knowledge, while some have limited patience. Also, in order for your customers to understand the product details better, it should be translatable in other languages.
E-commerce software should enable customers to add more products to order. This is beneficial for you as a seller because this means more sales. Let the customer feel that they are welcome to order as many as they want.
Import and Export Product Easily
The e-commerce software should allow you to easily transfer price, inventory, or product updates in and out of an online store. This feature of e-commerce software is very essential whether one is exporting product data to a shopping comparison site or a Facebook store or synchronizing inventory from an online store to a physical location.
Access to Analytics, Sales Reporting, and Trackable Marketing
The best online e-commerce software gives you access to built-in sales reporting and analytics capabilities. This will help you track product sales down to a significant level of detail. Sales and financial reports can also be easily exported with the help of e-commerce accounting software.
The e-commerce software should show all charges included in the total bill of the customer because you cannot afford to lose a sale and a customer’s trust just because he/she was not able to understand what the charges were about.
Clear Illustration of Terms & Conditions. FAQs, and Return Policy
After product purchases, some customers are having a certain feeling which is called a buyer’s remorse. E-commerce software should show a very visible and clear return policy. With the help of e-commerce software, your customers will be able to see the policies and disclaimers before, during, and after placing their orders.
Online Store Integration
Open-source e-commerce software will give you the ability to edit the code and modify it according to your needs, especially when you already have to expand your online store. Having this feature will also provide the best possible shopping experience for your customers and can make life much easier when it comes to the functionality of your e-commerce website.
Domain and Web Hosting Provisions
An e-commerce software should provide you domain and web hosting services. Most e-commerce software companies offer four different types of hosting: shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated hosting, and free hosting. Remember that choosing the right hosting is vital for your website to function well and perform all tasks you want it to for your customers.
Types of E-Commerce Software
Are you ready to launch your own online store? You have to keep in mind that choosing the right type of e-commerce software has a great impact on how successful your brand will be. The type of software that you will choose will help you execute all the plans that you laid out for your online store efficiently.
Hosted E-commerce Software
If you wish to have an all-in-one e-commerce software suite, this one must be your choice. This is a ready-made and a subscription-based solution sold and by a software provider who’s also responsible for its maintenance, back-ups, and upgrades. They let you choose a pre-existing website template after you sign up. You just have to pick up your preferred design, choose the style, and personalize it the way how you want your online shop to look like. Afterward, you may start uploading pictures of your products and begin selling already.
Pros of Hosted E-commerce Software
If you are eager to start your career in selling online right away, a hosted e-commerce software is here for you. It helps you set-up your store conveniently, and you’re ready to go. After signing up, you only have to wait for hours, days, or weeks to finally start selling. This is very time efficient.
Worry not. You won’t be alone when you encounter problems, because hosted e-commerce software has reliable customer support services to answer your questions.
This type of e-commerce software is almost complete with everything you need to start your online business. These freebies may include PCI-compliance certification, automatic upgrades, lay-out templates, plus free server maintenance, back-ups, and troubleshooting.
As you are just starting, you don’t have enough funds to get complex and expensive software yet, that’s why hosted e-commerce software suits you best. You only have to pay a low-cost monthly subscription fee.
Cons of Hosted E-commerce Software
Lack of freedom to design on your own
Your provider will only offer you pre-made templates for the layout, which you can use to style your online store. Making new and unique designs on your own will not be allowed by the software.
You are also given a limited number of features to choose from and you cannot even program your own as you won’t be allowed by the host.
Unending monthly fee
Since this is a subscription-based software, you would have to continue paying for the service every month. You should also check for additional fees or clarify first if the software provider is taking a percentage for completed transactions.
Licensed E-commerce Software
Licensed Ecommerce software is downloaded and installed from a web server. You will also have your own license which you can use to access any web server that meets the server requirements. This e-commerce software allows you to customize your carts flexibly based on your preferences because you have more features to choose from.
Pros of Licensed E-commerce Software
Freedom to style
Unlike with a hosted e-commerce software, wherein only given templates can be used for the website’s design, here you have more freedom to design on your own. You are in control, as long as you know how to code and make web layouts. Since you already have an existing brand, you may incorporate your current brand logo and images using your free will to do your design.
You basically own the software; therefore, you have the capability to alter features and functions and make integrations for the advancement of your online store.
Portability: Having your own software also gives you the right to switch companies without additional fees and risk of losing necessary data and files.
No more monthly bill
You no longer have to think about paying a subscription fee every month, plus you are safe from additional hidden charges.
Cons of Licensed E-commerce Software
You must have enough technical expertise and knowledge
In order for you to maximize the advantage of owning your own software, you need to have enough skills on how to code on your own. If not, you will be spending more on hiring a web developer and designer.
Longer waiting time
Since everything will be personally prepared for your needs, you have to set your expectation that you need to wait a little bit longer for a software provider to completely set-up the software for your online store.
Compared with a hosted software, with this, you would have to pay an expensive one-time fee to buy the software. Paying one-time big-time might be hard, especially if you don’t have enough funds.
Who Needs an E-commerce Software?
B2B: Business to Business Companies
B2B is a business connection between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or a wholesaler and a retailer. B2B companies focus on sales of products, services, or information to other businesses. Basically, it's a company ordering supplies to use for their own business. An example of B2B is a supermarket that orders food supplies from wholesalers, which will later be sold in their stores.
B2C: Business to Consumer Companies
This business model is based on the transactions between a company that sells products and services to consumers who are the end users. It describes the transactions between online retailers and their customers. With the help of e-commerce software, B2C businesses are able to reach their customers globally.
C2C: Consumer to Consumer Companies
A consumer-to-consumer e-commerce is a platform wherein a consumer sells products or services to another consumer online. This business is usually facilitated by a third party website that manages all the details of the transactions, which is often referred to as a marketplace. With the help of e-commerce, consumers are able to sell directly to other consumers without going through a middleman.
C2B: Consumer to Business Companies
C2B was the largest market before the emergence of C2C e-commerce. C2B involves customers who give services or products to certain organizations, which in turn will offer these to their purchasers. The customers will be one to demand the price for the product and services they provide.
B2A: Business to Administration Companies
B2A businesses enable transactions between private companies and public administration. This is also referred to as B2G or business to government model. Some of the services that can benefit from using B2A companies may use e-commerce software for public services like social security, employment, and legal documents.
C2A: Consumer to Administration Companies
C2A companies encompass electronic transactions between individuals and public administration. C2A companies can use e-commerce websites for distance learning, information sharing, electronic tax filing, and setting health appointments.
Frequently Asked Questions
E-commerce is an electronic exchange of products or services. It is a procedure that manages to sell products or services and purchases products or services through any electronic medium. It is an abbreviation for “electronic commerce”, which is the practice of allowing end-users to purchase entitlements over the internet on a self-service basis.
Yes and even if you are just starting, you can find small business e-Commerce software that can help you create your online retail store. Without an e-Commerce software, your website may lose its credibility and may look unprofessional.
This depends on your chosen software type. Online e-Commerce software allows you to pay monthly subscription fees. Offline e-Commerce software usually has a one-time payment scheme.
1. An eCommerce software will allow your business to have better management and record-keeping of each transaction.
2. Your online store gets to function better by having features like back-end tracking, sales monitoring, catalog management, easier inventory of stocks, adding with lists, discounts or coupons, upselling user-ratings, and so on.
3. You could automate the entire purchase processes, helping the business save time and lower the expenses.
4. It will enable the business to reach a wide range of customers across the globe; therefore, your business will have a chance to increase its productivity which will lead to a greater return of investment.
Not necessarily, most e-Commerce software providers let you try their services first by signing up for a free trial for a certain period then after that, you would have to decide whether to proceed further and which plan to avail
The most important part of choosing the right e-Commerce software is understanding the pricing structure of the provider. You might be charged a monthly fee or, depending on the platform, they may charge a transaction fee for each individual purchase completion on your website.
When choosing e-Commerce software, make sure to choose something that you will be able to understand because there are e-Commerce software that require advanced troubleshooting skills. If this is your first time, you’ll need to make sure to choose a software that is easy to use.
Test it first. As you look for e-Commerce software for your store, you should sign up for a free trial of each platform you’re considering. Take each software through the paces. Try adding new products, variables, categories, and discounts. Test the editing tools and check out your reports page. Request help from the support staff if you have questions and record their response time.
Check the available security feature. In order to collect your customer’s information, you’ll need to make sure your website is secured. You would need to have a secure sockets layer certificate, it is usually included with the subscription that you will avail along with the e-Commerce software. It basically protects your online shop from hackers and eavesdroppers and will assure all customers that their information, particularly their credit card details, personal information, and log-in credentials are safe and secured.
Yes, you may, depending on your agreement with the provider; however, usually, it is a monthly recurring payment; therefore, you may cancel your subscription anytime you want.
It would be very beneficial on the part of the customers if they have a variety of payment options available like cash on delivery (COD), online banking and bank transfer, and other payment centers and so on. Digital wallets are one of the fastest and easiest ways to pay for online transactions.
Yes, you may think of an original domain name. Your customers will be able to find you easier if yours is a unique and impacting one.
Yes, it is possible. If later on, you decide to sell on multiple online marketplaces for business growth, you may do that with the help of a multi-channel e-Commerce software. With this, you will be able to integrate quickly and easily with shopping carts, shipping carriers, and stay organized through various business processes like inventory, shipping, transactions, and more. Selling on multiple online markets will help you expand your customer base and increase your profit margins.
No. If you wish to have an ability to create and manage multiple brands and multiple sites to serve more unique audiences and channels, you may opt-in to have a multi-site e-Commerce software. With this, you will be able to enhance your interaction with your current customers and you can also expand into international markets as your online store will be available in different languages and currencies.
With the advancements in digital technologies and especially the internet, more and more businesses are transferring their services and products into the online field. Therefore, the company that is hesitant to invest in digital expansion is going to be behind any competition. Only with the internet, it has become possible to attract a broader range of customers and to sell products way beyond the business hours of one’s company.
Yes, and it is important to choose the right type of eCommerce software because each type has advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right type of software should be aligned with how you would like your website to work and the features that it consists of. Always consider the main goals of your online store because your goals will influence the type of eCommerce software that you will choose.
An open-source is a type of licensing agreement that allows you to freely modify and make some integrations on a website, for example. It refers to software whose original source code is made freely available and can be modified or enhanced by anyone. It is important because if you choose to have an open-source eCommerce software you have the ability to customize your own site, be secured, and you don’t have to pay for a licensing fee.
Yes, customers want to share their feedback as well right after their purchase, whether it is possible or not, all feedback must be visible together with the product details because this is one of the things that customers will consider before adding the product in their shopping carts.
It is possible to find free e-Commerce software online wherein all you have to do is to sign up as a seller then you may start selling afterward. However, you must identify first if getting it for free is beneficial to your business or may lead to possible issues in the future. Therefore, before settling in getting a free one, it is best to know first its advantages and disadvantages
- No fees to be paid to register and start up your online store.
- Aside from it being free, you may also find some e-Commerce software that could be linked or shared with other website elements like a blog or a social media platform.
- Some free e-Commerce software has simple transaction options like Paypal or Google Check-Outs.
- You may find a limited support system which is greatly incomparable to the support that you may get from getting a paid e-Commerce software.
- Limited chance of documentation or you may need to pay in order to use that particular feature first.
- There might be a lot of advertisements on the website created by the developer. Given that it is free, the developer’s income is coming from those advertisements and if you wish to get rid of those advertisements, you would have to pay first.
- No warranty and back-up. If you make any changes, the free e-Commerce software may not be able to back-up most of your files.
- Some free e-Commerce software will only allow you to sign up for free but will charge you a large amount after a month.
- Limited features are available. Free e-Commerce software will only allow you to use a few features and will push you to pay for the others that you may need.
- Lack of trust from the customer's end. Most online shoppers are tech-savvy, they might have an idea that your subscription to that e-Commerce software is free and might settle for others that are paid accordingly and well-established.
Step-by-Step Guide in Choosing an E-commerce Software Provider
Step 1: Create your project plan.
The first step you have to do is to create your plan, which should be composed of the detailed list of your business needs, your budget, desired features, and the project timeline. Making your plan is essential because it will be your basis as you choose the type of software. It also helps you track your progress, and to have a vision when to launch your online store.
Step 2: Research for the leading e-commerce software provider.
Take time to do some research about the best software providers in the market. You should select ones that fit your needs and requirements, or who can support the kind of products you’re selling. If you’re aiming to reach more customers, select those that are more popular, with strong marketing campaigns, and accessible across the globe.
Step 3: Run a free trial and compare each platform.
Before making a purchase decision, try each platform first by having a free trial. Test them one by one by using each feature, uploading your products, and checking who among them can expose your store to a broad range of customers. You could also try to place an order by yourself to identify which one is the most user-friendly. Read some reviews from previous and existing customers for you to determine their business experiences with those software providers.
Step 4: Choose which software provider meets your requirements.
After running a free trial, it is now time to finalize your decision on which software provider you’ll choose for your e-commerce website. Identify which among them can meet your expectations, fit your budget, and give you great shopping and selling experience. Choose what type of subscription plan you’re getting, complete your registration, and transfer your website’s files to the software provider.
Step 5: Secure support and evaluate software performance.
Once the subscription is completed, make sure that they'll still be able to give you any form of support that you may need. If you have limited technical skills, set their expectation that you may need assistance for maintenance, downtimes, updates, and 24/7 high-level support. Continue to monitor the efficiency of your online store, and raise any issues or difficulties to the provider, so that they can make modifications at an early stage.