1. What is eCommerce software?
eCommerce software is a tool for setting up an online retail store and managing operations. The software offers many features, including a self-service portal, website design, product listing, online payment processing, sales reporting, inventory management, and customer relationship management (CRM).
2. The benefits of eCommerce software
The software helps businesses quickly set up a digital storefront, making it easy to start selling online. Here are some of the benefits of using eCommerce software:
- Set up an online store using a self-service portal: The software offers pre-built templates, themes, and various store functionalities such as cart, checkout, and payment gateway. You can choose the options you like, add your products, and push your store live.
- Automate recurring tasks and processes: eCommerce software lets you automate tasks such as computing shipping costs, discounts, and taxes. It also automates processes such as payment processing, order confirmation, and promotional emails.
- Track inventory: You can track products during various stages of the supply chain. Automatically de-list items that are out of stock at your store so that your online stock is always up-to-date.
- Leverage built-in SEO and marketing tools: Most solutions have built-in SEO optimization to rank your products higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). The software also offers marketing tools, either built-in or integrated, to help you run and manage social media, email, and other marketing campaigns.
3. Typical features of eCommerce software
- Website management: Build and manage a digital storefront using a self-service portal. Pick from various templates and add or edit content.
- Catalog management: Create and organize a digital catalog of products/services that lists product details and prices, and moderate product tags and listings.
- Shopping cart: Allow customers to select products/services and then facilitate payment through various modes.
- Order management: Organize, track, and execute all customer orders from a central location.
- Inventory management: Track and manage stock, and get alerts when products are about to go out of stock.
- Analytics and reporting: Get detailed reports on sales, visits, and referrals.
- Store management: Facilitate order fulfillment and shipping; arrange returns and refunds, if needed.
4. The cost of eCommerce software
Most products in the market are priced on a “per month” basis, and can be divided into three pricing tiers based on their starting price.
*The pricing included is for the entry-level/lowest-priced offering that was found on vendor websites on May 28, 2019. These ranges correspond to the 25th, 75th, and 100th percentile of the pricing information gathered from vendor websites of sample products.
The above list summarizes pricing for the base plans of most products. An enterprise, or premium product, which is priced higher, may include some additional features such as search engine optimization, traffic monitoring, and product bundling.
5. Considerations when buying eCommerce software
- Evaluate benefits of cloud-based vs. on-premise solutions: Weigh the pros and cons of each deployment option. A cloud-based solution has a monthly subscription fee and the vendor handles software maintenance and updates. You don’t need to purchase additional hardware or infrastructure. However, an on-premise solution requires your own hardware and skilled IT staff to customize it. Small companies, especially, will find that cloud-based solutions are easier to set up and use.
- Ensure support for mobile commerce: Google’s mobile-first indexing requires your website to be mobile friendly for your products to rank high in SERPs. Before you choose an eCommerce solution, check whether it’s equipped to create online stores that deliver a mobile-friendly experience.
- Check for integration with third-party apps: Integrating various third-party applications, such as payment options, subscription management software, customer support solutions, review platforms, and shipping carriers, are integral for an online store. Explore the integrations that eCommerce software vendors offer and whether they support the third-party apps you use or plan to use. Also, if you want to sell on social platforms (i.e., Facebook) or digital marketplaces (i.e., Amazon or eBay), ensure that the vendor lets you integrate these platforms.
6. Relevant eCommerce software trends
- eCommerce software vendors to add AR capabilities: Augmented reality (AR) lets customers view a product in their own surroundings—whether a sofa looks good in their living room or if a lip color suits their skin tone. Some vendors already support AR capability. With the number of customers shopping with AR online and in-store increasing to 100 million by 2020, the number of vendors offering AR will also increase.
- Integrating chatbots: Many eCommerce software providers offer chatbots designed for sales, customer support, marketing, and social platforms. The integration is being enabled via API, plug-ins, or in the provider’s app store. By 2020, 25% of customer interactions may involve chatbots.