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eCommerce software is a tool for setting up an online retail store and managing the operations. The software offers many features, including a self-service portal, website designing, product listing, online payment processing, sales reporting, inventory management, and customer relationship management (CRM).
The benefits of eCommerce software
The software helps businesses quickly set up a digital storefront, making it easy for them to start selling online. Here are some of the benefits of using eCommerce software:
- Set up online stores using self-service portal: It offers pre-built templates, themes, and various store functionalities such as basket, 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 delivery costs, discounts, and taxes. It also automates processes such as payment processing and sending shopping, order confirmation, and promotional emails.
- Track the inventory: You can track products during various stages of the supply chain. Automatically de-list items that are out of stock at your store or the warehouse, so that your online stock is always up-to-date.
- Leverage built-in SEO and marketing tools: Most solutions have built-in SEO optimisation to rank your products higher on the search engine results page (SERP). Vendors also offer marketing tools, either built-in or integrated, to help you run and manage social media, email, and search engine marketing campaigns.
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.
- Catalogue management: Create and organise a digital catalogue of products/services that lists the specifications and prices. Also, moderate the product tags and listings.
- Shopping basket: Facilitate a customer's selection of products/services and accept various modes of payments.
- Order management: Organise, track, and execute all customer orders from a central location.
- Inventory management: Track and manage the stock of products on hand. Get to know when a product is about to go out of stock.
- Analytics and reporting: Get detailed reports of sales, visits, and referrals.
- Store management: Facilitate order fulfilment via support for delivery; arrange returns and refunds, if needed.
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 customise 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 SERP. 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.
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 colour suits their skin tone. Some vendors already support AR capability. With the number of customers shopping online with AR and in-store increasing to 100 million by 2020, the number of vendors offering AR will also increase.
- Integrating chatbots to be a key functionality: Many eCommerce software providers are offering 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. In 2020, 25% of customer interactions may involve chatbots as vendors will continue to evolve their offerings.