According to a Statista report, e-commerce sales are expected to hit $4.8 trillion in the year 2021. In the US, e-commerce accounts for up to 15% of retail sales, and this number is expected to grow steadily!
No wonder that e-commerce offers a lucrative business option to many. However, with escalating profits come the escalating demands of customers who want personalized experiences and round-the-clock connectivity.
To meet these demands, you need a robust e-commerce software at the core of your online store. Such a software makes it easier to manage everything, from your inventory to calculating taxes and shipping costs automatically. Besides, good e-commerce software features an easy-to-use interface, ensuring that even non-technical personnel can manage the platform easily.
What Is the Role of E-commerce software?
The job of e-commerce software is to facilitate the smooth running of your online business. Through various integrations, such software allows you to carry out all the functions required in the day-to-day running of your business from a single place.
Some of the standard functions you can expect from your e-commerce software are automated shipping and tax calculations and end-to-end order management for your business. This includes payment processing, keeping transaction records, managing customer information, generating bills and invoicing, and also offering smart business reports based on analytics. Easy product and inventory management help you keep your store updated. You can also set auto-notifications for low stocks so that you are intimated in time if any product is depleting fast and needs replenishing. The right e-commerce software will also help you simplify marketing through built-in SEO that helps your online store rank higher in SERPs.
The benefits of using an advanced e-commerce software are many.
These include lower costs, elimination of manual errors in billing and inventory, as well as a better customer experience. Especially in present times, when most retailers are competing on customer experience rather than service, price, or quality, a robust e-commerce software could help your customers find what they need, quickly and efficiently. Many hosted solutions also offer website management to ensure a stellar online shopping experience for your customers at all times.
Types of E-Commerce Software
In case you are wondering, there are mainly two types of e-commerce software that you can use for your online store. On-premise e-commerce software is installed on-site and can be customized to suit your business manually. On the other hand, you can subscribe for a SaaS solution, which is relatively cheaper and can be launched online in minimal time.
Besides choosing on-premise or SaaS, there are other questions you must ask yourself before choosing an e-commerce software for your business, such as:
- Is the software easy to install?
- Is the overall cost of integration within your budget?
- Does the software offer integrated services or relies heavily on third-party apps?
- Is the platform designed for small businesses or large?
- Can I customize the software according to my business needs?
- What is the level of automation that I can achieve with this software?
- What are the integrated marketing tools available?
- What is the type of customer support offered by the platform – are there support forums, FAQs, email, phone, or Live Chat options?
- Are there any service limits I must be aware of?
- What is the level of security offered by the platform to protect my customers’ data?
Below we discuss some of these crucial points in detail to help you choose the right e-commerce software for your online business:
The Total Cost
All good things come at a price. However, the charges may vary for different platforms, and also for different services on a particular platform.
When you select an e-commerce software, you will pay an initial fee. In addition, you may be required to pay a fixed monthly fee or pay for individual services, such as credit card transactions. However, it is important not to judge the software only on the cost. Many providers charge hefty fees but offer several useful features that can significantly upgrade your e-commerce experience, leading to enhanced profits.
As we previously mentioned, all e-commerce software are not the same. Some may allow you to sell unlimited products, while others may have a limit on the number of products you can sell on the platform, charging you more for any additional products. Besides, an e-commerce software may be designed for a specific kind of product. Thus, it is vital to select a software that supports your product, the size of your inventory and charges a competitive fee.
The Overall Design
Shopify happens to be a popular choice with business owners as it offers a variety of professionally designed themes to customize the appearance of an online store. In addition to the look and feel of the store, your software must allow third-party integration with various apps, payment getaways, and social networks to enhance the customer experience.
Another essential factor to consider is the security of the platform. It is recommended to choose a platform that offers multi-layered security with at least some level of PCI compliance. Monetary transactions must also be secured and mandatorily ask for CVV (and a virtual pin, if possible) on card payments.
According to a study, 44% of consumers prefer the option of talking to an agent in the middle of an online purchase. Thus, offering your customers real-time support across multiple channels could boost your business significantly. Another survey indicates that over 50% of consumers prefer Live Chat software to connect with a business and are comfortable buying from a Chatbot. Additionally, it is predicted that by 2021, brands that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase their revenue by up to 30%.
Clearly then, you need a dynamic platform that is designed to offer real-time support to your customers if you wish to make your online store a success.
A robust e-commerce software can spell the difference between a failed startup and a thriving online business. However, in addition to the features, you must also test the interface to ensure that non-technical members of your team can also manage it.
Is there anything else that you would like to add to this list? Please leave your comments below – we’d love to hear from you.