What is Ecommerce software?
If you are an eCommerce business owner, having a deeper knowledge of eCommerce and relevant eCommerce software should become a priority, due to the many almost instant benefits it can bring to you. As a whole, eCommerce seems easy to understand and apply, and we are sure that you didn’t start your online “going blind”. But going in-depth isn’t that straightforward anymore. Finding your proper online store setting and setting usually involves lots of research in the eCommerce software domain. Knowing how to sell isn’t enough in the online environment we become more and more dependent on with each passing day. By using the proper eCommerce software tools you will enhance your sales and keep your business afloat for many digital years to come.
Owning and managing an online store may feel intimidating at first, but fret not! eCommerce software is here to greatly simplify most processes you deal with daily. eCommerce software can be called the engine in the shadows of your online store. The fuel is generally user data given with consent. It quietly runs a series of intricate automated data calculations that help you stay informed and improve your sales and takes care of processes like inventory management systems, price adaptation, tax calculations, etc.
Even more so, eCommerce software strives to do it by using user-friendly interfaces – the ease of use being, by the end of the day, a major factor in deciding which piece of software is best for your online store. Not having to know technical details and still being able to properly run your shop is an online store owner’s dream. However, if you’re not already an eCommerce aficionado, let’s quickly delve through its definition and advantages over classic stores.
eCommerce stands for “electronic commerce” and deals with all kinds of commercial transactions (mostly buying and selling products or services) conducted strictly over the internet. Ecommerce is now a standard by which almost all possible industries on the planet swear by, as it has proven to be extremely efficient in generating sales, and as the old physical shops become more and more impractical for plenty of companies.
The buying or selling experiences are replicated in online manners on all kinds of websites, which is made not only possible but much smoother, through eCommerce software that simulates real stores. Visitors add products to the shopping cart and visit the checkout when they’re ready to make their purchase. After payment and shipping information are entered during the checkout process, advanced and secure online payment gateways that integrate directly via eCommerce software are employed to allow the customer to safely pay for his desired products and services. That’s about it when it comes to eCommerce, and it should be noted that while 4 major types of online businesses exist, online stores are most of the time B2C.
- B2C – Business-to-Consumer – this model involves normal, day-to-day customers, browsing products and services and making direct purchases from a business. As it would seem, this is the most common eCommerce model.
- B2B – Business-to-Business – the eCommerce transactions in a B2B business environment take place directly between businesses. One company sells products or services to another company.
- C2C – Consumer-to-Consumer – C2C refers to customers selling products or services directly to other customers. It is also a common enough business model, but more often than not it does not require advanced eCommerce software.
- C2B – Consumer-to-Business – C2B involves normal consumers selling products or services to businesses.
eCommerce is a continuously growing domain, and as it grows, better tools for each and every of the 4 models above are being developed and perfected, with a careful eye for ease of use. With the proper eCommerce software (and with more of the powerful tools becoming free, such as the top eCommerce software, Reveal), virtually anyone nowadays can become a successful online store owner. However, before knowing what software you’ll be using, you need to know which kind of eCommerce store type you can employ. There are different eCommerce store setups able to accommodate the different business models listed above.
You’ll most likely be interested in the typical one, the online retail store, which empowers the most common eCommerce sites model, B2C (Business-To-Consumer), in which a single business sells products or services to their customer base. To be noted: online retail stores aren’t B2C exclusive, B2B businesses can also employ a similar online store with a dedicated website in order to sell to other businesses.
Other store types are the electronic marketplace, where sellers from all kinds of avenues (B2C, B2B, C2C) come together in order to attain the largest possible reach of possible customers (Amazon, for example).
Online auctions are the last type of online transactions, where you can meet providers and customers from the B2C, C2C, and even C2B areas (eBay, for example).
What are the Types of Ecommerce Software?
When it comes to types of eCommerce software, there are 2 main types of software categories. We will start with eCommerce platforms, as they are the most extensive types of software currently existing. eCommerce platforms include the complete array of features that are needed in order to create a fully-functioning eCommerce website. These features include shopping carts and efficient ways to add the desired products to it, and also a checkout process that can manage transactions so that your business can safely receive its due payment from your customers. The eCommerce software platform also usually integrates tools that are crucial for running and managing your business:
- Inventory management tools
- Various marketing metrics tools
- Search engine optimization tools
- Website building tools
As stated before, eCommerce being an ever-growing business domain, the development of multiple arrays of eCommerce solutions comes as no wonder. They are usually tailored exactly either for a specific size or for a specific business type. Regardless of their specific target, however, eCommerce software comes to online store shop owners in two major forms that help people that visit website convert:
- On-Premise (also called Self-Hosted): On-Premise eCommerce software refers to that software that is both installed and managed on-site by a fixed set of developers who are in complete control of the software system (both technically and when it comes to the hosting itself). These developers’ job is to make sure that all manual updates and problems fixes integrate seamlessly into the online store’s systems, and the way to do it is through manual general troubleshooting.
On-premise solutions are usually sought after by online store owners because they receive the advantage of increased flexibility. This type of software being Self-Hosted, you have complete control over it – but also have to worry about the constant maintenance in itself, and also about maintenance costs.
On-Premise software is eCommerce software that is purchased and downloaded from an external provider and will be installed on a web server. Self-Hosted translates as the business owner having to be able to supply their own eCommerce site web hosting, which yet again involves other costs. As such, Self-Hosted eCommerce platforms have gotten to the point where you often find them for free (or as open-source projects). However, they still tend to be more difficult to use and won’t always be reliable, due to possible security infringements that can take place.
- SaaS: Software as a Service (or Hosted): Saas eCommerce software solutions come as a counterbalance for the Self-Hosted software. As such, when it comes to needing to be able to resolve any possible technical or security issues, SaaS lets you breathe more easily.
The only requirements as a shop owner are taking care of customizing this Software package so that it fits your needs. You can do so by implementing additional specific designs or custom features. Updates, patches, and newly-released features are done automatically through SaaS eCommerce software. SaaS is a prepackaged bundle that includes all the priorities you have to separately pay for when using traditional On-Premise solutions: the software, the hosting, all backups, and tech support.
You do not have to download nor manage the SaaS software, as it is hosted externally on the service provider’s own web servers. As a store owner, the only thing you need is a computer with good internet and a modern browser. You can manage your online store by logging into it through a portal as you do with any other sites. i
Hosted eCommerce software is very advanced and allows you to focus as much as you wish on creating better customer experiences for your visitors. Customization and flexibility are all on the table, up for grabs, making SaaS solutions excellent and complete for almost any online retailer out there. And all this at a usually much lower cost than On-Premise software.
eCommerce has a plethora of benefits for any business out there and has created a great, positive change, in the way people do business worldwide.
With proper eCommerce software you can:
- Find a bigger customer base than in real stores
Well-managed eCommerce business online stores are the target of millions of people worldwide daily, unlike a classic physical store. There are no wrong neighborhoods on the internet! Also, you can keep a close eye on valuable data, such as customer purchase habits, your best sales months, or days, your most popular products, etc, which help with customer management.
- Increase your ability to segment and find a niche
Your target customers will have increased chances not only to visit your store but to visit website and convert if you pay attention to integrating proper segmentation software. Having online store advanced software helps to reach out to even the most obscure of niches and increasing your total revenue.
- Manage your business virtually from anywhere
All you need is a computer with internet access and the best software you can find in order to run your store from anywhere in the world. With some good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software integrations, you’ll be able to provide personalized customer service at any given moment, from any given space.
- Increase your customer convenience
There’s no difficulty in the online shopping experience, unlike the real world, where tens of possible and impossible conditions can hinder your customers. Your online store helped by advanced software, can create an army of regular internet shoppers.
- Have a truly Non-Stop store
Unlike real shops, and apart from scheduled maintenance times, online stores are up 24/7, every day of the year. Customers can shop at any point of the day, which increases your opportunity to make sales.
- Lower your total operating costs
An online store doesn’t need clerks or guardians, it doesn’t even pay heed to property expenses. It just needs great eCommerce software.
- Manage your inventory with automated systems
The use of eCommerce software has as a direct result the fact that ordering, payment, fulfillment, and restocking can be automated, cutting down on human error and labor costs.
What Does Ecommerce Software Do?
Now that we know what eCommerce software can do to enhance your business, let’s see HOW does it do it by checking out features of eCommerce software, both basic and advanced.
The basics of eCommerce software platforms for eCommerce sites include product listings, shopping carts, and payment processing, but almost all platforms of 2021 go far beyond these basics. Some for an extra fee, some for free. As such, knowing that not all platforms are (created) equal, let’s find out what we are looking for in a truly superior eCommerce software platform, both when it comes to implementing basic features in a better way, and in implementing more exotic ones.
- Product Pages
It’s simple enough when you think about it, yet many unsuccessful stores ignore it, even though it’s the core of online eCommerce: Product Pages. Each product should have its own dedicated page on your website, with clear product descriptions and fresh images.
Creating all kinds of pages for all of your products and services’ categories is the goal of any future-proof eCommerce software. Having your customers quickly find what they need is one of the major steps you can take towards improving conversion rates.
- A Shopping Cart
The shopping cart is where your customers gather their desired products. Basic functionality such as easily adding or removing products should be considered an absolute must, for a shopping cart software, not a boon for your customers. Any respected shopping cart software comes with such prebuilt features.
- The checkout Process
Sadly, you can have proper Categorization and Product pages, even a decent Shopping cart, but you can always win or lose customers during the checkout process. Good software helps you win most of these battles. No software or badly designed software won’t net you any additional profit.
With the basic features covered, let’s now move on to more advanced eCommerce software features.
- Inventory and Order Management Tools
A great online shop is always about transitional harmony. Both you and your customers should always, as soon as it is possible, know what your inventory state is. Inventory counts should generally decrease automatically on a purchase, no stock inquiry should be necessary. Reordering tools are also a must for the proper categorization of online sales.
- A Website Builder and/or a Content Management System
So you feel like you can sell more, but don’t yet understand how? Overhaul your online shop’s design using a powerful website builder! Design, brand, and build, with basic templates or with your own creative sweat in the middle of it.
- PCI-compliant Security
PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) is what any respected online store has to have in order to function properly on both ends. PCI DSS is compliance needed to accept and process credit and debit card payments.
- Reporting and Analytics
You don’t only want to function, you want to stay ahead of the rest, you want to sell more, and to do it safely and with respect towards your customers.
In order to do so, you have to pay heed to Reporting and Analytics. You have to know which of your products sell the most, why, and who buys them out of your customer database. You need to understand which of your marketing promotions paid the most and WHY. You need to take advantage of every piece of data you can. It will strengthen your online store by a great deal.
Must-Have eCommerce Software Tools
Google enhanced eCommerce reports
Under the Universal Analytics eCommerce umbrella, Google has also created special reports for eCommerce tracking. The first one is the standard eCommerce report (which allow you to measure transactions and analyze purchase activity on your site or app; there you can see, for example, product transaction information, the average value of an order, the conversion rate, how much time it takes for a customer to buy from you, and so on). The second one is the enhanced eCommerce report, which adds additional functionality to the standard ones, like the moment when customers added items to their carts, when they started the checkout process, and when they actually completed a purchase. Enhanced eCommerce tracking can also be used to identify the customer segments that fall out of the shopping funnel along the way, at one point or another.
Reveal by Omniconvert uses the same principle of simple data visualization but it takes it a bit further than the heatmaps offered by Hotjar. Reveal is a Customer Value Optimization platform that helps eCommerce businesses with automated insights into customers’ buying behavior, segmentation, NPS, and lifetime value. It aims to help eCommerce companies segment their customers in a better, more granular way, and gain insights for improved campaigns, higher ROI, and more repeat customers.
Reveal will deliver customer retention insights for your eCommerce business by providing you with automated customer reports based on your customers’ buying behavior. This translates into a clear overview of your customers and business, the ability to create better-targeted campaigns in the future, as well as the possibility to know exactly what to offer and to whom, to refine your assortments based on the NPS results, and to create more engaging loyalty programs.
Klaviyo is a marketing automation tool that uses forms, customer segmentation and personalization features to help you run more effective ads, e-mail and SMS campaigns.
As such, you can use it together with Reveal by exporting the profiles of your most valuable segments, and using them in Klaviyo to create better targeted and better converting marketing campaigns.
There is no “best software” for your business, each and every software piece shines in its own department, and each and every store is unique. As a whole, the most popular one is Shopify – but only because it’s a basic shop wireframe into which you can integrate countless other functionalities, through software such as Google Analytics or Reveal.
An eCommerce system is the suite of On-Premise or SaaS (Software as a Service) that helps you properly build your online business’s shop. Both types of eCommerce platforms come with advantages and disadvantages, as suggested in the article, and both can employ tracking software for useful data.
Any kind of On-Premise or SaaS (Software as a Service) eCommerce solutions are good as a starting point when you want to create an eCommerce site. Most offer basic functionality, but if you want a truly successful store, you have to be prepared to invest in advanced software in order to reap the rewards – and search for powerful free alternatives to enhance your store, such as Reveal.