eCommerce software is a comprehensive solution designed to facilitate every aspect of running an online business, from adding/removing various products to payment processing and calculating taxes.
eCommerce software solutions, in general, are valuable tools for any eCommerce store or retail business, regardless of their size and scale. This type of software is similar to other business process management systems, only it focuses on the core aspects of managing an eCommerce business, a digital retail shop or online store, whatever you want to call it. Basically, if you’re an entrepreneur and are selling online, you’re going to need some type of eCommerce software to help you manage everyday tasks and other important processes. Additionally, you might also need some type of website builder to help you design and create your online storefront as well as a few marketing tools to allow you to conduct search engine optimization (SEO) and other marketing campaigns to bring traffic to your site.
However, not all eCommerce platforms are created equal. While most eCommerce software solutions in the market are capable of serving businesses of various scales, there are specific factors that may prevent small business owners from subscribing to a software product that primarily caters to mid-market and large global retail businesses. One of these factors is obviously the cost, both the initial cost of acquiring the software and the overall cost of ownership. Most enterprise-level eCommerce software plans start at a relatively higher price range, which can immediately put off smaller businesses and startups. But there are also vendors that offer a free plan designed to entice more clients and to give eCommerce businesses will limited budgets the opportunity to try out the software through a limited free trial.
eCommerce solutions come in many different shapes and sizes. Software products that are classified in the eCommerce software category are quite similar in most key aspects and they facilitate many of the core processes and tasks of eCommerce businesses, regardless of size and scale. The main differences in enterprise-grade eCommerce solution and eCommerce software for small business are found in the pricing, the provided features, the setup and the installation process.
The right eCommerce software solution is the main enabler of growth and success for any small business owner in the eCommerce industry. Today, with the help of small business eCommerce software, just about any brick-and-mortar store owner can seamlessly take their business online and start serving a much broader audience. The choice of serving local, national and/or international customers is still up to the business owner, but their digital commerce platform is equipped to facilitate a global eCommerce business if and when they decide to cater to the international market.
Just like most conventional eCommerce platforms, eCommerce software for small business often has a user-friendly interface so even first-time users won’t have any problem operating the software and managing some of the more intricate processes of their online business. But despite its user-friendly design, this type of software is in fact a sophisticated and multifaceted solution that caters to small businesses and startups. Even free eCommerce solutions that are aimed at small online stores and eCommerce operations are capable of integrating with third-party systems like accounting, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and point-of-sale (POS), depending on the product and the vendor.
eCommerce software for small business also has the capacity to integrate with various payment gateways, social media networks, websites and platforms, leveraging them for data sharing as well as to convert them into viable sales channels. The fact of the matter is, small business owners need a good eCommerce solution that can simplify the process of running an online store and allows them to implement all the complex eCommerce functionalities without having to rely on experienced programmers or professional coders.
Just like with mid-market and enterprise-grade eCommerce solutions, small business eCommerce software also comes with several key features that small business owners might need to manage their operation at scale. One of these features is inventory management. Even if you’re opting for a plan that’s free forever, it has to have some basic inventory management function. If you’re running a small online store, you’re not going to require an inventory management system with all the bells and whistles. A simple tool that can track stock levels in real time should be more than enough.
A drag-and-drop page editor is another great feature that you should expect from eCommerce software for small business. Any software that utilizes drag-and-drop functionality values ease-of-use and is often designed with a user-first approach. eCommerce is a complex business and the last thing you want is an eCommerce platform and a page editor that is difficult to use and implement. This is a problem, especially if you don’t have any coding experience. A drag-and-drop page editor makes the process of creating new pages that much easier and more convenient, especially for small business owners who don’t have the resources or the budget to hire professional coders and web designers.
The ability to customize checkout is also a good feature to have even in a small business eCommerce software solution. Online checkouts are crucial to any eCommerce business. So much so that one of the leading causes of abandoned shopping carts in the eCommerce industry is in fact poor or difficult checkout experience. In order to minimize or completely avoid any complications that are associated with the checkout process, you want an eCommerce platform that supports checkout customization, allowing you to customize every step of the customer’s checkout process.
SSL protection and other security solutions are important features, even for small businesses and startups. Good eCommerce software for small business will provide some level of security, even if it’s not as robust or as sophisticated as the enterprise-grade eCommerce platform. Secure Sockets Layer or SSL certificate is a good layer of protection that can help secure any eCommerce website, which often handles all kinds of sensitive information such as customer contact details and payment data.
Implementing the right eCommerce software for small business offers a number of benefits that you may not even realize are possible. One of the biggest and most obvious benefits is the reduced cost. If you’re managing a small online store, then you may not even be able to afford a premium eCommerce solution. Fortunately, there are free eCommerce tools available that can still facilitate most of your key processes. There are also open-source and software-as-a-service solutions that are quite affordable, depending on where you look.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) eCommerce solutions are cloud-based solutions that often follow a subscription-based pricing model. This category of software products is typically aimed at small and midsize businesses (SMBs), although some may also serve larger eCommerce brands and enterprises. As a subscription-based service, there are often a few subscription options available that ranges from the cheapest to the most expensive pricing plan. The cheapest or the lowest tier in some cases is sometimes free, which is good news for those with a limited budget.
Open-source eCommerce solutions, on the other hand, are available either for free or at a premium cost, depending on the developer and/or the vendor. Free and open-source eCommerce software for small business comes with a lot of positives. For one, it’s free and fully customizable with the support of the open source community. This is a good option for small business owners that know a little coding or know someone who can do code to help customize the platform to meet their unique requirements. For users with no coding experience, they can always go to the community to find assistance.
Good eCommerce platforms for small businesses can also provide you with a certain level of customer insights. eCommerce software is not just about providing features for inventory management, POS integration or shipping options. There are plenty of small business eCommerce solutions that provide marketing tools and CRM capabilities. It is through these functions that you will be able to gain valuable insights into your target audience, insights that you can leverage in order to deliver a better shopping experience for your customers.
The right eCommerce software for small business also lets you sell your products and/or services around the clock, even while you sleep. One of the biggest advantages of taking your brick-and-mortar business to the realm of digital commerce is that you never have to throw away any opportunity to make a sale. Your eCommerce business will be open 24/7 and it will not be relying on working hours to make sales.
Customers can browse your product catalog using a mobile app, add the items they need to their shopping cart and proceed to checkout while you’re in bed sleeping. The system will automatically manage the transaction process and leave a notification, which you can view once you wake up.
eCommerce software is a critical tool for managing an eCommerce business, regardless of the size and scale. But if you’re a small business owner looking to maximize your sales by diversifying your operation to the digital realm, then you might want the right solution that can match your requirements without the added cost. This is where eCommerce software for small business can make a difference. Some of this type of software is available for free through free trials or a free plan, while others are reasonably priced to match the budget of most small businesses and startups.