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What is E‑commerce Software?

E‑commerce software makes it easy to sell products online from your website. Learn more about e‑commerce software and how it works in this guide.

E-commerce software is a stand-alone program or software suite that enables you to sell your products and services online. It allows you to streamline all of your processes from inventory to sales through the backend and makes it easy for a customer to buy from the front end, which is your website.

Software for e-commerce comes in different formats, each of which fits your needs and budget. The size of your business tends to dictate the type of e-commerce website software you choose, although this isn't an absolute. You can use Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service for your e-commerce, or you can use an on-premise platform that lets you control the software and server that's used to deliver your e-commerce website.

The cost of e-commerce software depends on the type of e-commerce business you're running, the software you choose, how much bandwidth your site consumes, and the functionality of the software. The more features you need means you can expect to pay more for software for e-commerce, but you can spend as little or as much as makes sense for your operation.

What are the different types of e-commerce software?

Software for e-commerce is available in three different types. Each type meets different operational needs and helps you automate sales. All of them enable you to learn how to build an e-commerce website, make landing pages, list your items for sale, and process payments as purchases are made.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

SaaS is a type of e-commerce website software that is hosted entirely off-site with the hosting and operations controlled by a third party. You buy a URL, pay a monthly hosting fee, and process payments through the provider's credit card services. In turn, you have the freedom to pick a customizable e-commerce template that you can easily alter to your liking and create listings for your products as long as they don't violate the host's terms of service. Access to the software is typically limited to the customer-facing front end and the business-facing back end.

This type of software for e-commerce is known as a WYSIWYG editor, or what you see is what you get. The e-commerce hosting platform has limits on the number of changes you can make to a template, and the amount of code you can change is also minimal. If you need more flexibility, you might benefit from platform-as-a-service software.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

PaaS is similar to the SaaS model in that the software is hosted in the cloud, but you're also given access to the physical hardware that runs the website. You get access to the software provided by the host, can use your own software, and gain access to developer tools, database management, servers and storage space, and different operating systems.

Running a website on PaaS is best suited for an organization that wants to write its own code for its website and have direct control of the data. This type of e-commerce website is more labor intensive in terms of building and operation, but it makes sense for an organization that needs full control without the cost of physical hardware.

On-premise platforms

An on-premise platform consists of the hardware and software hosted entirely on-site. The business has one or more servers in its physical location, hosts the software on the server, and uses an internet connection to connect the website to the world at large. This gives the business complete and total control over the operation of the website, but it does have to manage the hardware and internet connection to make sure that the website is always online and accessible to users. Going this route requires you to learn how to build an e-commerce website from scratch.

Why is e-commerce software important for your business?

E-commerce software is important for your business because it helps you expand your sales beyond brick-and-mortar. You can have a physical store or office and sell your products or services online through an e-commerce site to reach more buyers. E-commerce service also helps you gain access to selling and marketing tools that help raise awareness of your business.

  • Easily create an online business: It doesn't take a lot of time and effort to start a business online when using e-commerce software. The software has templates that help you with the layout and insertion of images and information.
  • Improve efficiency: You can track everything, including inventory, sales, process credit cards, and shipping through e-commerce software through simple data entry methods.
  • Boost revenue: An e-commerce website makes it easier for customers to find your business and buy from you. That means a wider customer base than you would otherwise have if you limited yourself to in-person sales.
  • Increase customer satisfaction: Customers enjoy the ability to make a purchase and track its shipping progress from your location to theirs. E-commerce software enables you to complete the purchase, make a shipping label, and supply it to the customer for their convenience.
  • Reacher broader audiences: You can reach more potential customers that are peripherally interested in what you sell. They can look around your e-commerce website and discover that you have goods that relate to their interests or needs. You can also use marketing CRM software with your e-commerce platform to learn more about your potential customer.
  • Save money and resources: E-commerce software has a host of features to help you manage your inventory, sales, and shipping. E-commerce time savers mean you spend less time tracking down your products, processing sales, and shipping out a sale.
  • Accept more payment options: Online stores are sometimes limited to accepting a couple of payments, and adding more can be difficult. Using e-commerce website software gives you access to more payment processing options with competitive processing fees to give customers more payment options, which can help drive sales.
  • Access to marketing tools: Marketing tools are built into the e-commerce website software and enable you to create email blasts to let people know about the latest news or sales. They also help you with SEO marketing to get your website to rank higher on search engines.

What are the key features of e-commerce software?

E-commerce software is designed to cover your needs to operate a successful business online. You get marketing tools and information at-a-glance and can download files for offline use, track your inventory, process payments, and provide up-to-date shipping information to the customer.

Marketing Tools

Marketing tools are designed to help you reach more customers as well as improve the customer experience. Basic marketing tools include the website builder, forms, landing pages, and a virtual assistant that provides suggestions. Other marketing tools you can employ through e-commerce website software include A/B testing, custom templates, dynamic content, and more.

Central database

The central database delivers all of your website data in an easy-to-read format. You can click through the selections to find out how many visitors have been on the site, what they're looking at, and which of your products are selling the strongest.

Website builder

The website builder gives you the tools you need to build a finished website that reflects you and what your business sells. You choose a design template that is in line with your products or offerings, then edit the layout and language until it looks the way you imagined it to be.

Automated checkout process

The automated checkout process means your customers can put their selection into a cart, select a shipping option, and make a payment with no effort on your end. All you have to do is make sure that the business information, shipping options, and accepted forms of payment are on the form. After the customer makes the purchase, you get the sales order alert on the backend for fulfillment.

Data analytics

With e-commerce software, you can easily analyze data and KPIs to see what your customers are doing when they're shopping on your website prior to buying. You get to see how the website is being used, what's looked at most frequently, products that sell well and when, and more. This information helps you tailor your offerings to increase sales.

How much does e-commerce software cost?

The cost of e-commerce software depends on what you need from your website. For example, someone who is just starting out with an e-commerce site needs software with robust features that are easy to understand and deploy but won't need a lot of bandwidth upfront. When a business gains traction and requires more resources, the website needs to scale up in response to the demand. With that said, the costs can go up as more features and control are needed. All of these aspects are figured into the cost of the e-commerce website software.

Mailchimp has e-commerce software that costs as little as $0 a month for businesses that are just starting out and charges reasonable transaction fees for payment processing. The costs scale with the options that you need and are affordable for an e-commerce business that's growing. All plans come with free marketing tools built into the software to help you get your business noticed and paid marketing plans for in-depth campaigns. You can review Mailchimp’s pricing to find a plan that works best for you and your business.

Find the right e-commerce software for you

E-commerce software needs to meet your needs and make it easy for you to get your business started and growing. The same goes for an established business that's not getting its needs met by its e-commerce website software provider. Mailchimp's e-commerce software enables you to get your e-commerce site up and running quickly, won't confuse you as you learn how to use the backend and design your front end, and supports you from the moment you start to the moment your site goes live.

Mailchimp's e-commerce options are designed to make it easy for you to operate all aspects of your e-commerce business. In turn, you spend less time trying to figure out how to make your website and have more time to devote to product development, marketing, and processing your sales.

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