Ecommerce software is the engine behind the scenes of an online store, making it possible to easily manage inventory, add or remove products, calculate taxes, and everything else required to manage a website and fulfill orders.

Ecommerce software simplifies intricate processes in a friendly user interface that enables people non-technical backgrounds to oversee an entire ecommerce operation. Despite the ease of use that ecommerce software brings to an online business, it is a multifaceted and complex machine.

Types of Ecommerce Software

Ecommerce software comes in two basic flavors, with many varieties of each:

On-Premise: Installed and managed on-site by developers who facilitate manual updates, fix problems and do general troubleshooting. Traditionally, merchants went with on-premise solutions due to the increased flexibility from hosted solutions.

SaaS: Software as a Service (or "hosted") solutions are much more hands-off from a technical standpoint. The only development requirements are for additional design and custom features — all updates, patches, and newly-released features are done automatically or with one-click integrations. Hosted ecommerce software has evolved to the point where the customization and flexibility, previously exclusive to on-premise, is robust, making it more than sufficient for most online retailers. Ecommerce stores using SaaS software can be launched in 1/3 of the time and at a much lower cost than on-premise solutions.

What does Ecommerce software do?

The purpose of ecommerce software is to put everything you need to run your store in one place. While the platform itself doesn't fulfill every task, integrations with leading providers make it possible to seamlessly run a business without jockeying between different services. Accounting software, ERP, 3PL, social media — such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest — and much more can be linked to ecommerce software so data sharing is not manual.

Ecommerce software:

Simplifies marketing: Built-in SEO and easy optimization allow online stores to rank higher in organic search engines such as Google for increased discovery and lower customer acquisition costs.

Automates shipping and taxes: Printing shipping labels, calculating sales taxes based on customer location, and sending notification emails to customers.

Manage products: From SKUs and variations (size, color, quantity) to product names and images, ecommerce software allows an online store manager to get a high-level view or drill down to the specifics without any technical knowledge required.

Customer & order management: Managing an order from inception to delivery is crucial to the success of any business. Ecommerce software lets you filter by customer, check order status, and make changes on the fly. Integrations with email platforms such as Mailchimp provide another medium for managing customer communications.

Enhance overall user experience: If customers can't find what they need — and fast — then ecommerce software hasn't done it's job. Hosted solutions offer service-level agreements to guarantee uptime, and simple website management with analytic insights help you find optimization opportunities.

Brick-and-mortar businesses moving online

Physical storefronts are not an alternative to online businesses: in fact, they can enhance each other. An online presence greatly expands a business' reach and brand awareness, opening up sales to the entire web (as opposed to nearby customers only). Ecommerce is estimated to comprise 10% of the economy in 2015, with predicted growth of 44% by 2019. Many physical stores are adopting ecommerce due to the the ability to reach more people and expand their brand across all channels. They can now display, solicit and ship their products or services to the end-user, or the customer who bought what they're selling.

Learn how ecommerce software from Bigcommerce is revolutionizing online retailing.

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