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Choosing Ecommerce Software for Your Small Business

Small Business Technology Tip - Dave Pelland
Dave Pelland Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

Choosing Ecommerce Software for Your Small Business

Choosing Ecommerce Software for Your Small Business

One of the most important choices for a small business that sells products online is the ecommerce software that’s going to power their sales, fulfillment, and inventory.

Offering far more than an online shopping cart, ecommerce software is designed to handle the nuts and bolts of displaying products on websites, managing inventory, and processing payments. While these are basic operations, some ecommerce platforms offer integrations with customer and financial management software to serve together as key components to your company’s online infrastructure.

In addition to powerful features, ecommerce software is designed to be relatively easy for business owners to use. Cloud-based, hosted ecommerce platforms depend on drag-and-drop editing and easily customized templates so even the smallest of businesses can operate online stores without any software coding, and can get those stores up and running quickly.

Choosing a cloud-based ecommerce software package allows you to focus on your company and your products, while the service takes care of the technical features such as product management, security, web hosting, and payment card compliance.

Popular ecommerce platform choices for small businesses include Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion and others. Some are completely hosted, while others depend on integration with an existing WordPress site.

Important Features

Some key features to look for as you compare ecommerce packages:

  • Easy website construction and editing tools, with user-friendly and attractive site themes and the ability to add or remove products easily
  • Integrations with other tools you use, such as email marketing, customer management and your financial platform
  • Product listings that make it easy to add text and images
  • Mobile optimization so customers can shop on their devices
  • A robust shopping cart that makes order processing and payment collection smooth for the customer
  • Accurate shipment information, including the ability to generate packing slips and shipping labels
  • Easy inventory management, including alerts if stock is low on a specific item
  • The ability to add promotions and discounts
  • Marketing tools, such as the ability to send email newsletters to return customers

You should look for services that offer an abandoned shopping cart recovery tool. If a customer closes a browser window before completing a transaction, and the software has captured his or her email address, he or she will get a notification with a link that will allow them to finish this purchase.

This feature can help reluctant customers commit to a purchase, or can help someone who interrupted a transaction for an unrelated reason (such as their browser crashing or getting a phone call).

Another popular feature is the ability to sell merchandise on social media platforms such as eBay, Facebook, Instagram and others. Most ecommerce platforms will enable you to integrate sales and inventory on different platforms, making it easy to promote your products on a variety of sites while maintaining a centralized inventory and order management system.

Cloud-based ecommerce platforms are offered on a subscription basis, with prices generally starting at under $30 monthly for basic features and increasing based on the number of advanced features and the volume of products you want to offer.

As with most technology purchases, it makes sense to start small and experiment as you get comfortable using the software. One of the advantages of cloud-based services is you can scale your plans to meet your needs today while leaving room for future growth and success.

Read other business articles by Dave

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