The foundation of any online store is its e-commerce software. This software shapes every minute of your visitors’ experiences, from browsing to checkout. For this reason, it is imperative to choose the best e-commerce software for your business.
There are many e-commerce software programs to choose from, which is both good and bad for you: good because more choices make it more likely you’ll find what you’re looking for, and bad because there are actually too many for you to compare all of them. Fortunately, you don’t need to compare all of the available software in order to ensure your business gets a top quality website — you just need to know what features are the most important to look for.
Here are several important features to look for in e-commerce software.
Easy Item and Category Setup
E-commerce software ranges from simple shopping cart or payment options, to software that can practically build your entire website for you. Features such as formulated listings, picture resizing, and the ability to copy listings into multiple categories make it simple to set up an online store.
Another nice feature that some e-commerce software offers is the ability to import listings from your existing store into the new program. For example, Network Solutions offers online store software that allows users to choose how they prefer to upload their store listings — from an existing store, or from an Excel spreadsheet, for example.
The Ability to Customize
Even thought you want the ability to easily upload your store’s contents, what you don’t want is for your store to look like everybody else’s. Good e-commerce software should give you the ability to customize your website so that it looks uniquely yours.
Different software packages may offer this in different ways. For instance, Network Solutions offers online store software with different templates to choose from, allowing you to tweak the way your website looks. However, even better are e-commerce software options that offer full customization as one of their features. For example, AspDotNetStorefront.com allows you to design fully customized “skins” for your online storefront.
One of the most popular features of online stores today is the ability for customers to set up their own accounts. On many websites, these accounts can be set up to remember payment and billing information, remember preferences, and even allow customers to opt in or out of promotional mailing lists.
Good e-commerce software should provide you with a variety of options for managing your customers’ accounts. For instances, you might choose to store credit card information to make it easier for returning customers to check out — or you might choose not to store sensitive payment information, to protect your customers in case your website gets hacked. With online store software such as aspdotnetstorefront.com, you have the ability to choose settings such as this for your customers’ accounts.
Something else that you should consider when looking at “My Account” capabilities is the ability to personalize customers’ accounts. For instance, when a customer logs into Amazon.com, the front page of the website displays suggestions for them based on their past purchases and recently viewed items. Likewise, customers who opt in to the mailing list often receive emails based on their shopping preferences. This type of personalization tends to be very successful at encouraging repeat customers, so online store software that offers these options is literally worth its weight in gold.
Good e-commerce software has the ability to not only calculate the order total and taxes, but also the correct shipping and handling on the order. Ideally, you should be able to choose from several different ways to determine shipping. For instance, some online stores prefer to price shipping according to the order total, whereas other sellers charge actual shipping rates based on the weight of the items purchased. Additionally, you may want to be able to offer customers the ability to choose between several different shipping options, such as USPS Parcel Post, USPS Priority, and UPS Ground.
Another important feature of some e-commerce software is the ability to interface with USPS, UPS, and FedEx. One benefit is that your customers will always automatically be charged correct shipping rates. This feature can also save you considerable time and effort: For instance, EarlyImpact.com’s ProductCart even prints shipping labels for the seller automatically.
It’s important for any successful online store these days to have a way to accept credit cards on their own, but since alternative payment options such as PayPal and Google Checkout are growing in popularity, it is also important to offer these choices to your customers.
Both PayPal and Google Checkout can walk you through manually setting up these options on your website, but the process is time consuming at best, if not confusing as well. Good e-commerce software should allow you to integrate these payment options quickly and easily. For instance, asp AspDotNetStorefront.com’s e-commerce software supports more than a dozen different payment gateways.
The Best E-Commerce Software
Not every online store software program is created equal — but for that matter, nor is every online store. The point is that just as online stores differ from one another, so do their owners’ needs. No one recommendation of e-commerce software is necessarily the best choice for you. The best bet for any owner of an online store is to review their choices carefully in order to find the best e-commerce software for their business’s needs.
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