Are you a seasoned developer finding it hard to explain what a shopping cart solution is to your clients? Or a future online merchant researching ecommerce software options for your store? Regardless of why you’re asking yourself “What is an ecommerce software?”, today’s blog post should give you a clear answer to your question.
Ecommerce software--also called a shopping cart solution, shopping cart software, ecommerce website builder, online store builder or ecommerce platform--has one purpose:
To help you sell products online.
A shopping cart solution’s core functions are to manage three areas critical to running a successful online shop:
Let’s explore how ecommerce software helps you manage each of these areas.
Before you can sell online, you need to determine what you’re going to sell – in other words, your products. They can be physical products, such as shirts or computers, or they can be digital products, like music or themes. Whatever you decide to sell, you’ll need a product catalog to manage it all. Your catalog helps you store the following information about your products:
- Quantity in Stock
In addition to the basic information, your product catalog can also include advanced features like:
- Product Attributes like size and color – offer customers further options
- Associated Products – bundle complementary products to prompt sales
- Reference Numbers – organize your products
- Product Categories – group products into categories to improve shopper experience
- Product Customization – customize the product with personal images or text
- SEO (Friendly URL’s, Meta Tags) – help potential customers find your product
- Coupons and Discounts – give customers incentives to make the purchase
Now that you can display your products, your customers can shop for them. This is where the ordering system comes into play. It allows customers to add items to their cart, calculates the total price and captures information necessary to process the order. Some of the information captured during the order process includes:
- Product(s) Purchased
- Fees associated with the order (shipping)
- Shipping Addresses
- Billing Address
- Payment Method
- Integration with payment processors – allows you to accept payment to complete purchases on the spot.
- Integration with a shipping solution – syncs order information with a shipping solution to seamlessly process orders
Order System & Product Catalog The order system’s job is not complete once an order is placed. The order system then deducts the number of products sold from your inventory so that your product catalog reflects the correct number of products available for sale.
The last piece of a shopping cart solution is customer management. The merchant-customer relationship shouldn’t end when an order is complete. While you hope that customers come back for a repeat purchase, sometimes that relationship requires handling their requests for exchanges or returns. These don’t have to be entirely negative experiences; you can turn them into opportunities for demonstrating your excellent customer service. So, a shopping cart software should also help manage customers by collecting and storing the following information:
- Customer Name
- Contact Info (Email or Phone)
- Shipping Address
- Order History
Other helpful information to have include:
- Billing Address – to expedite the reorder and refund process
- Birthday – for birthday marketing and age verification
- Order History by Product – to better understand which products they love
- Registration Date – to know how long they’ve been customers
- Contact History – to be aware of previous customer interaction
The rise in the number of online merchants has prompted an increase in the number of shopping cart solutions on the market competing for their attention. But PrestaShop is proud to be the only one with a community of over 700,000 people across the world contributing to its continued development. An open source software, our community on GitHub has helped add over 300 features to our solution. For an updated list of our newest features check out our latest major software release. Visit our website to explore more of our features or jump right in and take our demo for a test drive. Have more questions about the basics of a shopping cart software? Fire away in the comments below!