As of 2020, eCommerce is a massive industry worth $4.28 trillion worldwide, as per Statista. With that said, it’s imperative for businesses large and small to have their eCommerce website if they want any chance of succeeding in today’s competitive market.
Online shopping is taking over. People have become so used to being able to shop from their phones than going back seems impossible. Plus, eCommerce stores have a lot of benefits that traditional stores just can’t beat: Customers can get items delivered right to their door without having to get in a car and drive anywhere.
They can also conveniently purchase from just about anywhere – meaning they don’t have any limitations on how or when they want their item. 61% of shoppers say convenience is a factor when deciding which retailer to buy online, says Fairy.
But, aside from having consumers at your fingertips with ease and accessibility, eCommerce also allows you to access some new data on how customers interact with your brand.
Here’s what Statista says about the three leading reasons behind online shopping:
- 24/7 Store Accessibility – 56%
- More Convenient – 50%
- Cheaper Rates – 49%
If you’re looking to start an eCommerce website or online store, the chances are good that you’ve already looked into various retail eCommerce software solutions available on the market today.
However, many of these solutions can be cost-prohibitive, and others may not offer all the features you want to use in your store. With this ultimate guide to eCommerce software development, you’ll learn everything from what types of features to look for when shopping around to how much software development costs can run you when you need it done from scratch.
What is Ecommerce Software Development?
The term eCommerce was coined in 1972, and it has steadily gained popularity as a buzzword ever since. Today, we understand it as an umbrella term covering all online selling and buying, including everything from selling physical products to delivering digital services.
There are no hard and fast rules for custom eCommerce solutions. Still, some significant trends are emerging that you should be aware of if you plan on pursuing or investing in an eCommerce business model.
There are diverse ways to earn money online, and the most obvious ones include selling physical goods and digital downloads. You can also make a healthy profit from your website by promoting affiliate products, which pay you a commission for every sale you send their way.
Or, if you’re interested in starting your own online business, check out some online business ideas here.
Types of eCommerce Businesses or Major eCommerce Business Models:
Business-to-Business (B2B): B2B eCommerce, or business-to-business, is a type of eCommerce in which a business sells goods and services directly to other companies. If you own a shop specializing in selling a particular brand of phone accessories, for example, your customers will be other companies and not end-users.
You can sell your products in person or online—sometimes both—but you’ll often need permission from your manufacturer before doing so. Business-to-business operations can be very sophisticated, especially when they involve international trade.
In addition to helping businesses manage their supply chains and expand into new markets, B2B eCommerce also lets them collaborate on projects and create unified customer experiences across multiple channels.
Business-to-Consumer (B2C): In a B2C company, a single company sells its products directly to consumers. If you own an online shop that primarily sells phone accessories, your customers will be end-users rather than other businesses.
Although some companies sell both B2B and B2C goods, most focus on one or the other. It’s also possible for a single eCommerce site to sell multiple kinds of products from different manufacturers under different brands. This could allow your store, for example, to carry iPad cases from Apple, and Kindle covers from Amazon.
Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C): C2C companies exist exclusively online, and allow individuals to buy and sell goods among each other. Companies like eBay, Etsy, and Craigslist are all C2C eCommerce sites. Trading on a C2C site can be an excellent way for individual entrepreneurs and small businesses to get exposure.
Many of these sites have built-in customer bases, which means you can more easily reach an audience without spending money on marketing. But, there are also downsides, such as low-profit margins from having many middlemen between you and your customers.
Consumer-to-Business (C2B): Companies such as Yelp or TripAdvisor are prominent C2B service providers. They sell the amount of personal data harvested to target advertising clients to other enterprises. To succeed in such a large market, companies will need new eCommerce software capable of handling large transactions or databases.
Business-to-Administration (B2A): This involves transactions between companies and public administration. There are various ways of delivering products and services: finance, transport, logistics, information technology, etc. With B2A eCommerce, businesses can skip typical retailer or reseller processes and directly connect with their supplier(s) for purchases. This gives businesses more freedom in purchasing, cutting out middlemen such as wholesalers or retailers.
Consumer-to-Administration (C2A): This involves business transactions between government agencies and local consumers or the general public. Common examples of C2A include distance learning from government organizations, availing of health services, etc.
The future is bright for eCommerce and software developers—but there’s work ahead. Here’s what you must decide before trying to build your software:
Should you go for an eCommerce Mobile App, Web App, or PWA?
There’s no right or wrong answer, but for many businesses, one or two of these three eCommerce software development models will be better than others for various reasons. Each model offers a slightly different set of benefits and drawbacks, so let’s look at them each in turn:
eCommerce Mobile Apps: For most retail companies, a mobile app will provide more value than a website or a web app because it allows users to access content while on the go. For example, you can check out your favorite clothing brands’ Instagram accounts directly from your phone’s browser.
However, building and maintaining an app requires resources that many businesses don’t have time for – even large corporations like Amazon build their apps in-house rather than outsourcing them to third parties. This means that while mobile apps are an excellent option for some companies, they may not be suitable for others.
Web Apps: Unlike with eCommerce mobile apps, you require less effort and a low budget to create one of these. No barriers prevent even non-technical users from completing an interactive storefront for their business with a web app.
This means that although they might not be as robust as mobile apps, they can be more accessible and cost-effective. It is especially true for certain businesses that aren’t tech-savvy or require specialized functionality (like ultra-high security) that you couldn’t possibly include in a mobile app.
PWAs (Progressive Web Apps): PWAs are upgraded versions of web apps. They combine elements of both websites and applications into something new. They take many of the web apps’ benefits and gain many benefits inherent to natively built software like user engagement, speed, design implementation flexibility, etc.
One of their most significant benefits is that they’re search engine friendly. PWAs offer more features than their mobile app or website equivalents while still being considerably cheaper than traditional eCommerce software development.
However, some may find that some PWA’s might not have all of their desired features provided by other systems mentioned above. Although it seems ideal for every business out there, not everyone can leverage its advantages due to budget constraints or lack of expertise in dealing with PWAs.
eCommerce Software Development Process:
Phase-1: Requirement Analysis
Investigate your needs, what you’re looking to achieve, and how much you’re willing to spend. And, don’t forget about return on investment (ROI) either.
It is possible that even if all other factors are identical between two different eCommerce solutions, one might be able to provide better ROI than another. If you need it, make sure it’s part of your decision-making process.
Ask yourself the following questions under the requirement analysis stage:
- What is my development budget?
- What is my time frame?
- What are my goals and objectives?
- How do I plan to measure success once the application gets deployed?
Who will be responsible for staff training and ongoing support throughout the user adoption period of the new system? There are many more questions that you should ask, but these five will help you get started.
Phase-2: Platform Selection: Magento/WooCommerce/Shopify
When it comes to eCommerce, establishing your online storefront is just as important as creating an enticing brand identity. If you’re serious about eCommerce, you’ll want to develop a portal that includes a dynamic website with a database backend, enabling streamlined operations and efficient inventory management.
When it comes to platform selection, there are two main approaches: custom development or off-the-shelf solutions. To enhance usability and maintain flexibility over time, many e-tailers opt for retail software development companies.
With flexibility in mind, off-the-shelf solutions provide a more straightforward setup, but typically lack customization options—and will often require ongoing maintenance fees throughout the operation.
Magento: Magento is a renowned open-source eCommerce platform, with its roots in modern and traditional eCommerce. It’s an agile, intuitive solution with a strong reputation for professional-grade functionality.
By combining deep product catalog options with flexible site design, Magento offers merchants powerful tools to create unique shopping experiences for their customers. Plus, many brands use Magento as a base for custom application development.
WooCommerce: The WooCommerce plugin allows you to create an online store through WordPress. You can hire a WordPress developer to set up and customize the plugin to suit your business needs. Additionally , you can also use WooCommerce with other blogging platforms like Tumblr and SquareSpace.
The WooCommerce plugin is free, but it comes with some limitations that get lifted with paid premium themes. This open-source eCommerce solution is best for small businesses that are just getting started or don’t have a lot of time to invest in setting up their website.
Shopify: This is one of many different eCommerce platforms available on the market. It makes sense that you might be wondering which software package you should use to get your business online! Shopify is known for its quality design, easy setup, and powerful backend management.
It lets businesses focus on what they do best while still giving their customers an excellent experience. These benefits make Shopify a superb option for just about any kind of retailer or e-tailer, but there are some situations where other solutions may be ideal.
Choosing between them can be tricky, but the following table will help you make an informed decision:
Phase-3: Build the Software
This section is all about choosing a compatible eCommerce theme, and starting with the customization of the ready-made eCommerce platform to suit your target audience and business products. For high-end customization, you will need to connect with a reputable eCommerce development company that offers reliable services at your decided budget.
Your goal in development is to launch a minimum viable product (MVP) so that you can start collecting feedback from actual customers and testing pricing strategies before spending too much money on unnecessary features or marketing gimmicks. The sooner you have something out there, the more time you’ll have for iteration and improvement while learning from accurate data.
Phase-4: Testing & Debugging
When testing your eCommerce software, be sure to focus on two key areas: functionality and user experience. While both are important, focus on user experience because it’s what will drive conversion.
An otherwise flawless shopping cart could be disastrous if users can’t navigate it quickly or if elements look ugly or out of place. Your checkout form is an especially critical element—many buyers abandon carts before reaching that point in their purchasing process, so make sure to dedicate plenty of time to make it work flawlessly.
Phase-5: Launch the Portal
The initial development process takes six to eight weeks, but you can launch daily or weekly updates with ease after that. The last step is to optimize your design and product content based on what customers want in order to maximize revenue.
A successful portal will be updated multiple times per week—not just monthly or quarterly—so make sure your eCommerce developers can handle that workflow before they start building your new website.
eCommerce software development focuses on taking a store from its conceptual stages to a point where it can handle millions of customers buying millions of different products through that one central storefront.
That centralized location from which every aspect of managing inventory, prices, shipping costs, customer service inquiries, etc. can be collected from an easy-to-use dashboard.
The challenge for any online retailer is figuring out how best to accomplish all of it as well as ensuring that each gets executed correctly.
Question: Who are the five largest eCommerce companies in the world?
Answer: The answer is obvious. Have a look at the table below:
Question: What is the failure rate of eCommerce?
Answer: Research claims the eCommerce failure rate is as high as 97%.
Question: What are the top eCommerce platforms in the United States?
Answer: As per Statista, the top online stores in the United States in 2020 by eCommerce net sales include the following:
- Amazon.com – 112,477 Million USD
- Walmart.com – 41,114 Million USD
- Bestbuy.com – 18, 674 Million USD
- Homedepot.com – 16, 914 Million USD
- Target.com – 16, 225 Million USD
- Apple.com – 14, 154 Million USD
- Wayfair.com – 9,921 Million USD
- Lowes.com – 7,435 Million USD
- Kroger.com – 7,211 Million USD
- Chewy.com – 7, 146 Million USD