Posted: 12/23/2010

What Is eCommerce Software?

Businesses of all sizes now recognize the need to not only be visible on the World Wide Web, but also offer their products and services to customers through a secure online portal. No matter if a company sells purely business to consumer (B2C), business to business (B2B) or a mix of both, the right electronic commerce software platform makes any transaction straightforward and safe but what exactly is ecommerce software?

Often, the term eCommerce software is used interchangeably with the term "shopping cart software" as it provides site visitors the ability to browse products or services and those they like to a virtual "cart" or "basket". Using eCommerce software, a business can prompt users to create an account, which will then record purchase histories as well as keep track of any items in the virtual basket but not purchased. Once a customer is ready to make a purchase, an eCommerce solution ensures that transactions are not only quick but secure, and provide receipts both to the business and the consumer for their records.

Significant growth of online shopping and the eCommerce model came in the late 1990s, along with development of the first sophisticated eCommerce software models. Today, a wide variety of solutions exist for businesses to choose from when they decide to create an online store options exist for enterprise-level corporations, small business and everything in between.

In order to provide eCommerce software, vendors are required to uphold a number of standards, most importantly the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard. This standard is continually fine-tuned by major players in the financial industry such as Visa, American Express and MasterCard, who define best practices for transmission and reception of sensitive data online. Any eCommerce provider that is not PCI compliant will be unable to process major credit card transactions and may present a serious security risk. In addition, some companies such as Visa also require that online merchants use only software from their list of validated service providers.

A slick and shiny online presence isn't enough companies need to offer products and services through a secure portal in order to compete in the world of Internet commerce. When provided by a secure, PCI-compliant vendor, eCommerce software not only lets a company offer simple shopping solutions that include order histories, address storage and a variety of shipping options, but also protection of customer credit card data. In addition, many eCommerce solutions give companies the power of customizable design elements along with marketing tools to track how the site performs over time. No matter the business, no matter the product, the right eCommerce software can make all the difference between profit and loss.

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