Boost your business with the right e-commerce solution

The e-commerce industry is growing exponentially. Learn what e-commerce has to offer your business and how to choose a software solution that meets your needs.


E-commerce lets people and companies buy and sell products in online stores and makes the process more efficient and flexible than ever before. And that makes it extremely popular among consumers.

According to Statista: "As internet access and adoption are rapidly increasing worldwide, the number of digital buyers keeps climbing every year. In 2020, over two billion people purchased goods or services online, and during the same year, e-retail sales surpassed 4.2 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide." Statista also tells us that, "in 2021, e-commerce accounted for an estimated 19.6 percent of retail sales worldwide. Forecasts indicate that by 2025, the online segment would make up close to a quarter of total global retail sales."

E-commerce solutions can be used by both retailers and B2B manufacturers to bring their products to a wider market in a variety of ways.

E-commerce in retail

In the last decades, and especially in the last few years, the world of commerce has changed. The days when people browsed through a phone book to find a supplier for a specific product are long gone. They now go online to search for the best bargain among a multitude of suppliers. Even small businesses need an online presence to be modern, up-to-date, and to compete in the global marketplace.

And although the days of brick-and-mortar retail are not over, consumers have come to expect more from them when it comes to convenience and customer service. They expect to get what they want, when they want it, at the lowest possible price. They might even price-check on a mobile device while shopping in physical stores.

Retailers need to keep up if they want to succeed, and many have turned to flexible and convenient solutions to give customers seamless shopping experiences. For example, customers now often have the opportunity to place orders online and pick them up in the store or have it delivered to their home. If a product is out of stock in their local store, they can order it online and have it delivered. These kinds of digital services, and more, have come to be expected as standard by consumers, and can be a deciding factor whether a potential customer will finalize a purchase.

B2B e-commerce

E-commerce is also revolutionizing the B2B industry. Not long ago, manufacturers would send their sales team out to meet customers in person, pitch them on new products, and take their orders. Retailers would place their orders via email (or even fax in an order form), which their sales rep would have to input into the order system.

E-commerce solutions have made B2B sales far more efficient. Now, customers can go to a manufacturer's website any time of the day or night, see the current specials and new products, and place an order that is input instantly. Purchasing agents need to be efficient - they have no time to waste on inefficient ordering and checkout processes. A modern e-commerce solution is key for any manufacturer who wants to succeed in today's marketplace.

What is e-commerce software?

E-commerce software allows people and businesses to build an online shop. For it to work, any online store needs to make it possible for customers to carry out a few basic actions:

  • View product descriptions, images and pricing
  • Put items in a virtual "shopping cart"
  • Complete a checkout process by entering their address and payment information

The software also needs to transmit the order information to the seller so they can process and fulfill the order. To make all of that happen, e-commerce software includes a number of features and functions.

Features of an e-commerce software solution

An e-commerce software will typically include the following features:

  • Website builder: The e-commerce solutions that most SMEs use normally include templates that help sellers build their storefront quickly and easily.
  • Centralized database: This is where the product catalog (which includes product descriptions, images, inventory and pricing) is stored, along with customer data, sales transactions, payment and shipping status for the orders.
  • Search function: A well-built search function is crucial for any successful online store.
  • Checkout automation: This displays accurate pricing, taxes, shipping costs and any other applicable fees. The checkout process should be as efficient as possible to reduce cart abandonment.
  • Analytics and reporting: These features will help you see how well your shop is performing and figure out where you need to make changes.
  • 3rd party integrations: Although many e-commerce software solutions refer to themselves as all-in-one, some offer 3rd party integrations for customers who want additional customizations.

Advantages of e-commerce solutions

E-commerce solutions offer customers and sellers a host of benefits:

  • They are a quick way to get started with selling online, lowering the barrier of entry.
  • The right solution will be easy to manage in terms of IT – for example, a SaaS solution requires little on-site technical knowhow or servers.
  • More advanced e-commerce systems can make omni-channel commerce possible, so that customers enjoy a seamless shopping experience in-store, online, on mobile, or on a tablet.
  • Automated order processing and integrations make payments and shipping efficient.

Different types of e-commerce solutions for different needs

Depending on what the seller needs, different types of e-commerce solutions are available:

Different hosting setups:

  • On-premise solutions: These are installed on a local server and managed by an in-house IT team. In the early days of e-commerce, this was the gold-standard, but these days cloud-based solutions are more popular.
  • Hosted e-commerce software (also known as SaaS): SaaS or hosted solutions are all-in-one solutions that are hosted by the software provider in the cloud. Updates, patches and feature releases are taken care of automatically, so you won't need an IT team to manage them. They can be launched quickly and are a good choice for SMEs that need a simple way to get started.
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is similar to SaaS in principle, except that instead of providing hosted software, it provides a hosting solution for developers (or businesses with in-house developers) who want to build a custom software application that is hosted in the cloud. The PaaS provides the hardware, software and infrastructure needed to develop, run and manage applications. This saves developers the cost and effort required to build and maintain an on-premise platform.

Different types of platforms:

  • Modular platforms: Modular platforms are often hosted in the cloud and based on micro-services, which lets businesses pick and choose the features that they want. This gives businesses the utmost flexibility and scalability, while avoiding the software bloat that can come with all-in-one solutions.
  • All-in-one software platform:   An all-in-one software suite is a pre-packaged solution that includes everything an e-commerce business needs to get up and running. All-in-one suites are great for businesses that are just getting started and are content with a standard selection of features. However, they may include features that the business doesn’t need. They could also lack the adaptability to add specific features later on, as the business grows and its needs become more complex. These are often also referred to as monolithic systems.

How to find the right e-commerce solution for your business

If your company is looking for an e-commerce software provider, it might be hard to decide which solution is the right fit for you. To get started with the decision-making process, you'll want to ask yourself some questions:

  • Which features are most important to you? Which ones can you live without? This will help you decide if you’ll need a customizable solution or if something out-of-the-box will do the trick.
  • What resources are you willing to invest in technical maintenance? Cloud-hosted SaaS solutions will be lower-maintenance, while on premise solutions will be highest.
  • Do you want an out-of-the box solution? If so, a hosted solution will be a better option.
  • How much customization will you need? A customized headless solution, for example, will require a developer.
  • What sort of budget can you afford to get started? E-commerce solutions can range from a few dollars a month up to thousands, depending on the level of customization they offer. Self-hosted solutions are among the least expensive, while modular solutions are better for larger budgets.
  • How much outside help will you want? Do you want to build everything yourself? Do you want something you can set up quickly using storefront templates? Or do you want to hand things over to a team of experts who do it all for you?

Getting started with e-commerce

E-commerce is a huge industry that is growing larger every year. It allows retailers and B2B manufacturers an unprecedented opportunity to serve their customers more efficiently and effectively than ever. E-commerce software solutions make it possible for anyone to get started in e-commerce - there are a variety of products available to meet different needs. Whether your company needs a fully customizable headless software solution or a simple DIY shop template, there is an e-commerce software solution out there for you.

To get started, you’ll want to make a list of the features you need, as well as thinking about the resources you have available for the project. Once you know what you need and what level of technical sophistication it will take to get that result, you can start looking for e-commerce software providers who meet your needs. Getting started with e-commerce is easier than ever, and it promises enormous benefits for you and your customers.

Evaluation methodology.

Working together with scientists and industry leaders from the respective cloud areas, our evaluations are based on an industry peer review standard that meets the highest standards of objectivity. All the insights are combined in a single figure, which means they can be applied more easily and effectively from both a technical and a business perspective.

Related articles.