What is an Ecommerce Suite?

John Lister

An ecommerce suite is a package of services and software designed to allow a company to sell its products online. Exactly what is included can vary immensely from package to package. Some common features of an ecommerce suite include stock handling, order collection, card processing and accounting.

Ecommerce suites typically include purchase pages and shopping carts to help customers buy products as easily as possible.
Ecommerce suites typically include purchase pages and shopping carts to help customers buy products as easily as possible.

The most basic element of an ecommerce suite is the ability to process orders. This is most commonly done through a virtual shopping cart. This is a system allowing the website visitor to search through a catalog of products and select the ones they want to buy. The cart system means a customer can add a product to the "cart," continue looking at other products, and then "check out" when they have finished looking. Using the cart will mean that when they check out, everything they wanted to buy is already listed in their order form. This avoids the risk of customers looking round the site and forgetting some of the items they had previously found and decided they wanted to buy.

Card processing is another key component of an ecommerce suite. In an ideal set-up, the retailer will have no access to the customer's card details at any stage. This can reduce their possible liability in the event the card details are misused. The card processing service will usually have two elements: collecting the card details on the site in a secure manner, and handling the payment process itself. An ecommerce package may only collect the details and leave the payment processing to a financial institution, though many packages include both services.

Stock collection is another useful benefit of a comprehensive ecommerce package. By keeping track of orders and stock levels, the system can alert a retailer when they need to reorder stock. Where a retailer also has a physical store, it may be possible to integrate the ecommerce system with their own automated stock system, meaning they can keep track regardless of whether an item is sold online or in person. It's even possible with some systems to set up automated re-ordering from a supplier.

A fully automated ecommerce suite may also be able to perform some accounting functions. A more common set-up is that the suite simply produces detailed figures, for example totals for overall sales and individual product lines, or the breakdown of sales tax which may vary depending on the customer's location. A high-end ecommerce package will usually be able to produce these figures in a format which means the data can easily be transferred into a company's accounting software and merged with details from sales in physical stores.

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