eCommerce Software Industry User Research Report

In early 2015, Capterra surveyed 101 eCommerce businesses of all shapes and sizes to compare what types of eCommerce software they actually use.

Published by Cara Wood, May 11 201

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eCommerce software is the software that powers shopping websites. It's a $300 billion industry and it's only expected to grow. In fact – online sales are expected to hit $414 billion by 2018!The eCommerce industry is a $300 billion industry.Tweet This

eCommerce was long predicted to completely replace traditional brick-and-mortar retailers because of its convenience for shoppers. However, as of 2015, things have started changing in the other direction. eCommerce powerhouses are starting to experiment with traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon opened its first store in February 2015 on Purdue campus, marking the beginning of an era focused on a multi-channel customer experience.

As the eCommerce world begins to refocus, we decided to run a survey to discover how those changes are shifting the way retailers use their sites and the software powering them. What we found was pretty fascinating. Keep reading to discover how eCommerce merchants are innovating in 2015.

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Key Takeaways

  1. A whopping 89% of users are satisfied with their eCommerce software.
  2. Price is only the 4th most important consideration when merchants are looking to buy eCommerce software. Functionality is the first.
  3. Live chat is the least popular eCommerce feature: 33% of people who have it don't use it (compared with only 3% of people who don't utilize blogging features).
  4. Despite being the most desired feature, search is among the least used by those who already have it, implemented by only 72% of users.
  5. Merchants spend on average between $1,500–$2,000/year, regardless of their amount of products.

Who Uses eCommerce Software?

Industries that use eCommerce software

Industries that use eCommerce software.

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of eCommerce users are in the retail industry. However, 25%25% of eCommerce users aren't in the retail industry.Tweet This of users are in other miscellaneous industries such as food services, hospitality, and business services.

Which revenue bands use eCommerce software?

Revenue bands that use eCommerce software.

eCommerce software is used fairly evenly by retailers across the revenue spectrum. $10 million appears to be the median revenue amount for eCommerce merchants. There are slightly more merchants (2% more) making over $10 million a year, suggesting that perhaps, despite the ease of making an eCommerce website, less people are interested in jumping into it.

How many products do merchants sell?

Number of products merchants sell on their software.

Again, merchants are spread fairly equally across the board with the number of products they sell online, with the average number of products being a slightly lower than the median number most likely because there are a lot more small eCommerce stores than there are big.

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What eCommerce software do they use?

What are the most popular software brands?

Most popular brands of eCommerce software being used.

IBM Websphere is the most popular. It's used by 29% of our respondents. Websphere was quickly followed up by Big Commerce (17%) and Shopify (13%).

Which brands are used by which revenue bands?

Most popular brands of eCommerce software being used broken down by revenue band.

This information gets more interesting when it's broken down by revenue band. Websphere is the overwhelming choice of enterprise eCommerce businesses. 80% of businesses in the $250-$750 million range chose Websphere, with 50% of $750 million - $1 billion businesses and 34% of $1 billion+ businesses following close behind.

The most intriguing information here, though, is who chooses Shopify vs. Big Commerce. Big Commerce has customers that run the revenue gamut from less than $1 million a year to over $1 billion a year. Around 9% of $1 billion+ businesses choose Big Commerce. Shopify, however, has no customers over $250 million, with the vast majority of customers pulling in under $1 million. In fact, Shopify is the most popular choice for small online retailers. This information certainly provides the answer to how Big Commerce has been able to run nearly as many sales over its sites as Shopify with only half the customers.

Do users prefer hosted software or installed software?

Users prefer hosted software.

62%62% of eCommerce users use a hosted system.Tweet This of respondents use a hosted system. This number will likely grow a bit more over the coming years, as SaaS becomes more and more prevalent, and more capable of hosting enterprise level businesses. Shopify has just released an enterprise level edition, for instance, and we may see the larger retailers begin to migrate from an installed IBM Websphere site to a hosted Shopify site in the future.

How long have companies been with their current eCommerce software?

How long do have companies been with their current eCommerce software?

The vast majority of companies (72%) have been with their current eCommerce software provider for 1-5 years, with a totally even split between 1-2 and 2-5 years.

Have merchants used other eCommerce software previously?

Have merchants used other eCommerce software previously?

Additionally, we learned that 64%64% of eCommerce merchants have only ever had one system.Tweet This of eCommerce merchants have only ever had one system. Those who switched solutions did so overwhelmingly because their first solution either didn't have the features they needed, or they had poor customer support.

These two facts combined suggest that eCommerce software has only just started to become a staple for retailers in the past 5-10 years.

Additionally, there are a few other factors that may account for the relatively high percentage of users who have only ever used a single system.

First, eCommerce is a fairly easy type of business for entrepreneurs to get into as it requires a fairly low overhead. It's quite likely that many of the newer eCommerce users are among this group of people.

Secondly, the eCommerce industry didn't really begin to take off until 2007, whereupon the 2008 Great Recession quickly squashed many small businesses. As a result, many eCommerce businesses likely didn't start until at least 2009, which fits squarely in the 5-6 year range. That's perhaps not even enough time in business to consider moving platforms.

Lastly, changing eCommerce platforms can be a pretty scary procedure given that it's literally migrating store fronts. It's a very similar process to moving physical stores in some ways. While solutions do try to make it as easy as possible, the general fear of the time and investment in making a good move may prevent many users from even considering moving platforms. This thought seems to be supported by the fact that a majority of people moved solutions only when their current platform no longer offered them the features they needed to grow their store.

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How do companies choose their solution?

How long does it take to find the right solution?

How long does it take merchants to find their software vs. how long they thought it would take?

On average, companies spend between 2-4 weeks searching for the right solution and demo two products. The majority of customers do demo 2+ solutions.

How many demos do users try before buying?

How many demos do users try before buying?
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How much do companies spend on their solution?

Price is, unsurprisingly given eCommerce pricing models, directly correlated to number of products.

How much do eCommerce users spend on their software vs. what they expected to spend?

How much merchants pay for their software vs. how much they thought they would pay?

How much do eCommerce users spend depending on how many products they have?

How much do eCommerce users spend depending on how many products they have?

Despite the expected correlation, there were a few interesting numbers to pop up. Merchants with up to 500 products, for instance, are willing to pay as much as $2500/year for their solution, though most pay between $300-$900.eCommerce merchants with 500 products are willing to pay up to $2500 for their eCommerce solution!Tweet This 8% of merchants with 5,000-10,000 products pay just $150/year or less for their solution. These may be merchants using open source, or in-house solutions. Bigger merchants with more than 10,000 products do not spend less than $900 per year, and the vast majority of them spend $3,500 or more.

Overall, the numbers point to an average spend of $1,500-$2,000 per year for an eCommerce system, and indicate that, despite product-based pricing models from vendors, merchants can hit lower price points even with high numbers of products.

How did they purchase their software?

What considerations impacted their decisions?

What considerations impacted their decisions?

The most important thing to companies when purchasing eCommerce software is the functionality of the software, followed by the ease-of-use. Price comes in all the way down at fourth position in the list of important considerations. This interest in functionality over affordability is likely due to the fact that eCommerce software is quite literally the business' storefront. Getting a working platform that can create a beautiful store is equally as important as finding the perfect real estate for a brick and mortar.

How long does it take for companies to implement their eCommerce software?

How long does it take for companies to implement their eCommerce software?

Overwhelmingly, the average length of time for implementation is 1-3 months, with 2% of people being likely to underestimate their implementation time. However, rather intuitively, the time for implementation is directly correlated with number of products. 24% of companies with 5,000+ products took over a year to fully implement their solution, while 29% of companies with less than 1,000 products took between only two weeks to one month to fully implement their solution.

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What are the most popular features for eCommerce software to have?

The features that eCommerce merchants most desire for their software are search (59%), 24/7 phone support (50%), and live chat features (48%).

What features do people want their software to have the most?

What features do people want their software to have the most?

In contrast to those numbers, though, search and live chat are not very highly utilized by those who already have those features. Only 72% of people who have search abilities utilize them on their site. Live chat is the least utilized feature of all - it's implemented by only 67%Live chat is implemented by only 67% of merchants who have it.Tweet This of those who have it. In contrast, phone support is used by 89% of people who have it.

It's possible that the search features is underused because while many, many platforms offer this feature, smaller eCommerce companies may not feel the need to implement this feature as they offer so little inventory that searching is unnecessary, or because they are focused on optimizing other parts of their site and don't have time for something seemingly more superfluous, like search.

While phone support is well utilized, it will be interesting to see if its use drops off at all in the next few years as vendors start to really ramp up their live chat support.

What are the most used features?

What features do people use the most?

The number one most used feature is blogging. Blogging is the most used eCommerce feature, with a 97% implementation rate.Tweet ThisAn impressive 97% of eCommerce merchants whose solutions have the ability to blog, do blog. That's followed up by social buying and drag-and-drop editors, at 91% usage each. The sheer number of bloggers is certainly a testament to the success of content marketing over recent years. Seeing social buying appearing so high in the usage rankings, though, is surprising, given how new the concept is. Social buying is certainly a trend that experts are predicting will take off, and it looks as though retailers are buying into that.

The least used features are live chat for your customers (67%), and HTML/CSS editors (69%). Drag-and-drop editors are easier to use for non-tech-experts, so the unpopularity of the HTML/CSS editor is not a surprise, but what is surprising is how few people use live chat for customer support. Live chat is a very convenient way for customers to get in touch with retailers. More than that, live chat is proven to have an incredible ROI – as much as 305% in only six months! Given the awesome stats promoting live chat, it would seem that a lack of manpower is likely what is holding eCommerce merchants back from implementing that feature.

Are merchants satisfied with their eCommerce solutions?

Are people satisfied with their eCommerce software?

Customer satisfaction with their purchase.

The amazing answer to this question was overwhelmingly yes – a whopping 89% of merchants are satisfied or very satisfied with their solution!89% of merchants are satisfied or very satisfied with their solution!Tweet This 8% are neutral. Only 3% are very dissatisfied. Ultimately, our answer for why so many merchants have only ever used a single system might be found here. With satisfaction levels this high, there is no need to swap. However, as some of these stores move past the five year mark with their software and continue growing, we'll see if their dissatisfaction rate also grows.

This satisfaction rate, while reflecting well on eCommerce solutions, does seem a bit troubling for solutions, as well. After all, an 89% satisfaction rate leaves only 11% of current customers to poach from competitors.


Capterra's eCommerce software research highlights how merchants utilize their software from what they think is important in the software to what they're willing to pay for it.

Somewhat surprisingly, given the current risk-averse economy, merchants are willing to pay more to get the solution that has the functionality they need. Our survey also suggests that social buying, a very hyped strategy and feature, may succeed as a popular way to sell due to the high implementation rates of those who have the feature.

Finally, our survey highlighted the extremely high satisfaction rate among eCommerce users, which suggests that solutions are doing an excellent job at pleasing their customers. Or perhaps, more cynically, that many eCommerce users haven't grown enough in their businesses to be dissatisfied with their solutions. We'll have to check back in the future to see which it is.


Capterra collected the data in this eCommerce systems report through a 24 question survey to eCommerce buyers and users online, conducted over the course of a week and receiving a total of 101 qualified responses.

About the Author

Cara Wood

Cara Wood

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Cara Wood is a marketing associate at Capterra and a graduate of Mary Washington! When she's not hard at work at Capterra, she can be found horse-back riding, reading, and just generally having a good time at life. Follow her on Twitter @carodare.