E-Commerce 101

E-COMMERCE 101

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Ecommerce - Starting an Ecommerce Business

E-COMMERCE 101

DEFINING YOUR E-COMMERCE NEEDS

E-Commerce 101 means defining the specific e-commerce solution you require. More specifically, it depends on finding the right e-commerce solution that fits you and your business. Below are some points to consider. First, let’s take a look at a few different eCommerce systems. Please also see, What is the best eCommerce system.

FLAT FILE PAGE, NON-INTERACTIVE SHOPPING PAGE

The simplest eCommerce method is an online flat-file page. A flat-file page is where visitors must print and fax product orders or phone-in their orders. Another simple eCommerce method is a non-interactive shopping page. A non-interactive page sends each online order as a simple e-mail. In other words, no credit card transactions take place online.

MULTI-PAGE SECURE ORDER FORM WITH SHOPPING CART

A multi-page order form is where visitors can pick products while continuing to look at the site, change their order, preview order, and submit on-line. Orders are sent as e-mail or accessed via the website administration area.

These types of systems also have real-time credit card processing, with a robust shopping interface that includes things such as coupons, wish lists, and up-selling on checkout.

LIST ALL CREDIT CARDS THE SITE WILL ACCEPT

Make it clear what types of online payment you will accept. (Visa, Master Card, AMEX, Discover). Other online payment methods include Pay Pal, Bitcoin, and electronic check.

TAXES

List information such as codes, taxes, duty, etc. which can help expedite orders and reduce international costs. Shipping products internationally can be complicated and costly. Moreover, consider how your sales tax will calculate for online orders. For example, some states have rates that differ from county to county.

DEVELOP A BUSINESS SLOGAN OR CATCH PHRASE

Give reasons why your business beats the competition. To illustrate, showcase your USP. (Unique Selling Proposition)? Because customers tend to look for information as a priority over shopping on-line. While they may surf at other sites, they will continually return to the places they trust intuitively and solve their problems.

ENCOURAGE VISITORS TO PURCHASE

A visitor may need to return many times before making a purchase (studies suggest as many as five times). What can you do to encourage customers to purchase now and abandon the need to continue to search?

WEB SURFERS HAVE SHORT ATTENTION SPANS

Web surfers may not remember your site and will probably not return unless you give them a compelling reason to do so. How can you encourage repeat visitors and referrals? Encourage visitors to submit their e-mail addresses voluntarily.

ENCOURAGE E-MAIL SIGNUPS

Free offers, contests, referral forms, surveys, and requests for information forms can be useful tools to encourage e-mail signups. What can you offer that can be digitally delivered on-site (computer wallpaper, screen savers, special reports, on-line coupons, affiliate programs, etc.) and is free?

WRITE UNIQUE CONTENT FOR YOUR SITE

Since most surfers seek information and any place online that contains large amounts of data keeps visitors engaged. When coupled with quality design and competitive products and services, and outstanding customer service, the site becomes a winner.

CONTROL ONLINE FRAUD

Fraudulent orders might result in the termination of your company’s merchant account. Moreover, the possibility of blacklisting by other merchant account providers can be a severe problem. Therefore, use manual authorization. In the same way, accept no unmatched orders (even if there is an approval code).

Call to authorize international orders, ship only to the billing address listed on a credit card, double-check on large orders with overnight shipping, refuse on-line orders from customers with free e-mail domains.

ADD VALUE TO PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

If your prices cannot be competitive, consider other methods to showcase your products and services. Here are some examples.

OFFER FREE BONUSES
PROVIDE LIFETIME WARRANTIES
OFFER FREE SHIPPING AND HANDLING
DISCOUNT UPGRADES, ETC

Consumers will see these offers as value-added benefits.

USE A SURVEY FORM

Consider offering an incentive to customers to take part in this survey. Surveys can also be used as exit strategies to gather useful information as visitors leave the site.

DEFINE YOUR DELIVERY POLICIES

Customers will probably buy if there is immediate delivery. Do you know how long it takes for orders to be received? A customer will not buy from a site if it does not show a complete cost breakdown of their order (price, tax, shipping, etc.) on-line. Will you join any affiliate programs and link those sites to your web site?

PROTECT PASSWORDS

Will, your site use any digital delivery systems to protect customer passwords? Security is important!

SECURE SALES AND LEADS

Will low price lead in products be followed with sales on the back end for higher-priced products and services? Products up to $20.00 meet little resistance. On the other hand, products that cost thousands of dollars may require a longer sales process. Complex services might only be closed using real salespeople.

Is a plan in place to secure and qualify leads? How can you remove as much risk from the buyer as possible (warranty, return policy, etc.)? What is your sales cycle? Can you close sales on-line without human interaction or do you need to follow-up on leads generated?

Do you have a brick and mortar or other off-web locations or contact point (like a mail order catalog)?
How do you see the web site and off-line business working together? What are the weak points of each and the strong points that can be exploited? Don’t try to recreate a catalog showroom on the web.

Use the web site to drive people to your physical location. To handle customer service support after hours, offer online coupons that can be printed and redeemed at the physical location (and vice versa) use the physical location to promote the website.

NEW MARKETS VERSUS EXISTING MARKETS

Is this a new market you are trying to create for your product/service, or is there already an existing market?
In other words, selling in an existing market is more comfortable and less risky. The understanding of what you are offering already exists since other companies have paved the way. Therefore look into existing distribution channels are you able to tap.

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