What is an e-Commerce Website
The definition of an e-Commerce Website is a website that is able to take payments and transactions online. Hence e-Commerce. This technology opens up a huge amount of opportunity for business, both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B). A traditional e-Commerce business model is selling products and taking payments online. However we are seeing a large increase of service based businesses taking this on as an option. It is proving a economical way for local service based businesses to take electronic transactions, Credit Card payments and PayPal payments without having to pay for traditional merchant facilities, or having to purchase and carry around eftpos machines.
In short an e-Commerce Website is any website that has the plugged in functionality to transact funds.
What is an Online Store
An Online Store is a Website that is specifically designed and built to sell products. Like a traditional bricks and mortar or high street store, an online store is the business. The primary function of the online store is to sell products. We approach an online store in much the same way as designing a physical store. It must be inviting, trust worthy, impressive and remove all barriers from purchasing. An online store has a business plan, a marketing plan, a shop front with signage, sales assistants (virtual or real), a warehousing and inventory solution (in house or remote) a shipping solution, a support team and a follow up sales solution. An online store is as much a business as a traditional store.
Some advantages of an online store to an offline store are…
- Low cost of entry. (Traditional store carry a heavy rent/purchase of a shop front)
- Flexibility (it is easy and low cost to move your online shop front in front of a new market)
- Scale ability (Your product range and site can scale both up and down easily and quickly)
- Open for business 24/7/365
Whilst there are obviously costs running an online store, just like a traditional store, you can literally start with a single product and build to a giant. Costs are proportional without huge overheads when starting out.
An e-Commerce Website, Who is it for
When setting up an e-Commerce website we think of it as adding a payment gateway to your existing site or building a new site with those functions added on. This is a great way to shoestring the start up with a view to expand it later. Generally a business will already have products and services they sell and want to be able to expand that to their clients for convenience or find new customers. Here is a list of ideas for existing business to include e-Commerce into their business to increase profits.
Associations & Unions
Celebrity Management & Casting
Detective & Investigator Services
Import & Export Agents
Interpreting & Translating
Computer Services & Repair
Child Care & Day Care
Dry Cleaning & Laundry
Appliances & Repair
Funeral Services & Cemeteries
Rubbish & Waste Removal
Sewing & Alterations
Trophies & Engraving
Upholstering & Polishing
Arts & Crafts Retailers
Art Supplies Retailers
Comic Books Retailers
Movies & Video Game Rental
Bridal Wear Retailers
Cosmetics & Beauty
Household Appliances Retail
Home Entertainment Retail
Leather Goods Retailers
Used, Vintage & Consignment Clothing Retailers
Cards & Gift Shops
Home Decor Retailers
Kitchen & Bath Retailers
Nurseries & Gardening
Jewellery & Watch Retailers
Musical Instruments Retailers
Office Equipment Retailers
Outdoor Gear Retailers
Sporting Goods Retailers
Toys & Computer Games Retailers
Photo Film Processing
Used Goods Retailers
Music & DVD’s Retailers
Any of these businesses that can take deposits for work, Payment plans, Digital downloadable products, Physical products, Taking orders that need to be paid for before pick up can install e-Commerce to their site.
Starting an e-Commerce Website
Starting an e-Commerce website is an exciting thing to do. There is a lot of promise of freedom and profit, and if you do it the right way there can be. The most important thing to do before opening starting an e-commerce website is to know you pitch. We see so many people starting down the track of opening a online e-Commerce website and don’t have this fundamental down. Their focus is on what colours the page should be or what kind of animation it should have. I believe this is not where you should start. For me an e-commerce website is all about your customers. Its about functionality way above style and look. This is not to say that we don’t design beautiful work, we do, but it doesn’t matter how pretty something is, if it doesn’t work people wont come back. More so you will leave them with a bad taste in their mouth.
e-Commerce Website Design is about the end user. Its about understanding where a customers eye will go. Its about a clear call to action, its about educating the customers to navigate a brand new site without feeling like they are being lead around. We unfortunately have too many clients coming to us because their current e-Commerce site is not converting. It looks pretty and the old designer listened to what they wanted but it just doesn’t work. Sure it looks pretty but it just doesn’t convert sales.
It must make sales. It must be profitable and it must be so easy to use that customers know exactly how to use it. Remove all barriers to purchase. Have clear and accurate descriptions that are enticing and have Lots of amazing and engaging pictures. Your products are the hero here, not your logo or the side banner. on and e-Commerce site less is more. Nothing should get in the way of the product or the purchase. We spend more time on the functionality than any other part of the site design. Its firstly about the users experience and then the products and then you and your brand. The customer must always be king here. If the customer does not feel in control and safe they will never buy from you, and why should they.
Running an e-Commerce Website
So you have your listened to your designers experience. You have built your branding on your site so that it seamlessly sits in the background. You have kicked off your marketing campaign and you are seeing your perfect customers coming across your page. What next?
Testing!. You must test your results. Its important to have intelligent monitoring systems built into your e-Commerce package so you can see whats going on.
- How many people are coming to your site
- Where did they come from
- Can you track the exact campaign they came from
- Who is converting to a sale and if not why not
- How many are abandoning at the shopping cart phase
- Can you track exactly where they are jumping out of your site
Your site should be designed in such a way that you can see everything that is going on, you want to know everything you can your customers. Who bought which product and how often.
All of this data can be reported on to run your business. This is the fun part. Sit back and enjoy crunching these numbers. If your serious about running a business online your site will have great automated reports that show you exactly what you need and when you need it. It will tell you exactly what to do to increase profit in your business. Your role changes from working in your business and to take a more holistic overview to it. This is the time you can make long term decisions and start planing what you will be doing over the next 12 months. Plan your marketing strategies and manage you stock.