How to Succeed with an Ecommerce Web Site
Ecommerce can save time and money in many ways. Records can be managed more easily using appropriate computer programs; the need for paper can be reduced, and the amount of physical storage space can be minimized.
A well designed ecommerce website acts as a sales consultant, customer service officer and shopfront 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Although it will not replace all of your staff, it can supplement them or even replace the need to hire more people.
Communications can be managed more effectively using electronic means, whether networking within an office, or external communications via the internet, fax or other electronic means.
Success is primarily dependent upon matching appropriate electronic techniques with the right business needs.
As with any business success will be also dependent upon the right marketing methods. Marketing an ecommerce business is quiet different to marketing a brick and mortar business. The main reason for that being the targeted customers will be people who have access to the internet and who are computer literate. So the marketing will be most effective when done on the internet, for example if you are selling plants on your website it will be an advantage to advertise on a website which has lot of gardening information. It is simple logic people who are interested in gardening are the ones who buy plants and they are the ones who look at gardening information.
It is also a very good idea to advertise on popular search engines because 90% of people search for things on search engines. So when your website is advertised on search engines, the search engines will list the websites who have paid them on the top or with a special highlighting.
You need to see ecommerce solutions as tools which can be selected and used if when they are needed. Not every business will benefit from using the internet, or electronic banking, but many will. Different businesses will utilize certain techniques in different ways. For example:
- Some largely populated cities can order take-away food or groceries over the internet to be delivered to their door;
- Less populated areas may benefit from e-zines (online magazines), on-line training or international speciality shops where the local community would not be able to sustain these businesses operating directly out of their local business district.
Don’t be scared of technology
Technology scares some people. Even if the boss is not scared, sometimes employees can have resistance or a negative attitude towards using an ecommerce solution. Their attitude might not be obvious to the manager, but any resistance or lack of ability to deal with e commerce can impact on the success of e commerce in that business. It is important for the manager to be aware of such a situation because otherwise it will cause many repercussions which might result in the loss of time and money.
Lack of ability
Staff need to be trained.
Information Technology (including internet use) requires continuous training.
All staff need to be kept up to date with these changes – even after original training.
What makes a successful ecommerce site?
The success of an ecommerce business relies on a mix of several very important components.
First and foremost, market research is essential. Know your buyer behaviour online and tailor your website and promotions to this. Be aware if your product is suitable to ecommerce. Who are your online competitors?
An informative, well designed website
The site needs to be attractive, and fine tuned to the right audience. What is on the site needs to be accessible to the widest range of people using the net. They need to be able to access all parts of the site quickly and easily, and this must also take into account new technologies such as mobile devices. It is important to repetitively repeat to test for ease of use.
The site also needs to have a good navigational style, for the visitors to browse through the site quickly. There are thousands of websites on the internet and if the visitors are frustrated or bored they will just move on to a different website. A visitor should get to the page he or she wants in about 2-3 clicks and no more. Customers should also be able to see their shopping cart clearly and visibly, keep it on all pages.
The site needs to have an easy to understand and use interface, although fancy graphical buttons and obscure interfaces may look artistic, it may confuse and frustrate potential customers. It is also important to give enough information for the customer to make a decision. It also needs to show that your business is sound and reliable. Shopping online can be a wary and fearful event for some, remove some of the customers fear and uncertainty by providing an honest and informative website.
Offer things that other sites do not
The internet user has such a huge range of sites to choose from. They’re unlikely to visit a site that does not appear to offer something unique. Likewise they are unlikely to stay on a site that is not meeting or exceeding their expectations. Make your site memorable.
Have a solid foundation
The person or business behind the site must be able to deliver what they are promoting on the internet. If you don’t provide good and reliable service, you will not get repeat business. Statistics show that it is much harder to find a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. Your reputation on the internet will precede you. Buyers now have much more information about sellers than have ever had. Be honest and responsive to your customers. Many consumers online spend a fair deal of time researching the product and the supplier before they buy.
Efficient logistics is crucial. Customers will compare not only produce costs but also shipping costs, and additionally your reputation will also ride on the customer getting their product in good order and in good time. Your customer service will need to be highly effective as customers are no longer bound by geographical constraints.
The site must be visible (i.e. able to be found).
Getting an internet address is similar to buying a post office box, you won’t get mail unless you let people know what your address is. Creating a web site is like printing leaflets, the product can look good, but they need to be seen by people before they will do you any good.
Offer Online transactions
It is important for an ecommerce business to have the ability to process online transaction. This may be the ability to process credit cards or process transactions using an intermediary such as Paypal. Business can be still conducted by accepting cheques, money orders and direct transfers but having credit card processing or a suitable alternative on the website is vital. The reason for this is when a customer is interested in a product they might want to purchase right away. It is better for the business as well because they will close the sale right away.
If customers do not have this option they will have to opt for other payment methods which will give them time to change their minds or even forget about it. So even if it costs a bit more to put credit card processing in place it is well worth it. It normally involves having a merchant account with a bank. The bank will charge a monthly fee for the service.
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