your shop or office or showroom is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week;
you have no staff to pay, no monthly rent, and even you don't have to
sweep the floor. This is no longer a dream but only one of the few
advantages of e-commerce. You only need a business website, and that
will bring your prospect from everywhere -- from advertising your
business to selling products and services - seamlessly without involving
any other medium.
or electronic commerce has been around the globe since the mid 90s.
However, it is not until recently, that ecommerce is getting more and
more acquainted among the web users. Starting an e-business is
challenging, as it will make you visible before the entire world and
also improve your chances of success in business.
take advantage of e-commerce, careful plans need to be drawn up.
Designing an e-commerce website is not enough, you should concentrate on
promoting the site as well. You must have a proper business plan - know
what products or services you need to be competitive online, know your
customer base better and get proper financial backing to start your
the target audience is very important, as you have to make sure that
you are fulfilling their expectations. You should make a prior plan that
will decide where you want to see your company in next 5 to 10 years.
If you have correct solutions, e-commerce will definitely bring success
Think what you need to be competitive online
is an array of existing e-commerce models and new opportunities that
are constantly evolving. To remain competitive visit the website of your
competitors and compare them with your own website - compare their site
designs, product ranges and services, search engine rankings, keywords
and back links [how many site slink to them]. By understanding your
business needs and customers' requirements you can sketch out your
a transactional model where e-commerce is used for direct selling of
goods and services online. For example, software and music can be sold
and delivered online. But for other tangible goods, physical delivery is
very important. You will have to inaugurate fundamental changes in your
business procedure including in:
- Pre-sales advice and support
- Deliveries and return
- Invoicing and payments
can involve in pre-sales activities through online brochures that will
have a version of your promotional materials on your site. Other options
include e-mail campaigns, online advertising through banners on other
relevant websites that are popular and can redirect visitors to your
support includes using the Internet to automate customer support in
order to reduce the number of routine customer service calls. Whichever
model the customer choose, there should be ways to define his/her
expectations. This will help you to understand the sales leads,
customer's choices and on what you should further improve to remain
you build your e-commerce business, it is very necessary that you have a
proper well-laid plan. You should make perfect plans about your
advertising, sales services, post-sales services, marketing,
merchandising and transaction processing. You should concentrate on:
- Customers -- who are your target customers and what they need? How will you get customers again and again to your storefront?
- Merchandising -- what type of products will you offer and how will you display them before your customers?
- Promotions -- how will you promote merchandise and services and give incentives
to your customers that will attract them for further purchase?
- Sales services -- how will you reply to any of customer queries and solve their problems?
- Fulfillment -- how will you pass orders to the fulfillment centers so that the
goods are immediately picked, packed and shipped to the customers?
- Marketing data and analysis --
what information about sales, advertising trends and customers you can
gather? How will you make use of it to make decisions?
- Brands -- how will you communicate with your customers so that it will reinforce your unique company image?
Here are a few things you require before starting your business online:
is an account that is created so that a business or individual can
accept credit cards, debit cards, and other forms of electronic
payments. This is also known as payment processing.
process a transaction, a merchant is charged a fee called a discount
rate, which is a percentage of the dollar amount of the transaction. An
additional fee (transaction fee) is also applied for each transaction
that the merchant processes.
Following are two companies that provide affordable, and reliable merchant accounts for your e-commerce.Â
1) PayQuake -- This setup does not demand for any annual fee unless you have used
the service for 60 days. No cancellation fees are charged and require a
small annual fee of $49, a percentage rate of 3.59%, and a transaction
fee of 40 cents and a $9.95 monthly gateway fee.
2) PayPal -- It works directly with Miva Merchant e-commerce software. It costs
nothing to sign up for a personal account. It helps customers to do
business conveniently and cost-effectively using credit card and is
ideally suited for small businesses, online merchants, and individuals.
is a simple interface between your e-commerce website and your merchant
account. There are two types of payment gateway: Integrated gateway and
payment gateways use an API to securely connect to the gateway server.
The software collects your customers' information and securely passes
it to the gateway server and waits for an approval. This gives you
complete control over the payment process. However, a security
certificate is required for this type of gateway.
The other type
i.e. payment link moves the customer to the gateway's secure server.
All payment information is saved on the gateway server. Once a
transaction is done, user gets a mail from the payment gateway.
is one of the most preferred payment gateways for many merchant account
companies and banks. The other popular payments gateways are
Authorize.net, LinkPoint, ViaKlix etc.
Certificate (using SSL technology) gives your customers' confidence
in your identity and reliability. This security also adds credibility to
your online businesses. Your customers also feel that their information
is kept strictly confidential and privacy is maintained by you.
or Secure Socket Layer allows you to get information from your
customers in a secured environment. This information is then sent to the
server in an encrypted mode.
most important aspect of an e-commerce site (especially for small
businesses) is marketing. So while designing your site make sure you
have spaces in your website for marketing. It can include features like
e-mail marketing, banner advertising, search engine marketing, website
monitoring, and other tools like keyword optimization, meta tag
generator, broken link and sales guide.
Keep track of everything
track your customers you need to assign a banner ad specific code and
use that code in the referring URL that links the websites to the ad.
The links keep track of where you come from, and also stores information
about customers, orders, advertisements, stored in a single database
that are designed to make it easy to report on different data. Whether,
it's the total sales, cash transactions or customer feedbacks, you
should keep track of every petty thing.
shopping cart is a piece of software that completes the e-commerce or
online business. Your customers view your product catalogs, select their
choice of products, keep them in shopping basket, place orders through
online ordering form, pay through credit cards or other mode of
payments, specify the shipping method and its done. The shopping cart
does everything on behalf of you. It is the shopping cart that brings
your customers' purchases to the cash register.
shopping cart software, you can enter your products in the database;
your customers can view these products, review them, make necessary
modifications if required, and ultimately order them by clicking on "Add to Cart" or something similar.
of the main advantages of shopping cart is: it lets you selecting
things from any online store without any login user id and password.
Here is an example of www.amazon.com. You can select any item and add it to the shopping cart by clicking on the Add to Shopping Cart button. You don't require any user name and password for this.
However, when you proceed to checkout, you need to sign in.
your customers choose their product, you can calculate taxes, determine
shipping costs and securely process the customer's preferred method
of payments. Whether they want to pay through credit cards or directly
through cash (offline facilities), you should have all ready methods.
There is a payment order-processing interface where the admin can
approve, or reject the order. Once the admin approves the order, the
product is delivered and money is deducted from the customer's
should be aware of the different taxes like sales tax, state tax for
domestic business and formalities like tariffs, custom fees and
potential charges for international business.
Build your customer base
should make a perfect customer base by sending a word about your
website. Use traditional advertising venues like bus ads, billboards,
direct mails, radio spots, and television commercials or even
cost-effective high quality banner ads and pay to have them placed on
other websites that cater to your customer base. Improve on your
advertising and marketing facilities to attract more visitors to your
stay in this e-business field, you should advertise for your product,
implement innovative banner ads, deal with affiliate marketing
techniques and consider further about sponsorship procedures. You need
to constantly revaluate your online presence and with perfect
intelligence, diligence and skilful observation, keep discovering the
ever-changing needs of your customers.
And then you can continue forever with your e-commerce.