E-Commerce is the booming business of buying and selling goods and services online then processing the payments via the web. The Internet offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to conduct business on a global level, a feat that is not easily within reach for startups. With millions of businesses going online each year, consumers have become savvy and selective about the websites they chose to conduct business with. The following is a series of industry best practices that will set your online business apart from the competition and increase your chance of running a successful E-Commerce website!
1. The most crucial aspect of any successful online business is its website.
If you are new to the E-Commerce industry or are seeking ways to improve upon your online business, there are several key website details that you must pay close attention to because they will make or break your chance of standing up among the competition.
2. You must secure a domain name (URL)
That will not only capture the attention of your visitors but also be easy to remember (so they can return again). Select a domain name that is short and descriptive of your product or service. Acquiring a domain name can take just a few short minutes, but it is worth making the time to ensure you find a word or phrase that will leave little doubt in your visitors’ minds as to what your site is selling. This article will show you how to find a good domain name for your business.
3. You must secure a reliable and efficient web host to support your website.
The thing about online shopping is that it is geared for the consumer’s convenience. They can view and purchase products and services virtually 24 hours a day from their offices and homes. Every time your site’s pages load too slowly or appear “down” due to problems with your host’s server, you lose business because visitors will not wait around to access your site.
Shop around to find a reliable web host with shared or dedicated servers that are equipped to handle your levels of traffic and/or flash animation. Keep in mind that if someone is out shopping and cannot spend money in your store, they will spend it somewhere else.
4. Website design will play a major role in the success of your online business.
Your website is your new storefront: It needs to be a functional, quick-loading, professional, responsive, and attractive. It should be easy for visitors to navigate if you expect them to do business with you. While there are free website templates available on the internet, a fully-functioning eCommerce site equipped with an online payment gateway requires a great deal of programming and design finesse. A web developer/ designer is worth the investment because it is their business to produce attractive, dynamic, fully functioning and secure websites in a short amount of time.
When you hire a professional web developer, you can have confidence that their finished product functions as it is intended to and you have more time to prepare for when your site and services go “live.” Professional web design service should pay for itself in a matter of months. Just to state the obvious before moving on: A fully functional, easy-to-navigate, secure website will do more to increase your sales than will the quality of the products and services you offer.
If your eCommerce site looks amateur, is disorganized or difficult to navigate, boasts “under construction” banners, or the links and payment gateway do not function properly, your competition just got richer from your lost sales. There’s an excellent chance a discouraged visitor is never coming back. Invest your time and money in quality website design; there is a web design solution to fit every budget.
5. Quality, attentive customer service
will go a long way to establish trust and credibility with your online customers. Your website should display up-to-date, complete contact information is obvious, in easy to spot places. Use real names and not default titles such as “Administrator.” Successful eCommerce sites boast real-time customer service features such as toll-free telephone support, live help software such as Live Help Messenger, and convenient support tickets in lieu of email. Your eCommerce site ought to display “About Us”, “Contact Us”, and “FAQ” tabs for the information of your visitors and potential customers.
Consider, also, placing photographs of you and your staff on your website instead of web-based stock photos. When your customers feel they know something about you they are more likely to give their business to you. This bond of trust is difficult to achieve when they cannot physically step inside your store, so it is especially imperative that you make the effort to extend yourself to your online customers.
6. Featured products and complementary cross-promotions
are incredibly effective tools for increasing sales upon site entry and at the time of checkout. Consumers respond well to products that are featured above the others, regardless of whether they are on sale or not. The key is to provide plenty information about each of your products and services; the more reliable details your visitors learn from you, the more likely they are to become your customers.
Cross-promotion and impulse-buying have been a lucrative partnership in the business world for many years. For example, imagine you are a professional artist selling prints from your online studio. Your customer selects a print in the size they want and then proceeds to the checkout. Your checkout page features not only the details of their purchase, shipping fees and taxes, but also a friendly reminder that you carry custom frames in stock and it is not too late to add one to their list of items before proceeding through the checkout.
Perhaps it did not occur to your customer that they may need or like the complimentary merchandise, so it is in your best interest to anticipate your customers’ needs and emphasize the necessity and convenience of your cross-promotion items. Businesses have been benefiting from impulse purchases for countless years and so will your online store.
7. Site security is a major concern for online shoppers and it is a mandatory feature for successful eCommerce sites.
Put your online customers at ease with the marks of professional, reliable, and secure service. It is essential that your web host has an SSL Certificate before credit card information is transferred online to your merchant account.
An SSL Certificate creates an encrypted connection between a client and web host that ensures that it is in no way possible for anyone else to decrypt a message if the transaction were intercepted. Ensure that your web host has up-to-date patches. Your host may charge you a $2-3 add-on fee for installing the certificates, but it is a low cost that guarantees high returns. If there is any confusion, the prefix “https//” indicates to visitors and potential customers that your site is secure.
If you do not want the responsibility of installing SSL Certificates on your eCommerce site, you may use a third-party payment gateway such as PayPal, and authorize.net to provide your customers with a secure checkout page. Your customers will be directed to a page outside of your website to complete the payment transaction, and the payment gateway then forwards the info back to your site and merchant account.
8. Shopping cart software, payment gateways, and merchant accounts are essential to running a successful eCommerce website.
because they allow your customers to make their purchase in a convenient and immediate manner, rather than phoning a number or mailing forms to complete the order. After all, the very essence of eCommerce is making payments for products and services directly over the web.
“Shopping cart” is software that allows an eCommerce website’s catalog to naturally link into an ordering system. In a few easy steps, a consumer can select merchandise, review product and payment details, make additions, modifications or deletions, and safely purchase the product with their credit cards or PayPal account. The software then sends all of the order information through a payment gateway and ultimately to the merchant’s account.
A “payment gateway” is a code that encrypts a customer’s personal order information and safely transfers it to and from the website, the merchant’s account, and an authorizing agent. The benefits of utilizing third-party payment gateways such as PayPal, Verisign, and Paylink are numerous. Because the merchant accounts are external, the point of sale is hosted on the third-party’s servers and then the information is sent back to your site. You will not have to keep a list of your customer’s credit cards on your system or set up SSL certificates, and all issues with chargebacks are dealt with by the third-party.
Your merchant account is necessary for receiving credit card payments issued from your eCommerce website.
There are a few things to consider when selecting the right merchant account provider for your online business, and the bank you use now may or may not have the right solution for you. First of all, you want a provider who is equipped for online sales. You want to compare what providers are charging merchants for customer chargebacks or refunds.
Unfortunately, some customers are fraudulent and that can be costly; your provider might charge you $20 or more in fees per charge-back. No matter what your account type or provider, you can always expect to pay a % of all credit card transactions.
Some shopping cart, payment gateway, and merchant account solutions are free of charge, while others require one-time or monthly payments. There is a solution available for all budgets and eCommerce needs. It is important to remember, however, that you must ensure the merchant account, shopping cart and payment gateway you select are all compatible with one another before your site goes online.
9. Conventional and internet-based marketing is a priority for all successful eCommerce businesses.
The easiest way to improve your visibility on the web is to concentrate on effective and deliberate search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. The goal is to achieve a high ranking position in leading search engines such as Google.com and Bing.com, because a high rank indicates to visitors that your site contains relevant, secure content.
Conventional marketing tools such as word-of-mouth, press releases, and newspaper and magazine ads are still working to some extent with specific target audiences and potential consumers. You can create your own online marketing solutions for low cost, or you can hire a digital marketing team to put their experience and skills to work for you and generate more business in less time.
An attractive, functional eCommerce website is nothing if you cannot drive quality traffic to it. Put these industry best practices into place and you will increase your chance of E-Commerce success dramatically.
For a free consultation, contact our team of E-Commerce website designers and marketers today!