The Internet has virtually revolutionized the way businesses operate. The world has witnessed a sea of changes in business transactions and business processes due to the penetration of the Internet and the ease with which monetary transactions can be carried out nowadays. Every business worth its salt has to have an online presence, and in order to tap in to the huge global market, every website has to be e-commerce enabled. E-commerce is the acronym for electronic commerce and is actually what it means. Very simply put, e-commerce is the combination of methods and processes that help in business transactions over the Internet.
There are two aspects of doing business on the Internet. The first part is attracting traffic to your website, and the second part is to sell once potential customers are on your website. Both these aspects of online business require good technical and marketing skills. An ideal online businessperson is one with a skill combination of marketing and technology. There is no reason to worry if one is lacking in any of the fields mentioned, as there are a large number of companies that provide consulting and turnkey solutions.
The First Steps:
The first step is to ascertain whether the product or service that you wish to sell is apt for the online segment. Online business is preferable only when it is convenient and when the products are of the highest quality. One other factor to consider is the viability of the service and the unique selling proposition of your product. The pertinent question is why would a person log on to the Internet and choose you when there are a lot of service providers near home? The business should have a wide base and must not be confined to any tiny segment. One of the most critical aspects is to market the e-commerce website extremely well so that there is immediate brand recall. One must also remember that the delivery charges of a product may shoot up if it is huge and bulky.
When you design an online shop or start an e-commerce site, you must remember that a customer needs to be aware of your online presence and must think of you when he needs a service or product offered by you. Just as in the real world, the most important criterion for a retailer is location. A good e-commerce website must be promoted vigorously to attain a distinctive position in the online segment, which is virtually a jungle with millions of e-commerce sites jostling for space.
There are a lot of ways of promoting your website, and the most basic method is to have your products and any papers produced by your company bear the name of your website clearly. Traditional marketing and advertisement can be used in conjunction with online promotion campaigns to maximize the benefits of the investment.
You must ensure that anyone who gets onto the Internet finds a way to learn about and visit your website. You may register with the popular search engine companies and also employ Search Engine Optimization techniques to ensure that whenever there is anyone on the Internet looking for a product or service offered by you, your website appears on the top of the search engine result.
You may also have arrangements with noncompeting websites to advertise your website or add links to your website, thereby ensuring that some of the traffic from that website will get diverted to yours too. You may also initiate discussion forums and develop blogs to highlight the products or encourage participation amongst customers. These initiatives go a long way in developing strong bonds with the customers and help in the growth of brand.
Features of a Good E-Commerce Site:
A good e-commerce website must be easy to remember, easy to navigate, have clear photographs of the products, and communicate easily and effectively with customers so that they are lured to come back time and again. The features that make an e-commerce web design great are as follows:
• There must be as few clicks as possible between navigation.
• The layout of the website must be simple to facilitate the shopping process.
• The colors and overall design of the website must be in tune with the attitude of the products and services. The website must be designed to attract more and more traffic.
• The idea should be to start the process of selling as subtly and as effectively as possible.
• The option of “Add to shopping cart” must be pushed in front of the customer at the slightest of pretext to prod him to buy.
• Try and address the concerns of most online buyers who may have queries on fiscal transactions, the security of e-commerce, the quality of the product, warranties, after-sales service, or refunds and replacement of products once bought.
• Please try and be as customer friendly as possible by putting yourself in the shoes of the customer. Ask yourself, “What would I look for had I been the customer?”
• Innovate, experiment with ideas, and try to offer deals that a consumer would find hard to refuse.
If cost effectiveness is your idea, then do it yourself is the best way to go about building a website. However, if you are not tech savvy and are handicapped due to lack of exposure to the Internet, you may use the services of professional web developers and web content developers, who would work with you for a fee to create a functional website. The Internet is full of information pertaining to such companies. Do thorough market research and understand the services offered by a company before deciding on one.
There are also some server-based solutions that enable you to host your website on a server somewhere far away using easy web-based wizards from the comfort of your home or using only your web browser. However, if you deal with sensitive information, it is not advised to use the services of a third-party server. Software-based solutions are the best way to move forward, as there are a large number of companies that develop secure and safe software for e-commerce businesses.
The Internet does not offer the opportunity of instant riches; however, if one has a good business plan, the Internet offers immense opportunities of growth. It is an excellent idea to start an e-commerce site as the market is huge, and with proper planning and effective execution, one can expect to get a very good return on investment within a short span of time.
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