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ecommerce Tips

Read these 20 ecommerce Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Shopping Cart tips and hundreds of other topics.

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I have a small shop, how can the web and ecommerce help me?

Bricks and Clicks

Even if you own a traditional storefront, called a bricks and mortar business, you can profit from web and ecommerce. Building out an ecommerce web site often can augment your traditional sales by 20% or more in the first year! Don't be afraid to invest in a good designer and a good ecommerce engine to get your site going. Better to do it the right way the first time then to have to go back and fix everything.

   
What ecommerce software package should I choose?

Making the ecommerce software choice.

There are literally thousands of packages on the market for web and ecommerce and it can be difficult to determine which is the right one for you. When choosing an ecommerce software package for your online business, the things to keep in mind are: reliability, reporting and ease of use. Some big names in the ecommerce arena are goEMerchant, Storefront Now and Yahoo Merchant. Of these, goEMerchant also handles credit card processing and is an all-inclusive software package. Again, your mileage may vary...but for a novice, choosing one package that is easy to implement will save you both time and money in the long run.

   
I have seen ecommerce software packages out there, are they any good?

Quicker To Market with Ecommerce Software

More about ecommerce: There are a variety of ecommerce software packages out there to get you up and running fast. Everything from shopping carts, online credit card payments and even the site template and design can usually be completed with ecommerce software packages. Usually, these off-the-shelf software solutions cost less than building it from scratch for your ecommerce web site.

   
Should my ecommerce web site use SSL?

Secure Ecommerce Web Sites

When designing your ecommerce web site, remember to purchase a secure certificate. In today's day of net scams, having a SSL certified web site can be the difference between success and failure. Companies such as Thawte, Instant SSL and Verisign can have your ecommerce shop going in no time securely.

   
There are a lot of ecommerce terms I don't understand. Is there a glossary?

Alphabet Soup: CRM, ASP, H-E-L-P.

Don't be afraid to ask. If you are not sure of what something means, check with an ecommerce glossary at places such as wikipedia.com. While wikipedia is not an ecommerce glossary alone, it will most likely have an answer for you.

   
What is ecommerce?

Ecommerce: Defined.

About Ecommerce: Ecommerce is used to explain how an online business engages in the selling of goods and/or services over the Internet. Over the years, ecommerce web has blossomed into a multi-billion dollar industry yearly, and only more growth is projected over the next 5 years. A defining characteristic is that all ecommerce web sites accept a type of online payment, whether through a third party or directly with a merchant account. This new wave of online business services has opened a world of other services such as ecommerce software developers and ecommerce hosting services. These businesses cater to online retail sites and internet businesses.

   
Should I launch a static or dynamic ecommerce web site?

Designing your ecommerce web site.

One of the first choices you will face when creating your ecommerce web site is whether the site should be static or dynamic. If you are working with less than 100 products on your e-store, the choice is generally static pages. However, if you are dealing with a multitude of products and don't want to enter the nightmare of creating a new page for each item, you may choose to make a dynamic web site. In short, a dynamic ecommerce web site is database driven. In the database is your full product suite which should be categorized. With a dynamic ecommerce web site, one page can pull up the details for virtually every product. Adding and removing products can be controlled by a single interface, and the time savings will really add up quickly. There are a ton of web and ecommerce management software packages, and chances are your ecommerce web host has one ready for you to use.

   
What do I need to start my ecommerce web site?

Getting started with ecommerce.

The main distinction between a regular website and an ecommerce web site is the acceptance of payment for sold goods & services. Whether your internet business offers services or has an e-shop section, you will want to have a way to collect payments online. With this, you will most likely want to find a one-stop shop for your ecommerce hosting that includes a shopping cart and credit card payments as well. These are fairly common, but be sure to read the fine print...there may be hidden fees that you can avoid by going with another ecommerce software package.

   
Will a newsletter increase sales for your electronic commerce business?

Using a Newsletter Can Boost Your Electronic Commerce Business

A newsletter can increase your profits for your electronic commerce business. An email newsletter distributed on a consistent schedule reminds your customer of your business as well as your services and products. A smart strategy is to use a commercial third party to capture names and email addresses and distribute the newsletter so you don't have to worry about spam complaints. You could use a free report, discount coupon or sample product as an enticement to get the customer's contact information.

The newsletter doesn't have to be lengthy, 1000 to 2000 words is fine. Consistency is important, it's better to send a shorter newsletter once a week than a long newsletter every six weeks. Don't turn the newsletter into one huge advertisement for your products. Provide information about the industry, what's new overall and tips that your customers can use. Write the newsletter from the point of view of your customer.

Newsletters that have the first paragraph from an article and then a link to the complete article at your website is one way to keep the email short but still include valuable information. Send the newsletter both as a plain text as well as html format. Some SPAM filters trap html emails.

   
How can you design an ecommerce website that's friendly to your customers?

eCommerce Websites: Customers are Number One

The latest and greatest in technology is useless if your ecommerce website isn't designed with the customer first. What makes a customer friendly website?

  • Ease of navigation is a top priority. The placement of the navigation bar and the links within it should be the same for each page and appear consistently in the same place. The left hand side is traditionally where the navigation bar is located and that's where most visitors will look for it.
  • A second navigation bar can be placed under the introductory graphic. That's a good place for the home, contact us, about us and frequently asked questions links.
  • If you use a button graphic for the links, include a text link as well. Visually impaired visitors can use a reader to read the content on the site, including text links, out loud for them. The text readers can't see a graphic. Links that only use graphics will be invisible.
  • Don't depend on the visitor using their back button to return to the home page. Provide a link for them.
  • "Contact" and "about us" links should be prominently displayed on the home page. If possible those links should appear on each page as well.
  • No page should be more than two links from the home page. When designing the site map out the different categories you'll need and establish a main page for each of those major categories. Then determine the subcategories from each main category.
An ecommerce website designed with the customer in mind will keep your customers coming back.

   
What are key words and how can they be used as an effective ecommerce strategy?

An Effective eCommerce Strategy: Use Keywords to Increase Traffic

Visitors need a way to find your website. Using key words as a search engine optimization technique is one way to get targeted traffic to your ecommerce site.

Key words are the phrases that people put into a search engine to find the products that they need. When you're developing your ecommerce website make sure you use relevant key words. Think about the problem that your products solve. A general key word such as "shoes" gets millions of matches. The phrase should reflect what you offer specifically. If you offer women's designer shoes in Dallas , Texas your key word phrase might be "women's designer shoes Dallas ." If you offer large sizes then "women's designer shoes large sizes" would be appropriate.

Use one key word phrase, or a series of related key word phrases, for each page of your website. Use the phrase in your meta tags, meta description and title in the code of the pages. Use it as the main heading and several times in the content of the page.

Visitors need a way to find your website. Using key words as a search engine optimization technique is one way to get targeted traffic to your ecommerce site; using keywords to increase targeted traffic is an effective ecommerce strategy.

Key words are the phrases that people put into a search engine to find the products that they need. When you're developing your ecommerce website make sure you use relevant key words. Think about the problem that your products solve. A general key word such as "shoes" gets millions of matches. The phrase should reflect what you offer specifically. If you offer women's designer shoes in Dallas, Texas your key word phrase might be "women's designer shoes Dallas." If you offer large sizes then "women's designer shoes large sizes" would be appropriate.
Use one key word phrase, or a series of related key word phrases, for each page of your website. Use the phrase in your Meta tags, Meta description and title in the code of the pages. Use it as the main heading and several times in the content of the page.

Search engines look for what the page is about when they spider the page. Seeing the same phrase(s) used throughout tells them to rank that page for that key word phrase.
When customers put the key word phrase "women's designer shoes large sizes" in the search engine your page should rank higher than another page which doesn't have that specific phrase. The higher the page rank in the search results the better. Customers tend to just look at the first page of the rankings and decide on one of those sites to visit.

   
Should your retail business enter the age of e commerce?

Local Retail Businesses Need an e Commerce Website

Even if your retail business is targeted to only the local community it should still have an e commerce presence. The World Wide Web has become the worldwide marketplace. It's easy to forget the web also allows your local customers to easily find you. If you haven't considered a website for your business because your customers are geographically located in a small area you may be missing out on additional revenues.

Customers go to their favorite search engine when looking for addresses and phone numbers of businesses they frequently buy from. No website means they won't find you. Customers use the Internet to search for new places to try such as restaurants, or a specific product they need, such as a brand of dog food. It's faster for them to search online rather than looking it up in a phone book which provides limited information.

A website is a non confrontational way for customers to see what you have to offer, find out more about your company and determine if you have what they need. You don't have to have a huge complicated website. Introduce your retail store, the basics of your products, the location and contact information.

No matter how small a geographic area your customers come from your retail business still needs an ecommerce website.

   
Will a newsletter increase sales for your electronic commerce business?

Using a newsletter can boost your electronic commerce business

A newsletter can increase your profits for your electronic
commerce business. An email newsletter distributed on a consistent schedule reminds your customer of your business and your services and products. A smart strategy is to use a commercial third party to capture names and email addresses and distribute the newsletter so you don't have to worry about spam complaints. You could use a free report, discount coupon, or sample product as an enticement to get the customer's contact information.

The newsletter doesn't have to be lengthy, 1000 to 2000 words is fine. Consistency is important, it's better to send a shorter newsletter once a week than a long newsletter every
six weeks. Don't turn the newsletter into one huge advertisement for your products. Provide information about the industry, what's new overall and tips that your customers can use. Write the newsletter from the point of view of your customer. What do they want to know, not from your point of view and what you want to tell them.

Newsletters that have the first paragraph from an article
and then a link to the complete article at your website is one way to keep the email short but still include valuable information. Send the newsletter both as a plain text as well as html format. Some SPAM filters trap html emails. Using an electronic newsletter is a smart strategy for electronic commerce.

   
How can you design an ecommerce website that's friendly to your customers?

Customers Determine our ecommerce website

The latest and greatest in technology is useless if your ecommerce website isn't designed with the customer first. What makes a customer friendly website?

  • Ease of navigation is a top priority. The placement of the navigation bar and the links within it should be the same for each page and appear consistently in the same place. The left hand side is traditionally where the navigation bar is located and that's where most visitors will look for it.

  • A second navigation bar can be placed under the introductory
    graphic. That's a good place for the home, contact us, about us and frequently asked questions links.

  • If you use a button graphic for the links, include a text
    link as well. Visually impaired visitors
    can use a reader to read the content on the site, including text links, out-loud for them. The text readers can't see a graphic. Links that only use graphics will be invisible.

  • Don't depend on the visitor using their back button to return to the home page. Provide a link for them.

  • Contact us and about links should be prominently displayed on the home page. If possible those links should appear on each page as well.

  • No page should be more than two links from the home
    page.When designing the site map out the different categories you'll need and establish a main page for each of those major categories. Then determine the subcategories from each main category.

    An ecommerce website designed with the customer in mind will keep your
    customers coming back.

       
  • What are key words and how can they be used as an effective ecommerce strategy?

    Use Keywords to Increase Traffic

    Visitors need a way to find your website. Using key words as a search engine optimization technique is one way to get targeted traffic to your ecommerce site; using keywords to increase targeted traffic is an effective ecommerce strategy.

    Key words are the phrases that people put into a search engine to find the products that they need. When you're developing your ecommerce website make sure you use relevant key words. Think about the problem that your products solve. A general key word such as "shoes" gets millions of matches. The phrase should reflect what you offer specifically. If you offer women's designer shoes in Dallas, Texas your key word phrase might be "women's designer shoes Dallas." If you offer large sizes then "women's designer shoes large sizes" would be appropriate.
    Use one key word phrase, or a series of related key word phrases, for each page of your website. Use the phrase in your Meta tags, Meta description and title in the code of the pages. Use it as the main heading and several times in the content of the page.

    Search engines look for what the page is about when they spider the page. Seeing the same phrase(s) used throughout tells them to rank that page for that key word phrase.
    When customers put the key word phrase "women's designer shoes large sizes" in the search engine your page should rank higher than another page which doesn't have that specific phrase. The higher the page rank in the search results the better. Customers tend to just look at the first page of the rankings and decide on one of those sites to visit.

       
    Should your retail business enter the age of e commerce?

    Local Retail Businesses Need an e Commerce Website

    Even if your retail business is targeted to only the local community it
    should still have an e commerce presence. The World Wide Web has become the worldwide
    marketplace. It's easy to forget the web also allows your local customers to
    easily find you.

    If you haven't considered a website for your business because your customers
    are geographically located in a small area you may be missing out on additional
    revenues.

    Customers go to their favorite search engine when looking for addresses and
    phone numbers of businesses they frequently buy from. No website means they
    won't find you. Customers use the Internet to search for new places to try such
    as restaurants, or a specific product they need, such as a brand of dog food.
    It's faster for them to search online rather than looking it up in a phone book
    which provides limited information.

    A website is a non confrontational way for customers to see what you have to
    offer, find out more about your company and determine if you have what they
    need.

    You don't have to have a huge complicated website. Introduce your retail
    store, the basics of your products, the location and contact information. No
    matter how small a geographic area your customers come from your retail
    business still needs an ecommerce website.

       
    Is there anything I need to do to have a successful electronic commerce site?

    The Key to Successful Electronic Commerce

    Have you have been thinking about expanding your small business to offer an electronic commerce option? If so, you'll want to make sure you position your new venture for success. To develop a successful electronic commerce site, you should:

    • Offer better customer service than you do at your brick and mortar store. Customer service is extremely important because you are convincing potential buyers that can't see you or your product in person to shop through your site.
    • Make sure there are several ways to contact you on your site. Seeing that they can write a letter, send an email, or make a phone call if something goes wrong reassures customers much more than having the only point of contact be an email address. So have your contact information (Phone Number, Email, Live Chat link) located somewhere on every page of your storefront. At minimum, you should have a very visible link for "Customer Support" on every page.

       
    Can I create an ecommerce website if I'm not technologically savvy?

    Developing an Ecommerce Website

    If you don't know the different programming languages, you may be concerned that you don't have the knowledge to develop an ecommerce website. Luckily, ecommerce development doesn't have to involve technological know how. Ecommerce packages make creating an attractive and functional online store easy. To create your ecommerce website, you will:

    • Choose an e-commerce package, such as Network Solutions' standard package.
    • Select a template for your shop.
    • Follow the directions of the site wizard to get your site up and running.

       
    Do I need an ecommerce strategy for my small business?

    Create an Ecommerce Strategy for Small Business Success

    Paying for e-commerce software is a great start to growing your small business. However, without developing an ecommerce strategy, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Creating an ecommerce strategy, one which contains specific goals and objectives, is important because:

    • Having a written plan on how to use your new e-commerce site helps you stay on task. Referring back to the plan at least once a month allows you to track your progress. Examples of things to include in the plan are product categories you'd like to have, learning to use new features and offering monthly specials for online customers.
    • Considering ways to promote the site and gain new customers can help increase the bottom line for small business owners. When you have a strategy written down, you can consult it while you consider advertising options and decide which options don't help you reach your goals.

       
    Do e commerce solutions help handle taxes?

    E Commerce Solutions for Taxing Problems

    If you've ever tried to charge sales tax and keep track of all the taxes you collected by hand, you know how difficult and time consuming all of it can be. E commerce services make it much easier for small business owners to handle taxes.

    • These services allow the business owner to select states that sales tax needs to be collected from and the tax rates for these states. The e commerce software then automatically calculates sales tax and adds it to the customer invoice based on the customer's address.
    • Network Solutions' e-commerce software allows data to be downloaded to Quickbooks, which makes calculating and sending tax payments to the government even easier.

       
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    Sheri Ann Richerson