28 Sep Helping you get started with ecommerce
Expanding your business to open an online shop or starting an online store from scratch need not be a difficult, confusing or overwhelming process. There is a lot more help at hand than you may think to get you through the considerable ecommerce jargon.
Ozcart Shopping Cart packages are designed to be as easy to understand as possible, and help you through ecommerce jargon. We both have the same objective: get your online store up and running as quickly as possible.
Here’s a quick guide to getting started in ecommerce.
What is ecommerce?
Ecommerce is simply trading online. Instead of putting up a physical shop and waiting for customers to call, mail or walk into your store, you add the capability to a website to allow customer to visit, view your catalog and buy things from you without leaving the comfort of their own home.
A shopping cart is the web-based software that allows your product catalog to be displayed online, for your customers to view your products and product-images, read your product descriptions and add them to their basket. Just like in a physical store when they have finished browsing your store, the customer can go through checkout and purchase those products securely online from you. You can accept credit cards, bank transfers, cash on delivery or a number of payment options and offer customers a variety of shipping methods each with their own charges. You can add extras to their total order, automatically (like a rush fee for weekend delivery or shipping insurance) and then the order is processed.
The best shopping carts have an order management system built in, integrate with a formal electronic inventory/accounting system or allow you to export orders to a spreadsheet for importing into an accounting package. They also allow customers to add products to a wish list for later purchasing or for others to create gift registries for others to buy from.
Is ecommerce in Australia and Canada any different from other places in the world?
More than ever Australians and Canadians are getting online, using the Internet to browse products before they buy them and compare providers. In many cases, if you do not have an online shop, you will not even be considered. Some customers will visit physical shops to browse products and then look online for the cheapest place to buy them. Having an online shop can be crucial to your business success in some industries.
Due to some issues in provisioning of broadband across Australia, they have been typically slower than other parts of the world getting online, but the rate of take up has definitely increased. As more and more customers get online, so too will many more businesses. Does your business web presence include an online store or is it just ‘brochureware’?
What is involved in getting started with ecommerce?
Getting started with ecommerce doesn’t need to be difficult. Look for a shopping cart provider that has an easy to use store front that has been proven to stand up to heavy sales. Make sure it helps store owners as much as possible to get indexed in search engines. Ensure also that it has many powerful ecommerce features so that you can grow your online shop as your business grows. Try out the store front by performing a demo purchase. Is it easy for your customers to use?
If you are unsure about anything – like what payment options to choose or how to go about choosing them, how you will manage your store or promote it, then talk to your potential shopping cart provider before you buy. Do they make it easy for you to understand? Do they treat you like a number or are they willing to treat you like a partner and work with you with your success in mind? Are they just a hosting company that is trying to cash in on ecommerce or a real ecommerce specialist? Do they care about your business? What kind of support will you get? These are all important questions to ask.
Ecommerce shopping carts and security
Fear of credit card fraud is a major reason that still prevents many users from shopping online. But given the strict controls that banks and ecommerce cart providers put on online purchasing, we are convinced that online purchasing is just as safe and secure (if not more) than in a physical shop.
There are a number of high security measures in place by the top shopping carts today: like encryption of credit card details (using a technology called SSL), compliance with business process and technical security measures mandated by Visa and MasterCard (known as PCI DSS compliance) and third party vulnerability testing of shops and all electronic websites (like the Comodo trust mark).
Moving from an auction website like eBay to your own online shop
If you have bought or sold items on eBay, you have already participated in ecommerce. Many sellers on auction sites eventually get tired of auction listing fees, success fees and having their products listed right next to their competitors products all the time. They opt for their own online store. Many successful movers use both eBay and their own online store together to get he best of both worlds. Auction sites like eBay have the benefit of ‘instant traffic’ due to the large number of sellers who already know to look there for things to buy. But the disadvantage is that control is limited on auction sites and competition can be fierce. Setting up your own online store can encourage the people who already buy from you on an auction site to visit you directly next time for a better browsing experience (and maybe a financial enticement depending on your business strategy).
The importance of web design
Online you have an extremely limited period to make an impact on your customers – studies suggest this is 8 seconds or less! This means that an easy to use cart is only part of the formula for success. It has to look superb too. That’s why at Ozcart we take the time to get the web design for your ecommerce storefront just right. You choose a base layout from our collection and nominate some colours and the types of images you would like to see. We then provide you with a draft web design concept to review based on that information and one of them is then used to build your store. The process is fast, efficient, keeps you involved and ensures that you are totally satisfied with the way your site looks when it is completed.
Where can I find out more?
We want to help you understand the ins and outs of ecommerce and get your business online as quickly as possible. Want to know something else? Just get in contact with us and we’d be happy to talk about your business situation.