This article examines how useful an online e-commerce solution would be o your business, what alternatives there are and exactly what is usually included in such a package. By the end of the article you should be a little more confident on making this decision for your business and a little more informed next time you speak to a design company representative.
The rapid growth and popularity of the internet has seen many businesses not only grow and strengthen online but be completely developed from nothing. There are millions of potential customers waiting online no matter what your field and tapping that vast market becomes the hurdle.
When online shops first appeared they often worked on a phone or mail order system which was essentially not much different to having an actual customer in your store. These days online shopping is all about speed and convenience. If you are really serious about selling online you will need to look at investing money into an E-Commerce website. As long as you purchase from the correct team an E-Commerce package should contain everything you need to transfer your business online but it you should check the package has all of the following;
Dynamic Product Database: Add and remove products whenever you want with an easy to access interface. These usually feature the ability to upload multiple product images as well as a full product description. It should also feature a fully customizable category system.
Professionally Designed Front End: As with all shops presentation is one of the most important aspects. Without professional web design your site will deter customers before they even browse products or prices. The best design companies will continue working until you are happy with your sites image.
Relevant Domain Name & Hosting: If you do not already have one then choosing the correct domain name is essential. It can be a long trial and error process but one you must endure. There is very little point registering mrsmith.com when your business is called Fish Tanks and sells aquarium supplies as no-one will ever find your site without already knowing exactly who you are and where they are going. Hosting is also very important and is not the same as a domain. A host is the persona who actually looks after the webspace your site is located on and having a reliable server is critical, no one can buy products if you site keeps getting stuck or overloaded. Hosting and domain rental is usually charged on yearly or monthly rates.
Search Function: Most people will not want to browse your site if they already have a product in mind. Including a search function not only keeps these people happy but makes it easier for shopper to find exactly what they want. Remember that not everyone in the world will agree with your category structure now matter how good it is.
Payment Integration & Security: If you want to step into the modern age an online checkout system is essential. It enables people to securely purchase products at any time of the day with their credit cards and wait for their products to be dispatched. Unless you have a specific reason these checkout systems usually work worldwide and simply require you to shop the product your end. Security is paramount in these systems so make sure your checkout use a secure form of encryption with a respected web trader.
Search Engine Optimisation: No one can buy products from your site if they can’t find it. Basic SEO should always be included in E-Commerce packages as it will help you gain customers that would otherwise be unable to find your business.
There should be many, many more features included in a good value ecommerce package and I hope this introduction to some of the more essential ones will help you decide what is the right move to make for your business.
Remember should you not have the funds available you should at least look into a smaller static site showcasing your products to potential customers, in some, more exclusive niches this can be just as successful.