eCommerce Checklist – Are You Ready?

Thinking about selling a product, a product line or a variety of products on your Web site? Here are a few things you will need to think about before and during the process of setting up your eCommerce Web site.

Choose the Right Shopping Cart Software

There are many off the shelf eCommerce solutions. Some are free (open source) and some aren’t. You want to choose a cart that:

1. Has all the features you need now and in the future
2. Is constantly updated, upgraded, patched and improved
3. Is supported by a development team.
4. Is Secure.

There’s nothing worse that purchasing shopping cart software and then being unable to reach the developers or support when you have a problem.

Budget

You must determine what you are willing to spend for the options and functionality you need.

Shopping cart software costs range from free to tens of thousands of dollars. Developing a custom cart from the ground up can cost even more.

The free options may sound good at first until you run into problems or need support that is non-existent. Which leads us to…

Support

Support of a cart is the probably the most important aspect. If you have a problem, (and you will) does the software provider provide live support?

Do they have a phone number on the site for support?

Do they charge for support.

You may be surprised by the number of software providers that do not even provide a phone number.

Cart/Server Setup

The shopping cart should be professionally installed on your server by a qualified server admin or the cart software programmer. There are typically many server/cart configuration options that can be very confusing if you are not familiar with the environment.

A database will also need to be setup and tied into your cart.

Also be sure to choose a cart that is compatible with your server operating system. Typically, Linux servers will run PHP and Perl solutions and Windows servers will use .ASP and .NET applications.

Choose whom you will use to ship your product

Typical Options:
UPS
FedEx
USPS (United States Postal Service)
DHL

Choose how you will calculate shipping cost

Some options would be:

* Live rate lookup
* Weight based table
* Price based table

Live Rate Lookup

Our shopping cart software supports Live shipping rate lookup. This means that it will return a shipping cost to the customer based on the actual product weight plus packaging.

(Setup varies depending on service selected)

We recommend the live lookup option if possible.

You will need to provide the weight for each product. (Including packaging)

Weight Based Table

Alternately, you can use a weight-based table.

Weight based Table Example:

Total Order size (weight) Shipping Price
0 – 29.99 = $9.50
30 – 59.99 = $4.50
60.00 and up Free ($0)

Cost Based Table

If you choose shipping rate by cost of the product, you will need to setup a shipping rate table and associated costs.

Example of a Cost based shipping table.

Total Order size (dollars) Shipping Price
$0-$24.95 = $9.00
$24.96-$49.99 = $5.00
$50.00 and up Free ($0)

Note: The free is just an example of what you can offer. You do not have to offer free shipping.

How will the package arrive at the shipping office?

* Shipper picks up package from you on a regular basis
* You deliver the package to the shipping office

This will impact your shipping cost.

Things to consider:

* Package size can impact cost of shipping
* Handling charge. You have the option to add a handling charge
* What countries will you ship to?

Note: Shipping is a VERY important aspect of setting up your eCommerce shop. Setting shipping rates too high is one of the leading causes of shopping cart abandonment.

Product Categories

You will need to determine how many product categories you are going to need and how many products will be in each category. It’s best to start of small and add products over time.

Product Images

You will need product images.

We recommend a professional photographer. It is essential that your photos be of top quality. In some cases you may be able to get them from the manufacturer.

A poor quality image looks unprofessional and will not help sell your product.

However, if you choose to take the photos yourself, try and follow these guidelines

* Use light backdrops (not white)
* Try and use natural sunlight or studio lights that produce no shadows

You will need a thumbnail image and a larger detailed image. There is a variety of good photo editing software on the market. Paint Shop Pro is a good low cost, multi purpose editor.

Adobe Photoshop is the top of the line software tool for photo editing, retouching and compressing your images. The choice of professionals.

Photo Naming Convention

Be sure and categorize the images and give them descriptive names. If you use numbers, be sure that they correlate with the product description detail “Photo Name” (see below). Typically save in .JPG format.

Delivery Options (if third party is doing the work)

* Burn to a CD or DVD and mail to us
* Zip and email (if less than 5 megs)
* FTP – Publish on your site or specified site

Product Description

For each product, you will need a written description.

You will need a Short description (one sentence) and a Long description (paragraph or more).

You want to attract and intrigue potential shoppers so be sure to use interesting copy that is full of adjectives and possibly a bullet list of features in the long description.

Product Details

Depending on the cart used, you may have to adhere to the following format. Use a Word document or Excel worksheet for each category. Please name the document/worksheet relevant to the category, i.e. name it Widgets, if the category is Widgets.

Category:
Item Name:
Description Short:
Description Long:
Photo Name:
Item or product #:
Sort Code:
Shipping Weight:
Price:
Keywords associated with product:
Options: (color/size/scent/etc.): (If applicable)

Merchant Account/Taking Payments

What is needed to accept credit cards online?

You will need a merchant account and a payment gateway.

Options:

A. If applicable, use your existing merchant account and setup an authorization gateway (authorize.net, Linkpoint, etc.) that will interface with your merchant account through your cart and handle the transactions in real time.

B. Setup a new merchant account and payment gateway. This is the most professional setup and will instill confidence in your customers.

C. Interface with PayPal. (not recommended for serious eCommerce) This is the absolute last choice. This would be considered unprofessional and could cause you to lose business. Consider this only if your are on the lowest budget.

Security

All transactions should be encrypted via SSL (Secure Socket Layer) This requires a security certificate to be installed on the server. There is a variety of SSL vendors such as Verisign, Thawte, GeoTrust and many more. This is an absolutely essential for any site accepting credit card payments online.

Other configurations:

Take you time and go through all the configuration options. Shopping carts are complex programs and there are often 10 or more page of configuration options. Each option should be reviewed to determine if it’s right for your store/product.

Ultimately, setting up an eCommerce solution takes a lot of thought, time and effort. Advanced Web Site Publishing has setup hundreds of eCommerce solutions. We are also experienced in all facets of running an eCommerce site. Let us recommend the correct solution for you.

So You Think You Can eCommerce?

The eCommerce develops quickly but blind. Everyone has his own answer when being asked what the eCommerce is, because it is hard to give a definition. So what the eCommerce is in the end is topic of this article.

Electron + Business= Commercial Electron

With the fast development and wide usage of computers and internet, many IT companies begin to establish electronic information platform such as Taobao, eBay and Monster which partly supply the personal demand for information or consumer.

Meanwhile, Alibaba, Global sources, Made-in-China.com are well-known platforms in B2B industry. Such platforms attract many companies to join. Enterprises come to publish their own business and product information in order to obtain their own output and interests, thus helping these electronic information platform update and improve a great deal of information, but it also attract buyers to some extent. Under the environment of information flood, the platform launched Banner ads, ranking and other services, allowing enterprises to spend more money to get the extra display or possible attention.

If you see through the point, this kind of electronic information platform make our offline wholesale market electronic, which is the reason why a lot of wholesale market or Intelligence Park to open up use online electronic information platform to deepen its existing offline services. In today’s business operating mode, such a “wholesale market” mode can not reflect characteristics of the enterprises, also not conducive to the development of brand names.

Then we will naturally find that, the e-business mode which takes electronic information platform as the core part could meet part of business needs, but these platforms will only intensify competition in the same industry, even lead to price competition. Most companies can not benefit from such a platform. Frankly speaking, it is difficult to achieve win-win between enterprises and the platform providers.

Business + Electron = Electronic Business (eCommerce)

As early as three years ago, we saw the drawbacks of electronic information platform and begin to consider new e-commerce mode. Later we found a new e-business mode should be a integration mode which takes the needs of enterprises as the core part and electronic information technology as auxiliary.

Commercial operation is the core of the development of enterprises; companies need to pay more attention to how to run it well, rather than spending a lot of manpower and resources to choose from a variety of electronic channels to meet their business needs. In other words, enterprises should focus on the operation of its familiar business operation modules, and delegate or outsource the unfamiliar modules to a professional company.

Take the Chinese trading company we are familiar with as an example. Chinese trading company need to carry out foreign trade marketing, so the eCommerce should be based on marketing needs of enterprises of international trading. The purpose of international trading is to obtain foreign buyers’ attention and inquiry. To run eCommerce, Chinese exporters should take getting foreign buyers’ attention and inquiry as the core part, through a variety of e-business channels to provide marketing solutions for Chinese exporters.

As the most influential thinker in the field of eCommerce, Dr. Jeffrey F Report’s research focused on the impact of information technology for enterprise service management and marketing strategy, that is to say the needs of enterprise eCommerce issues. From this point it is not difficult to see that the second mode is the real eCommerce!

Of course, no matter what kind of eCommerce mode has its advantages, disadvantages and target groups, but according to our years of research about International trading, Chinese exporters and international eCommerce, the first mode is suitable for general consumption and the second mode is more suited for the enterprises.

And we firmly believe that electronic business is the development direction of eCommerce in the future while the application level of eCommerce would probably be a module of eCommerce. If your site wants to stand out in the same industry, it must be a perfect combination of network marketing and eCommerce – an eCommerce site which has a very strong function of network marketing. In the early times, more sites worked hard to e-business, while neglecting the importance of Internet marketing.

An eCommerce site with a strong function of network marketing must have 4 characteristics:

  • Letting your target customers find you easily. Search engine marketing has been proven to be the most efficient network in network marketing. It is very easy for your target consumers to find you in the first time if you lock the keywords and seize the keywords ranking in all major search engines.
  • Being professional and commercialization of website’s design. From the network marketing is perspective, a website which can not be profitable to the enterprise is sick. If a site wants to be profitable online, it is not only to fight for a better search engine rankings, what is more importantly, the site must be designed professionally and commercially. If your target customers could not find your contact way in 30 seconds after accessing your site, there is an 80% probability of missing this potential customer. Your site should gain the trust of your customers, expressing a sense of this: You have a very rich company in reality which just moves online. If the customer has not found your contact way in 2 minutes, there is a 70% probability of missing this client. Now there are many corporate websites use e-mail as contact way, but how could the customers have time to email you, waiting for your reply? Funny!
  • Getting the high-quality sales clues quickly. How to turn the target visitors into your sales clues is a key step to achieve profitability for your eCommerce. The practical work of business article and a good many of the networking technology should guide all the information of target customers in a short time and reflect the customer’s needs to you quickly.
  • Realizing profitability and maximize economic benefits. After using some good products, the consumers will maintain a good memory for a long period of time, and constantly strive to recommend to other consumers. The agreement public praise still has the same magic influence on the internet.

eCommerce Web Development: Mistakes Significantly Impacting Your Entrepreneurial Endeavors

The prospect of getting an eCommerce store developed is tempting, to say the least. Touted as the proverbial money-spinner, an eCommerce platform is fast becoming a crucial part of our shopping experience. As per reports, in the year 2013, around 40-41% percent of people had shopped online. The figure is well poised to touch 46% in the year 2017.

A Few Words About eCommerce Development

Development of eCommerce platforms is no walk in the park. Mistakes along the way can significantly impact your entrepreneurial fortunes. No amount of discount or sales can help you if you don’t have a user-friendly site or for that matter if your contact information is not easily visible. Here is a lowdown on the major eCommerce development mistakes that you should avoid at any cost.

A Few eCommerce Web Development Mistakes Ruining Your ROI

An efficient eCommerce Web Development Company will not commit these mistakes at any cost.

Mistake 1: You aren’t paying heed to the factors to be considered while selecting an eCommerce platform

Do you realize that even the most popular eCommerce platform like Shopify cannot really be chosen arbitrarily? The choice of the eCommerce platform is the most vital decision affecting the future of your eCommerce store. And, what exactly are the factors that need to be taken into account? The size of your inventory, payment methods and the projected number of customers are just a few attributes that should ideally govern your choice of the eCommerce platform.

Mistake 2: Coming Up with A Layout Which Does Not Evoke Enough Trust

It happens and happens often. The appearance of your site is critical to business growth. You simply cannot forget that your users are trusting you with their personal information (like name, address, and their credit information). Now, the digital world is no stranger to instances of data breaches and information hacks. Shoppers have become more cautious than ever as far as providing personal information is concerned. They will simply like to ignore an eCommerce site which does not inspire due confidence. Businesses should be prudent enough to view a website just like a customer. Have a good look at your own site. Would you have divulged your personal details to the site (created by you) if you were a customer? You’re committing a major mistake if you aren’t doing this.

Mistake 3: Not having enough payment options

This remains one of the major reasons why eCommerce stores end up losing customers. Why not facilitate user experience by including as many payment options? With payment services like Google Wallet, PayPal and Amazon you can let your shoppers pay with all the leading credit cards or electronic checks.

Mistake 4: Not Coming Up with a User-Friendly Layout

No matter how tempting it sounds, the inclusion of too many features on your website only goes on to hinder its loading speed. Aim for simplified navigation. Make sure you’re making your site as clutter-free as possible accommodating all the necessary information at the same time.