How B2C Ecommerce Has Helped Build The United States Ecommerce

Online shopping will soon become the main avenue of shopping in the US. The early users back then were only the highly educated white males, otherwise known as the “techies.” Nowadays, times have changed and so have the consumers for online shopping. Just about every household now has a computer or two. And anybody who owns a computer has made at least one purchase online.

As more and more people shop online, there had to be a way to track the trends of these online services, so that the retailers could get some feedback and then provide the consumer with constant improvements. This is where b2c ecommerce comes into play. They help track the latest trends of the online shopper and then provide this information to the retailers.

With this b2c ecommerce information, the retailers can make improvements to their business. And with these improvements and new technologies, the shopper now has even more tools to help them evaluate what they’re shopping for, prior to making a purchase. One of the biggest improvements that has been made online has been the ability for the consumer to comparison shop side by side for a particular item. With the click of a button, the consumer can now get numerous quotes from different retailers selling the same item.

These are some of the improvements that the retailers have made over the years; customers can now return their merchandise if they are not completely satisfied and they can either pick up their purchase or have it delivered right to their front door. As well, thanks to newer and more secure technology, customers now feel much more secure in using their credit cards online. Whereas a few years ago, people were a little apprehensive about giving their credit card number over the Internet.

Common Questions Answered by B2C Ecommerce

* How fast will my sales grow?

* Which part of the US shows in the largest growth of ecommerce

* What do consumers think is the biggest advantage to online shopping vs. conventional shopping?

* What is the greatest risk to online shopping?

B2C ecommerce will answer questions like this and many others to help the consumer be more confident when shopping online.

Market Size and Growth

The US Department of Commerce (DOC) estimated that the US ecommerce retail sales for 2003 was over $56 billion; compared to a little over $44 billion in 2002. Of course the heaviest amount of sales for 2003 came in the fourth quarter during the holiday season. B2C ecommerce has reported that there is a lot of room for sales growth, considering it has only accounted for 1.5% of total retail sales in 2003.

What Does The Future Hold?

B2C Ecommerce has predicted that by 2007, the total retail sales will rise to about 3% of the total retail sales in the US. If the online leisure travel sales increase, then the total will rise to around 4% of all retail sales. This is a huge portion of the overall US retail sales. At this stage, one would have to truly believe that the sky is the limit to online sales.

Regulations That Control Ecommerce Solutions – Step 2 – Company Information That Must Be Supplied

Over the past few years there has been a significant growth in the consumer spending online and businesses are seeing that online selling is a major way of them to save costs and resources. The growth of online selling has increased the amount of options available to an ecommerce store or Facebook store with ecommerce solutions now available to help with the selling of their product or service. The inevitable growth of online selling has led to the increase of legislation governing it.

In this next step of regulations governing online trading in the UK that all potential online businesses should look at before setting up their ecommerce software solution. We will look at information that must be provided by the companies. This information must be supplied by the company to conform to new online regulations.

All of the regulations brought up in the relating articles have a common theme, companies must be open and honest to the customer and provide as much information about themselves as possible. Providing the information will gain the ecommerce store or Facebook store trust and acknowledgment to customers and their peers. Having ecommerce solutions that are trustworthy and verified by associations and their customers will be successful, so having the relevant regulation information in place is beneficial for the ecommerce shop or Facebook store as well.

The information that the companies must supply are quite simple, to conform to the governing ecommerce regulations, the information must be shown on their website. All commercial websites must make the information directly and permanently available to consumers on the trading website.

This information includes:

  1. Company’s name
  2. Postal address, registered office address if different
  3. Email address

This is the first set of information which details that the company is legitimate for the governing body and the customer. Providing these basic contact details is highly beneficial as the customer has choices to buy and become familiar with the online business.

The next set of information that has to be provided is:

  1. Company’s registration number
  2. Trade of Professional Association memberships
  3. Company’s VAT number

If the company has been established for a few years then the above information will be established. If it is a new ecommerce store or Facebook store then it will be up to the owner to decide if they become VAT registered and register to associations.

All of the information applies to the online business whether the site sells online or not. All of the marketing communications such as email, SMS and ecommerce software must also display all the above information under the ‘Information Society Service’ regulation.

The ecommerce regulations require that all pricing on the website must be displayed clearly and unambiguously. This means that all prices must state whether the prices are inclusive of tax and delivery costs.

Creating your ecommerce solutions will be a major project so by having a clear idea of regulations that govern online business ought to be a start for any company looking to promote their product or service. Having a good grasp of regulations will save you time and money in the long-term as new regulations are becoming more and more inevitable as online business continues to grow along with new, exciting ecommerce software. Having the basics in order will only benefit the company and the potential customers, as having a conformed website will add to the trustworthiness of the company.

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.