Ecommerce Terminology

ECommerce is an expression used for any type of trade that is done across the Internet. Ecommerce trade has many subsets involved, like online shopping from retail websites, auctions, trading goods online and business services between companies. ECommerce has become the most important facet of Internet in the present scenario.

How Ecommerce Helps?

Ecommerce allows us to exchange goods and services, surpassing the barriers of time and distance. It involves several transactions, usually the transfer of money in exchange of goods or services online.

The uses of Ecommerce are divided into the following categories:

1. E-tailing or online retail selling on the stores, which are better known as virtual malls.

2. Easy to gather demographic data on the internet.

3. Electronic Data exchange in the form of email and fax.

4. Business-to-business(B2B) and Business-to- Consumer(B2C) buying and selling

5. The security of industry communications and dealings.

1. E-tailing or Virtual Stores.

A virtual store is a major achievement of ecommerce technology. It is a place with 24 hours availability for shopping with a sophisticated interactive interface. The onset of virtual stores has made Internet a billion dollar source of revenue. The online business of virtual stores has skyrocketed in the past 4 years and continues to grow at amazing pace. The figures reveal that, at the start of e-tailing or virtual shopping malls in 1997, Dell Computers reported orders worth million dollars a day!

2. Market Research.

With the advent of ecommerce, it has become easy to search and collect information about business prospects and the consumer. This is done mainly with the help of registration forms, questionnaires and order filling forms. This demographic data collection is very useful from the point of view of the various companies involved in online business.

3. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

Electronic Data Interchange is used for the exchange of business information in the form of electronic catalogs and electronic payment systems. To be accurate, EDI is considered as a standard form of electronic documents that are exchanged between companies. Lately, there are most advanced versions of electronic data exchange in the form of XML and ebXML, which are set to replace EDI.

4. E-Mail and Fax.

Ecommerce is also accomplished with the help of other electronic forms of communication like e-mail and fax. Companies attempting to use e-mail and fax for unsolicited ads use these features. The promising use of phone calls over the Internet is also a result of ecommerce. In addition, the trend of sending email newsletters to subscribers is also growing.

5. B2B and B2C Online trade.

The power of the Web has been revealed and the companies selling products and services online have discovered that the internet provides not only a 24-hour-a-day platform for them but also the most promising way to reach out to their customers.

6. Safety of personal information.

Ecommerce has developed safe ways to transfer important information in the form of encrypted messages. It also includes verifying all the legal business transactions, giving access to different resources, coding the information and thereby ensuring the privacy of the data. Secure Sockets Layer or the SSL is the most widely used ecommerce security technologies today.

What is a Shopping cart?.

A Shopping cart is a system that allows the users to purchase goods and or services, track the orders and tie together all features of ecommerce into one organized structure.
Setting up Ecommerce Store

It can be difficult to set up an online Ecommerce store if you are unaware of the basic facts. A well-organized research and understanding is essential to implement an e-business plan.

1. While there are many types of software that are available, an efficient and cost-effective solution proves to be the most beneficial. Shopping cart software’s are available at a price starting from $79.95 per month or even more. There are free ecommerce development solutions also available on the net. Take into consideration the number of credit card processors and shipping services the shopping cart software supports.

2. The next step, you need a means of accepting online payments. Cost of setting up a payment system for your website is a crucial factor. If you are looking for a cheap payment system, then Pay pal is the best option. If in case, you have your own merchant account set up, then setting up an ecommerce account will be cheaper for you.

3. Lastly, you will need a promotion strategy to drive the traffic to your site. You will require advertising and search engine-marketing program, to increase your presence on the internet.
Ecommerce is surely a very rewarding enterprise, but one cannot make money overnight. It requires a lot of study, hard work and sensible decisions on facts learned from researching ecommerce. In this field, you cannot simply rely on your gut feeling!

10 Important Points to Consider to Launch Your First Ecommerce Website

A number of studies have shown that a large percentage of modern users prefer mobile commerce apps to ecommerce websites. Hence, your ecommerce website must deliver optimal user experience to beat competition and mobile commerce. You have to consider several factors to make the web store keep visitors engaged and seduce them to buy the products/services. In addition focusing the look, feel, features, and functionality of the website, you also need to explore ways to optimize its user experience. To optimize the user experience delivered by the website, you need to enhance its accessibility, usability, security, credibility and search engine visibility.

10 Points to Consider while Launching Your First Ecommerce Website

1) User

While planning and developing your first ecommerce website, you must focus extensively on the users and their choices. You must remember that a web store does not allow customers to touch, feel or smell the products physically. Hence, you must keep the users engaged by making their shopping experience fast and hassle-free. You can always keep the visitors engaged by offering products at discounted prices, providing free shipping, and keeping the shopping and checkout process simple.

2) Design

You also need to focus on the design and user interface of the ecommerce website to impress and engage visitors effectively. Unlike established brands, you need to explore ways to gain the trust and confidence of visitors. Hence, you have to include a number of elements in the website design – a recognizable logo, shopping deals, product options, product review and testimonials, and call to action. At the same time, you need to ensure that the look and feel of the ecommerce website is both intuitive enough to keep the purchase process simple and straightforward.

3) Mobile Optimization

As mentioned earlier, a large percentage of modern users prefer mcommerce apps to ecommerce websites. Likewise, most people nowadays access ecommerce websites on their smartphones, tablets or phablets. Hence, you need to ensure that the ecommerce website delivers optimal user experience on both computers and mobile devices. You can always opt for responsive web design to make the web store look good on each device with a single code base. The mobile optimization will further enhance the website’s visibility on major search engine results pages (SERPs).

4) Social Elements

You need to include many social elements in the ecommerce website to impress the users. The users must have option to share the products purchased from your web store with their friends through popular social networks. Also, the social elements will help users to promote your new ecommerce website and enhance its popularity. You can even use the social elements as an efficient tool to gather information about customers and track their behaviour.

5) Search Box

No ecommerce site can display all its products on a single page. But you can always impress visitors by displaying branded goods to the visitors initially. Also, you must allow customers to check your products based on specific criterions or categories. The website must allow visitors to search and find the relevant products without any delay or hassle. Hence, you need to ensure that your ecommerce site includes a robust search box. The search box will enable users to find a specific product and buy it directly, without browsing through an array of products.

6) Shopping Cart

Your choice of shopping cart will have a direct impact on the user experience delivered by the ecommerce portal. You have option to choose from an array of open source and commercial shopping carts written in different programming languages. But you must opt for a shopping cart software that enables users to check their previous and current purchases quickly and conveniently. Also, the shopping cart must allow users to add or remove items without any hassle. At the same time, you also need to enhance the accessibility and visibility of the shopping cart by using the commonly used simple basket icon.

7) Payment Options

The choice of online payment option varies from one customer to another. Some customers prefer making payment through their debit/credit cards or internet banking facility, while others opt for popular online payment options like PayPal and digital wallets. Hence, you need to ensure that each customer can make payment for the products purchased by him with any payment option. At the same time, you also need to keep the online payment and financial transactions of customers secure by using a reliable payment gateway and the latest encryption techniques.

8) Trust Marks

You must remember that a large percentage of people are sceptical about new ecommerce websites. Hence, you must explore ways to enhance the ecommerce website’s credibility and win the trust of customers. In addition to including robust security features in the web store, you also need to display the accreditation certificates and trust marks of reputed brands. The trust marks and accreditation certificates will enhance the credibility of your newly launched web store. The trust marks will further assure customers that their personal data will remain private and online transactions will remain 100% secure.

9) Option to Answer Pre-Sale and Post-Sale Questions

While buying products from a new ecommerce website, users often ask a variety of question before and after the purchase. Hence, you must answer the pre-sale and post-sale questions of customers immediately increase your sales and revenue. Like other websites, you can answer the pre-sale and post-sale questions of customers through either online chat or phone call. But the customer must be able to see the options available to clear his doubts and answer his questions. You need to ensure that the phone number or online chat option is clearly visible to each customer. Also, you must deploy skilled customer care executive to answer the pre-sale questions of website visitors appropriately and convert them into customers.

10) Search Engine Visibility

You can easily divert regular search engine traffic to the ecommerce website by complying with the guidelines recommended by popular search engines like Google and Bing. For instance, Google ranks websites based on metrics like mobile friendliness and load time. Also, it recommends entrepreneurs to build web stores with responsive web design. While planning the ecommerce website, you must keep in mind the guidelines and recommendations of major online search engines. The search engine optimized design will help you to get regular website visitors without launching expensive digital marketing campaigns in future.

You further need to assess all important aspects – user interface, functionality, performance, usability, security, and user experience – during the ecommerce website development phase itself to make it popular within a shorter amount of time. You can even consider investing in analytics tools to understand the behaviour and preferences of website visitors based on real-time information collected from various sources. However, it is also important to update your ecommerce website consistently to meet the emerging technologies, industry trends and customer preferences.

The 12 Days of ECommerce Christmas

Can you believe it’s already November?

Everybody is starting to plan for Christmas and your store will be getting crazy busy handling orders left, right and centre.

When you’re in the thick of things, nothing can be more distressing than realising that the items which your customers are interested in are actually out of stock.

Or that the shipping company which would normally deliver parcels for you could not accommodate you.

To prevent that from happening in the most profitable season of the year, we list 12 things you can do to prepare your eCommerce business for the holidays.

1. Stock up

On the 1st day of eCommerce Christmas, list your bestsellers.

You may also want to look up frequently searched for Christmas gifts on Google Trends.

Once you have figured which products to add to your inventory, meet up with your supplier to discuss the earliest time they could deliver new stocks.

Apart from Christmas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday should be taken into consideration when planning your inventory as they kick off the holiday shopping season.

2. Create Holiday Banners and Images

On the 2nd day of eCommerce Christmas, get everyone excited for the holidays by posting Christmas-y banners and images on your website.

This triggers anticipation and enthusiasm, which are important factors for increasing customer engagement on your site.

3. Ensure Mobile Efficiency

According to the online retailing association IMRG, more than 50% of UK’s online retail sales in Q4 2015 was made through mobile devices.

That’s an indication that more people are using their tablets and smartphones to shop nowadays.

So on the 3rd day of eCommerce Christmas, test the checkout process on your website using a mobile device to ensure it’s free of any glitches.

4. Offer Great Deals

On the 4th day of eCommerce Christmas, start rolling out great deals and be part of the week-long sales period leading up to Black Friday and continuing until Cyber Monday.

Make sure the deals are staggered throughout the week as this will help you generate incremental sales.

Put a countdown over the items which you want to sell fast as this will help build anticipation among customers. See, everybody wants to be the first to have something.

5. Send Personalised Email and Social Media Messages

On the 5th day of eCommerce Christmas, send out personalised emails announcing your Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions, holiday coupons, free gift wrapping and other cool offerings.

Set aside your standard email template for the time being, and think up a good subject line to get your email read.

In addition to that, let the community of online shoppers know about your deals on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to name a few.

6. Keep ’em Updated

Shopaholics can’t get enough of extra product information, especially during the holiday season.

The more you dish out, the more you keep them engaged.

On the 6th day of eCommerce Christmas, blog away to keep them posted on your deals, pricing, shipping and other pieces of information that affect their buying decision.

7. Have a Clear Returns Policy

On the 7th day of eCommerce Christmas, be open to the fact that some of your customers could return an item which they purchased from your store.

Having said that, see to it that your product pages have a returns policy which clearly stipulates the conditions on which customers are allowed to return a product.

8. Meet with a Reliable Shipping Company (and get a backup, too)

On the 8th day of eCommerce Christmas, arrange a meeting with a reliable shipping company to discuss your options in relation to your expected levels of parcels and shipping points.

Also, you need to know their shipping deadlines so that you can inform your customers of the dates.

Delivering orders on time is the key to gaining lifelong customers.

However, let us not discount the fact that there are people who would wait until the last shipping date before placing their orders.

It would help to have a backup courier that can readily provide last-minute shipping in case the company you’ve partnered with couldn’t accommodate you.

9. Use Holiday-inspired Packing Supplies

It’s one thing to get your customers’ orders to their doorstep, it’s another thing to do it in pretty boxes.

On the 9th day of eCommerce Christmas, make your customers feel the holiday spirit with Christmas inspired packaging supplies.

You want them in shades of red, green, gold, silver and even blue.

10. Put Customer Support in Place

On the 10th day of eCommerce Christmas, make sure that you are ready to address your customers’ queries and concerns in a timely manner.

You can have someone handle this task for you, or do it yourself if you want to.

Also, the Contact Us page on your website should include the hours that you provide customer support apart from your contact information.

11. Prepare for Boxing Day

On the 11th day of eCommerce Christmas, prepare for Boxing Day!

Just because it’s after Christmas Day, doesn’t mean Boxing Day won’t generate sales for your business anymore.

In fact, the data of IMRG and Experian, a consumer credit reporting agency, shows that online shoppers in the UK spent £856 million in last year’s Boxing Day.

Those figures are expected to get bigger this year, and you sure want to be amongst the businesses that benefit.

12. Staff up

On the 12th day of eCommerce Christmas, be sure an extra pair of hands is handling the high volume of orders coming into your store, and ensuring shipments are made in a timely manner.

Responding to customer queries and listing new products on your website are other tasks which you will definitely need help with in this busy season.

You can either hire someone to perform these tasks or outsource them.

So there you have it-12 sure-fire ways of making your online store a success in the upcoming holiday season.