Thinking about getting into Internet commerce? Studies show at least 25 percent of Internet users buy online. So how do you tap into this growing marketplace?
Consider that of the e-commerce sites that succeed, there are two types. One, the marketing site, is merely an offshoot of a “real-life” company’s marketing program. This type provides added product or company information. It usually pushes visitors to contact the company, either by phone or by signing up for an e-mail list.
The second type, a selling site, is an online store. Selling sites need elements such as:
• A catalog with product details (images, benefits, specifications, prices).
• A secure shopping cart system to accept payments and track orders. It should allow customers to view their carts, continue shopping or check out.
We recommend because of its customization, flexibilty and numerous features.
• A credit card processing service or a system to take phone orders.
• Company and product information to instill customer confidence.
Most online merchants use a credit card processing service such as Authorize.net that charges a monthly fee. If your business isn’t large enough to warrant such an expense, you may accept checks or money orders, or use an online service like PayPal. For a small fee per transaction, PayPal collects check or credit card payments and then transfers the funds to your bank account.
PayPal recently improved its service when it stopped
requiring customers of online merchants to register before their payments are accepted.
(The downside — and I've never experienced this myself — but I’ve heard
complaints that PayPal has frozen a merchant account after a customer disputed
For a selling site to succeed, you must promote it both on and off the Web. Optimizing your pages and registering with the few major search engines is the cheapest way to go. But may get better results with:
• Traditional marketing and PR.
• Direct marketing by mail or by e-mail.
• Trading links with other Web sites.
• Pay-per-click advertising on search engines.
use the Google AdWords pay-per-click program. (Read updated results.) So far, the clicks
have resulted in enough client inquiries to make the expense
Because my field is highly competitive, I thought a print advertising campaign might be more
effective for my company. So I have added a toll-free line to my phone and
ads in the phonebook Yellow Pages. So far, I have received more than enough
inquiries to justify the cost of the ads.
Like me, most e-commerce enterprises are experimenting to find out which marketing efforts work best.
Once you get visitors to your site, make sure you provide an environment that’s easy for them to navigate — and eventually buy. Customers should be able to find the products they want in just a few clicks. If they have to go through many levels or menus, they may just click right off your site.
An e-commerce hosting setup with shopping cart can cost as little as $12.50 per month. Contact Sheer Web Design to find the best plan for your business.
|About the Author: Reesa Marchetti has owned and operated Sheer Web LLC since 1998. A graduate of N.J. Institute of Technology's Webmaster program, she is an expert on Internet website design, marketing, hosting and domain name registration.