What is an e commerce website?
"E commerce" is a term which gained significance towards 1995. Put simply it means - to sell things using the internet as the medium. Here "things" could mean products, services, information etc. An e commerce website is a website which is developed to help companies or businesses sell their wares to customers online. Why e commerce website?
• It makes sure that the company's products are available round the clock (24/7). This makes it easier for the customer as he is not limited to opening hours as in a traditional "brick and mortar' shop.
• It saves the company a lot of expenses in terms of premises and staffing cost.
• Products are accessible to a broader spectrum of potential customers. It helps to introduce the company to new markets.
• It reduces the lead generation time and speeds up the delivery time.
E commerce website design and development is a process that involves a lot of careful planning and implementation. Some pointers that can be kept in mind before getting down to developing the actual website are:-
• Be aware of the existing competition in the market, it could be in terms of the ease of navigation of the competitor's website, their inventory, pricing, variety of products etc. This step is as important to a virtual setup as is to a "brick and mortar' business.
• Operate from a niche area. The world of internet marketing is quite a huge one and to find a strong foot hold it is beneficial to operate from a niche area.
Constituents of a good ecommerce website-
• The first and the most important step is to build a professionally operated website through any of the following ways
o Hire a web design company
o Build own pages using HTML editing software
o Rent space on a web hosting company
• Select a good URL for the website by visiting an online company which offers domain for sale. The domain name is purchased for a predetermined amount and an online credit card facility accepts the order and emails the confirmation. After the relevant authorities record the ownership, the domain name can be used in the public domain.
• Host the site so that it will be ready for display on the internet. If the website is built by a web designing company, then they upload it on the internet. If the web site is one that is built online then a mail is sent to the hosting company as soon as the website is ready.
• Get a reliable and foolproof payment system in place. Some of the simplest options for a new website are
o Display goods online and take payment offline through cheques, bank transfers, getting credit card information online etc.
o Display goods online and also take payment online through simple wallet system
o Display goods online and take payment online by outsourcing the payment to a payment service provider. The provider verifies the credit card payments, takes out the commissions and sends the balance. What ever be the method of collecting payments, the company has to ensure that a good quality control system is put in place to minimize untoward incidences and to build customer's trust.
• Marketing the site through promotional activities like press releases, getting listed in directories, SEO rankings, online advertising etc.
It's a really crowded world out there so the concept of first building the ecommerce website and then promoting it most often ends up looking good only on paper. The website itself should be designed right from the start based on a well researched selling proposition.