E-COMMERCE WEBSITE | ALL WHAT TO KNOW.
Statistics have recently revealed that 4 in 10 purchases are made using only an online channel for searching and buying. And also that 96% of Americans have made an online purchase in their life, 80% in the past month alone. With this information, it worthy of note that the term e-commerce is gradually ravaging and becoming the basic financial activity channels worldwide. According to the famous Wikipedia, E-commerce is the activity of buying or selling of products on online services or over the Internet. Electronic commerce draws on technologies such as mobile commerce, electronic funds transfer, supply chain management, Internet marketing, online transaction processing, electronic data interchange (EDI), inventory management systems, and automated data collection systems. E-commerce also known as electronic commerce or internet commerce refers to the exchange of goods or services using the internet, it also involves the whole process which includes the transfer of payments from but to the merchant. And the transfer of data to execute these transactions. However, the products that are linked to e-commerce on rare cases are not tangible; they sometimes can be the selling of knowledge online, selling membership and other intangible services. Therefore, the e-business refers to all aspects and phases of operating an online business, e-commerce also in my words refer to all the transaction involved in selling goods and services online, that is using the internet.
This is an online site that hosts all e-commerce activities and often owned by a vendor (individual or cooperate). Just like we all have street shops, that is what e-commerce website stands for in the e-commerce world and digitalis as a whole.
Activities carried on an E-commerce website may include some or all of the followings:
- Online shopping for retail sales direct to consumers via e-commerce Web sites and mobile apps, and conversational commerce via live chat, chat bots, and voice assistants 
- Providing or participating in online marketplaces, which process third-party business-to-consumer or consumer-to-consumer sales. This is a very form of e-commerce today and it really invokes.
- Business-to-business buying and selling via an e-commerce website
- Gathering and using demographic data through web contacts and social media
- Business-to-business (B2B) electronic data interchange
- Marketing to prospective and established customers by e-mail or fax (for example, with newsletters)
- Engaging in retail for launching new products and services
- Online financial exchanges for currency exchanges or trading purposes.
Understanding various niches and Types of E-commerce Website
To start an online business or e-commerce website, it is best to find a niche product that consumers have difficulty finding in malls or department stores. Also, take shipping into consideration. Pets.com found out the hard way: dog food is expensive to ship FedEx! Then you need an e-commerce enabled website. This can either be a new site developed from scratch or an existing site to which you can add e-commerce shopping cart capabilities.
The next step, you need a means of accepting online payments. This usually entails obtaining a merchant account and accepting credit cards through an online payment gateway (some smaller sites stick with simpler methods of accepting payments such as PayPal).
Lastly, you need a marketing strategy for driving targeted traffic to your site and a means of enticing repeat customers. If you are new to e-commerce keep things simple- know your limitations.
E-commerce can be a very rewarding venture, but you cannot make money overnight. It is important to do a lot of research, ask questions, work hard and take on business decisions on facts learned from researching e-commerce. Don’t rely on “gut” feelings. We hope our online e-commerce tutorial has helped your business make a better decision in choosing an online shopping cart for your e-commerce store.
- Business to Consumer (B2C):
When a business sells a good or service to an individual consumer (e.g. you buy a pair of shoes from an online retailer).
- Business to Business (B2B):
When a business sells a good or service to another business (e.g. A business sells software-as-a-service for other businesses to use)
- Consumer to Consumer (C2C):
When a consumer sells a good or service to another consumer (e.g. you sell your old furniture on eBay to another consumer).
- Consumer to Business (C2B):
When a consumer sells their own products or services to a business or organization (e.g. an influencer offers exposure to their online audience in exchange for a fee, or a photographer licenses their photo for a business to use).
Examples of Ecommerce
E-commerce can take on a variety of forms involving different transactional relationships between businesses and consumers, as well as different objects being exchanged as part of these transactions.
- Retail: The sale of a product by a business directly to a customer without any intermediary.
- Wholesale: The sale of products in bulk, often to a retailer that then sells them directly to consumers.
- Dropshipping: The sale of a product, which is manufactured and shipped to the consumer by a third party.
- Crowdfunding: The collection of money from consumers in advance of a product being available in order to raise the startup capital necessary to bring it to market.
- Subscription: The automatic recurring purchase of a product or service on a regular basis until the subscriber chooses to cancel.
- Physical products: Any tangible good that requires inventory to be replenished and orders to be physically shipped to customers as sales are made.
- Digital products: Downloadable digital goods, templates, and courses, or media that must be purchased for consumption or licensed for use.
- Services: A skill or set of skills provided in exchange for compensation. The service provider’s time can be purchased for a fee.
Why Do People Buy ‘Online’ through e-commerce websites and apps?
- 1. Lower Prices: it so obvious that managing an online storefront is far cheaper than an offline, brick and mortar store. Therefore, less staff are required to manage an online shop as web-based management systems enable owners to automate inventory management and warehousing is not necessarily required (as we discuss later). As such, e-commerce business owners can afford to pass operational cost savings on to consumers (in the form of product or service discounts) whilst protecting their overall margin. Furthermore, with the rise of price comparison websites, consumers have more transparency with regard to prices and are able to shop around, typically purchasing from online outlets instead.
- Accessibility and Convenience: Unlike many offline stores, consumers can access e-commerce websites 24 hours a day. Customers can read about services, browse products and place orders whenever they wish. In that sense, online shopping is extremely convenient and gives the consumer more control. Furthermore, those living in more remote areas are able to order from their home at a touch of a button, saving them time traveling to a shopping center.
- Wider Choice: For the past twenty years, the growth of online shopping has to a large extent been based on increased choice. With an almost endless choice of brands and products to choose from, consumers are not limited by the availability of specific products in their local town, city or country. Items can be sourced and shipped globally. Interestingly, one recent study found that consumers are actually starting to become frustrated by e-commerce sites that offer too much choice. Whichever way you look at it though, more choice has likely been a good thing over the long term.
Why Do Businesses Sell ‘Online’?
- 1. Higher Margins: Setup costs and ongoing operational costs such as rent, heating, electricity, warehousing (if operating a drop-ship model) and inventory management are often significantly reduced or otherwise eliminated. Further, customer service and other administrative tasks can be automated or outsourced at a relatively low-cost. As such, higher margins can usually be achieved when selling via an online store compared to operating an offline business.
- 2. Scalability: With a brick and mortar business, the owner is often limited by the number of people who can physically be in the store at any one time. There is no limit when trading online. Running an e-commerce business means tapping into a truly global market. Furthermore, online platforms enable rapid scaling. With the emergence of social media and content marketing as well as the option of generating traffic and conversions through pay-per-click (PPC), expanding into new regions or markets can happen quickly. A great example of this in practice is Choir, a business that experienced 1,023% growth in revenue in just one year.
- 3. Consumer Insight / Technology: E-commerce businesses typically collate a tremendous amount of customer data. With every element of consumer behavior being tracked, e-commerce business owners are able to understand, tweak and improve the customer shopping experience for customers – making data-led decisions to increase conversion rates and sales. With technology rapidly evolving, it is important that online retailers use tools such as Google Analytics correctly to understand their customers’ buying habits, unlocking insight from this data presents a unique advantage, not available to offline stores. Those who leverage the right systems and technology can see their businesses grow extremely quickly.
Drop shipping is a retail fulfillment method where a store doesn’t keep the products it sells in stock. Instead, when a store sells a product, it purchases the item from a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer. As a result, the merchant never sees or handles the product.
The biggest difference between Dropshipping and the standard retail model is that the selling merchant doesn’t stock or own inventory. Instead, the merchant purchases inventory as needed from a third party – usually a wholesaler or manufacturer – to fulfill orders.
The Dropshipping model has a number of benefits and drawbacks:
Benefits of drop shipping
Less Capital Is Required
Easy to Get Started – Running an e-commerce business is much easier when you don’t have to deal with physical products. With Dropshipping, you don’t have to worry about:
- Managing or paying for a warehouse
- Packing and shipping your orders
- Tracking inventory for accounting reasons
- Handling returns and inbound shipments
- Continually ordering products and managing a stock level
Low Overhead – Because you don’t have to deal with purchasing inventory or managing a warehouse, your overhead expenses are quite low. In fact, many successful Dropshipping businesses are run from a home office with a laptop for less than $100 per month. As you grow, these expenses will likely increase but will still be low compared to those of traditional brick-and-mortar businesses.
Flexible Location – A Dropshipping business can be run from just about anywhere with an internet connection. As long as you can communicate with suppliers and customers easily, you can run and manage your business.
Wide Selection of Products – Because you don’t have to pre-purchase the items you sell, you can offer an array of products to your potential customers. If suppliers stock an item, you can list if for sale on your website at no additional cost.
Easy to Scale – With a traditional business, if you receive three times as much business you’ll usually need to do three times as much work. By leveraging Dropshipping suppliers, most of the work to process additional orders will be borne by the suppliers, allowing you to expand with fewer growing pains and less incremental work.
Sales growth will always bring additional work – especially related to customer service – but business that utilizes Dropshipping scale particularly well relative to traditional e-commerce businesses.
All these benefits make Dropshipping a very attractive model to both beginning and established merchants. Unfortunately, Dropshipping isn’t all roses and rainbows. All this convenience and flexibility comes at a price.
Low Margins – Low margins are the biggest disadvantage of operating in a highly competitive Dropshipping niche. Because it’s so easy to get started – and the overhead costs are so minimal – many merchants will set up shop and sell items at rock-bottom prices in an attempt to grow revenue. They’ve invested so little in getting the business started so they can afford to operate on minuscule margins.
Inventory Issues – If you stock all your own items, it’s relatively simple to keep track of which items are in and out of stock. But when you’re sourcing from multiple warehouses, which are also fulfilling orders for other merchants, inventory changes on a daily basis. While there are ways you can better sync your store’s inventory with your suppliers’, these solutions don’t always work seamlessly, and suppliers don’t always support the technology required.
Shipping Complexities – If you work with multiple suppliers – as most drop shippers do – the products on your website will be sourced through a number of different drop shippers. This
Supplier Errors – Have you ever been blamed for something that wasn’t your fault, but you had to accept responsibility for the mistake anyway?
Even the best drop shipping suppliers make mistakes fulfilling orders – mistakes for which you have to take responsibility and apologize. And mediocre and low-quality suppliers will cause endless frustration with missing items, botched shipments and low-quality packing, which can damage your business’s reputation.
Is It Worth It?
As we initially warned, Dropshipping isn’t a perfect, stress-free way to build a successful business. The model has some definite advantages but comes with a number of built-in complexities and problems you’ll need to be able to address.
We’ll be examining these problems – and how to best address them – in future chapters. The good news is that with some careful planning and consideration, most of these problems can be resolved and need not prevent you from building a thriving, profitable Dropshipping business.
Traditional Order Fulfillment Model
Buying wholesale is arguably closest to the traditional offline retail model. In effect, the business owner (retailer) acquires stock directly from a wholesaler at a discounted rate, applies a margin onto each product and decides to deliver to consumers directly.
Checklist before publishing your e-commerce website:
Step 1: Manage What Your Customers See First
When someone comes to your site they have a choice to leave or keep looking around. If the homepage interface and navigation isn’t appealing for the ecommerce shopper they immediately hit the road, but with some additions and tweaks to your first few pages you can guide those customers through your site.
Step 2: Your Overall Ecommerce Site Management and Look
Every ecommerce website requires constant moderation and management, meaning that a list works nicely to double check that the whole site is running properly and every page looks nice.
Let’s take a look at items that should be included on every page and things to remember when managing your site.
- Include security certificates and reminders that the transactions are safe throughout the website
- Keep a minimalist design for easy navigation
- Test the speed of your site so pages load quickly – Pingdom is a nice tool for this
- Remove broken links and fill in empty product pages
- Make sure you have categories on each page and filtering options
- Have the email signup form show up on every page
- A link to your Career page
- A link to Legal information
- A link to your Contact Page
- A link to the FAQ page
- Links to your social pages
- Links to return and exchange policies
- Links to supplier information pages
- Sharing buttons
- A login box
- Tabs at the top of your ecommerce website to categories and products
- A shopping cart at the top in case people saved items
- Show what payment systems you use and any security measures you take
- Tabs leading to your support pages
- Make your ecommerce responsive and test it on all devices and browsers
- Show the checkout button clearly on each page
- Apply breadcrumbs on each page to help people find the products or pages they need
Step 3: Your Ecommerce Product Pages
There is a chance that when people find your ecommerce site through search engines they land on a particular product page. This means that you need clear information on each page, along with relevant tools, guides and media to push people to buy the products.
- Include calls to action
- Customer reviews and ratings for each ecommerce product
- Related product links to upsell
- Selling points, like free shipping or a clock with a discount if they buy now
- Provide product images with zoom-in functionality
- Multiple product images and angles (360 degree views)
- Item information and specs
- A field to change purchase quantities
- A creative description that relates to the product uses
- Include an optimized product title
- An add-to-cart button on each product page
- Pricing information with potential sales or discounts
- The availability of each product to show scarcity and push people to buy
- Shipping and tax calculations on the product pages
- Materials used, dimensions, colors, weight, washing instructions
- Available sizes and a sizing guide if needed
- A comments section so people can discuss the ecommerce product
- A sorting and filter option for customer reviews
- An Add to Wish List button on each product page
- Videos to display how the product works
- A currency converter if needed
- A live chat option that shows the support team what the customer is looking at
- The product codes for people who might use this for reference later
- Stats on each product such as shares, views, sales and people who placed it on their Wish List
- Social share buttons for each ecommerce product
- Deals for people who purchase multiple related items together
- Use professional-grade pictures and videos
- A banner that states if a product is sold out
- An area to sign up for notifications when a product becomes available
- Make sure the product pages load up just as fast as your homepage
- Explain unique features and what makes your product stand out from competitors
- Include keywords on each Ecommerce product page to improve search engine rankings
- Minimize clutter so the purchase process doesn’t look intimidating
Step 4: Blogs and Media Pages to Add Value to the Site
Additional content helps you stand out from competitors and show search engines that you are more than just an ecommerce site selling items. Here are some additional items to include on completely separate pages to strengthen your brand.
- Educational pages
- Product reviews and showcases
- Company events
- A blog with recent events and news
- Comments in your blog
- Social sharing options for your blog posts
- Insider company information to connect with your customers
- Lists that relate to your products
- An external resources page
- Articles about the state of your industry
- Areas for people to submit their own content for competitions and drawings
- A radio, webcast or podcast page
- A page with video testimonials
- Case studies and interviews with people who have used your products
Step 5: Your Customer Checkout, Shopping Cart and Wish List
This is the bread and butter of your ecommerce site, so use the shopping cart and customer checkout area to really shine by pushing products and walking customers through the process quickly.
- Don’t make the person create an account until after placing order
- Accept all payment methods
- Offer low shipping costs
- Make the checkout visual with fun images
- Add checkout buttons on the top and bottom of your pages
- Make sure the security and payment seals are most prominent during checkout
- Ask people to continue shopping after making a purchase
- Allow people to save their cart to a Wish List for later
- Suggest Wish List items to upsell during checkout
- Refrain from asking for a survey response after checkout (save this for email)
- Try free shipping when they spend a certain amount
- Offer multiple shipping methods
- Include an area to punch in promo codes
- Show people how much they saved during checkout
- Show the approximate shipping date and time
- If selling digital downloads, explain how they receive the product
- Be open about what you use their personal information for
- Offer a sample if they are hesitant about buying
- If you sell high priced items, offer financing options like payment installments
- Test the checkout process to see if it works
Step 6: Following Up With Customers