Nov 11 2009
Starting an eCommerce business on the internet could be very demanding. With the many steps involved in the process, it is very hard to figure out where to start. Below you will find some of the major items that should be considered when starting an eCommerce business on the Internet.
When I meet with clients that are starting out in the E-Commerce arena, I spend a great deal of time giving them the overview of how an online transaction is handled. Of course, at the end, I tell them not to worry about all the complexities, since my eCommerce Webstore System automates a lot of it.
In short, here is what’s needed to be considered to sell products online:
1. A “Domain” name (paid yearly)
- This is the online equivalent of your offline business name
2. A Hosting service (paid monthly, but I generally advice to prepay it yearly)
- This is the online equivalent of your offline physical location of your store
3. An attractive professional web design, that balances out visual appeal with functionality.
- This is equivalent to the way you would decorate your offline physical store, so that customers can select their products easily, while enjoying the experience of a nice place.
- Traditionally people have liked attractive things and that seems to have translated to the web. Recent studies show that people will judge your website with a blink of an eye. Once you lose them, you may never get them back (http://www.websiteoptimization.com/speed/tweak/blink/).
- Either stocked by you or stocked by another company that can ship them for you (drop shipper).
5. A product/order management system to:
- Reside on your hosting service account
- Add as many products as you want to your site and update their pricing(and other fields) for promotions, without requiring technical knowledge of HTML nor any programming language.
- Notify you (and possibly your suppliers, if you choose to) of every new order
- Automatically create accounts for customers to logon to check their order status online, unless you can handle thousands of phone calls of customers who want to know about their order status.
- Automatically notifies the customer once the order has been shipped out
- print packing slips (if you are shipping the products yourself)
- tracks all search queries and visually alert you of those products your visitors are looking for.
- provides you detail report of the products that visitors are looking for and where in your website, they are clicking from.
- provides tracking links to shipping companies, so that customers can track the movement of their products after shipping.
- allows customers to review products for other customers to read
6. A Merchant Account:
- To make it easy for customers to pay for your products online
- Generally associated with monthly fees and per transaction fees.
- For examples of some merchant providers, read my mini-review at: http://www.jgari.com/?q=node/25
7. A Bank Account:
- Where your money will be deposited by the merchant provider for your orders
8. An account with a Shipping Company:
- If you ship your products you may need to get an account from a shipping company, such as USPS, UPS or FedEx.
- Ideally, you would want your product/order management system to somehow connect to your shipping companies so that when customers check if their orders have been shipped from your website, the system can automatically take them directly to their tracking status on the shipping company’s website.
9. Marketing strategies:
- Anyone can build a website, but not every website designer understands business concepts to drive sales to your website.
- The right marketing strategy and an effective web solution partner should be able to assist you in driving traffic to your website to start generating sales. In our case (GariDigital.com), since we have several community sister websites, we generally announce our new projects during initiation and at completion, if our client approves of it. We find that this creates expectations and drives that initial traffic to website right at launch.
- Although the above items can be time-consuming, it is marketing that will ultimately make or break your online business.
10. A unified seamless approach:
- Although you, as the business owner, have to deal with all these complexities, your customers need not be expose to them. You would want an unified approach so that as far as your customers are concerned, they are only dealing with you for their online transactions.
- Most customers would be happy to browse your product selections, read their information and reviews and place orders. A great majority will not want to learn how you fulfill your orders, which is the reason I believe that it is important to have a system that integrate and automate as many of the operations as possible.
Although this seems like a world of complications, Your Web Solution Partner, should be able to get you going in less than a week, so you can start raking in sales. On the other hand learning the entire process is also fun, especially if you want to become a web developer.
If you take a few minutes to view the diagram located on my documentation, it should give you a visual of the entities involved in an online transaction:
Professional Web Developer
“Your Web Solution Partner”
About the author:
Jorge Garifuna is a Computer Scientist and Real Estate professional, who loves to serve his Garifuna community. Jorge has served as vice-president of former New York-based, Garifuna youth organization, Lileiti Dufigati, has been the president to Los Angeles-based, Garifuna organization, SONHOCA, and holds membership with various Garifuna organizations, such as Wafadaha Uwara, and national technology organizations, such as ACM and IEEE. Jorge has donated his time to lecture classes about Computer & Internet usage for Garifuna organizations like, MUGAMA. Additionally, Jorge has trained high school students in programming, for national competition, under the BDPA-LA organization.
Jorge is also the CEO of Garinet Global Inc. Garinet has established itself as the major Garifuna Network since it launched in 1999. It currently averages over one million hits per month from over one hundred different countries around the world.
Garinet has consistently created services to enhance the future of the Garifuna community. Through its GariDigital.com website, Garinet offers the general public, a multitude of Website services for organizations, businesses, entertainers and family members.
Jorge may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org