Want to create a successful ecommerce website? Start with applying basics of retail success into the website structure. What is necessary to run a successful ecommerce website is to follow what successful bricks-and-mortar retailers do. A good ecommerce website gives its visitors a happy online shopping experience. Below are some thumbs-up points that are considered to be benchmark for an ideal ecommerce site.
1) Positive Approach: As positive approach is crucial for a business if it wants to prosper, so is it pertinent to an online business. Unless an ecommerce site looks positive, products would hardly sell well however reasonably priced and nicely packaged they are. These days, finding a product on the web you are looking for is not a hard job at all and every retailer out there is with attractive offer in order to outsmart their competitors.
Conclusion: There are many instances of untimely collapse of many ecommerce ventures. Carelessness of the site owners to secure supply and distribution system of their products ahead of time has been mentioned as the primary reason for their collapse. Indeed, online shoppers have valid reasons to complain against those ecommerce websites that fail to fulfill their commitment or deliver their products in reasonable amount of time. Delayed delivery makes shoppers disgruntled. Chances are good they will never buy anything from those websites again, no matter how politely website owners ask for apology to them.
Searching for the best shopping cart software for you ecommerce website can be a daunting task. There are literally hundreds of carts and ecommerce solutions available. How do you know which one is right for you?
You should consider the following factors when you are searching for a shopping cart that fits your needs.
- What is a shopping cart?
- How much does it cost?
- Should I buy or lease a cart?
- What Features Should I Look For?
- What Kind and How Much Support Does will I get?
- Which Payment Gateways Work with the Cart?
- What Hosting/Server Platform is Required?
- What if I Need Customization?
First, let me define a shopping cart or ecommerce website. In the most basic terms, a shopping cart is software that allows you to list your products on a web site and then automatically collect fees when a customer buys products from your website.
For example, lets say that you sell vitamins from your home, and now you want to start selling them on your website. First, you need shopping ecommerce software. You will also need to have a business bank account and a payment gateway, a service that allows you to automatically process credit cards on your web site.
Once you have the cart software set up on your website, you can add your vitamin products to the website using a web browser. The software allows you to add product images, descriptions, prices, shipping and tax rates, and so on. Once your cart is populated with all of your products, you can start selling them on the web.
Here's how it works: A customer comes to your web site and adds products to her shopping cart. When she is ready to buy the products, she enters her shipping and credit card information in a form so you know where to ship the product and whom to charge it to. When the customer clicks the button to submit the order, the shopping cart uses your payment gateway (credit-card-processing service) to validate the credit card and then transfer the money from the customer's credit card to your bank account. Then it's up to you to ship the product.
You can also use a shopping cart to sell digital, or downloadable products such as electronic books, music, and software.
How Much Do Shopping Carts Cost?
As you might expect, shopping carts come in a wide range of prices, from free to thousands of dollars. Does that mean that the more you spend, the better cart you get? Not necessarily.
There are several free shopping carts that are very powerful and full of features; for example, OSCommerce and ZenCart. Both of these carts are completely free and offer most of the features you would expect in a modern shopping cart: unlimited products, connections to the major payment gateways, credit card payments, real-time shipping prices, discount customer groups, multi language, and more.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to free: free products lack good documentation and support. For example, there is no official support group that you can call when you need help. And there is no official user's guide to explain how to use the software. You usually have to search through user forums to find answers to your questions.
Free shopping carts are probably not be the best choice if you are new to ecommerce and are trying to do everything yourself.
Fortunately, there are many commercial carts in the range of $100-500 that offer lots of features. The carts in this range usually have some kind of support system to help you with problems, and they usually have documentation to explain how to use their software. X-Cart and Ecommerce Templates are two carts between $150 - $200, and both are very powerful and relatively easy to use.
Should I Buy or Lease a Shopping Cart?
There are two basic models for online shopping carts:
Shopping cart software and ecommerce is pretty complex and there are many opportunities for problems. Whatever shopping cart model you choose, be sure to consider amount and type of support offered by the leasing host or the software seller. Because a smooth operation of your website and shopping cart are necessary for financial success, you'll want to have appropriate support for emergencies.
Which Payment Gateways Work with the Shopping Cart?
If you are going to use a leased shopping cart, or you are going to buy shopping cart software, find out which payment gateways will work with the shopping cart.
Note: Each shopping cart provider builds their own interfaces for payment gateways.
What Hosting/Server Platform is Required?
Will your website and shopping cart be hosted on a Linux / UNIX server or a Windows server? If you are going to use a hosted shopping cart, you probably don't need to worry about this unless you already have other web-based software applications installed on your current web host.
If you are going to buy shopping cart software, your choice might be limited by your server choice. Currently there are many more shopping carts made for Linux / UNIX than for windows.
What if I Need Customization?
Every shopping cart I have installed, designed, and configured, has required some customization. In most cases, the client wanted to do something the cart did not do. For example, one client wanted the ability to send a custom email with specific products so he could send special instructions whenever a customer ordered a specific product. A few shopping carts have this ability, but most don't.
The best solution is to first determine your specific requirements and then find a cart that fits your needs. Unfortunately, it's hard to find a cart that does EVERYTHING you want it to do. If this is the case, you'll need to have some custom development done to add a new function to the cart.
Keep in mind that many popular shopping carts have dozens of Modifications and Plugins that you can add to the shopping cart software to make it fulfill your requirements.
Note: If you use a leased shopping cart, you will probably not be able to make modifications to the software.
Ecommerce websites have many advantages over the usual shopping ways. First of all it is an online process where there is no nagging salesman to push for making a purchase. The user can take their own time in going through the items in the website, study them, compare and when satisfied with the features, buy it. One can view and purchase the product of their choice just by sitting at home. Customers get huge collection to choose from, the overhead cost of shopping is also reduced through online shopping.
Also customers can make apt comparisons between specific products sitting in the comfort of their home. Sometimes few products face more discretion than others due to their characteristics, for example perfumes, cosmetics, clothing, etc which require physical feel of the product. Also there are products that require in-store help for better understanding.
Setting up an ecommerce website is always cost effective and easy rather than setting up a shop. The costing for storage and insurance is also relatively low.
In comparison to offline marketing online marketing is easier and economical, several tactics are available for internet marketing. Like search engine optimization, pay-per-click, article submission, back-up links, directory submission and so on. The trick is to select the right ones that meet up your ecommerce site demands.
eCommerce has forever revolutionized the way business is done. Retail has now a long way from the days of physical transactions that were time consuming and prone to errors.
However, eCommerce has unavoidably invited its share of trouble makers. As much as eCommerce simplifies transactions, it is occasionally plagued by serious concerns that jeopardize its security as a medium of exchanging money and information.
Major threats to present day eCommerce include
Breach of Security:
eCommerce services are about transactions, and transactions are very largely driven by money. This attracts hackers, crackers and everyone with the knowledge of exploiting loopholes in a system. Once a kink in the armor is discovered, they feed the system(and users) with numerous bits of dubious information to extract confidential data(phishing). This is particularly dangerous as the data extracted may be that of credit card numbers, security passwords, transaction details etc.
The issue of tackling viruses and their like has also seen rapid development with anti-virus vendors releasing strong anti-viruses. These are developed by expert programmers who are a notch above the hackers and crackers themselves.
Firewalls are another common way of implementing security measures. These programs restrict access to and from the system to pre-checked users/access points.
eCommerce is run primarily by users. Thus, eCommerce service providers have also turned to educating users about safe practices that make the entire operation trouble free. Recent issues like phishing have been tackled to a good extent by informing genuine users of the perils of publishing their confidential information to unauthorized information seekers.