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eCommerce for Dummies

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Whatever product or service your business offers, the Internet levels the playing field and lets you compete with bigger businesses, reaching customers around the world who can conveniently buy from you 24 hours a day. And this presentation is your first step in doing just that… By Trix Corp., a vibrant interactive agency based in Dubai.

Text of eCommerce for Dummies

  • 1. explained
    eCommerce explained
  • 2. This presentation will attempt to de-mystify eCommerce platforms, and the will help you sift the crme from the clutter.
    Whatever product or service your business offers, the Internet levels the playing field and lets you compete with bigger businesses, reaching customers around the world who can conveniently buy from you 24 hours a day.
    But in the competitive world of the Web, growing your business and increasing your profits online requires some careful planning. For every successful e-commerce businesses, there are dozens that fail by not addressing basic risks and pitfalls along the way.
    So to take full advantage of the e-commerce opportunity, make sure you base your Web business on a solid foundation that covers every element of e-commerce.
    And this presentation is your first step in doing just that
    Introduction: The Elements of E-Commerce
  • 3. Are you serious about yourecommerce designor still experimenting, flitting around the edge of what is fast becoming a core component of many organizations' routes to market? You may already have invested in online retail and had your fingers burned. Maybe you're still waiting, assessing the market and judging the right moment to make your move. You could be a brand new company looking to put a system in place.
    Whatever the reason, don't delay too long.
    The bigger the head start you hand the competition the deeper they will cut into the market and the more business they will take from under your nose.
    When it comes to e-commerce there really is no time like the present. It's time to make a commitment to online retail, to think long and hard about your e-commerce web design and to work with an online retail partner with the knowledge and ability to help you achieve hard and fast sales growth.
    Are you serious?
  • 4. What's In a Name? Everything. Remember that not only does your domain name tell customers exactly how to find your business on the Web, but also it communicates and reinforces the name of your business to every Web site visitor. It can also be used as part of your e-mail address to establish your online identity. Keep these tips in mind before you choose:Make it memorable. "Amazon.com" is much catchier than "booksonline.com."
    Describe your business. Another approach is to simply and logically describe your business. "Flowers.com" works perfectly for a florist. And if you are setting up an online presence for an established business, keep the name of your site the same as the name of your business.
    Keep it short. The best domain names are those that customers can remember and type into their browsers after seeing or hearing them only once, so complicated strings of words like "onlinecdstore.com" don't work as well as a simple phrase: "cdnow.com."
    Whats in a name??
  • 5. Since we are talking about an e-commerce site, were guessing that the aim is to sellsomething.
    Try to make it as easy as possible for the customer to buy your products. The well-knownthree-click ruleapplies here: You want your customer to get to what they are looking for in three or less clicks. Any more, and they may just give up. The user interface should be a primary subject to plan for.
    Plan Your Site Carefully. Figure out what your potential customers need to know before buying your products and services. This might include:
    1) An overview of your company, its products and services, and their applications.2) Complete product or service descriptions, including features, key benefits, pricing, product specifications, and other information, for each product or service.3) Testimonials, case studies, or success stories so customers can see how similar individuals or organizations have worked with you.4) An FAQ section that anticipates and answers customers' common issues.
    What Do You Want Your Site To Do?
  • 6. The before - Another important factor to take into account is your audience. This is something that you should consider researching properly BEFORE you set out and build your site; knowing who will want to buy your products is something that influences your design.
    First, identify clear marketing goals for your site, such as generating leads, building a database of potential customers' names and e-mail addresses, or putting a product catalog online to save the time and expense of printing and mailing. Quantify your objectives-such as increasing sales by 15 percent-so you know whether or not your site is successful.
    Also, plan for your target selling region. Do keep in mind even tiny details like whether a region that you would like to offer support will charge Taxes or not for your product. Simple things like these will make or break your profitability.
    Whos Going to Buy From You?
  • 7. The after Never stop researching and analyzing your site even after it is deployed. Most successful eCommerce sites take several months of hard tweaks and adjustments to lift off the ground and soar. Plan the structure of your site, focusing on making it easy for customers to learn what they need to know, make a purchase decision, and then buy quickly.
    Create a site map that outlines every page on your site from the home page down and how customers get from one page to the next. Use tools that quantitatively measure site activity-where customers are clicking, how often, and whether they end up purchasing-and then compare the results with your goals.
    Whos Going to Buy From You?
  • 8. Everyone has limitations work out what yours are when you are building your site.
    • Do you have a budget for the build, and if so, how will this limit what you can do?
    • 9. What technical limitations do you have?
    • 10. Is there any part of the build that you wont be able to do by yourself?
    • 11. What sort of commitment are you thinking of putting into the project?
    • 12. Will your company seek to employ dedicated personal and devote resources to the project, or would you need to seek help?
    • 13. How does the technology limit your build?
    You can do nearly anything with enough hard work, but remember to couple that with the right planning.
    What Are Your Limitations?
  • 14. Ecommerce websitescome in all shapes and sizes. From the behemoths like Amazon and iTunes to the lady on the corner baking her own cup cakes and taking orders online, everyone with a product or service to sell seems to now be doing it on the Internet.
    And why not? An ecommerce website is low cost, reaches a worldwide audience, is cheap to maintain and manage it represents a range of fantastic sales opportunities. If youve yet to take full advantage of the benefits of it, then its time to get involved!
    But the essential flow remains the same.
    How does an eCommerce site function?
  • 15. With a solid plan in hand, you're ready to start constructing your e-commerce site.
    Many e-commerce businesses turn to professional design studios to create their Web sites.
    Butif your budget is limited, many Web site building tools likeonline automated website buildersmake it fast and easy for you to create a polished, professional-looking site-with no in-depth HTML knowledge necessary.
    What Platform Are You Going To Use?
  • 16. Lets have a look at a few platform options from different categories:
    1) License based Hosted eCommerce Platforms
    Off-the shelf eCommerce suites with one time licensing fee
    Custom E-Commerce builds
    Most popular websites from around the world are hosted go for eCommerce suites, offering enterprise and professional versions with a yearly cost that will provide additional support. They have some awesome features includinganalyticsintegration, capability of wish lists, multiple images for products, advanced product filter search, advanced customer service, tons of payment methods, marketing/promotional tools and so much more.
    Recently, some providers have also released the worlds firstmobile commerce platform. This could be very interesting, even more so now that smart phones with huge screens (such as theiPhone) are all the rage.
    What Platform Are You Going To Use?
  • 17. What Platform Are You Going To Use?
    1) License based Hosted eCommerce Platforms
  • 18. This is the easiest way to set up your store. You sign up with an ecommerce provider and they host your store on their servers, using their software. Usually you pay a one-time setup fee, then an ongoing monthly or yearly fee. Most providers give you a range of page templates to choose from, and you can usually customize the look of your store to some extent. Normally you can use your own domain name for your store.
    Advantages of hosted ecommerce solutions:
    • Easy to set up >> You don't have to install any software simply sign up, set up your store, and add your products.
    • 19. No maintenance required. >> You don't need to worry about updating the software, fixing bugs, backups or recoveries and so on. All this is handled for you.
    • 20. Additional services >> Many hosted solutions come with value-adds such as 24/7 support, SSL certificates, analytics,CRMsoftware, and marketing tools (such as AdWords vouchers).
    • 21. A one-stop shop >>Since your store is fully hosted, you don't have to worry about separate Web hosting.
    Disadvantages of hosted ecommerce solutions:
    • Ongoing costs >>Rather than a one-off purchase price, you have to pay an ongoing monthly fee to keep your store running. (Some providers also take a commission on each sale you make.) This isn't a problem when your store is doing well, but it might be difficult when money is tight. What's more, over time the fees can stack up.
    • 22. Lock-in >> Generally you're using a proprietary solution built by the provider, which can make it hard to move your store to another solution should you want to. Make sure the provider makes it easy for you to import and export your product, customer, and sales data.
    What Platform Are You Going To Use?
    1) License based Hosted eCommerce Platforms
  • 23. What Platform Are You Going To Use?
    2) Off-the shelf eCommerce suites with one time fee
  • 24. Rather than hosting your store with a third party, you can purchase ecommerce software which you install on your website. You'll still need Web hosting for your store, but you control the actual ecommerce software yourself.
    Advantages of off-the shelf software:
    • More flexibility >> Often, ecommerce software is written using a Web language such as PHP, Java or ASP, which means you (or a programmer you hire) can tinker with the code. This allows you to customize your store further than you can with a hosted solution. For example, you can write your own shipping module to handle your own particular way of shipping your products.
    • 25. Fixed costs >> Usually you pay a one-off fee to buy the license, then you can use the software as long as you like with no additional monthly fees.
    • 26. Less lock-in than hosted solutions.Since your ecommerce data resides on your own server, you have more control over it.
    Disadvantages of off-the shelf software:
    • Technical knowledge required.Installing and maintaining any Web app requires some technical knowledge of FTP, config files, file permissions and so on. Modifying the software requires even more technical know-how. You may need to brush up on these skills (or hire a techie who can do the job for you).
    • 27. Can be hard to customize.While often more flexible than a hosted solution, off-the-shelf software can still be hard to customize extensively. For example, you may find it difficult to use a different page layout,SEOyour store, or integrate the software tightly with the rest of your site.
    • 28. Can pose a security risk.Ecommerce software makers regularly release new versions with fixes for security holes, so you need to make sure you're always using the current version. This can mean upgrading the software on a monthly, or even weekly, basis.
    What Platform Are You Going To Use?
    2) Off-the shelf eCommerce suites with one time licensing fee
  • 29. What Platform Are You Going To Use?
    3) Custom eCommerce builds
  • 30. Your final option is to write your own ecommerce software from scratch (or hire someone to do it for you). This is the most costly approach you're probably looking at hundreds of hours of time, or thousands of dollars in costs but it gives you the most flexibility.
    Advantages of custom-built sites:
    • Full control >>You can choose exactly how your online store looks and behaves.
    • 31. Better integration >>You (or your coder) can seamlessly integrate the store software with other aspects of your site, such as forums and blogs.
    • 32. Can look very professional >>A well-written custom store will always look and feel smoother than a hosted or off-the-shelf solution.
    Disadvantages of licensed software:
    • High cost >>Custom-built software usually costs many times more than using a hosted service or off-the-shelf software.
    • 33. High maintenance >>If you need to fix bugs in custom software, or add new features, you (or your developer) need to make the changes, which adds to ongoing costs.
    • 34. More effort to integrate with payment providers >>Most off-the-shelf packages or hosted solutions make it easy to integrate with a wide range of payment gateways; however, with a custom approach, you'll need to integrate the systems yourself.
    What Platform Are You Going To Use?
    3) Custom eCommerce builds
  • 35. Accounts and Tracking Orders
    Part of the user experience could include managing an account and tracking orders. Must users create accounts, or is it optional? Can they track their order and watch it move from processing to shipped? Account functionality must include basic management functions, such as the ability to reset a forgotten password and to update contact details.
    PayPalis a straightforward way to take payments online. The advantages are that creating a PayPal account is easy, it doesnt require a credit check, and integration can be as simple as hard coding a button on your page.Google Checkoutoffers a similar service (and a similarly low barrier to entry).
    Using A Merchant Account
    This enables you to take credit card payments and process the money to your bank account. If you have an existing merchant account for face-to-face or telephone sales, though, you will not be able to use it for online transactions. Internet transactions are riskier. So, to start trading online, youll need to contact your bank. The bank will require that you take payments securely, in most circumstances via a payment service provider (or PSP, sometimes called a payment gateway).
    What you should definitelynotdo is store card details in order to enter them in an offline PDQ later. This would be against the terms of the merchant agreement.
    How to Take Payments Online?
  • 36. Accounts and Tracking Orders
    The Payment Gateway
    The purpose of the payment gateway is to take the card payment of your customer, validate the card number and amount and then pass the payment to your bank securely. Two ways:
    • Via a pay pageThe user moves from your website to a secure page on the payment gateway server to enter their details. Here, your website never touches the card details, so you are not liable for the customers security.
    The most significant disadvantage is that you lose some control over the payment process, because the final step requires gathering all the details to pass to the payment server.
    Some statistics show that transferring your user to a known banking website where theyll enter their card details might actually give them confidence in the legitimacy of your website.
    • Via API integrationThe user enters their card details on your website (on a page with a secure certificate installed, running SSL), and those details are then passed to the gateway. Your website acts as the intermediary; the user is not aware of the bank transaction happening, having seen it only via your website.
    The advantage of full API integration is that you control the payment process from beginning to end, including the look and feel of the payment pages. However, you are also responsible for the security of the users card details, and regulations require that you prove you are following best practices
    How to Take Payments Online?
  • 37. Accounts and Tracking Orders
    ThePayment Card Industry Data Security Standard(PCI DSS) is a set of 12 requirements that must by complied with by all businesses that accept credit and debit card payments. This doesnt just cover online transactions; a street store that takes payments online must also comply with the PCI DSS for both their offline and online payment methods.
    If you are just taking online payments via a pay page and do not take, process or store any card details at any time, then you can complete
    the shortened PCI DSS questionnaire (SAQ A) to confirm that your PSP is PCI DSS-compliant. If you use API integration, then youll be need to comply fully with the PCI DSS even if you do not store the details including by allowing quarterly security scans that check ongoing compliance.
    By taking up a package with a reputed entity like McAfee or CA, we can make sure that we are always in compliance with PCI DSS directives, and also display the status f our compliance on our site. The cost of licensing such a package needs to be factored into our plan.
    According to MarketingSherpa.coms research, 62% of Shopping Cart transactions are abandoned due to customers feeling insecure about sharing their credit card info in a site that looks unsecure.
    How to Take Payments Online?
  • 38. Understanding fees for online payment services
    Merchant account providers, payment gateways and other payment services often charge a bewildering array of fees for their services, and they can all add up. Make sure you're aware of all the fees involved when you sign up for a service.
    Here are some common fees and charges that you may encounter:
    Application/setup fee
    A one-off charge for setting up your service. If you have a separate merchant account and payment gateway then you'll probably have to pay 2 separate fees.
    The main per-transaction fee. It is a percentage of the total transaction value. Your provider might have a single rate, or they may categorize like:The qualified rate >>This is the lowest rate, used for all normal transactions
    The non-qualified rate>> This is the highest rate of all, and is commonly used with very high-risk transactions or other exceptional circumstances.
    Discount rate
    Authorization fee
    Another fixed fee, charged each time a transaction is sent to the bank for authorization (regardless of whether authorization was successful).
    Statement fee
    A monthly account handling fee for running your merchant account.
    Annual fee
    A per-year fixed charge for the merchant account.
    How to Take Payments Online?
  • 39. Understanding fees for online payment services
    Gateway fee
    This is a fixed monthly charge for using the payment gateway.
    Chargeback fee
    A chargeback can occur when a shopper disputes a card transaction and the funds are returned to the shopper. This can happen with fraudulent transactions, or if the shopper doesn't recognize the transaction on their statement. Chargeback fees can be quite high, so chargebacks are best avoided.
    Monthly minimum
    Some services have a minimum monthly charge. If the discount rate charges and transaction fees for a month don't meet the monthly minimum then the charges are rounded up to the minimum amount.
    Cancellation fee
    Also called a termination fee. This is charged if you close your merchant account. Some providers have an early termination fee, charged only if you break a fixed-term contract (say, 1 year).
    Annual fee
    A per-year fixed charge for the merchant account.
    Most providers won't charge all of these fees, but you're likely to encounter at least a few of them.
    How to Take Payments Online?
  • 40. If you are selling physical items that need to be shipped, youll need to charge somehow for the shipping costs and perhaps arrange for order-tracking. Because youre selling online, you may attract customers from other countries, so youll need to decide how to calculate shipping for different destinations. Otherwise, limit potential buyers to people in your country or a small group of countries.
    Typically, websites offer free shipping for orders of a certain price or higher. They also typically offer shipping with different carriers, such as by regular post or by priority courier (depending on when the user wants to receive the item).
    For a small fee charged yearly, global shipping companies like Fedex or UPS can add their shipping rate calculator or order tracking API integrated with our website.
    What About Delivery?
  • 41.
    • Web Design
    • 42. Admin/Inventory Control
    • 43. Set Up Fee
    • 44. Monthly Service
    • 45. Annual Service
    • 46. Store Setup Wizard
    • 47. Customizable
    • 48. Thumbnails and Large Image Views
    • 49. Integrated Store Search
    • 50. Template Creation and Flexibility
    • 51. Automated SEO Integration
    • 52. Data Import Wizard (Bulk Upload)
    • 53. Inventory Control
    • 54. Catalog Manager
    • 55. Live Order Tracking
    • 56. Automated E-mail Confirmations
    • 57. Customer Address Book
    • 58. On-sale, Up-sell, Cross-sell Module
    • 59. Merchant AccountIntegration
    • 60. Paypal Payment Compatibility
    • 61. Fraud Protection
    Features that separate various suites.
    Be sure to select and prioritize features that are most important to you
    • Power Edit
    • 62. Mobile Access application
    • 63. Accounting Integration
    • 64. Backorders/Partial Shipments
    • 65. Hard Goods (physical)
    • 66. Soft Goods (Downloadable)
    • 67. Coupons, Gift Certificate, E-Coupons
    • 68. Real-Time Credit Card Processing
    • 69. Accept Payment In Any Currency
    • 70. Checks, Phone orders, COD, E-checks
    • 71. Customizable Checkout/Shipping Pages
    • 72. Affiliate Program Setup
    • 73. Sales Reports Included
    • 74. Promotional Mail/Customer Follow up
    • 75. Social Media Connectivity
    • 76. Customizable
    • 77. Automated
    • 78. SSL Secure Socket Layer
    • 79. Cookies
    • 80. Backups and Restores
    What points do I have to remember?
  • 81. Following these basic guidelines will help make your site not only attractive, but also easy for customers to use-and that means easy to buy from you. Carefully examine your ownfavorite e-commerce sites.
    Your home page is your site's-and your business's-online front door. It's essential that it make a good first impression on visitors. Make sure it clearly presents the following basic elements that customers are always likely to look for:
    Your company name, logo, and slogan, prominently displayed. Take full advantage of the opportunity to showcase your brand identity. A link to an "About the Company" page for customers to quickly learn who you are and what your business offers. A site menu listing the basic subsections of your site. Keep this menu in the same place on every page throughout your site to make it easy to navigate. A "What's New" section for news, announcements, and product promotions. Frequently updating this area will encourage customers to return often. Contact information. Don't make it difficult for visitors to find your phone number, e-mail address, mailing address, and fax number. Your privacy statement, clearly describing your business's policy for protecting customer's personal information.
  • 82. Make it easy for customers to explore your site. As you build your site, try to minimize the number of clicks it takes the customer to go from your home page to actually being able to click "buy" and checkout. Four to six is a useful rule of thumb. Make sure links make sense, so customers know what to click to find what they're looking for. Don't make your navigation buttons or links too dominant an element in your site design: instead, focus on product information.
    Keep things simple. Don't fill up your site with graphics, animations, and other visual bells and whistles. Stick to the same basic color palette and fonts your company uses in other communications, like your logo, brochures, and signage. Ensure that images and graphics serve to enhance, not distract from, your marketing goals. Make sure your text is easy to read-black letters on a white ground may not be terribly original, but they are easier on the eyes than orange type on a purple background.
  • 83. Ideally you will identify a partner with the technology, experience and ability to be able to help you grow your business online in a way that suits you. A partner who can add the functionality you need when you need it. Technology applied appropriately, that won't cost you the earth.
    Choose a partner with clear, real world know-how to support your online retail efforts over the long run
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