eCommerce is a blend word for "Electronic Commerce," and is meant to be a broad term used to refer to virtually any commercial transactions that take place on the Internet.
WHAT IS AN eCOMMERCE WEBSITE?
eCommerce websites are the digital portals (i.e. virtual storefronts) that facilitate eCommerce. eCommerce is a blanket term that includes virtually any transaction that takes place on the internet. Any website equipped with eCommerce functionality and allows customers to purchase a good or service is an eCommerce website.
Historically, the earliest eCommerce transactions took place via email and phone calls. Since the advent of credit card processing on the internet, eCommerce has permeated throughout society and into our daily lives. Today, just about any product or service is for sale sold on the web, whether through a dedicated eCommerce website or other means. In the last several decades, more and more people are buying online and enjoying the benefits that eCommerce provides, such as increased convenience, lower prices, and sales tax exemptions, to name a few.
The big advantage of an eCommerce site with VisionAmp is that it's totally custom built. We don't fluff it up with tons of attributes you will have to pay for but will never use. It is simple and easy to use for the user AND the client.
HOW DO eCOMMERCE WEBSITES WORK?
eCommerce websites work through a series of steps, utilizing website code, the database, and 3rd party applications such as a payment processor or payment gateway. eCommerce websites use SSL certificates to secure and encrypt all transferred data. Sensitive data, including credit card information, should never be stored within the website's database unless the website adheres to all mandated regulations, including PCI Compliance.
eCommerce Websites Typically Work Like This:
A potential customer navigates to an eCommerce website, whether via search engines, paid advertisements, referral traffic, etc.
The eCommerce website connects to its database, which contains tons of data about the website's categories, products, product dimensions and weight, articles and content, images, etc. The website requests this data to dynamically render any requested web pages.
After browsing the eCommerce website, a potential customer adds a product or service to their virtual shopping cart and decides to check out.
The shopper completes the checkout process and finalizes the transaction.
The shopper's credit card information is encrypted and sent to a Payment Gateway (Paypal, for example) to handle the credit card processing securely and remotely.
Once the order is complete, and the payment has gone through, the website typically provides an estimated shipping time, a unique transaction number, postal tracking number, etc. Most of these processes are automated and part of a good eCommerce website's core functionality.
As transactions take place, orders are stored in the website admin and sent to an order fulfillment team. Order fulfillment can be done in-house or by a third-party company/drop shipper.
THE ADVANTAGES OF HAVING AN eCOMMERCE WEBSITE
eCommerce websites offer tons of advantages when compared to traditional brick-and-mortar storefronts.
Increased market reach (global customer base)
Reduced costs for goods, services, shipping, etc.
Secure & encrypted transactions
Shortened distribution chain
Faster order fulfillment
Better, more precise data for future sales forecasting
Targeted markets can be razor-focused, based on age, demographics, interests, etc.
The potential for anonymity
HOW TO PROMOTE eCOMMERCE WEBSITES
If you already have an eCommerce website or plan to soon, you should have a plan to drive traffic to the website. VisionAmp has tons of experience in this regard, and can help lead you down the right path.
PPC/Paid Advertising: Paid traffic is another excellent method to drive traffic to your site. Paid traffic can be purchased from search engines, other websites, social media outlets, etc. The most popular paid traffic source is Google Ads (formerly Adwords), which follows an algorithmically-influenced auction model. If you're serious about PPC, we recommend leaving your PPC campaign to the experienced staff at VisionAmp.
Social Media: You can build brand awareness and leverage social media as an additional source of traffic to your website. Depending on your business, you may even be able to rely on social media traffic to drive a majority of your site's traffic. Some social media platforms make more sense than others depending on your industry. Your business should decide which make the most sense and focus most of your efforts on those channels. The big ones to consider are Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, & Google My Business.
Referral: Referral traffic, whether organic or paid, is an additional means of driving traffic. Network with authoritative voices (trade magazines, blogs, etc.) in your industry to find qualified referral traffic. Submitting coupon codes to the coupon aggregators can be a quick and easy way to drive some referral traffic to your site, but it may not be super-qualified.
Sales/Promotions: Online shoppers love taking advantage of special sales, promotions, coupon codes, etc. If you're a standard eCommerce retailer, your shoppers will practically expect some special discount, or at the very least the illusion of some added-value.
eCOMMERCE DESIGN AND THE "WOW" FACTOR
Have you ever walked into a store that is disorganized, smells, and has a very uninviting atmosphere?
On the other hand, have you ever walked into a store that is clean, spacious, and has a very comforting feeling, such as an Apple Store?
I’m sure you’ve been in both types of businesses. Which one gives you the impression that it’s well-managed, cares about its customers, and offers better products? It’s probably the business that cares about its appearance. Working with VisionAmp you can be assured we take pride in our designs and will work to make sure your eCommerce site is attractive and provide the “wow” factor! DESIGN MATTERS - and good website design signals that there’s a solid company behind the screen. If visitors aren’t saying “wow” (in a good way) when they visit your site, it still needs work. Do not cut corners on design. Every pixel, every picture, and every word matters. Hire a good designer if you can afford it and make design a priority!
You notice when you’re visiting a speedy website. Everything feels different. Pages take no more than a second or two to load, and information is delivered to you sooner. The site just feels better when you navigate it. Apparently, it does more than just deliver a warm tingly feeling; it also increases sales for businesses. A second may not seem like a big deal, but it can mean hundreds of dollars (sometimes thousands) in lost sales for a business. Don’t underestimate the impact of speed. VisionAmp can help you maximize your site’s speed with the knowledge of our staff engineers! How the site is built, how the content is developed and managed all contribute to the website speed. We guarantee the ability to maximize your eCommerce site’s speed and flow.
Obviously, most startups cannot afford to have a product selection like Amazon or Zappos. However, having too many choices can actually cost you sales. So don’t think that having an enormous selection of products is the key to success. Sometimes limiting your selection can:
Allow customers to quickly find what they are looking for
Keep customers from having “decision paralysis”
Increase conversions by naturally limiting the number of clicks to checkout
What this means is product selection should be carefully thought out and strategized. And always remember: trying to source TONS of inventory can have its own logistical nightmares that can cause order delays and customer frustration. Definitely consider chopping down your selection.
eCOMMERCE SHOPPING CART & MAKING THE TRANSACTION
The customer has come this far. They’ve visited your website, viewed your product selection, picked a product they want to buy, and put it in their shopping cart. How could the eCommerce website screw up now? A few ways — unexpectedly high shipping costs, not accepting certain payment methods, and requiring users to create accounts before they place an order. Let’s break down how to avoid these three hiccups:
Unexpectedly high shipping costs — Many websites are now posting their shipping costs on the product page or home page. This eliminates the surprise of a high shipping cost and lets the user factor in the total cost before adding it to the shopping cart.
Not accepting certain payment methods — Most shopping cart software products accept a variety of payment gateways. Shopify, for example, accepts over 50 providers. This lets sites accept credit cards and PayPal (if they use them as a gateway). Many eCommerce sites still accept checks and money orders.
Requiring users to create accounts before they place an order — This does not benefit the user. It’s best to let users create an account after placing an order. Websites such as PJ Meats let their users sign up after ordering.
After the user has completed the order, he or she should quickly receive a receipt via the email address provided. Generally, most receipts contain the order number, contents of the customer order, an email, phone number, and social media links to contact the business. What most businesses don’t include are links back to the website. If your eCommerce site has content, you may want to consider adding banners to your latest content (educational videos, blog posts, or even coupons) in your email receipts. VisionAmp can make follow up a breeze!
eCOMMERCE AND VISIONAMP
There is so much you can do with technology. Really stand out in the digital era by focusing on providing the best customer eCommerce experience possible. When it comes time to create effective content that requires continuous research, ads that have a unified messaging, and a website with a consistent brand, let the professionals at VisionAmp Marketing help. From eCommerce and website design, to all the other marketing elements that make your brand cohesive and professional, we will work side by side with you and your staff to create a personalized site that is right for your business. Give us a call today!