E-Commerce. ECommerce. e-Commerce. eCommerce. ecommerce. It doesn’t really matter how you spell it; if your company is selling products or services online, then your website is participating in it. Let’s hope you are doing it well, because the consequences of weak eCommerce design can be horrendous.
First of all, there are different levels of eCommerce available for your site, ranging from elements as simple as a PayPal link-off for donations or purchases, to the housing of an entire catalog of products for purchase on-site. Depending on your business strategy, different levels of eCommerce may be necessary for your model. For example, a manufacturer that has no hope of selling directly to consumers, and is only interested in selling to vendors, may not want to bother with an online shopping cart. An online catalog may be good enough. If you’re looking to push to consumers, you’ll need the full cart.
Speaking of carts, there are a ton of them out there. There are plugins for just about every content management system available, as well as CMS that are designed for the sole purpose of peddling your goods. There are stand-alone carts, integrated carts, carts that run on third party sites (through frames or with links to and from your site), carts that require your site to have tons of extra security measures, single-page carts, multi-page carts… The list goes on and on. Each has a different cost, and each has some pros and cons.
With so many different options and styles for accomplishing the sales process online, it is important for a company to determine the amount of business expected from an online store before heading down the path of eCommerce. Selling online can become expensive, due to the customer’s usability. How often is a customer going to make a purchase? Are there a lot of one-time customers, or do you have a lot of returning customers that want to be able to easily make a transaction? Are you selling enough to create the dedicated security platform required to sell without leaving your site, or will a plugin work? Does my cart need to push out to EBay, Amazon, etc? How much more revenue, minus the expenses of having an online store, are you going to bring in?
There’s a lot of hard questions that you have to consider before launching into eCommerce. Luckily, you don’t have to answer these questions on your own. We can take the time to look at your market, your product spread, your current site, and your goals to determine the best course of action for you. That way, you’ll spend only what you need to spend in order to capture new business.