In the business world today, ecommerce is a driving force for retail merchants. Many retailers sell products online, and even those that only sell in storefronts will sometimes use website marketing to attract shoppers to their stores. Retail selling online is extensive, with many large operators doing business exclusively online. For the small retail operator, ecommerce allows a low cost start up with the possibility of substantial growth. It is important for a small business to consider ecommerce and to develop effective ecommerce tools and techniques.
Some businesses operate solely in ecommerce markets, whereas others may only employ ecommerce tactics to bolster their brick and mortar operations. Either way For the start up company, advantages are gained where operators come into business with a ready background in Internet functions and processes. When it comes to ecommerce, geeks rule. For those inexperienced on the Internet, it is possible to grasp the basics and develop useable expertise. A little study will prove well worthwhile. As with most steps in the business start up process, guidelines and lists can be useful. Consider this as a list of the top ten ecommerce tips for a business start up.
If products are to be sold over the Internet, then there must be an ecommerce website. That website will be akin to a retail shop that displays and distributes products, except that products will be digitally displayed only. To find success in ecommerce, that display must be highly effective. A good ecommerce website may not be easy to build, even if it need not be as difficult as it might at first appear to be. Step one is to secure a domain name. This is the name people will type into their browser to reach your website, and the name your website will be known by. Some are very famous, such as Amazon.com and Overstock.com, now known as O.co. Some shopping domain names are simply web adaptations of offline business names, such as Sears.com and Walgreens.com. These famous retailer names are also famous website names. Needless to say, it can be hard to get a famous website name, as most popular and highly desirable domain names have already been taken. The small business ecommerce operator needs a domain name, and will need to devise one and register it through a domain name registrar.
It may go without saying that to be successful, the entrepreneur must also be organized, but it still bears repeating. Any effective ecommerce website must organize products into categories that are quickly and easily searchable. Visitors must be able to easily find what they are looking for or they will not buy and will not return.
Items ordered online must be shipped, and shipping can be tricky. Customers expect to receive items quickly. Many online sellers use the drop ship method of selling, in which they do not actually stock items that they sell. Instead, the items are stocked by large distributors or even manufacturers, and shipped directly by them to a seller’s customers. The seller maintains a relationship with the distributor or manufacturer, and shipping is handled by them. If the seller ships goods, he or she will need to decide how to do so, and what to charge for it.
Sales tax is another concern to ecommerce merchants. Normally it is only necessary to collect and pay sales sax on sales to customers in the merchant’s own state. Larger sellers pay sales tax in multiple states.
Tip Four – Product Information for Customers
Customers will want to read about products before ordering, and the seller will need to compile and display that information on the website. Where products are drop-shipped, information will probably be readily available from distributor or manufacturer. Otherwise, it will be up to the merchant to find the information and develop web pages to display it.
Tip Five – Warehousing
The seller maintaining its own inventory of products will need to arrange for warehousing. A primary advantage of the drop shipping scheme is that products are maintained in the inventory of the distributor or manufacturer and not the seller. This relieves the seller of warehousing responsibilities.
Tip Six – Find and Use Effective Ecommerce Software
It is possible to streamline ecommerce development and actually improve upon it by using fully developed software that is readily available. Consider <a href=”http://oscommerce.com” target=”_blank”>OSCommerce</a>. OSCommerce is open source ecommerce software that can be used to build and operate a web store. It is used by more than 250,000 ecommerce merchants worldwide. It is free, and easy to install. OSCommerce can replace hours upon hours of website development time.
Tip Seven – Utilize Social Marketing
Social marketing is the process of posting information about, and links to, products and web stores on websites people visit to meet other people. <a href=”http://Facebook.com” target=”_blank”>Facebook</a> is one notable example. In many cases, marketing through these websites is free, and with it a seller can build a reputation and develop a customer following.
Tip Eight – Become an Expert
People want to be informed about the goods they purchase. They want to visit and buy from websites that provide accurate, complete information. Portray yourself as expert on the products you sell, and customers will flock to your website. They will even pay a little more for products if you are the expert.
Tip Nine – Keep in Touch
One of the most valuable assets an ecommerce merchant can have is an email list of customers and prospective customers. The list must be kept up to date. Use it to contact existing customers to make them aware of special offers and new products and keep them coming back. Contact prospective customers to get them to start buying. The email list is a marketing gold mine.
Tip Ten – Optimize Your Website
Search engine optimization is the word of the day for successful ecommerce dealers. Put your website on the first or second page of search engine listings for your products and website traffic will multiply. Search engine optimization is a technical process that requires some expertise and ongoing effort. Anyone can do it, but only after learning what to do and how. Consultants offer the same, but only for a price. To succeed in ecommerce is challenging. A simple list of ten tips won’t demystify completely. It is possible to find success in the process, but for that, a commitment to learning and ongoing development must be made. This is just a starting point.