The virtual bubble hasn't burst on e-commerce. In fact, many small and medium sized businesses are turning to the internet to expand their reach and their profits. Before beginning this process here are some things you will need to know about starting your own e-commerce website.
- Secure Online Transactions. A second thing you will want to establish is a secure way of handling online transactions. This security system adds another layer of trust for the customer. SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is the premiere system for protecting customers' personal and billing information. This SSL certificate doesn't have to be expensive as most web hosting companies allow you to share their certificate.
- Adding a Shopping Cart. The third feature you will need to add to your website is a shopping cart. A quick online search will lead to many different shopping cart applications. Before you make a final decision, make sure that the online shopping cart you ultimately choose is easy to install and use. One great way to understand a cart is to go through a few trial sales with a specific shopping cart to make sure it will be easy for users to understand and use.
- Method of Accepting Payment. When it comes to accepting payment, the options are greatly varied. Your solution may be as easy as a paypal account or as complicated as your own merchant account. If you decide on creating a merchant account, you will have to decide whether payments are processed offline all at once, in real-time, or even over the phone.
- Turnaround Time. When setting up your online business, keep in mind the amount of time it takes for an order to be fulfilled. In order to keep customers happy you will need to have as small a turnaround time as possible. Planning ahead for a large amount of orders in the case of publicity or advertising is key, so make sure your system can handle large influxes at a moment's notice.
- Don't Forget the Telephone. Many customers still aren't comfortable with giving out their personal information online. One wise investment you could consider is a phone number which people can use to complete orders over the phone. Accommodating customers should be one of your number one priorities.
- Don't Overlook Advertising. Now that you know the basics of making your new website great for customers, make sure those customers actually visit your site. Like traditional businesses, you will want to put time and money into advertising ventures to make sure that there are sufficient visitors checking out your site when it goes live. Some of the top options include online ads and search engine placements.
- Keep Customers Returning. Your job doesn't end because your site is online. Keeping your website updated and keeping customers happy is a continuous process that you are always going to have to keep in the back of your mind.