Ecommerce

According to U.S. Government reports ecommerce continues to improve dramatically, “Total e-commerce sales for 2006 were estimated at $108.7 billion, an increase of 23.5 percent (±3.3%) from 2005.”

This is not surprising when you consider that 60% of all new small businesses have an online presence. This is further enhanced when you take into account the meteoric rise of online users. In 2001 there were approximately 142 million online users. By 2006 there were approximately 211 million online users (many of whom enjoy not fighting traffic to find the products they want).

Online spending increased among all user groups from 2001-2005. It is anticipated that an online consumer will spend in excess of $800 with an ecommerce business this year.

What makes this statistic all the more remarkable is that if you have an online business presence you gain access to a marketplace with 211 million potential customers who may be willing to spend money with your online business.

It may be that you are looking at $800 per online consumer and thinking, “That’s not nearly as much as I thought.” It is true that at the present time individuals will spend more in traditional brick and mortar stores than they will online, but the bigger picture has to do with a potential customer base that is global in scale. Each individual customer may spend less with you than they might in a traditional store environment, but you have so many more potential customers to market to.

Long story short, you have the capability of tapping into a revenue stream that is unavailable in more brick and mortar stores.

Why do you think some of the largest box stores develop an online presence? It is a cost effective way to manage a global customer base. It allows these large retailers to fill in the gaps where their retail presence is not available.

In essence these larger stores are finding their online stores to function as a high tech catalogue. Where once catalogues were rushed to homes throughout the US, now they are often sent only on request with a large portion of their customers perusing their online offerings for the most recent offerings, size and price.

It’s clear to see the growth of online sales can level the playing field for ecommerce stores. Your location on the web is only limited to your willingness to work at Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies and other marketing efforts.

In the end, the use of an online store is an effective way to manage business in a competitive and global environment.

The manager of a superstore was surprised to see his newest salesman ushering a man out the door with multiple signed contracts in hand. The customer left with a new boat, SUV and enough new tackle to outfit the boat for an extended period of time. The man actually seemed very happy with his purchase and the new salesman almost seemed like the customers best friend.

The manager was impressed and was curious how the young man had convinced the customer to make so many expensive purchases.

When the customer was safely on the road with his new boat gleaming behind him the manager approached his employee and said, “The guy comes in for a fishing hook and you send him home with thousands of dollars worth of merchandise. How’d you do it?”

The employee looked at his boss sheepishly and replied, “Aw, it was easy. When he told me he needed cough medicine for his wife I told him he should consider the weekend lost and just go fishing. Apparently he thought it was a good idea.”

You may have heard this or a similar story before, but the overall point of the story is powerful, you can never be too sure what will motivate a potential customer to make a purchase. Sometimes the thing they thought they wanted was not close to what they ultimately bought.

It is common for individuals looking for a replacement automobile to have a price and vehicle type fixed in their mind, but they will walk out of the showroom and climb into a vehicle they had no intention of purchasing when they entered the dealership.

When dealing with ecommerce you may want to devise knowledge-based content that approaches your primary site subject from multiple stylistic points of view. Did you know it is possible to write multiple articles about the same subject and still find new ways to express something you may have thought was covered in one article?

For instance, you might use vivid imagery in one article while dealing with facts and statistics in another. One article might draw from experts in the field while another is primarily the testimonial of a satisfied customer. The point is each article may deal with the same subject, but are viewed as uniquely different.

Just as we all learn in different ways so it is with how we accept marketing statements. Help your customers connect with your business in a way that makes the most sense to them.

I’m not one that responds favorably to the appeals of a telemarketer, but if you send me a personalized (not form) letter or even a personal email and present facts regarding the product I may be willing to give the product a fair review. After so many meals interrupted by telemarketers this approach no longer has any personal marketing value.

Make knowledge-based content something that can connect with many different types of consumers. A varying approach in style may help you help your customer. In helping them you are most likely able to help yourself.

Many new ecommerce businesses have little idea the impact of trust marketing will have in their online business success.

For most customers the value of trust is important. This is why certain businesses continue to grow online while others do not.

In a very simplified sense online businesses that grow give their customers reason to trust them while many others do very little to instill trust.

Where does that trust come from?

1. Always work to improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Most web users refer to their favorite search engine as a litmus test for trust. If they can’t find you in the first 50-100 slots in a search term they won’t look any further. Work to convince the search engines you can be trusted and customers will follow.

2. Making promises and then delivering on the promise. Customers pay attention to how well your word stacks up against the reality of the checkout.

3. Customer service is always a big deal. Do your best to make sure every customer feels taken care of. There are ecommerce businesses that routinely drop the ball when it comes to customer service. Sadly, many will not be with us long.

4. Knowledge-based content must be authoritative. When you give your customers quality information they can use, you extend a hand of friendship to them. You are perceived as someone who is not stingy – someone who can be trusted.

5. Make sure your site is clean. One killer of trust is a site riddled with spelling errors and other glaring mistakes. Many customers will leave when a pattern of error is detected. The feeling is that if something as important as a website can’t be developed with minimal error then how important are the customers and how well will they be taken care of. At that point it’s simply easier for the customer to look elsewhere.

6. Your customers are smart so let them know that you are aware of the fact. If you work to inform without high pressure you are letting your customers know you understand their ability to make informed decisions without the need to be lead. This often enhances trust.

7. The use of autoresponders can help in managing follow up and follow through. No one likes to be left hanging. When you use autoresponders you can effectively eliminate extended response time.

Trust marketing doesn’t have to be hard it simply needs to be managed as an effective means of reaching the goals of your customers as they help you reach yours. If you give more than the customer expects you are likely to see greater trust and increased sales.

If your ecommerce store provides customers with significant product choice you might be able to make life easier for your customer. In turn, you will likely experience an increase in online business profit.

Many ecommerce sites develop an online catalogue that may be fairly comprehensive, but may also lack a satisfactory listing of your full line of merchandise.

As ecommerce sites continue to grow it is important for you to develop a full listing of all your products. In order to do this effectively you will need to make the products searchable by product name, product number and/or manufacturer?

Many online businesses have also taken a page from the Point of Sale (POS) playbook. In retail sales, a clerk will be made aware of complimentary products with respect to an item or items that have been purchased. The clerk can then alert the customer to an additional purchase that may be beneficial to the customer’s shopping experience.

Online business has evaluating data collection processes that can pinpoint additional products that other customers have purchased in combination with the product being viewed by the online customer. In essence, this process allows the business to experience additional sales as customers consider additional purchasing options.

Don’t be lured into making only the best selling products in your catalogue available online. It may make things a bit easier for your online business, but online consumers demand choice. If you will not provide a comprehensive listing it is highly probable that someone else will and your potential customer will not think twice about conducting business with them.

Part of the lure of ecommerce is the fact that it is a form of immediate gratification. Most online customers value the ease and convenience of online shopping as a replacement for traditional brick and mortar shopping experiences.

The easier you can make the experience for your customer the better they will feel about your business.

If you think developing a page dedicated to each product in your line in daunting you would be right, but the alternative is to offer a free catalogue that can be sent to your customer or a pdf copy they can download and print. Unless you are a small business with relatively few products to chose from this will not be a solution customers will be satisfied with.

Don’t get me wrong, you can still make these print-based options available, but you need to make sure you also have your complete product line available for viewing and ordering. It really can make a difference in the success of your ecommerce business.

I stumbled across a website with a unique marketing angle. The use of ecological interests has resulted in improved marketing capabilities. In the case of the site I visited it was a jewelry company that specializes in recycled gold and diamonds.

The premise seems to be that there are significant gold and diamond supplies available so the need for the mining of these precious gems and ore may be reduced or even unnecessary. The reasons are many, but one of the key arguments has to do with the human deaths that result in battles over the ownership of the gems. Similarly this jewelry company considers the use of extensive gold mining to be a hindrance to solid ecological practices.

It is their contention that there are enough current supplies that no more gold or diamonds need be mined for decades. Existing gold supplies can be melted down to create new jewelry products and recycled diamonds can find a home in new settings.

Their philosophy appeals to many different consumers. For some this philosophy of ecommerce just makes practical sense. For others, this is a matter of ecological stewardship. For still others, the potential to reduce human rights abuses make this strategy worthwhile.

I am not calling into question the sincerity of the mission of this company. I am simply analyzing their strategy from a marketing standpoint. My assessment is that the premise is brilliant because it markets to a variety of interests without focusing heavily on any of them. This company even provides exceptions for local villagers who may currently pan for gold. They agree these villages should be allowed to continue to do so in an effort to improve their economic condition without harming the environment with mining.

In the mind of the customer they can draw conclusions about the benefits of the process and can make a purchasing decision based on their belief about the product and premise.

In ecommerce you need to find a unique premise that will allow your online business to be recognized as unique. For some ecommerce business owners this means a unique product, for others a unique presence and, in the case of this jewelry company, a unique approach to an existing business model.

You may have an existing ecommerce business. What do customers perceive to be unique about your business? What makes your site or business philosophy stand out in ways other businesses don’t?

Take some time to evaluate what makes your ecommerce store unique. If you can’t find that uniqueness consider what you can do to make your business philosophy something that stands out to consumers.

Planning an ecommerce website is like building a house – architecture and budget need to be agreed before the decoration.

AN AGREED REQUIREMENTS SPECIFICATION MUST BE DRAWN UP AS THE FIRST STAGE BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE IS DONE – ANY OTHER APPROACH WILL ONLY LEAD TO CONFUSION AND WORSE.

Once an AGREED REQUIREMENTS SPECIFICATION has been agreed then solutions need to be evaluated and costed against that specification are:

– Project management
– Hardware
– Web design and software
– Site marketing
– Project management:

All aspects of the project need to be managed. Decide who is going to do it and properly plan the requirements, activities, outcomes, milestones and timings.

Hardware:

Your choices here are a managed service or your own server. The security and disaster recovery aspect that is achieved by hosting with a major provider is very important. Only go with your own server if you have the experience and facilities.

Design and Software:

Site design

Develop site templates and test them with real people. They have to be easy to use and navigate. Don’t let “design” drive the site; let ease of use and sales drive the “design”. Think how the customer thinks.

Software

At least 5 solutions need to be considered.

– Updating
– Shopping cart
– Forum
– Email
– Statistics

Updating

There are 2 realistic routes here. Either an online or an offline, PC based content management system (CMS). The online CMS can be either an Open Source CMS (Open Source means any application that has been made available, generally free, to developers to view and modify freely. Examples of Open Source applications are MySQL and PHP) or commercial.

There are pros and cons to both routes. An online system is available to anyone with relevant security clearance anywhere any time. A PC based system is, obviously, limited to the PCs running the licenses. An example of a PC based system is Macromedia Contribute which integrates with Dreamweaver. There are a whole range of online Commercial and Open Source options such as SuiteWise, Drupal, Joomla, and Website Baker etc. However, even this is complicated by the fact that some of the shopping cart solutions also contain CMS that may be sufficient for many companies’ requirements.

Shopping cart and CRM

There are also 2 realistic routes for the shopping cart – Open Source or commercial.

There are excellent Open Source shopping carts such as OSCommerce and Zen, but also excellent commercial solutions such as Actinic and Customer Focus Quick Order Portal (which comes with a complete CMS).

There are other factors to consider with the shopping cart:

– Does it have its own or does it easily integrate with your exiting stock control systems?

– Does it integrate easily with accounting systems (e.g. Sage, QuickBooks)?

– Does it have or integrate easily with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems that may be proposed in future?

Forum

Many CMS have good integrated forums but if they do not our recommendation would be to use a good Open Source package such as PunBB or phpBB. They are free, robust and easy to integrate and customise into any site.

Email

Most CMS, shopping carts and forums have email solutions. However, some solutions are very basic. If the chosen shopping cart solution that best meets the ecommerce and other requirements does not have an effective integrated email solution and if the same be true of the CMS and forum solutions then stand alone Open Source applications such as PHPlist are one alternative solution and the other is an online solution such as Constant Contact or many others.

Statistics

This is arguably the most important part of the package. If you do not know how visitors to your website and in the shop are behaving, what turns them on and what turns them off then it is far, far harder to improve sales and site profitability. Commercial applications such as WebTrends and ClickTracks need to be evaluated for best fit.

SITE MARKETING

There are 4 major areas to consider here.

– Offline marketing – e.g. in-store. What works most cost effectively to drive traffic and orders via the web from non-web activities.

– Site optimisation – how to make sure technical structure, copy, content, back-links and a range of other factors are initially and remain optimised so that as many high search engine placements on relevant searches are obtained.

– Pay per click and other online marketing – how to get traffic from advertising against key words and phrases used in search engines and from adverts on other sites.

– Email – how to grow the email list and use it to grow profitable sales.

In summary:

– Manage the project
– Think how the customer thinks
– Get excellent software to make finding product and price easy
– Make terms clear and payment simple
– Ensure you are in stock and and have achievable delivery timescales
– Make sure you have a good CRM system and clear communications – mail, phone, emai
– Market the site appropriately
– Know what’s going on – use your stats to test, track and try

Cost ………… well how long is a pice of string, but you could be up and running for far less than the cost of new premises!!!

There is a belabored cliché that says, “It’s lonely at the top.” This reference is for business owners and leaders. It even applies to ecommerce.

The reason leadership is lonely is often because the leader of any organization must make decisions that will not please everyone and it’s often easier to not develop friendships with your employees than to risk losing that friendship because of decisions you may have to make.

However, the good news is leaders can learn from the very things they may desire themselves, but never receive. I’m talking about the two elements of a good hire.

The first element is to make sure the employee you hire is placed into the same category as their passion. In essence you need to match the employee to the job they are best suited for. If you do this you are rewarded by having an employee that will exhibit passion for the job without the need to prod them along.

The second element is a bit harder. You need to keep your eyes open for positive contributions to your business. Find ways to reward employees for doing a good job. This could be a weekend vacation getaway or something more simple like a verbal word of praise or a certificate of appreciation – often it’s somewhere in between.

As you work to develop your ecommerce business you should understand any employees you have will need some form of encouragement. On the ecommerce side of the screen you may find life very different than normal brick and mortar store atmospheres.

In a brick and mortar store your staff will typically work with individuals in a face-to-face environment. In an ecommerce business, your staff will like not work in the same manner with customers. In fact, many of the connections are handled through autoresponders and ezine distribution. Your employees might actually work in a remote location.

The passion of your employees will set them on the right path to being a quality employee, however it will be your direct encouragement that may be what keeps that quality employee from looking elsewhere for ‘meaningful’ work.

If you’re in a leadership position you may rarely receive positive feedback on a personal level because the buck always stops with you, but for your employees the feedback and positive reinforcement you can give are key to job satisfaction and loyalty to your business.

The benefits to the employer are a more identifiable team atmosphere and employees that respect the velvet glove much better than the iron fist.

In the early days of ecommerce it was more likely that you would have direct interaction with an online business. Before the advent of shopping carts and online credit card transactions you might have been advised to call the online business phone number and place your order over the phone. Packages may have arrived with a hand written mailer and a note of thanks enclosed. As a customer you might have even been saddled with the task of sending a check and then waiting for the product to arrive once payment cleared the bank.

As ecommerce business has expanded, so too have the methods of payment. With the payment issues moving toward an automated accounting system we have seen the fulfillment of orders move toward a more automated function as well.

This is the typical order of product fulfillment with major online companies today.

1) Product ordered through online store using standard shopping cart.
2) Autoresponder used to confirm order placement and payment information.
3) Order added to a fulfillment database.
4) Autoresponder used to alert customer to the successful shipping of the product.
5) Tracking information provided to allow customer to follow the delivery of their product.

There may still be room for human error, however this type of product fulfillment takes into account the needs of the consumer, the advantages of current technology and a more efficient means of follow through with customers.

Defining your shipping policy in your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section may be a very positive way to help customers know what to expect from your ecommerce store.

It could be your online store provides customized gifts or services that may find benefit from personal interaction with your clients. In some cases it may be wise to adopt a positive human touch when working with your clients. However, as your business grows you may discover it is time consuming to keep up with every order personally. This is when a more automated delivery system may be in order.

Customer service is a prized component to any ecommerce business. If a customer has to remind you to make a delivery it is possible you have lost that individual as a customer.

I had a situation where a software product was ordered, but was not delivered. The company found the information, discovered the shipping error, and sent the product to me overnight and added bonus software. Their response to the issue was what allowed me to feel comfortable returning to their ecommerce store for additional software purchases.

If you make a mistake – make it right – make it better than right – and do it quickly. A reputation is hard to gain and easily lost.

In order for you to sell products or services online you will need a shopping cart application to facilitate ecommerce. While your customers simply want a way to make a purchase if they are interested in your product you will have already considered tough choices.

For Instance…

If you want a full solution for invoicing, statements, receipts and company financial history there are solutions that cover all of this with an application for a shopping cart that is tied to company financial data. One such company is COREsense based in New York. This service requires less redundant work because data entry on sales to a separate accounting software application is not required due to the full integration of financial data. For most companies this solution will fall outside normal budget constraints.

If you have no budget for a shopping cart, you have a couple of solutions that might work depending on your technical expertise. OSCommerce is available at no cost. This product is a fully customizable solution for a shopping cart, but it does require personal programming. In many cases netrepreneurs will hire a programmer to set this shopping cart up for them.

If you have no up front budget for a shopping cart PayPal makes one available at no cost, but they do retain a fee as well as a small commission on each sale. The power of PayPal may make this a trusted source for online transactions for your customers.

Yahoo and eBay provide shopping cart services at $30-40 per month and offers a few features unavailable with the low cost or no-cost checkout solutions.

There are other online solutions for cyber transactions with the tipping point based entirely on the size and needs of your online business. If you are a large company with thousands of online transactions, it may ultimately be less expensive to purchase a shopping cart system that requires a monthly fee. In the end, the fees and commissions associated with no cost carts could outpace a standard monthly fee from other ecommerce transaction solutions.

Your customers have a choice in where they shop online and you have a choice in how you manage online transactions. Spend some time checking out the services offered and how the fees will affect your bottom line both now and as your company grows.

As with all ecommerce sites, your business will not do well if it is difficult to checkout. Make sure the transaction solution you choose allow your clients to make a purchase easily. If the process if too difficult the prospect may bow out before the sale is complete.

Ecommerce was seen as a passing fad or gimmick when the pioneers of the process began. Certainly being tied to a computer screen to make a purchase you would need to wait for wouldn’t hold the interest of consumers. Yet inroads were made and sales were conducted.

One of the prevailing difficulties associated with early online transactions was the safety of personal financial information. As hackers gained access to non-encrypted data it was a rallying point for many ecommerce businesses. There had to be a better way to do online business.

The Debut of Encryption

Webopedia describes encryption this way, “The translation of data into a secret code. Encryption is the most effective way to achieve data security. To read an encrypted file, you must have access to a secret key or password that enables you to decrypt it.”

The keys to ecommerce were given back to online business when transactions became encrypted. The privacy of customer data allowed ecommerce to become a viable option for consumers once more.

Suddenly the world of cottage industry and extensions of brick and mortar stores began to flourish and entrepreneurs began to willingly dip their toe into the cyber frontier.

This was a new way of doing business in the cutting edge of intangibles. No longer did business owners absolutely need a sales staff, no longer was an outgoing personality required for business startup, no longer did business mean a storefront.

Business Without Borders

The possibilities expanded as more and more businesses began to recognize their business could be presented in a global fashion.

Business had been so associated with a town, region or district, but online business could be conducted without barriers or distinctions.

Ecommerce allowed the ‘every man’ an opportunity to explore the world of business. What had been seen as elite and unattainable was suddenly an archaic notion. Ecommerce thrived on a ‘no discrimination’ policy. Entrepreneurs of all ages, racial distinctions and economic levels began to find value in marketing to a worldwide clientele who cared more for the product than the arena of personal definition that often made brick and mortar business more difficult.

An Interesting Paradigm

A phenomenon that has taken place in many ecommerce stores is the advent of a growing percentage of online sales while brick and mortar store sales are either static or in a slight decline. This seems to indicate a change in the purchasing decisions and shopping patterns of consumers.

Perhaps in the future we will see more product fulfillment centers and fewer brick and mortar storefronts as ecommerce continues to gain steam as a premier shopping alternative.

We’ve all heard the children’s song, ‘Dem Bones’.

The foot bone’s connected to the leg bone,
The leg bone’s connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone’s connected to the back bone,
The back bone’s connected to the neck bone,
The neck bone’s connected to the head bone,
Etc.

This same concept can be applied to ecommerce. For those who may not fully understand how ecommerce works let’s try this:

The Consumer’s connected to the Internet
The Internet’s connected to the Transaction Server
The Transaction Server’s connected to the Processing Network
The Processing Network’s connected to the Customer’s Bank

Now, let’s look the other side of the equation.

The Merchant’s Website’s connected to the Internet
The Internet’s connected to the Transaction Server
The Transaction Server’s connected to the Processing Network
The Processing Network’s connected to the Merchant’s Bank

Both the consumer and the merchant are connected to the ecommerce shopping cart through similar channels, but like blood pumping through a body the consumer follows the links from checkout to confirmation and the information flows through the Transaction Server, Processing Network and customer bank before it flows back through to the seller through the Transaction Server, Processing Network where the money is deposited in the merchant’s bank. This entire process only takes a few seconds.

The good news is all reputable shopping cart systems rely on encrypted technology to preserve the integrity of the online purchase. This means that a customer’s credit card information is not in danger of being confiscated and used by a third party.

This is important because the success of ecommerce relies heavily on privacy and security. A reputable shopping cart system is a must for any serious web store.

The truth is, all your client really wants to be sure of is the safety of their information, the reputation of your business and if the transaction was complete. They may never know or even care how exactly it is accomplished, but the use of a secure shopping cart, the attention to the reputation of your firm and the use of autoresponders to alert the customer to the completion of the sale will be necessary for positive ongoing client relations.

You’ve worked hard to provide a quality product at a competitive price. You’ve worked to optimize your site for search engine success and you’ve added knowledge-based articles to your site – so to use a football cliché, it would be a shame to drop the ball so close to the end zone. Make sure you have a secure shopping cart for present and future customers. They may just thank you by coming back.

“We are much more emotionally attached to products for which we feel some involvement. So true personalization and customization makes a real difference.” – Donald Norman (author)

There is a psychology to the products we use most. In truth, there may likely be a product that is less expensive and equal in many primary ways. However, the use of a product has certain emotional ties that link the product with a particular response. We may not be able to articulate why the product is superior; we simply know it is the only product we want to use.

As a netrepreneur involved in ecommerce it may be important to work toward finding ways to assist your customers in developing an emotional link to the products you carry.

“Creating an emotional attachment is to go beyond designing Web sites simply for usefulness and focus on meeting desires as well as user’s needs. When this occurred, people would start integrating those products into their lives and start to incorporate it into daily rituals.” Kelly Goto (Gotomedia – Australia)

When your customers begin to use the product and gain an emotional attachment to it you will likely discover a highly motivated client who willingly tells others about your product.

Some of the best advertising has allowed consumers to develop an emotional attachment to a product they may have never used. For instance just mentioning products like Hallmark, Smuckers, Coke or Nike often causes consumers to think about connections that bridge their emotional response to the product in question.

The emotional response may have to do with a successfully emotive marketing campaign; word of mouth advertising from emotionally connected consumers or a special moment when the product was used. That connection should not be minimized or misunderstood.

Ultimately the uniqueness of the product you are marketing will subside. If you wish to continue the sale of the product long-term you need to work to establish an emotional connection to your ecommerce product.

“Over time, competitors will imitate, patents will run out, buyers no longer can tell the difference among similar products. When the product effect dissipates, what’s left is people’s attachment to the brand. Strong brands recognize this.” – William Dillon

One of the ways to add the potential of an emotional connection to your product may include a forum where members can talk about the effects of your product. You might also include emotive testimonials from those who already have an emotional connection to your product. Finally, include articles that place the product in a light where an emotional connection can take place. If you begin to see emotional connections to your products be very grateful.

Accepting credit card orders online is a convenient way to do business, especially for the consumer. There are online businesses that do not use credit card payments, but rather invoice and accept either cashiers check or money orders. However, in most cases this billing process results in a loss of more than half of a site’s potential customers.

The reasons many businesses do not like to accept credit cards are many and include financial issues such as transaction fees, discount rates, setup, statement and application fees as well as a minimum monthly fee. Combined this can take a significant bite out of your potential profit.

If you are developing an ecommerce website you may discover some sites for ecommerce development that offer a Merchant Account at no cost. Others may charge as much as $500 for this type of account. What a Merchant Account does is allow those credit card orders to be processed.

The Merchant Account is also necessary to the implementation of many online shopping carts. The two often work together.

One of the most compelling reasons to pursue a Merchant Account is to expand the potential growth of your ecommerce website. With a credit card sale the consumer has a level of assurance that they will either receive their product or they are not held liable for the purchase by the credit card company (in many instances). However, with an invoice/pre-payment plan the consumer may be wary of providing cash for something they haven’t received. This is especially true when the customer is new.

In essence, an invoicing system might work for existing customers, but in order to grow you may need to consider obtaining a Merchant Account for ecommerce and then expanding your marketing plan to increase the demand for your product. In turn, growing demand may more than offset the fees associated with credit card transactions.

Some small businesses might make use of a PayPal account in lieu of a Merchant Account in order to send and receive online payments. Fees are required in this arrangement as well and some consumers may not like establishing their own PayPal account just to make a payment, but this option may be more palatable for some online business startups or small businesses that operate a niche corporation.

The knowledge of available tools provides a certain empowerment. Online searches can lead you to a variety of Merchant Account providers, but knowing the options may help you manage your company goals and objectives. Ecommerce is a big step and the more you know about available options the easier it becomes to define the solution.

Unless you are gifted in the area of graphic design it is probably best to develop a logo for your ecommerce site with the help of a professional.

You should know that many local designers may charge as much as $1,000 or more for a unique logo design depending on the amount of time the logo takes to meet your specifications. These professionals will work with you to come up with a way to brand your name or product in the minds of your visitor. The importance of a quality logo can’t be overstated.

It is possible to locate a much less expensive online solution to your logo needs. It is possible to receive a stunning business logo for as little as $69, but you might also get something less than perfect for that price.

Many online logo development firms charge a certain fee and allow you the opportunity to make a specific number of revisions. You begin to pay more when they have to return to the logo design past that predetermined number of revisions.

A quality logo presents your online and corporate image to clients. If that logo looks like something that was just thrown together the overall trust factor in your ecommerce business will diminish substantially.

This same line of thinking applies to website design. It is possible you can have a quality product with a comprehensive guarantee and still have few customers. You can provide free shipping and still have a poorly performing online business if your website does not meet the professional standards regular e-shoppers are looking for.

Spend some time reviewing other ecommerce sites to gain an idea of the look and feel you will need to develop.

Interestingly many successful ecommerce websites could stand some updating. These websites have been online for a few years and were developed to be cutting edge websites when they were new. It is safe to say that these sites are missing out on functionality and contemporary site design.

In brick and mortar stores you will find owners providing a new coat of paint, store remodeling and new carpet every now and again. The same should be true for an online store.

For too long many netrepreneurs have simply considered ecommerce a novelty that draws some residual income, but is secondary to an existing brick and mortar operation. The truth is, those who have taken ecommerce seriously have discovered annual increases in online sales that are often in the double digits.

Pay attention to your online site and develop it into a premier destination for online shopping.