Monday, 30 April 2007
eCommerce stated back in the early 1990's and is a term that covered all forms of electronic commerce. Even transaction using an ATM machine or EFTPOS are considered to be eCommerce. Lately it has been used to describe buying and selling over the internet. In reality it is a very broad term.
eBusiness in a similar fashion is a term that has many meanings depending on how it is applied. But in a general sense it means a business process that is driven by an information system. Most recently it has also been applied to business done over the internet.
Some people see eCommerce as more B2B related and eBusiness as more B2C related but who cares. What it is all about is doing business and if you are looking at our website then you probably want to sell online.
You will come across many new terms if you are new to selling online here are a few:
B2C - or business to consumer is the very basics of online selling. It simply means that your business or website is selling a product or service to a end consumer of that product or service.
B2B - business to business is all about selling or supplying other businesses rather than end consumers. B2B is really the same as B2C but there might be a little variation in the process. For example in B2B you might only sell to registered businesses with an ABN and accept different payment terms.
C2C - or consumer to consumer is about selling used stuff (generally) the most well know C2C site is eBay but there are many others out there like Trademe in New Zealand.
B2P - or business to partner really is another form of B2B.
eMarketplace - is a website where you will find many different B2B and B2C businesses selling their products, good examples are www.ferrit.co.nz and www.oo.com.au.
eMall and eMarketplace - same thing.
Shopping Comparison - is like an eMarketplace but without a shopping cart and allows you to compare from many suppliers, good examples are www.getprice.com.au and www.shopping.com.
Shopping Cart - what this generally means is an ability for you to pick products on the website and then add them to a secure buying process. Secure shopping carts are generally SSL protected and you will see that the URL starts with HTTPS and not HTTP. Also the padlock icon should appear in your browser.
SSL - means secure socket layer and just means that the information is transferred safely.
Payment Gateway - in order to safely accept credit cards you need to process through a payment gateway or a Payment Service Provider. These are organisations that deal directly with the credit card companies and your bank. Companies like PayPal and Worldpay and Payment Gateways.
Online Shop or Online Store - refers to a website that also has been enabled with a shopping cart to take online sales.
WYSIWYG - this means What You See Is What You Get and refers to a method of editing information. In good web systems you need HTML and this is like a programming language and complex. So editors have been created that automatically create the HTML for you.
HTML - this means Hypertext Makeup Language and it the language used to format web pages. There are many other languages that are used on the web for example Java, JSP, ASP, .Net, and many more. A good online store development system won't need you to know any of these. So rest easy.
If there are other terms that you don't understand don't worry you are not alone. Don't let the terminology frighten you. Many web development companies try very hard to make it as difficult as possible but we don't. We are more than happy to explain any terminology just ask us by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, 15 April 2007
When you visit a website you expect to find everything you need easily. Think of the things on the site visitors will need in order to buy from you. Find the right category, search for a product, see a product image, read a description, see the prices. Think about when you walk into a bricks and mortar store and how frustrated you get if you can't find what you want. Then when you find it you can't find the checkout or get any help. It is no difference in an online store.
Images (photos) are really important if you are selling a physical object jewellery, cloths, cars whatever. The better quality the images available the more successful the store will become. Buyers also like to see multiple images of the things that they want to buy so think about multiple photos from different angles. If you can afford it use a professional photographer if not use a good quality digital camera and set up the background to be able to blend into your website.
The product descriptions need to give as much information as possible. You will see in the ePages MBO there is a short and long description. The long description will get shown when a visitor clicks on a product and looks for detail. So it is important that you give as much information as possible. If the product comes with a handbook then you can load that as a PDF and use the handbook upload capability in the MBO to make it available to the visitor. Think about the obvious questions people ask about the product and try to answer them.
Do not put your website into a "frame". Most of you may not know what a frame is but it is a way of displaying more than one HTML document in the one browser window. Most of the search engines do not like frames. If you really believe that you need to do this then please discuss it with your web developer or our support people.
Put products that you want to promote on the Home Page. In ePages you can do this relatively easily by including some products in the Product Tab at the highest level category. You can adjust the way they show using the "Layout" tab. My recommendation is to change these products regularly if you have a large product range. If you are only promoting a small number of products it may not be an issue.
Check to see how you home page shows if you make the browser window smaller. You want your visitors to see the main products that you are promoting. When visitors look at websites the normal eye progression starts at the Top Left moves to the Top Right then to the centre of the visible screen. If you don't get the visitors attention they will move on. So your "call to action" or the objective for them visiting should be near the top of the screen and easily seen.
Make sure that you keep your promotional content fresh. Make changes regularly and it will help bring people back to your site. By this I do not mean that you need to redesign the site every week. But make sure that you keep the site up to date.
If you use ePages you need to make sure that you have checked all the text areas out in the MBO. By this I mean the messages that visitors see if for example a product is out of stock. These are all data fields in the MBO that you can manage. Some of these include the shopping basket messages, the email messages for all the alerts that you activate, shipping option messages, info text message. Ask our support if you think that there is an area you missed or cannot find.
Last tip for this month is simple but often ignored. That is make sure that you use a standard font, colour and size through out the store. ePages allows for most text to be entered using our HTML Editor. This is a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor. You can select the font, size and colour and other formatting features. Unless you want to specifically high light an item then stick with the same fonts and sizes throughout. There maybe a couple of fonts you select like TimeRoman for Headlines and Arial for Body. But be consistent. Finally check the spelling, the easiest way is to cut and paste into something like Microsoft Word or get a couple of other people to read your content.