Ecommerce, or electronic commerce, or e-commerce is simply defined as ‘doing business over the Internet’. Ecommerce encompasses selling both hard goods (tangible things like books, CD’s, vitamins, and ipods), to selling information products like ebooks, courses, software, and other downloads.
Business anywhere has its own fixed set of rules so the success of your venture will depend on a large extent on what rules you follow and what rules you do not.
Ecommerce too, has a number of rules. This article will try to highlight a few of these rules which are meant to guide you towards success in your ecommerce venture.
The “Do’s” of Ecommerce
The number of clicks by a customer that lead to a purchase is directly proportional to the sale being followed through by the customer. A customer will loose their patience if they have to click more than three times to complete a purchase. So, keep the navigation as simple as possible, and make the sales process as easy as possible.
Make sure all the links on your site work. Check these regularly so you can find out when a link fails. There are free programs that will do this. One of them is Xenu’s Link Sleuth. Don’t be put off by the pictures of aliens – the link sleuth software, and the site, is named after a reference to a certain prominent group, particularly in the entertainment industry, and the creator of this software would like people to donate $20 to a non-profit research center set up to study psychological manipulation, cult groups, and to help people affected by cults. The link checking software is great – I have used it for years.
Name your links so that people can remember and understand them well. For example, if you are selling furniture and the link is for arm chairs, name the link armchairs.html and not furniture01123.html
Keep the graphics simple, and the language easy to understand. Millions of people use the internet every day, and if you have complicated navigation and large graphic files, you will lose many potential customers. To keep your graphic files down to a minimum, use this low cost graphic compressor.
If you stock hard goods, or have a limited inventory, have reference to the availability of a product early in the navigation relating to it. There is nothing more annoying than to get through the whole buying process, only to find at the last click that the product you wanted isn’t available. This will almost always guarantee that you lose customers. Customers won’t return to a site that is frustrating or hard to navigate. Remember that your business success, especially in the early stages, will depend on repeat customers and word of mouth advertising.
The “Don’ts” of Ecommerce
Absolutely do not use frames for navigation purposes. There are too many people out there who still use old model computers; they usually will block the frames when navigating sites, because it makes it faster. If all your navigation directions are based on frames, then these prospective customers will skip your site. And frames make for a frustrating experience when trying to navigate back through a site when you’re using the back button in the browser. Don’t frustrate your customers!
Do not use pictures on the site that are too large in file size. They make the loading very slow. Use the JPEG compressor I wrote about above to fix this problem.
Relating to the above two points, don’t use a splash page as an ‘introduction’ to your site. People rarely watch them, and there’s nothing worse than having to click again to get to the actual site – especially if you’re on dial up. And a lot of people are. And even people that aren’t on dial up usually don’t waste their time looking at pretty splash screens.
As much as possible don’t have special software requirements to showcase your products. People do not usually like to download some new software just to browse your site. They would rather go elsewhere. The key to successful ecommerce is making it as easy as possible for your potential customers to find out about your products, and to buy them. Having special software requirements will mean you lose a lot of people.