5 Important Aspects Of An eCommerce System

October 20th, 2012

If you are starting up an online business, you want to be sure that your website is set up in such a way that people who are interested in your product or service can actually buy it while visiting your site.  Unlike an informational site, this type of site must be interactive so that the customer can actually select products and then make arrangements to pay for them.  This electronic commerce or eCommerce, as it is often referred to, can make the difference between a person purchasing an item on your site or going elsewhere to purchase a similar item.  There are many shopping systems that are available online, so it can be challenging to determine which system will best match your business type and meet the needs of your customers.  By understanding some of the more important aspects that an eCommerce system should have, you ought to be able to select a system that meets your needs.

Managing Your Product Catalog

When you are looking for solutions to your eCommerce needs, one of the first things you need to look for is how each system you are considering manages products for placement in an online catalog.  If you only have a few products, you can select a system that requires you to manually upload or download each individual product.  However, if you have hundreds or even thousands of products you plan to sell, you need to be able to upload or download all of them in batches.  In addition, the catalog needs to be set up in such a way that you can adjust prices easily and even automatically.  The catalog system should have search features so that your customers can easily browse the products and search for the ones they want.  Look at the different import options as well as the export options to determine whether the catalog portion of the eCommerce system you are considering will work for your business.

Handling payments

One of the most important features of an eCommerce system is the way payments are handled.  The shopping cart must be easy to use and understand.  If a person finds it challenging to put items in the cart or to remove them when they change their mind, they will simply move on and find another site that is easier to use.  Once they have selected all of their items, the eCommerce system needs to be able to support several payment options.  Some of the more popular payment methods include PayPal, 2Checkout, and Worldpay.  You could also accept credit and debit cards directly for payment.  The more your payment options are restricted, the harder it can be to attract paying customers.  In addition, you want to be sure that the payment plan you use provides you with adequate tracking so that you can be aware of the payments that have been made to you.

Shipping Charges and Delivery Options

When you use an eCommerce system on your website it needs to be able to add shipping charges appropriately.  If you only sell one item or all the items you sell cost the same amount for shipping, this is not an issue.  However, most businesses will have a variety of shipping costs and will need to pass those costs on to the consumer accordingly.  Customers also like to have shipping or delivery options.  If someone wants an item right away they need to be able to select expedited shipping, and have the appropriate charges added to their shopping cart.  It is very helpful if the shipping charges can be computed for the shopper before they checkout so that they can compare different shipping options.  If you use a particular carrier, your charges need to be specific for that carrier.  If you are shipping items internationally you will want your system to be able to compute international shipping rates and to be able to integrate the various carriers that will be used.

eCommerce Marketing

Because you are selling items over the internet, you are utilizing a variety of marketing methods to drive targeted web traffic to your site. For example, if you want to have sales or other promotions, you need your eCommerce system to be able to handle the necessary changes.  For instance, if you want to offer a “buy 1 get 1 free” promotion to your customers, you need to have your shopping cart and shipping costs adjust to the new prices.  If you want to offer a discount coupon to clients you met at a tradeshow, your eCommerce system should allow you the ability to program that code into the system so that when it is entered by your client the discount automatically appears and is figured into the price.  You may have one price for members and a different price for those who have not yet joined your club or site and need a way to keep track of that. Because you will utilize a variety of tactics to drive targeted traffic to your website, your eCommerce needs to be able to work with each of them.

SEO

One of the features that is very important to an eCommerce system is its ability to be searched or crawled by the various search engines.  The URLs need to be search engine friendly and the system needs to include a site map.  Because you want to drive targeted traffic to your site, you need to optimize your entire site including the eCommerce pages and functions.  Working with a web developer that understands how eCommerce works and how to optimize it for search engines may be the best way to get a fully-optimized site.  With a well-developed site, all of your optimization and marketing efforts should be able to work together whether you buy targeted traffic, use blog posts to find free website visitors, or utilize a PPC campaign.

By thinking about your website from a customer’s point of view, you can be surer to get the eCommerce features that you really need for your site.  Making the site user-friendly and interactive can go a long way toward promoting sales.  With a little research you should be able to find a system that will connect well with your site.

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