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Designing And Marketing Your E-Commerce Site

Aug 22, 2008
E-commerce, or electronic commerce, has become increasingly popular and is now an important part of many sales and marketing strategies. Given that many consumers are cash-rich, yet time-poor, the flexibility that e-commerce provides has secured its growing popularity in both the B2C and B2B markets. Additionally, e-commerce enterprises are not burdened with large overheads in the way that traditional outlets are.

When considering an e-commerce system, the most important thing to make your site a success is to consider carefully the design of your website. The design and marketing of your e-commerce enabled website should make it both attractive and easy to use for your visitors and easily found by search engines.

A growing percentage of internet users now have high-speed internet access. However, this does not mean that your e-commerce site should exclusively use Flash or be particularly graphic intensive. There are still millions of people using a dial up internet connection who will become frustrated at the length of time that complex sites take to load. This may end up in an unnecessarily abandoned shopping cart and a lost long-term customer.

If, however, you do want to use an e-commerce site with streaming video or other multimedia components, then you should consider a parallel site for lower bandwidth users.

When considering the overall design of your site, you must spend quality time planning each of your web pages so as to create the most effective shop window for your e-commerce site. To make best use of your site, you may wish to create a page that groups all of your similar products or services together with links off this page to explore each product or service in more detail.

You should always, wherever possible, group your products by purpose and category. This will make browsing your e-commerce site much easier for customers to find exactly what it is they are looking for and may also precipitate the sale of complementary products. A site map, or breadcrumb-trail located on each page will also help make it very easy for your potential clients to find their way around.

Once you have designed your website, the job is still far from complete. The most important aspect of e-commerce is deciding what billing and payment receipt method will work best for you.

Most established sites use merchant accounts to accept credit cards over the internet. These are an efficient and universally accepted way of carrying out e-commerce business. However, you will need to consider carefully the costs and recurring fees associated with the likes of Visa and MasterCard payments.

If you predict that the volume of turnover from your e-commerce site will make accepting credit cards on your site feasible, you will need to use some form of secure payment gateway and an SSL certificate to make sure that your clients' sensitive details are kept secure.

Once your e-commerce site is developed fully and secure, you will then need to think about how best to promote your site. Of course, this can be straight forward if you are merely adding an e-commerce site to an established company. However, if you are a start-up enterprise, then this task may seem somewhat daunting.

Despite the apparent vastness of this task, in reality, it is actually much easier to promote your website than it is to promote a conventional business. You can use e-zines and advertisements on websites to promote yourself, and, as advertising online is normally charged per impression or per click, this makes it much more cost effective than traditional advertising methodologies.
About the Author
Chris Coleman is a Business Analyst at Capita Technologies. Capita Technologies provides e-Commerce services for a wide variety of clients.
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