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How to Incorporate Ecommerce Solutions into Your Website

Sep 3, 2008
Online stores are the shopping malls of the 21st century. Technological advancements are making ecommerce solutions more simple and secure. For instance, payment gateways allow customers the convenience of paying for their purchase online with their credit cards. Secured servers guarantee that your customer's personal information is protected from hackers and identity thieves.

The first step towards entering the world of ecommerce is implementing a solid, user-friendly website design. Focus on providing your visitors with an enjoyable, hassle-free experience. Also, and this is very important, utilize a website design that's suitable for search engine optimization.

The rapid growth of ecommerce is due in part to the fact that broadband and high-speed Internet connections are becoming more common and affordable. A word of caution, however. Speedier Internet connections aren't a free pass for website designers to start loading down pages with huge graphics and large amounts of streaming media. There are still approximately 40 million Americans using dial-up, and you want your website to be accessible to them as well. You do have the option of creating two separate areas of your website, one catering to dial-up and the other featuring advanced media for those with high-speed connections.

Every page of your website deserves equal attention. Build a separate page for each product you sell. One option for presenting product information is to use a catalog format. List each product, followed by a brief description. Then, include a link to the page with the full description and color photographs of that product.

Help clients find what they need by organizing products according to category and use. Pair your well-organized catalog with a site map and navigation links so customers will have no trouble locating the information they want.

Once you've got a website design in place, it's time to take your website to the next level. Ecommerce is about making money, and in order to make money you need to be able to accept payments through your website. You can implement your ecommerce solutions by hiring one of the many merchant services that operate through banks and other reputable financial institutions. Outsourcing your ecommerce solutions means that your website is connected to an established business, which increases your clients' confidence in the security of your website. In addition to financial transactions, you can also outsource ecommerce solutions such as shopping carts.

If you want to accept payments via credit cards and echecks as an independent company, you need a "payment gateway." Various merchant services provide payment gateways, for a fee of course. Costs vary according to the packages you select, so research a variety of companies offering ecommerce solutions to find the best bang for your buck.

The next step in accepting payments as an independent company is to secure an area of your site for conducting your payment transactions. Areas are secured through use of a secured socket layer, commonly referred to as an SSL. An SSL is what makes it safe for you and your customers to engage in online transactions where personal and financial information is being exchanged.

An SSL is a layer of encryption made up of two separate elements, one private and one public. The information submitted by a customer is encrypted by the public component. The private component then deciphers this information. Without an SSL, the information submitted by your customers would essentially be available for all the world to see. The SSL hides the information, keeping it safe and private so no unauthorized parties can view it.

Now that your site is secure and you've got your ecommerce solutions in place, it's time to start promoting your website. The good news is that website promotion is cheaper and easier than marketing a brick-and-mortar store. A simple way to get started is to add your website's URL to your business cards, letterhead and other promotional materials. An "about us" section detailing your company's history and a set of customer testimonials boost your credibility.

For starters, marketing your website online is far less expensive than advertising through traditional mediums such as newspapers, television, radio and magazines. Some online website promotion is even free, such as writing articles and submitting them to ezines and directories.

Search engine marketing is another popular method of website promotion. You pay a rather small amount of money on a "per click" or "per impression" basis for your listing to show up in search engine result pages. It's cost effective because you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

New and improved ecommerce solutions are being developed all the time. By keeping up with ecommerce trends, website owners can take full advantage of the public's love of shopping online. No more renting out an office or running a store. You can work from the comfort of your own home while attracting customers from all over the globe.
About the Author
Chris Coleman is a Business Analyst at Capita Technologies. Capita Technologies provides eCommerce services for a wide variety of clients.
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