Ecommerce is simply defined as ‘carrying out business over the internet’.
In order to be successful however you need to follow a few simple rules to get the desired response from your ecommerce customers.
Don’t have too many steps in the sales process
It has been proved that there is a direct correlation between the number of clicks a person has to make in order to complete a purchase and the volume of people who abandon their shopping cart before checking out.
You need to make the checkout process as simple as possible on your ecommerce web site so that potential customers are not discouraged easily through poor navigation.
Ensure customers are aware of stock levels
Make sure that customers can check the availability of stock early on in the sales process.
There is nothing more annoying to customers than to get to the end of the checkout process only to find that their items are not available. It is a sure bet they will find another site to order from and never return to yours.
Ensure web browser compatibility
Make sure you view your site in a variety of browsers to ensure that it is presented correctly. As a minimum you should view it in Internet Explorer and Firefox, these being the two most commonly used.
Use meaningful words in your links
Name your links appropriately using a sensible description that means something to your customers. For instance, ‘Music players section A’ is much less descriptive than ‘iPod Nano range’.
Double check your hyperlinks
Make sure that all the hyperlinks work on your site and that they click through to the correct destinations. Broken links give customers the impression of a poorly constructed, amateur site.
Simplify your graphics
Well constructed graphics do look very effective on your site but you must ensure that they are optimised for the web.
This means that you have to use a graphics program such as Adobe Photoshop or Macromedia Fireworks to reduce the file size to ensure that your web pages do not take too long to load.
This exercise becomes a balancing act between quality versus file size but usually a good compromise can be obtained.
Create a straightforward checkout process
The final stage of your ecommerce process is also the most nervous for your customer. You need to ensure that your customer is comforted that you have a safe and secure payment process in which they can entrust their personal details.
You need to have your website hosted on a secure server and Secure Socket Layering (SSL) enabled. Tell your customers about the security arrangements you have in place on your ecommerce web site in order to protect their personal information.
If you follow the tips outlined above then you will avoid most of the common pitfalls that you can encounter in developing your ecommerce web site.