A decade ago, the idea of small business ecommerce seemed like an impossible dream. Only large companies and multinationals had the resources to utilize Internet servers, develop websites, and pay for web-hosting. This has changed drastically because of the way the IT industry has developed in the last few years.
Right now, there are various opportunities opening up for small business ecommerce. Any business can have a web presence and take advantage of its benefits to increase it customer base and revenue stream.
The main drivers behind the growing opportunities for small business ecommerce include cheaper software and website solutions. Not small businesses can take advantage of free products like Wordpress, or ecommerce specific products like Exponent. Several of these types of platforms offer many downloadable software tools that can help a small business execute online sales efficiently.
Other opportunities for small business ecommerce stem from the use of free web services to enhance customer connectivity and drive down costs. A small business owner can use electronic receipts and invoices to carry out business processes.
In addition, small businesses can have a fairly effective web presence by using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to promote goods and services, and to create brand loyalty among their target customers.
Thirdly, the cost of running web services is reducing with improving technology. Therefore, even if a small business requires its own website under its own domain name, the costs are now affordable. The increasing bandwidth and speeds have made available multimedia applications that enable anyone to freely upload videos, slideshows, audio files, and animated materials at little or no costs.
These benefits translate to number of advantages for small business owners. First of all there is the possibility of increasing the speed of processing orders through small business ecommerce by allowing customers to order via email. Additionally, this reduces the need for customers to visit the actual store.
Small businesses can also take advantage of sending out electronic invoices faster than they would be able to send paper based ones. Not to mention the web offers small businesses many options for advertising. It is now easier to develop online marketing and advertising campaigns through Pay Per Click and SEO.
Lastly, a small business web ecommerce solution offers the ability to collect payments electronically. By using payment methods such as PayPal, it is possible to collect money without waiting for paper based currencies. The beauty of it all is that these options are very affordable and although they are designed for the large retailers, local small business are beginning to take advantage.continue...
Ecommerce content management systems (CMS) are critical for online retailers. Many ecommerce stores rely on CMS systems to maintain customer and product catalog data, perform payments and transactions, deliver online shopping cart features, marketing and search analytics, as well as SEO support.
At Web Ecommerce Solutions, we outline 3 key features to look out for in an ecommerce CMS system.
Don't judge an ecommerce CMS platform by its cover. Many might look clean and simple to use, but their functionality might suck.
The ability to efficiently manage the content of the website is a number one priority for a good ecommerce CMS. This often entails a clean dashboard or platform that lays it all out in a convenient interface. A good platform enables users to make edit on the breeze without having to dig for specific products and pages.
A ecommerce CMS that is search engine optimization friendly comes in two forms: slim and easy.
Slim content management systems are minimal in their code. That is, the HTML that makes up the structure of the website, or back-end, is slim and easy to crawl for search engine spiders. Slim, minimal coding often correlates to fast crawling and better performance in the search engines.
Easy SEO-friendliness means its simple to implement on-site optimization. Some of the most SEO-friendly content management systems provide a URL, page Title, meta description and meta keywords field for each page of the site. The ability to add these SEO elements uniquely to each page is a critical one-up for ecommerce optimization.
Many missed conversions on ecommerce sites occur during the checkout process. Sometimes the process is too long and asks for too much information on too many pages, whereas other CMS are too brief with their checkout process, giving buyers a lack of confidence and motivation to shop elsewhere.
A seamless, SEO-friendly shopping cart and checkout process is ideal for ecommerce. Know exactly the process users take in placing their order until the final confirmation page. If you sell high dollar items, a lengthy checkout process might be more appropriate by giving users a sense of security and assurance.
We hope these three features of a solid CMS for ecommerce will help you find a platform that meets your goals. Thanks for visiting the Web Ecommerce Solutions blogs.continue...
When it comes to ecommerce and serving your customers, getting them to your online store is only half the battle. Even after a shopper has put several products in their cart, that doesn't guarantee that you have sealed the deal.
Many ecommerce stores miss the mark during the final stages due to a poor shopping cart checkout process. But there are ways you can limit shopping cart abandonment by making the checkout process as simple and customer-friendly as possible.
First, ensure that your ecommerce website design and shopping cart are as simple and clear as possible. This includes convenient cart editing options and easy to operate navigation to enhance the usability of the shopping cart.
Although most people who will be going through the checkout process in your store have probably shopped online before, always design for the least Internet-savvy customer. Find the most technophobic person you know, and have them try your cart. If they can't complete the checkout process, pinpoint the issues, and resolve them.
A second tip to avoid shopping car abandonment is to minimize the number of pages of the checkout process.
Although a one or two page checkout process is best, multiple pages might be necessary if the product or services is very costly. This will instill greater confidence in the buyer who is spending a fair chunk of change.
Assess the nature of your businesses, and determine the appropriate amount of shopping cart pages to include. Try to avoid including unnecessary fields, pop-ups or special offers, or annoying referral programs. If you must include these things, use them after a customer has entered their order information or after the order has been completed.
Finally, try to give your customers as many ways as possible to pay. If a customer prefers method of payment is not available at checkout, it is likely that they will find another store that will accept their payment.
The vast majority of customers will want to pay you via credit or debit card, or by PayPal. It is absolutely essential to provide both of these options to stay competitive. Only occasionally will customers want to pay by check or other methods, but it is worthwhile to provide these options too.
By creating a simple, quick, and painless way to check out, you'll be able to avoid the most common causes of shopping cart abandonment, see your sales increase, and have satisfied customers who will continue to return to your ecommerce website!continue...
M-commerce, also known as mobile ecommerce, is conducting business through Internet enabled mobile devices, particularly for the promotion and sale of goods.
In essence, M-commerce facilitates business transactions over wireless mobile devices. M-commerce relates to the sale of goods and/or services, which is initiated by using smartphone technology such as mobile apps and interactive mobile shopping carts.
Consumers are using their mobile devices to carry out their shopping needs. And even more prominent than actually making transactions, people are using their smartphones to research and comparison shop. Overall the opportunities to funnel sales using M-commerce are plentiful.
The applications for mobile ecommerce are vast. Below are just a few examples of how M-commerce has been put to work:
Mobile ecommerce has gained huge success in many markets and is projected to be the next major wave of ecommerce.
Consumers are headed toward an increasingly fast-paced lifestyle, and demand more efficient means to go about their daily tasks. That is why M-commerce is destined to be a major player in how we do business.
Mobile devices and social media are transforming the way consumers interact with both businesses and each other. The keyword here is "Social," because for many, the sharing information is what's important. In addition, the sharing of information is what facilitates greater awareness and unbiased promotion of certain products and services.
To get a jump on M-commerce, businesses should increase their presence in social networking sites such as Facebook, Google+, and Foursquare, since most consumers get connected to social media sites through their mobile devices.
Most mobile users are checking product prices, searching for store locations, and reading product reviews through their mobile devices. Therefore companies should design their websites so that customers are able browse their websites from their mobile browsers.
Furthermore, businesses should integrate their social media presence right along with their mobile-friendly optimization, because users are not only checking prices, but they are also "checking in" to tangible locations via smartphone apps like Foursquare.
M-Commerce is on the horizon to be the new front of how we handle business. Some speculate that the smartphone will soon replace the need for owning a wallet.
Entrepreneurs should start weaving mobile ecommerce in their strategic plans and start capitalizing on the mobile movement.continue...
There is too much to loose and not enough to gain with the enactment of SOPA and PIPA. Everything has gone online, and at a global scale. The enactment of SOPA will further complicate the global storefronts of ecommerce, and may foreshadow a destination of doom for Internet-based businesses.
One of the simplest ways that SOPA will affect ecommerce and SEO is its strict adherence to intellectual property. This will require a user to verify all the information that he or she posts, including all of the sources that one may have used to generate such content. This means that even if one does not violate SOPA but one of the sources does, the websites risks getting blocked and facing litigation.
For online companies that rely on information from various sources, the process of verifying all the information and its sources will be an extremely time consuming endeavor (and a waste of resources.)
Furthermore, SOPA and PIPA may instill fear amongst people in linking information to different websites, and thus greatly affecting SEO.
Google is apparently the greatest search engine on the Web, and since it will be affected by the law it will not be easy for Google to carry out the same indexing process. This follows the fact that Google will have to verify all the information and its sources to ensure that the search engine complies with SOPA. A hold-up in the Google indexing process can lead to a great hindrance of development on the Web.
Time is of the essence, and with extreme protection measures set in by SOPA and PIPA, there will not be enough time to carry out Google indexing if thousands, if not millions, of verifications have to be made. In turn, this will profoundly influence ecommerce and quite possibly make it a lesser popular form of business.
According to the law, a website that is suspected to have violated SOPA will be blocked within 48 hours of the violation, and it will remain so until litigation process is completed. Unfortunately, there are times when competitors could use this to their own advantage, creating loopholes to exploit unrighteous business practices.
As has been implied with the enactment of these bills, Visa, PayPal and other online money transfer companies are required to suspend payments on sites that are suspected to infringe the SOPA. As a result, these companies could incur losses due to the delays brought about by the suspension.
This means that SOPA invades the peaceful coexistence of ecommerce companies, including money transfer organs. If the websites that support online trading are blocked as a result of SOPA, it can mean that the online money transfer organs also feel the wrath.
The effects of SOPA may not come directly to the companies involved in handling copyrighted materials, but it there is bound to be a drop in the ecommerce due to the fear that the bill gives to the people. For instance, it is notable that if one made a comment or product review, and plagiarized sensitive, copyrighted material on your website, you may be held responsible for the user's negligence.
The overwhelming agreement is that SOPA and PIPA may risk a channel for conducting business that our global economy relies so heavily upon. Keep your fingers crossed that these bills will be passed down, and the regular order of ecommerce with continue to thrive.continue...
A big player in the ecommerce industry has recently made significant move toward mobile ecommerce.
Shopify, which specializes in ecommerce technology that enables almost anyone to create an online storefront, has recently acquired Select Start Studios.
Select Start Studios is a company that specialized in mobile apps and gaming, and will be of great value to Shopify as it continues to expand into mobile ecommerce, or "mcommerce."
Although Shopify already offers mobile optimized ecommerce stores and shopping carts, the acquisition of Select Start Studios will add over 20 new engineers to the team at Shopify. And all of this new talent has specific expertise in the mobile realm.
This is a big shift as smartphones continue to grow and dominate the consumer shopping industry. Even ecommerce for small and medium sized local business has offered new opportunities to expand and connect with relevant consumers.
And its players like Shopify that make ecommerce (and mcommerce) affordable and easy to implement, without a specialist.
Shopify is unique because it operates a web-based platform for its services. This enables virtually anyone to establish an ecommerce store and online shopping cart with ease. Storefronts can be fully customized to match the brand and the platform has reputation for its highly level of security.
As more game-changers like Shopify continue to expand and cater to innovative ideas, such as mcommerce, expect the world of online business to continue thriving.continue...
There are two types of shopping carts: the physical carts that are found in stores and supermarkets, and virtual shopping carts for ecommerce stores.
The latter shopping cart for online ecommerce stores is software that has been designed to retain data and details of customer activity, as well as the products and/or services available on the site. Let's go into further detail about the types of online shopping carts and what to look for when investing in one.
There are two main types of virtual online shopping carts. The first type are licensed shopping carts. These are typically a one-time, fixed payment, and are installed on web servers being downloaded. Licensed versions often come with many other applications and features, but probably the most powerful benefit to these types of online shopping carts is that a programmer can access its source code and do any custom modifications that a business desires.
The second type of online shopping cart for ecommerce is the hosted service type. These are commonly offered through many ecommerce content management systems and other related hosting services. Hosted online shopping carts are paid for on a monthly basis and/or each time a certain amount of transactions have been made. Unlike the licensed type, there are no modifications that can be done by the buyer, unless it is done by the hosting company.
There are many features that one can experience with different types of shopping carts. Consumers prefer working with the shopping carts that allow them to access as much information about products and services, as well as purchasing information and details. Choosing an online shopping cart often depends on the nature of the product of service being offered. Expensive, high consideration buys might demand a more thorough and secure shopping cart, as opposed low cost, low consideration goods which might need only the basics.
A second consideration of online shopping carts is search engine friendliness. This factor usually depends on how well the ecommerce shopping cart has been built from a coding standpoint. Some have been designed with minimal code, which allows for seamless and highly efficient search engine crawling and indexing. However, other online shopping carts are robust and a very code heavy, which inhibits fluent crawling and can be detrimental to SEO performance.
The last consideration for ecommerce online shopping carts is support and security, especially if a business plans to go with a hosted shopping cart. It is very important that the shopping cart is highly secure and protects sensitive information of customers. Not only that, but when things go wrong or when help is needed a reliable support system is also a major factor. We suggest reading all the reviews you can about different online shopping carts as well as checking out various ecommerce forums to see what experts have to say.
Do you have any considerations to add when looking for online shopping carts for ecommerce? Please comment about them below.continue...
The third generation iPad 3 offers a major step forward for ecommerce web marketers and online shoppers.
With the iPad 3, ecommerce web marketers can take advantage of assorted features to enhance consumer interaction with ads, while helping to streamline sales funnels. On the other hand, online shoppers can enjoy a greater shopping experience with a simple and easy to use device.
The iPad 3 is anticipated to be thinner and of a sleeker design compared to iPad 2. It will be endowed with a screen resolution of 2048 x 1536 and full touch screen ability. Furthermore, the iPad 3 will incorporate a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch which will facilitate for an improved retina display feature compared to its predecessor. This translates to that graphics and texts will appear smooth and clear regardless of the size. These features create perfect opportunities for both ecommerce marketers and online shoppers.
iPad 3 will also be endowed with A6 Quad-core processor making it equally powerful as a high quality desktop. It will also have an OS capable of hosting the gesture technology. This means that the iPad 3 will incorporate features like notifications, multitasking, application switching, task finishing location sound and background sound. The processor's power will also enable the user to perform more elaborated operations using the iPad 3. This creates opportunities for both the ecommerce marketers and for online shoppers.
For the ecommerce marketers, the improved retina display of the iPad 3 creates a good forum to place display ads on the Web and in many applications. Marketers should create compelling and attractive advertisements which will be clearly displayed through the retina display. The advertisements can be in form of photography, videos, animations and text amongst other attractive forms. The retina display will help attract more potential customers hence improving the businesses of the ecommerce marketers.
The online shoppers should also take advantage of the clear display through improved retina display by looking up at the various products and their reviews. The clear graphics and texts will ensure that a potential customer will know exactly what they will be buying since every detail of the products will be visible. This will decrease the likely hood of online shoppers buying things without ample knowledge on the particular product.
The powerful processor and ability to host the gesture technology created opportunities for ecommerce marketers because they can use various forms of advertising and supervise them all without a hitch. For instance, an ecommerce marketer can use email marketing, display advertising, search advertising and in application advertising at the same time. This is facilitated by the iPad 3's ability to multitask using the powerful processors.
Hence the ecommerce marketer's products will reach to more people consequently improving sales. The advanced features also give online shoppers opportunities to view and compare different products while clearly viewing them and reading the relevant descriptions thus making informed choices while purchasing. Thus, iPad 3 is a big utility to both the ecommerce marketers and online shoppers.continue...
Even though businesses are still using marketing platforms like TV, radio, and print, the effects of ecommerce are growing bigger and better. The Internet can be accessed by anyone, from any part of the world and at any time. This makes ecommerce a more convenient and efficient option for marketing and product sales for retailers.
Just like fashion and technology, ecommerce also has trends that stem from the latter examples. The underlying trends for ecommerce look bright. Small businesses to large corporate brands are able to reach out to their audiences and facilitate their buying behaviors in highly effective ways.
Today, most people tend to visit social networking sites more than any other type of website. Due to this, most of the latest trends in ecommerce have shifted focus onto these sites. In addition, the devices in which we conduct online shopping have shifted from PC's and laptops to smartphones and other PDA's. This too has been an increase focus for ecommerce companies.
There are several social sites that can be used today for ecommerce efforts; however the main one that is rating high on the ecommerce trends for 2012 is Facebook.
F-commerce is one of the ecommerce trends for 2012 that involves conducting business over the social network site Facebook. In fact, the trend is viewed to be one of the best in future based on the majority influence that the social site has.
In fact, today, there are millions of people on Facebook and many of these individuals are sharing opinions on products and brands. Apart from just the easy access to Facebook, businesses can take advantage of various tools such as Facebook coupons and now new features that facilitate actual product purchases.
The act of shopping through mobile devices is another trend that is significantly picking up among consumers. In fact, in the UK alone, it is said to increase by almost 53% in the next year at a spending rate of Euro 4.5 billion.
In case you are one of those businessmen out there who is looking for the perfect ecommerce strategy, then M-commerce is the ideal option that you need to take. This is because, in the near future, almost everyone will be using their mobile devices like smartphones to facilitate their shopping endeavors. The only real investment is finding a mobile apps developer to design a mobile-friendly ecommerce application that meets the interests of your sales objectives.
There are more ecommerce trends for 2012 that you may also need to consider depending on the type of business that you are involved in. However, the above mentioned are some of the best that will be able to give your business the exposure that you need.
Are you curious about any ecommerce trends? Let us know in the comments section below.continue...
Over the past few years the number of Internet shoppers has steadily increased, especially lately with smartphone-friendly shopping carts. Given the massive market of potential clients, even small business retailers are turning to ecommerce solutions to sell their goods.
Because ecommerce involves the selling goods online, without the need of a business having a physical location, this shift is becoming a big game changer. Small business ecommerce solutions are becoming more affordable, and now "ma n' pop" stores are adopting web ecommerce solutions to funnel both local and visitor sales.
The advantages of small business ecommerce can be very wealthy, depending on the nature of the store. Some local businesses have rare products that many non-local customers have limited access to. An online store front could easily take care of location barriers.
In addition, smartphone shopping cart compatibility could contribute to more sales. Mobile shoppers browse and comparison shop, even while on the downtown strip as they make their rounds from store to store. Local small businesses could incentive those shoppers with better prices, deals, and/or direct online purchasing.
The momentum for ecommerce, even at the local small business level, is great opportunity for many different companies. Below we offer some small business ecommerce tips to get you on your way.
Most unsuccessful small business owners fail to truly understand their customers. As marketer or owner of a business, understanding the true nature of your target markets is key. Market awareness results in better sales solutions that will suit there styles and needs.
By understanding your market, you can better build your website to have an interface which they can relate to. Knowledge about the customers also enables more efficient online (and off-line) marketing tactics, such as search engine optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click. These strategies involve understanding the keyword phrases that customers may using when searching for your products online.
Small business owners planning to introduce ecommerce into their businesses must make sure their system is verified by major players in the online payment industry. This enables their customers have trust in them, as this displays signs of reliability.
Stemming from the latter tip about knowing about your customers, you must understand how your customers relate to your products. In turn, this allows you as the ecommerce marketer to create the appropriate checkout flow. For low-priced products, perhaps two-to-three pages consisting of data retrieval of customer's information and confirmation order page is all you need. For pricier items, more steps in the checkout process may be needed to instill that extra feeling of security.
Strong ecommerce stores provide a number of images of their products. Some of the most powerful e-retailers also include videos has product highlight. The use of rich media to help sell your goods is wise approach. This offers greater confidence in consumers, for they now what they are getting before they opt to buy.
It is also important for customers who visit you website to be allowed to provide product reviews. By allowing the clients to do this, it gives you a chance to know which products are most popular and which ones are not. Also, most customers trust reviews from fellow customers, so good reviews can result in greater sales.
Thanks for visiting the web ecommerce solutions blog. If you have any questions or comments about small business ecommerce solutions, use the comments section below.continue...
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