eCommerce has changed the world of retail for everyone. There are estimated to be 2.8 billion online shoppers with 20% of all transactions happening on the internet. We all witnessed its importance in our lives over the pandemic and now coming out the other side it is most definitely here to stay.
With more people shopping online, companies are adapting their business model to capture this market. And if you are just starting out on this journey and want to understand how to create an eCommerce website that will propel your business this guide is a go to list of the important things you need to know.
What is eCommerce?
E-commerce, short for "electronic commerce," describes buying and selling goods through an electronic network. You contribute to the eCommerce economy every time you make an online purchase.
E-Commerce websites are virtual marketplaces that enable consumers to buy and sell products and services over the World Wide Web by exchanging data and money electronically. Early online transactions relied heavily on electronic mail and telephone contact. However, everything required to complete a transaction can now be done in one convenient online location.
In addition to online retail giants like Amazon and eBay, the term can also refer to a wide variety of other online businesses, such as banks, software companies, remote service providers, and even online education portals (basically, any transaction made online). Nonetheless, "ecommerce" is frequently used to mean the standard online store selling products to final consumers, depending on the setting.
A Bit of a History - Online Shopping & Ecommerce Website Design NZ
In the 1960s, companies first used electronic data interchange (EDI) to exchange business documents with one another, marking the beginning of modern e-commerce. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) created ASC X12 in 1979 as a universal standard for companies to share documents over electronic networks.
The e-commerce industry was revolutionised in the 1990s by eBay and Amazon, following the increase in the number of users sharing electronic documents in the 1980s. As a result, many online products are now available for purchase by consumers from traditional retailers and online-only businesses (collectively referred to as "e-tailers"). These days, virtually every retailer adopts some form of e-commerce strategy.
In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, online sales skyrocketed. U.S. Census Bureau data shows that in the second quarter of 2020, e-commerce reached a record high of 16.4% as shoppers stayed indoors for longer periods. The Census Bureau has been collecting quarterly data on online sales since 1999.
Different Types of Ecommerce Sites
Online shoppers are the most likely to be familiar with this site category. A transactional website can function as an online storefront for a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer or catalog company (like Walmart) or as a showroom for manufacturers who wish to sell directly to consumers.
Either hosted or on-premise, transactional websites allow customers to:
Search for and purchase products online.
Make online payments.
Get in touch with the company for support after the sale.
Most e-commerce sites' efficiency-boosting features come from the transaction process's tight integration with back-end systems like accounting, inventory, order management, customer relationship management (CRM), marketing, logistics and fulfilment, and data and analytics.
Static Content Site
Instead of facilitating online transactions, this website focuses on raising brand awareness to generate sales. Its purpose is similar to a brochure or catalogue that informs the reader about the goods or services on offer and how to get in touch with the seller.
Costs associated with developing and maintaining this type of site are lower than those associated with transactional sites because they typically consist of static content and don't involve using special software to process payments. Companies selling products or providing services that cannot be done so online like high end furniture or houses benefit from this type of information delivery website.
The buyer can better idea of the product's features, obtain an estimated price or are able to contact the sellers from static content sites.
Online Auction or Marketplace
These online marketplaces are hosted platforms that connect buyers and sellers. Compared to the cost of developing a custom transactional website, participating on one of the sites is often a more efficient way of finding a customer.
Many different kinds of websites exist, such as those that host auctions (eBay), showcase local artisans (Etsy), connect retailers and wholesalers (such as Amazon and Alibaba), or provide matching services (such as match.com).
You can start your e-commerce journey on an online marketplace or auction site. However, while marketplace and auction sites can be useful short-term solutions, the Department of Commerce advises businesses to look into other channels before making them their primary e-commerce focus as competition is high from overseas retailers and commissions can also affect your profit margins.
How Does E-Commerce Function?
Internet business is nothing more than another form of retailing. It operates similarly to traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Aside from the fact that everything here happens in cyberspace, it's identical to a traditional store.
Establishing an online storefront is the first step for any burgeoning eCommerce business. Platforms like Shopify who have now been around for over 16 years have developed to support every function that an eCommerce store would need. They have a wide variety of themes to use to display your sale items and apps or plugins to customise your store and your buying experience.
Your sales items are shown alongside relevant information like descriptions and prices. An easy-to-click "Buy Now" or similar call to action button is displayed alongside each product. You can buy the item with a single click or add them to a cart for multi item purchases. The typical order process involves the customer filling out a form. There, they'll be asked to supply information like the shipping address and card number.
The e-commerce sector makes use of a wide variety of payment mechanisms. Customers can use their credit cards or a third-party payment processor (such as PayPal) to purchase. You can pay with cash, a credit card, or a mobile payment service like Google Pay.
The reverse logistics system can be used if the product is defective, the wrong product was sent to them, or if they simply want a refund. Most big online platforms have these functions built into their software and they are clear and easy to use.
They can also have inbuilt automatic email order or refund processes. This allows you as a retailer to automate an customised email to be sent when an action like an order is placed that can summarise the transaction your customer just made with you.
By promoting the products using Digital Marketing agency strategies, online stores can build more awareness and increase their sales. The two most prominent methods are email marketing and online advertising via digital platforms.
Advertisements are posted on social media sites to promote the brand to the intended audiences.
E-Commerce Website Categories
Their purposes vary, and so do the names given to various online stores.
B2B refers to the buying and selling products and services between businesses using electronic means. A company, for instance, may market SAS software to other companies.
B2C refers to the online sales of products and services between businesses and individual customers.
C2C: E-commerce involves direct exchanges of goods and services between end users instead of those involving a middleman. You can find a product bought through online marketplaces like eBay or Olx.
C2B stands for "consumer to business" and refers to the growing trend of electronic commerce in which consumers directly engage with businesses by selling goods and services. A social media influencer is someone who, for a fee, will promote your product or service to their followers.
What Features Should be Included to Make a Successful eCommerce Website Design?
Every successful e-commerce website needs to have these nine components accessible to visitors on any device they choose. Mobile shopping experiences should be a priority for your designers to consider when you are building your site as mobile sales are quickly increasing year on year.
In an online store, the product catalog is the main attraction. Always include text explaining the product, pictures or videos of the product in use, and testimonials from satisfied customers. Since consumers can't physically interact with the products being sold online, merchants must do everything possible to generate buzz about their wares.
This is the page where prospective customers' personal information is collected after they click the "Add to Cart" button. Their name, email, physical address, phone number, and credit card information will be collected here. A shop owner may also want to enable discount codes and referral programs. A disorganised shopping cart page can cause customers to give up on purchasing.
Review And Rating System
While some product pages may cover customer feedback, the best brands will have a separate page on their site for general feedback on the company and its products and services.
Social Media Links
Many customers prefer social media to contact a company rather than email. Therefore, a company's social media buttons should be prominently displayed on its website. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, etc., should all be linked here. Remember that these links need to launch in a new tab or window, so visitors to your site don't lose their place when exploring elsewhere.
What makes your company unique, its founding story and core values should all be found in your website's "About Us" section. In addition, you can use this space to highlight your involvement in the community and the methods you employ to achieve success.
This section gives readers and customers the information they need to contact the company and its staff anytime. It's important to give site visitors the impression that a real person is running the show. A few different ways to accomplish this: a live chat feature, an in-site contact form, and prominently displayed email, and phone numbers are just a few examples.
FAQ Section for Online Store
To save time and effort, frequently asked questions (FAQs) should provide clear and concise responses to frequently asked questions. When a new website or online store opens for business, its owners and administrators can expect to field a steady stream of repetitive inquiries. If your site sells physical goods, it's a good idea to address customer concerns about returns, shipping, and sizing.
Blog, Newsletter, Or Podcast
Each of these three methods has the potential to be a powerful promotional tool. If you decide to provide these resources, advertising and linking to them from prominent areas of the company website is essential. A digital marketing company can help to implement these features into your ecommerce site and make it a part of your marketing automation strategy.
These elements go hand in hand with a beautiful online store and will separate a great company from the rest.
Do Good Things Designs High Converting Websites with Big Impact.
With backgrounds running their own eCommerce stores as well as web designers for Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland businesses, Do Good Things knows what design elements can build better growth for your business.
Get in Touch to be shown around our Clients' sites and how we have optimised them for great results.
Key Elements of Quality Ecommerce Websites from Ecommerce Website Developers
There are some essential components your website must have to support e-commerce. They include:
User-Friendly Functionality by Shopify Experts NZ
When making purchases on the internet, customers expect to be able to quickly and easily locate the items they are seeking. If they can't, they probably won't hang around for long, and if they don't, you won't convince them to buy anything online. As a result, user experience (UX)-driven e-commerce platforms outperform those that don't.
Easy Navigation on Pages
Provides easy access to browsing products by category via clear menus. The navigation should be conveniently located, either along the side or across the top of the page. It is also important to maintain uniformity between all pages.
Online stores with filters for products help customers find what they need more quickly. Customers can narrow their search by various factors, including price, product type, style, brand, size, colour, etc.
Status Of Product Availability
It is important to display product availability information on each product page prominently. In addition, it's important to let your customers know how long it'll be before you can reorder products that temporarily disappear from shelves.
Checkout And Cart Button Labels That Stand Out
Ensure your "add to cart" and "buy now" buttons and checkout buttons are easy to find to increase conversions and the volume of your online sales. Make sure the following information is readily available to the customer when they click to view their cart:
Easily Visible Cart and Payment Options
Incorporate a simple "x" button or similar action to quickly remove items or adjust the quantity from the cart page.
Make it possible for customers to start a shopping session and return to it later.
Variable Methods of Payment
You and your business will benefit from providing your customers with as many payment methods as possible. Therefore, they can quickly and easily place an order using the method of their choice with just a few clicks. Among the most frequently chosen alternatives are:
Shop Pay for Shopify
Ensure that popular debit and credit cards like Mastercard and Visa are accepted on your eCommerce store. Make sure you use at least one of the payment methods you accept, American Express and Discover, if you want to accept those cards from your customers.
Customers who have questions or concerns about their orders must be able to get in touch with you. If you aren't prepared to spend money on live chat or online support ticketing systems, you should at least have the following:
An easily accessible and distinctive email address.
Social media contact links.
Customer-friendly self-service options that make it simple for them to request a refund or exchange.
Contact information and the company's physical address are listed in the footer.
Need a Hand Including These Features In Your website?
Do Good things are experts in E-Commerce Web Design and Web Builds. We are also Shopify Partners and have SEO Services Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch businesses can rely on.
If you are looking to build a eCommerce website we can help you customise a store that will engage your customers and keep them coming back for more, give us a call today.
Legal Requirements for Online Stores
Before being able to sell online to the public, check to see if your website complies with any data privacy regulations that may apply to the country or countries where your target customers originate. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are the first laws to significantly affect how organisations collect, use, and store consumer information.
Some of the rules your eCommerce platform should also have are outlined are:
Timeline For Order Processing
When a customer orders, how long does it take to be processed, packed, and sent out? Provide an approximate timeframe but give yourself plenty of time to complete the order. Orders are typically shipped within 1–5 business days of receipt. This will also help you reduce the amount of delivery enquires.
How does regular shipping work for you? Does your company provide express delivery options? In terms of transportation, which companies do you use? How about paying for the cost of refunds?
You should specify the terms of returns, be it 30 days or 60 days, and if a credit to the store or a refund is given if the return is made. Give specifics to aid consumers in making informed decisions.
These are just a few basic policies you should make clear to your visitors: disclaimers (relating to your product, service, content, or affiliate revenue), etc.
Additionally, if your website employs cookies (which it almost certainly does), you should request permission from users before saving any personally identifiable information about them in cookies.
On the other hand, California has both the California Consumer Privacy Act and the California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA) to safeguard personal information. Compliance with California law is essential if your online store serves customers in this State.
The EU also has very stringent privacy laws. So even if your online store is based in the United States, if you have customers in the European Union (EU), you must follow their General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Terms Of Service
Your e-commerce site blueprint must include a privacy statement and terms of service page. It's the basis for all websites, including e-commerce ones, and dictates how they should be used.
Unlike privacy policies, terms and conditions are not mandated by law. Having one is still recommended, though. Your website's terms and conditions may establish liability limits in the event that a customer sues you. It can aid in safeguarding your ownership.
A court will examine your terms and conditions to assess the nature of the agreement you and the customer have reached, should a legal dispute arise. You should probably have legal representation to take care of this if you want it to hold up in court.
In other words, you shouldn't just copy and paste the terms and conditions from somewhere else.
Make sure there's a FAQ section where people can go to get their questions answered. Even if you're the only one handling customer service inquiries, you should create a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page to address questions that keep getting asked. If the data already exists on your e-commerce site, move it to a more obvious spot.
Ecommerce Versus E-Business
Although the term "ecommerce" (which refers to commercial transactions conducted via the Internet) may imply universal coverage, this is not always the case. Ecommerce is a subset of electronic online business. While e-commerce refers specifically to online product and service exchanges, the broader term "e-business" encompasses all business conducted online, from initial contact to final payment.
An ecommerce store can function effectively using just a website. However, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), a digital workplace, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) may all be necessary for the smooth operation of an online business.
The term "e-commerce" is preferred when referring to an online shop that sells physical products to an internet user because there is no personal interaction between the seller and the buyer.
The term "e-business" is commonly used to describe a business-to-business consultancy service that fields customer inquiries online. However, the sales procedure involves preliminary meetings, in-person meetings, a proposal, sales calls, and an onboarding phase. Thus, "transaction" refers to only a single aspect of the business process.
The digital economy is constantly growing and expanding, reaching every corner of the world that has access to the internet, and the e-commerce industry is one of its primary drivers. The convenience of shopping online has revolutionised our lives, and eCommerce is here to stay.
It's an exciting world, however if you are just starting out it will be a big learning experience for you.
Are You Creating Your Own Online Store?
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If you are looking to sell online and take your Business to the next level, get in touch with us today.