How to Get Started With Ecommerce

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Quick Summary

The earliest ecommerce transactions took place in 1994 but online shopping has become routine for millions of consumers worldwide in more recent years. In 2015, Americans spent $350 billion online.  This means that If you sell products and services to a wide audience, getting into ecommerce is a relatively low-cost way to test new markets. The online environment  greatly expands the built-in limits of your existing bricks and mortar store. Plus, it keeps your products in a 24/7 sales channel. If it’s a good fit for your business model, you just need to set up a secure e-store, install payment-processing systems, keep a lid on shipping costs, and track customer feedback so you can manage your online brand reputation.

Are You Ready to Sell Online?

Ecommerce has turned into big business for retailers of every size, including huge major brands, national retail stores, small local stores, and individuals with virtual storefronts on auction sites like eBay. To be competitive in the ecommerce world, you must become a mail-order business willing to offer discount pricing and low-cost shipping. You'll also need fast and responsive service.

Processing Payments: On-Site vs Off-Site

One of the most important aspects of an ecommerce site is payment processing. It’s critical that you get this right because this is where your customers provide financial information. The data must be securely locked down while still flowing efficiently from your customer to the payment gateway to your bank. You have two major options: on-site and off-site. Each has its pros and cons, so consider the cost and benefits of each.

Keeping a Lid on Shipping Costs

Ecommerce is about convenience and getting a good deal, but high shipping costs are the number one reason for consumer dissatisfaction with the online shopping experience. Shipping is complicated because there are so many variables, but you can simplify the process by offering flat rates, tiered rates, or live rates. However, consumers are expecting free shipping from online stores more often, nowadays.

Managing Customer Ratings and Reviews

Online ratings and reviews are a powerful influence on purchasing decisions. According to the Pew Research Center, 82 percent of U.S. adults at least sometimes read online customer ratings or reviews before making a purchase, while 40 percent always read them. You need to be proactive in managing your online reviews, which includes thanking reviewers, responding to questions, and fixing problems promptly.

Securing Your E-Store

To compete against the big online brands like Amazon, you need to make your customers feel that their financial information is safe and secure. There are several levels of security you can embed in your ecommerce site. There are also several best practice processes you can employ to give your customers and yourself some peace of mind.
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