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Selling Online – E-Commerce ‘e-Stores’ Open 24/7

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Published: January 30, 2012

A company’s website — open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — is an excellent business marketing tool for attracting customers and making sales.  The site gives visitors a way to “connect” with a company and learn about its products and services in a way that a phone book or newspaper advertisement never could.

The heart and soul of an online business is e-commerce—specifically, business transactions conducted on the Internet.  In addition to the purchase and sale of goods, e-commerce deals with the money-related aspects of a business such as preparing financial statements and setting financial goals.

In the case of online retail stores – also known as “e-stores” – an e-commerce website is meant to facilitate online product purchases.

DigitalEYE Media specializes in these types of websites.

Online stores are one kind of e-business dealing purely with trade of goods and services. For such sites, e-commerce is indispensible. Considering the volume of selling and buying transactions that take place every day through an online store, it becomes imperative that an online business uses the most accurate and speedy means possible for preparing receipts and trade statements in order to avoid confusion and mix ups among different transactions. E-commerce simplifies collecting orders from customers and supplying products.

There are many components that go into building successful e-commerce websites.

First, the website homepage must feature products—the different items that are for sale. The items should be attractively displayed and clearly identified.

A good example of this is Orii Gourmet, a maker of unique products for the kitchen and table.

Many companies which use e-commerce websites to sell a wide variety of items will have searchable categories that allow the user to refine and pinpoint the products sought. This information is often presented on the left side of the Web page.

When customers are ready to buy, they must add the products they want into a “shopping cart” —  a “virtual” version of the physical steel cart commonly used in a traditional retail store to hold the products that shoppers intend to buy.  Many companies allow customers to add to the cart through some type of “buy” button that can be found on the individual product page.

When customers are ready to pay for their items, they will use a “checkout” button, often located near the top right corner of the page, and sometimes found on the product page after it is added to the shopping cart.  In this process, customers will enter their shipping information along with their preferred payment and shipping methods.

E-commerce has become much easier in recent years as e-store operators have gained ready access to online credit card payment processing services. Sites that can accept credit cards online attract much higher levels of business.

There are two broad options to consider if you want to sell goods or services from your site:

Use a third-party services company to handle all billing matters from the e-store website.

Use your own merchant account to process credit card payments from your own website.

The first option is the easiest to implement, especially for companies just getting into e-commerce. The initial costs are much lower, and dealing with the technical issues is more straightforward. Once a merchant site enjoys higher volumes of business, the long-run cost savings often justify moving to your own in-house payment processing.

An e-store’s primary payment option enables customers to use the same credit cards they use in traditional “brick and mortar” stores. There are also third-party payment agents such as PayPal that allow users to link their bank accounts and multiple credit cards.

Many e-commerce websites offer the ability for customers to save their information for future orders. The information is stored through user-specific password-protected login data.