E-commerce

E-commerce

The birth of the Internet and the mass availability of Personal Computers in the late 80’s changed peoples life forever, Everyone now has had the potential to be their own boss whether you are mother at home looking after your children or a manual laborer there are opportunities in abundance . Just a search on Google for business opportunities will bring up more offers than your parents would have had in their whole life. So it must be easy to make a living from the internet right? No it’s not, you need a firm business plan and you need to work hard at it.
Setting up and running an online business does have several advantages over setting up a “normal” business. You can usually run it in conjunction with your current job, your potential market is bigger your initial overheads are usually smaller and you can operate it from the comfort of your own home. Once you decided that you want to enter into the world of E-commerce you then need to take a lesson from main stream business and create a business plan.
The very first thing you need to decide is what type of business is right for you and then research the market. Possible businesses open to you are.
An Affiliate Program
An Adsense Program
Selling Products
With an Affiliate Program you are paid a commission for selling a companies products. You have no contact with the customer, all you do is provide sales leads to the company of whom you are an affiliate. An Adsense program is where you take an existing website of yours about a particular subject and add contextual Adverts from Google’s Adsense program. When a person clicks on an advert you then receive a few cents. There are 2 approaches to Adsense programs, build a well respected Niche site with lots of traffic the more traffic you get the higher the Click Through Rate (CTR) and thus the higher the income. The second method is sometimes referred to as the shotgun method, build lots of sites with less traffic but earning a smaller amount from each site. A $1 a day income from each of 50 sites is better than $40 from 1 site. It is worth pointing out here that it against Google’s TOS to build site specifically to target Adsense revenue.
The final E-commerce method we will look at is the most similar to mainstream business, selling a product. You build a web site with a shopping cart and give as many details about the products as possible. The products can be something you make yourself, or a product you buy in bulk or a product from a drop shipper. With drop shipping you sell products which are then dispatched from a location elsewhere by a 3rd party.
If all this sounds too easy it’s not. Setting up the business is just the start of it, the hard work needs to start now. You need to get traffic, the more traffic you get the higher your sales will be. In addition you need to look at the performance of your site and tweak the layout so you make more sales. You need to get your site onto the first page of Google and other search engines. You may need to write adverts and operate an pay Per Click program. In short you need to become an expert in many new subjects. If you have the drive and dedication then it is possible to make a good income from E-commerce but don’t expect to spend an hour a day at the computer and the rest of your time on your Yacht.

Ecommerce: New Horizons

Ecommerce: New Horizons

In 2005 the largest ecommerce sites were for the following top five products or services:

Travel
Computer /peripherals/PDA
Apparel & accessories
Office supplies
Consumer packaged goods

The strongest advertiser in 2005 was Vonage Holdings Corp. who specializes in providing Internet phone options.

It’s safe to say that when you look at the billions of dollars spent in ecommerce transactions there are lessons for brick and mortar stores that have resisted a move to cyberspace.

For example many bookstores are closing shop due to the heavy competition of online retailers like amazon.com. Many bookstores wrongly believed they had a loyal customer base and would likely weather the ‘Internet fad’, but a lack of brand loyalty has left them baffled.

Some stores reinvented themselves and delivered a much improved brick and mortar store with sitting areas, coffee shop and an ONLINE STORE.

As malls and strip malls have replaced downtown stores with great history these retailers are left to flounder in a sea of ‘what was’ and ‘what may never be’.

All over the United States a retail revolution is taking place. Large box stores are finding a significant amount of their sales conducted online. Stores that added an online presence early are seeing significant growth in their online sales as their brick and mortar sales diminish.

One of the primary reasons Internet users give for conducting an online purchase has to do with the frustration of actually going to a store, searching for an item and then waiting in line to check out. An Internet purchase can be conducted privately, quickly and from the comfort of home.

Brick and mortar stores may have success for a specific segment of the population that do not have a computer, find it difficult to operate or simply do not believe a computer is necessary. However, as the years go by those holdouts become fewer and fewer.

As ecommerce continues to grow netrepreneurs are becoming more sophisticated in their use of online marketing terms such as SEO, affiliate relations and PPC. In many ways these terms help get the word out about your site and allow customers to find it much more quickly.

The thought of starting a new business on the web can seem daunting to traditional business owners, but for those that have taken the plunge it has become a welcome source of revenue and provides a connection to a growing community of prospects.

An ecommerce site will not be an overnight success, but it can be the means of shifting reliance on customers with a face-to-face contact to one that may be less informal, but adds significantly to your long-term ability to do business.

Affiliate Marketing – simple, yet effective

Affiliate Marketing – simple, yet effective

Affiliate marketing is something that you’ll need to consider when it comes to being a large company. There are many ways that notable companies have used the internet for benefit. You’ll find that E-commerce is growing and there is a way for you to cash in. you’ll find that Amazon.com and BuyWeb is apart of the affiliate marketing process. You’ll need to think about using the internet as a way for your company to gain and edge in the market, as well as, build a relationship with others online in order to have a successful business.

The whole idea of affiliated marketing is something that is of interest to many. You’ll find that you are paid in one of the following ways. First, there is CPC, which is cost-per-click. This is where you are paid so much money just for having people look at the product. This means that you have to entice your target market to want to find out more about the product. The second way is to go through CPA or cost-per-action. This is when you make a sale, registration, or you have a customer take some “action” to support the product or company. Finally, you will find that there is CPS or cost-per-sale. This is where you will make money from every sale that you have.

Keep in mind that you both will benefit from affiliated marketing. You will be able to cash in from simply promoting a product and the company will end up making tons of money because they are moving product. This is definitely a win-win situation. You will find that it is very favorable when it comes to advertising. E-commerce is currently moving up in sales and it’s only best that you cash in as much as you can by promoting more commerce through the help of the internet.

Understanding OsCcommerce

Understanding OsCcommerce

The Internet has become a popular place to do business. Now that there are several options available to everyone, everywhere, the need for viable options is imminent. Likewise, companies offering their services online, whether exclusively, or in conjunction with their traditional means of operation, need ways to quickly and efficiently do business, while making sure their customer information is safe and secure. This is why it has become necessary to find an OsCommerce solution.

OsCommerce is an online solution for E-Commerce that is currently under ongoing development by the open source community. This means that it is continually worked on by those in the industry who understand its need and are able to experiment to find out the best solutions. Through the open source community, information is shared in order to provide optimal assistance toward solving both common and uncommon problems that may arise. It also allows store owners to set up, run, and maintain their online solutions with little to no effort, which enables them to concentrate more on the business aspect than the technical issues.

The best part of OsCommerce is that it is free. There are no licensing fees or costs involved, which is often one of the most attractive characteristics of open source solutions. OsCommerce combines open source solutions together to provide a free and open E-Commerce platform, which includes the PHP web scripting language, a stable Apache web server, and the MySQL database server. This scripting language is powerful and the server fast, which allows for more seamless transactions to take place.

There are no restrictions or special requirements with OsCommerce, and it is, therefore, able to run on any PHP enabled web server, along with a variety of supported environments. This broadens the spectrum for OsCommerce to work on several operating system environments and in multiple situations.

OsCommerce began in 2000, and has now matured into a solution that is currently powering a wide variety of online shops around the globe. The services it offers are helping business owners in many ways, and are making it easier for them to concentrate on keeping their business up and running, while serving a constantly growing number of customers on a daily basis. It has also made it easier for potential customers to find businesses, and to purchase products and services more quickly and efficiently. It is serving both the business owner and the customer in ways that will only help E-commerce get better.

eCatalog – a Key Component of Your eCommerce Initiative

eCatalog – a Key Component of Your eCommerce Initiative

In recent years, Internet virtually has become major driving force of economic and technological growth in many industries. It is fundamentally changing the way companies operate, do their trade and interact with each other and it is giving birth to new processes and business models that were previously unimaginable.
First type of the Internet business models that created a different business method was Business to Consumer (B2C) eCommerce. Business to Business eProcurement systems and web-based storefronts were two other models that emerged next. The eProcurement systems became widely popular instantly due to the factor that Internet-based automated buying solutions are capable of considerable reducing Maintenance, Repair and Operating expenses, which, in turn, makes direct impact on the bottom line of a company. Web-based storefront, on the other hand, provides a low-cost channel for the global marketing and sales of goods and services.
The next business model that changed the perception of doing business online was eMarketplaces. An eMarketplace is an online venue which brings together multiple buyers and sellers and makes it easier for them to communicate, collaborate and trade as members of a large community.
The fourth online business model has combined key aspects of all the above mentioned business methods and is known as Enterprise B2B Portal or Private B2B Exchange. The business world sees enormous changes across industries due to the emergence of this unique solution. Enterprise B2B Portal with supply chain management features is capable of streamlining procurement and sales processes, cutting overhead costs, increasing efficiency, while maximizing profit and helping bottom line savings for companies.
No doubt that B2B eCommerce presents enormous new business opportunities. But to realize these massive opportunities businesses must overcome some significant technical impediments. The most extreme and critical of these challenges involve creating, managing and distributing product content. All four of the above mentioned online business models face this crucial problem.
Product Content and eCatalog
Accurate and complete product content improves quality and speed of purchasing decisions by giving buyers the vital information needed. For sellers content differentiates their products and enables them to participate in multiple eMarketplaces, eProcurement systems and in their very own B2B Portal. The eMarketplaces and eProcurement systems must deliver content, with value added information such as ratings, reviews, regulatory compliances and service information to attract new users, retain the old ones and fulfill the needs of their diverse buyer and supplier communities.
Creating high quality product content is difficult because different suppliers use different descriptions, attributes and parameters to describe the same item. Managing product information becomes even more complex with the addition of value-added content such as editorial articles, service information and third party reviews.
Moreover, Buyers and Sellers have totally different approach and require different functions from a product content management solution. Buyers need a comprehensive content management system which allows them to take conclusive buying decision with minimum of effort and cost. Suppliers want a system that enables them to manage their brand, control their product descriptions, pricing, and discount policies.
The need for an advanced eCatalog
Despite its critical nature, product information management has been grossly underestimated by most of early eCommerce projects, which tend to focus on more high profile technologies, such as transaction engines and user interfaces. However, few of these B2B projects put required emphasize on the management of product content. As a result, many of them are beginning to realize that they have condoned the challenge of managing product information and that such oversights are hindering the overall effectiveness and scalability of their eCommerce initiatives. Actually, very few of eCommerce initiatives today have the right resources to support the activities required for aggregating, maintaining, and delivering high quality product content. In order to overcome this major hurdle eCommerce initiatives have to improve their ability to acquire, manage and update product content with the help of an advanced eCatalog system.
What is an eCatalog?
An eCatalog is an Online product content management solution with powerful user interface which provides efficient navigation, searching and integration capabilities to organize and publish product information and enable real-time handling of business processes related to buying and selling.
An eCatalog stores product content in a single database and organizes product information under a certain categorized hierarchy. An eCatalog also have sophisticated searching opportunities so that buyers can locate products easily.
Classifying products
Usually product information is acquired from different sources and is often classified under different taxonomies. This makes product indexing difficult and in many cases products end up being listed under several categories. International Harmonized Codes, a taxonomy used by many countries for customs tariff purposes, is one of the example of such systems. Because of this problem, HC and similar taxonomies are not really suitable for eCommerce.
That’s why, most advanced eCatalog systems use classification system like The United Nations Standard Products and Services Code® (UNSPSC®), which provides an open, global multi-industry standard for well-organized and precise classification of products and services.
In e-catalogs the product content also has to undergo a normalization procedure to comply with a uniform product naming system. This uniformed nomenclature makes it easier for buyers to compare products and prices, and ensures exact match for relevant product searches. Depending on the quality of product information available, the eCatalog also requires rationalizing abbreviations and acronyms, synchronizing terminologies, converting unit of measurements, etc.
How businesses are loosing opportunities
Early eCatalog adopters made a crucial mistake by assuming that catalog integration is a fairly easy task in comparison to the other parts of eCommerce development. This misapprehension of reality occurred mainly due to lack of practical knowledge in this field and is based on the false assumption that one method fits for describing all similar products and it is possible to constrain product content with finite number of attributes and values. Observation shows that in many cases buyers are unable to take key procurement decisions due to poor content of the product, which results in lost business opportunities for eCommerce companies.
Benefits of using right eCatalog
An advanced eCatalog system similar to Rusbiz.com delivers a compelling value proposition. Using this type of solutions companies can integrate eCatalog capabilities into their business processes rapidly and manage sourcing, classifying, syndicating and publishing product content data effectively.
The return on investment from these solutions is also significant! Companies can expect increased revenue, better customer satisfaction, and shorter sales cycle.

Ecommerce: Elements Of A Good Hire

Ecommerce: Elements Of A Good Hire

There is a belabored cliché that says, “It’s lonely at the top.” This reference is for business owners and leaders. It even applies to ecommerce.

The reason leadership is lonely is often because the leader of any organization must make decisions that will not please everyone and it’s often easier to not develop friendships with your employees than to risk losing that friendship because of decisions you may have to make.

However, the good news is leaders can learn from the very things they may desire themselves, but never receive. I’m talking about the two elements of a good hire.

The first element is to make sure the employee you hire is placed into the same category as their passion. In essence you need to match the employee to the job they are best suited for. If you do this you are rewarded by having an employee that will exhibit passion for the job without the need to prod them along.

The second element is a bit harder. You need to keep your eyes open for positive contributions to your business. Find ways to reward employees for doing a good job. This could be a weekend vacation getaway or something more simple like a verbal word of praise or a certificate of appreciation – often it’s somewhere in between.

As you work to develop your ecommerce business you should understand any employees you have will need some form of encouragement. On the ecommerce side of the screen you may find life very different than normal brick and mortar store atmospheres.

In a brick and mortar store your staff will typically work with individuals in a face-to-face environment. In an ecommerce business, your staff will like not work in the same manner with customers. In fact, many of the connections are handled through autoresponders and ezine distribution. Your employees might actually work in a remote location.

The passion of your employees will set them on the right path to being a quality employee, however it will be your direct encouragement that may be what keeps that quality employee from looking elsewhere for ‘meaningful’ work.

If you’re in a leadership position you may rarely receive positive feedback on a personal level because the buck always stops with you, but for your employees the feedback and positive reinforcement you can give are key to job satisfaction and loyalty to your business.

The benefits to the employer are a more identifiable team atmosphere and employees that respect the velvet glove much better than the iron fist.

Should You Put Google Ads On Your Ecommerce Site?

Should You Put Google Ads On Your Ecommerce Site?

One of the biggest debates in the ecommerce world is whether to post PayPerClick advertisements on a website, or not. Many sites are using video advertisements to improve the look and feel of their sites. Others are hoping that PayPerClick will offer a passive source of income, but this short-term thinking may cost the company serious profits.

The purpose of a PayPerClick ad is to take a visitor from your website and put them on another website. This person leaves before they ever see the host company’s squeeze page, buy-now page, or Social Networking tools. This means that a potential customer is gone for good. The problem is – the ads on the host company’s website represent the competition.

PayPerClick Passive Income

On one side of the debate is the idea that PayPerClick lets ecommerce businesses generate some revenue from people who were going to leave the website anyway. The problem arises when the website looks at the actual numbers.

It takes several months before Google starts registering clicks, even if thousands of people have already clicked the link. Even when Google does start registering links, they rarely register more than one half of the actual links. In many cases, Google counts less than half.

Then, there is the Page Rank Trap. Google only pays a percentage of the money promised, based on the site’s page rank. A site can build more than 10 000 inbound links and 1000 pages of content and still have only Page Rank 3, earning about .05% of Google’s promised payout. Many sites (non MFA – Made For Adsense) work for 2 – 3 years before they earn $100 a month.

A website can make hundreds of dollars a month from Adsense, as long as the primary purpose of the site is to generate PayPerClick traffic.

PayPerClick Traffic

Many ecommerce businesses sign up for a PayPerClick program through Yahoo or Google to generate traffic. While the search engine advertising companies promise that they do not favor their advertisers, it is foolish not to. They are only cutting their throats letting sites which do not use their ads to rank higher than the sites who do use their ads.

From this side of the fence, PayPerClick is a good deal, because you are the company stealing customers from the competition. However, very few PayPerClick programs give the advertiser control over sites they appear on.

Google does, to a certain extent. It is possible to visit a major competitor’s site, which generates millions more hits than your site does, and place an ad on their pages. However, this does not guarantee that these same people will not click off your website.

Rule #1 of Sales
The first rule of sales is to hook a potential customer. This means keeping them on the host ecommerce site, and encouraging them to click through the links until they reach the buy now page.

There are some crafty ways to do this. For example, make the link bar to squeeze pages and buy-now pages look like PayPerClick ads. Another trick is to lead people from one website owned by the host company to another of their sites, in effect, creating a big circle.

However, make sure that the main pages are optimized with no=follow code in the links. Search engines penalize this type of ‘black hat’ SEO trick. The no=follow code in the ads will prevent the search engines from penalizing the site.

Both of these tricks will keep potential visitors inside the company’s ecommerce sites.

Another trick is to use a ‘default’ internal search tool. Instead of Google’s search, use one that defaults inside the ecommerce network’s sites, instead of on the world wide web.

Keeping customers is the only way to increase profits, and retain customers.

The Competitive Nature Of The Internet

The Competitive Nature Of The Internet

The internet is an extremely tough and competitive world, where almost everyone is on a level playing field. It is therefore absolutely paramount for a company starting up or moving into the e-commerce environment to find themselves a sustainable competitive advantage through developing their own existing distinctive competencies, whether by selling exclusive products, providing exceptional levels of additional customer support, or ensuring the actual site is easy to navigate yet attractive, innovative and unique in its design.

It is very important to be aware of the tactics being used by your competitors online; as there are various factors they could change/add on/stop using which could adversely affect the number of customers using your site ahead of another to make their purchases online. These include basic features such as price; some companies base their price on what their competitors are offering, and ensuring theirs is always the cheapest/best deal. Post and packaging is a cost that all e-tailers have to contend with, in order to get their product(s) to the customer. Deciding on what rates to charge the customer, whether making a loss by rendering all ‘p&p’ free when a certain amount is spent, or charging more than necessary to regain any profits lost by offering the product itself at a reduced price, is an important decision. Some e-commerce stores may require a membership before you can shop online, which could add a certain prestige factor to the experience, but could also work the other way and repel potential customers when they realize they have to pay for the privilege of simply browsing what is on offer.

The website itself needs to be well built by an experienced web designer, preferably with SEO and SEM experience, although this is not essential as a separate person can be employed to make the site search engine friendly and build in all the tags and links once the design has been completed. A good web designer is well worth spending the money on, because a poorly built, home made site will not only be unappealing to customers, but give them no faith in the security of the site, meaning they will be unlikely to hand over any credit card details. Many sales, and therefore potential profit, could be lost by trying to cut corners with the initial preparation.

Besides the actual design of the website, the marketing and promotion of it is even more essential. A perfectly designed, attractive looking site won’t do anyone any good if no one knows it’s even there! SEO and SEM look to ensure that when a keyword or phrase is typed into a search engine, your website is as high up on the list, or ‘rankings’ as possible. The higher up the better, but even more important is to be on the first page of results – browsers very rarely look further than that. This is achieved by making sure these keywords appear regularly in the text on the website, so that when the search engine generates its results they can be picked up quickly. Another popular, but expensive method is known as Pay Per Click advertising, where companies are guaranteed a small ad on the results page for certain keywords that they bid on. However, only when the advert is clicked on, do you have to pay the search engine the agreed amount, hence the name ‘Pay Per Click’. It is easy to see why costs generated from this can add up – just because a browser clicks the ad, it doesn’t mean they will make a purchase from the site, so there is often a lot of money spent for a small return.

Businesses not currently involved in e-commerce should certainly jump on the bandwagon sooner rather than later, but it is important to view, and budget for, the e-commerce as a separate sales channel and plan accordingly, to achieve the best success.

Ecommerce Marketing Strategy- Within the Realm of Ecommerce

Ecommerce Marketing Strategy- Within the Realm of Ecommerce

Every business needs a marketing strategy, and that includes those within the realm of ecommerce. It is incredibly easy for anybody to start an online business, but the vast majority of them will fail miserably. While there are many reasons that any business can fail, it’s a safe bet to say that the successful ones have all implemented an effective ecommerce marketing strategy. The following information will help you set up the best strategy for your internet business.

The best marketing strategies are those that are incorporated into the initial planning stages of the business. In other words, consider what your marketing strategy might be while you are figuring out what to sell, selecting a domain name, designing your site, and so on. Marketing is much more than advertising; marketing permeates every aspect of your business and paints a picture of your company and your offer in the minds of your prospects. Don’t make the mistake of marketing only after everything else is up and running.

You need to have a firm idea of who your target market is before you can start marketing to them. Who is your product for? How old are they? What is their education level? Income? What are there hobbies and interests? What do they identify with? What problems do they have? And the list goes on. The more detailed your image of the ideal customer, the easier your marketing will be.

The next step in a good ecommerce marketing strategy is to determine where your customers are most likely to see your message and be receptive to it. You could just plaster a link to your site anywhere and everywhere that will allow you to do so, but if your target audience doesn’t go there, or if they perceive your ads as intrusive, then they won’t be inclined to follow those links back to your site. For example, if they are likely to be watching music videos, you could put ads on video sites, but you would want to avoid any ads that interrupt the viewing process.

Knowing your ideal customer and how best to reach them is a good start, but you also need to market to them using their language. We aren’t referring to English, Chinese, or Norwegian, but rather using the terminology they are familiar with. Be careful that you don’t overdo it, and that you fully understand their vernacular, otherwise you run the risk of coming across as phony.

Once you have all of those things in place, you can decide which methods you want to be a part of your strategy. There are many options for online marketing, and there are also options that can fit into any budget. Again, your decision as to whether or not to use a certain method should be based on how your target market is likely to respond.

Now it’s just a matter of implementing everything and tracking the results. Test variations and make adjustments as needed. Following this blueprint for an ecommerce marketing strategy will lead you to success.

Security is the number one concern for internet shoppers today.

Security is the number one concern for internet shoppers today.

The e-commerce business is all about making money and then finding ways to make more money. Of course, it’s hard to make (more) money, when consumers don’t feel safe executing a transaction on your Web site. That’s where SSL (Secure Socket Layer) comes into play. Understanding how SSL affects e-commerce business can also potentially help you to unlock (more) money from your customers.

You need SSL if…
– Your business partners log in to confidential information on an extranet.
– You have offices that share confidential information over an intranet.
– You process sensitive data such as address, birth date, license, or ID numbers.
– you have an online store or accept online orders and credit cards
– You need to comply with privacy and security requirements.
– You value privacy and expect others to trust you.

If you are doing online business where sensitive information such as credit cards, Personal data will be transferred, you surely need to secure your website. Gaining your customers trust is of the utmost importance. Your customers will only purchase the product if they feel safe and confidant about you.

Before the introduction of SSL it was difficult to ensure privacy over the web in online transactions. There was a general distrust of the ability to conduct online transactions and a fear that an individual’s credit card information could be picked up by a third party and used for unauthorized purchases.
SSL should be enacted on pages requiring a password or might contain personal data most clients would like to keep private. Some sites will place SSL on some pages and forget other pages that are equally as sensitive. For the sake of your personal experience with ecommerce, you should implement SSL protocol.

Any website that conducts business over the Internet and has e-commerce transactions should use SSL (Secure Socket Layer). It is the standard way to secure transactions by encrypting data and providing authentication over the web. SSL prevents hackers from accessing personal information, impede misuse of information.

A certificate authority (CA) is an authorized company or individual for that matter that has the ability to issue and verify digital certificates. There are several of websites that offer a digital certificate. One of the popular Global Certification authorities is MindGenies (www.sslgenie.com).