In 1994, Jeff Bezos had a hunch about the future of shopping. Instead of traveling to a store to buy everyday goods, consumers would buy products online, he thought. He built a business on that idea, for more in-depth background on Bezos, Wired.com has a great article. Fast forward almost two decades, and Bezos’ hunch seems to have worked out. He founded Amazon.com, which is now the world’s largest online retailer, according to Mashable.com.
The shopping shift from in-person to online is in full swing. According to analytics firm Comscore, Cyber Monday 2012 spending reached $1.465 billion, up 17 percent from the previous year. Convenient for both consumers end vendors, e-commerce platforms offer an easy outlet to sell products or services.
Whether you’re a start-up looking to generate cash flow or an established business behind the times, launching an e-commerce website is a viable way to boost sales and by focusing on reliability, ease of use and security you will gain return customers.
Where to Start? Find a Niche
We’d all like to create the next Amazon.com, but trying to establish a full scale e-commerce platform that sells everything is a recipe for failure. According the the U.S. Small Business Administration, a better tip is to find a niche, particularly one that doesn’t already have an established leader in the industry. Consider selling products in an industry that you enjoy or have expertise.
Focus on Security
A quick Google search will return dozens of e-commerce software solution providers — most promoting how easily they are able to set up a website and shopping cart. According to credit card processing firm Capital Processing Network (CPN), online stores are usually forced to pay high premiums for credit card processing because of fraud and security risks. To curb risk and offer consumers peace of mind, e-commerce providers can become web assured through services like Verisign or Truste, which vets e-commerce platforms for security and transparency.
Providers like CPN offer fraud prevention tools and low credit card processing rates relative to most e-commerce providers. Weak security can kill your e-commerce platform. Consumers aren’t likely to give a website a second chance if they becomes victims of fraud.
Build a Strong Shopping Cart
Launching an e-commerce website is one thing, but getting customers to purchase products is an entirely separate battle. According to Multichannelmerchant.com, nearly 65 percent of e-commerce shopping carts go unclaimed. Some consumers may not intend to purchase when they place an item in a shopping card, but misleading shipping rates, cluttered processes and slow-loading pages can deter would-be buyers.
Without the ability to see or feel items for sale, it’s easily to mistakenly purchase the wrong object. E-commerce providers can limit returns by providing a clear shopping cart. List detailed item descriptions on every page of the process, and show customers progress as they makes purchases.
Ship On Time
It sounds obvious, but customers that don’t receive their purchases on time aren’t likely to come back — or go quietly. E-commerce design site Fab.com grew rapidly, according to Forbes.com, but piling orders resulted in longer shipping times and angrier customer comments. Fab.com eventually opened its own warehouse to reduce shipping times, and the e-commerce provider continues to grow. This lesson is simple: customers appreciate reliability. Ship products out on time and your e-commerce platform will stand out above the crowd.
It’s clear that there is a lot that goes into creating a successful online business, but for eCommerce focusing on identifying your niche, providing a secure checkout method and shipping products on time are 3 sure fire ways to improve sales and gain return customers.
About the Author: Yasmin Rose A real go-getter, Yasmin encourages others around her to shoot for the stars and be the best in the world of business. She loves sharing tips on how to build your own start up and make it into a success.