E-commerce is the ability to trade over the internet.
As a shopper this can offer convenience and the ability to compare products and prices between retailers.
For the retailer, an e-commerce site offers the lure of lower transaction costs, the ability to supply a larger range of products than can be included in a printed catalogue or physically on the shelves in a shop and a wider geographical spread of customers.
E-commerce is unlikely to completely replace the shop or shopping centre. For some purchases, people want to see and touch the product and take immediate delivery. But the attractions of e-commerce has seen the level of on-line shopping spiral upwards at an ever-increasing rate.
As a retailer e-commerce presents you with some things that are relatively easy to do:
Creating the web site
Taking the orders
Others are not so easy:
Getting people to come to your website in the first place
Getting people to buy something from your website. Having people look at your website is one thing - getting them to actually buy is another.
Getting customers to return to your website a second or third time
I guess it goes almost without saying that the first step to succeeding in e-commerce is having a saleable product.
A website that looks good makes a positive difference, especially if the product is shown off with good images and full, accurate descriptions - the customer feels more confident in making a purchase if they are certain they know what they are buying. Fuzzy images and incomplete descriptions will be a complete turn-off - perhaps even more than the prices you charge.
Then the buying process needs to be straightforward and easy to understand for the shopper. You want them to follow it right through to giving you their credit card number, so don't make the route difficult.
Adding a SSL certificate doesn't cost much and is a worthwhile investment as it can give your shopper confidence from seeing the "padlock" in their browser bar.
If you want return business you need to give good service. The first step in that is to ensure that the shopper receives the goods they expected promptly - that usually means next day - or else within the timescale you have said. You must have a policy for dealing with things if they go wrong. You are required to do that by law, but you can also fulfill that requirement in a helpful and friendly way.
Keeping in touch with customers by way of occasional newsletters or emails can also help retain them as your online customer - loyalty to online shops is much lower than to high street shops.
We will happily discuss the e-commerce options with you before you decide how to proceed.