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Ecommerce and Online Business: Avoiding Overhead

E-commerce (electronic commerce) is the practice of buying and selling of products and services over the Internet. With the continuing widespread use of the Web, ecommerce promises to become as important as or even more important than traditional forms of commerce. Electronic transactions may be classified as business to business (B2B), or as business to customer (B2C). Ever since ecommerce gained wide public support, ubiquitous market items like the shopping cart have ceased to become physical objects; transactions and processes are now digital business applications and programs.

Scope of e-commerce: online trade of goods and services, website with e-commerce

Online business encompasses the following business transactions: Internet trade of goods and services (e.g. audio and video streaming, e-books, software); retail services, also known as e-tail (e.g. food ordering, banking, flower delivery, video rentals, travel booking, etc); marketplace services (such as auctions, online advertising, trade groups, price comparison); online procurement or e-procurement; and purchase-to-pay (P2P) processes.

Putting up your business online: hosting, e-commerce websites, business to business ecommerce

E-business is a fast growing industry, and along with it comes the need for businesses to get the right ecommerce hosting solution. Many brick-and-mortar businesses are now going to the Internet to start making profits, attracted by the considerably low overhead of online business and its accessibility to customers.

Hiring the right e-commerce hosting company may be a tough find because of the sheer number of firms offering this service. Many may even offer similar services, but not all of them offer the same quality of service. For example, if you get the wrong hosting company, your entire online business may be put to risk by unsecure servers. This poses a great risk to your company; your website could be prone to hacking and other malicious activities. Thus it would be a sound business plan to select the correct ecommerce hosting company when you are marketing your business online.

How to create an ecommerce website

If you are unsure of what things to look for, or if you would want to assess the dependability of a host, you could get expert opinion from Singapore ecommerce consultant firms. Generally, these ecommerce consultants will look for things such as performance, customer support, and price. A good assessment from the ecommerce consultant will look into things such as hosting security, server space, bandwidth space, and email and support services for your company.

Other ecommerce solutions that you may ask from your host are the ability for credit verification and payment through your Website, or an auto responder service which allows you to email customers automatically.

How SMBs Can Increase ECommerce Revenue

eCommerce is the ultimate market-leveling tool for SMBs. Through eCommerce, the location and size of a business no longer matters.

In essence, the Internet has created a jumbo-sized virtual shopping mall in which any and every conceivable retailer can be a tenant.

Yet, cyber mall occupancy alone does not guarantee long-term commercial success. Rather, nextgeneration site functionality and ultra-reliable, highly responsive site performance are essential ingredients for increasing eCommerce revenues. Retailers with the deepest pockets gain a decided market advantage since they have the money both to develop next-generation site functionality, and to build and maintain an eCommerce platform capable of delivering the full impact of this functionality to each and every site visitor.

In reality, options today offer small business more choices that help in leveling the competitive playing field. With today’s web hosting environments — optimized for next-generation eCommerce — platform investments are reduced to a fraction of the cost of individually owning and operating an eCommerce site. With this approach, small retailers gain a significant market equalizer that enables them to compete effectively against their larger rivals.

In this article, we will describe the direction of next-generation eCommerce sites and also highlight how web hosting can dramatically reduce the IT costs necessary to effectively support next-generation eCommerce. As a result, SMBs can increase eCommerce sites and simultaneously decrease their IT costs.

1. Functionality that replicates the in-store shopping experience, and

2. Functionality that creates a distinctive online shopping experience.

o 360° product views – One of the eCommerce drawbacks is the physical separation between shoppers and products. Products such as books and DVDs – for which physical touch is not a decision variable — are two products that have sold well through an eCommerce channel. Other products, such as apparel, do benefit by physical touch. And even though apparel is sold online, the lack of physical touch contributes to instances of shopping online but buying instore.

Next-generation eCommerce sites will do more to transform the online shopping experience into online buying by presenting the product in user-controlled 360° views. In this manner, the shopper gains a richer perspective on the product’s appearance, similar to the instore buyer behavior of holding up and turning the product for closer examination.

o Layered informational mini-screens – In current-generation eCommerce sites, shoppers commonly click through several full screens to gain a deeper knowledge of the product being considered. This site design dictates back and forth navigation by the shopper to re-visit information. Consequently, the full breadth of information sought for a purchase decision seldom resides on a single screen. Next-generation eCommerce sites will offer mini-screens overlaid on the initial product screen, which allows shoppers to zoom in and out of relevant product details and, in the process, never lose connection with the product being evaluated.

o Upfront alerts on product availability – A strong benefit of eCommerce is the capability to present the full range of products and product features. Inventory costs and space limitations of brick and mortar stores are challenged to equal this capability. At the same time, product presentation in an eCommerce site without availability status is frustrating for shoppers, particularly those who have expended time loading their shopping carts only to be informed that availability of one or more products or a specially designed product will be delayed. This scenario is far less common with in-store shopping since the range of inventory is directly visible to the shopper. In next-generation eCommerce sites, product availability status can be offered to the shopper throughout the shopping and selection process. By presenting product alternatives when there are availability delays – which can be built as an option into the site design — allows shoppers to balance their desire for product immediacy and selection range.

o Streaming video – Brick and mortar stores are naturally restrained in the contextual presentation of their products, with actual product benefits limited to a shopper’s understanding of the product and imagination, and perhaps the creativity of in-store displays and external advertising (print, audio, and video). In next-generation eCommerce sites, streaming video propels contextual presentation to an entirely new level, with streaming video mini-clips that spotlight beneficial product features in multiple real-world contexts. Not only will streaming video stimulate a shopper’s imagination and strengthen intent to purchase, it can also be effective in cross-selling other products and optional features, which provide a valuable means to increasing sale size and revenue growth.

o Live chat – An eCommerce site enabled with live chat can address a shopper’s questions or site use issues on the spot. As a result, these sessions contribute to impromptu purchases and a reduction in abandoned shopping carts as well as repeat visits. Live chat offers two specific benefits:

(1) the on-demand availability of sales representatives enables quicker and more efficient customer communications than serving customers in most brick and mortar settings;

and (2) sales reps have fingertip access to a wide range of product information and are typically better product knowledge experts. With the advent of VoIP (Voice over IP) in a nextgeneration eCommerce site, live chat expands from text exchanges to more personal voice conversations. Text and voice communication also can deepen loyalty and spending by premium customers and can transform intermittent customers into regular customers if both text and voice communications are strategically employed and supported.

o Personalized sales assistance – In addition to being product experts, online sales reps can also become dedicated customer aides. Electronically armed with real-time knowledge of customer identity, profile, and past online and in-store purchases, these sales reps can personalize and enhance the customer’s shopping experience. While similar personalization is possible in brick and mortar settings, location and in-person relationships are limiting factors on the number of customers that can receive this personalization. eCommerce does not suffer from these same limitations.

This next-generation eCommerce functionality is not free. Clearly, there are costs to develop, test, and deploy. These costs, we believe, are unavoidable for retailers who are serious about increasing their eCommerce revenues.

Equally important, but not always fully considered, are the costs of an eCommerce platform capable of delivering the full impact of this functionality to each and every site visitor. In our view, scrimping on the platform will have serious eCommerce revenue implications. Among the most notable to avoid is creating a platform that results in an uninspired shopper. For example, if the functionality does not perform to its potential – through slow responsiveness, jerky video, or voice quality inconsistency – the net result is that shoppers leave the eCommerce site and never return.

To avoid this scenario, companies today must have world-class Internet-connected data center and web servers. To attain world-class, multiple components must be in place. Lacking any one of these jeopardizes eCommerce potential.

o Redundant and highly scalable Web servers – Accommodates all instances of peak visitations and minimizes the risk of server downtime.

o Physical and cyber security – Protects the eCommerce platform and customers’ personal information (e.g., credit card numbers) from disruption and theft, respectively.

o Wideband and redundant access between the data center and the Internet – Access congestion directly correlates to slow response times and a poor shopping experience. Furthermore, as richer media is added to the site, higher bandwidth levels are essential.
o Data center utilities – Air conditioning, heating and electrical power are as essential as the web servers themselves. Failures in these systems are catastrophic to the health of any business.

o Around-the-clock administration – Without flawless operations and expert insight, none of the preceding points are meaningful. This flawless execution is the benchmark of nextgeneration eCommerce and anything less will degrade eCommerce potential and waste the investments in next-generation eCommerce functionality.

The good news is that the cost of these platform components does not have to be a barrier to nextgeneration eCommerce and the benefits it can deliver to the retailer: more revenue and improved customer loyalty. From our analysis, SMBs can reduce their IT costs associated with eCommerce by up to 75% by using a high quality Web Hoster versus a do-it-yourself approach of owning and operating these platform components.

eCommerce has proven to be an effective sales and customer relationship channel for many businesses. However, lack of innovation in site functionality and a world-class platform from which to deliver this functionality will return disappointing eCommerce results. For many businesses, the combined price tag for functionality and platform can be overwhelming. To meet the objective of increasing eCommerce

Conclusion

Web Hosting Delivers IT Cost Savings in eCommerce

How SMB’s Can Create a Distinctive Online Shopping Experience

This functionality also reduces the instances of shoppers leaving without a purchase.

How SMB’s Can Replicate the In-store Shopping Experience

The direction of next-generation eCommerce functionality fits into two categories:

Next-generation eCommerce Sites To Increase SMB revenue

Regulations That Control Ecommerce Solutions – Step 2 – Company Information That Must Be Supplied

Over the past few years there has been a significant growth in the consumer spending online and businesses are seeing that online selling is a major way of them to save costs and resources. The growth of online selling has increased the amount of options available to an ecommerce store or Facebook store with ecommerce solutions now available to help with the selling of their product or service. The inevitable growth of online selling has led to the increase of legislation governing it.

In this next step of regulations governing online trading in the UK that all potential online businesses should look at before setting up their ecommerce software solution. We will look at information that must be provided by the companies. This information must be supplied by the company to conform to new online regulations.

All of the regulations brought up in the relating articles have a common theme, companies must be open and honest to the customer and provide as much information about themselves as possible. Providing the information will gain the ecommerce store or Facebook store trust and acknowledgment to customers and their peers. Having ecommerce solutions that are trustworthy and verified by associations and their customers will be successful, so having the relevant regulation information in place is beneficial for the ecommerce shop or Facebook store as well.

The information that the companies must supply are quite simple, to conform to the governing ecommerce regulations, the information must be shown on their website. All commercial websites must make the information directly and permanently available to consumers on the trading website.

This information includes:

  1. Company’s name
  2. Postal address, registered office address if different
  3. Email address

This is the first set of information which details that the company is legitimate for the governing body and the customer. Providing these basic contact details is highly beneficial as the customer has choices to buy and become familiar with the online business.

The next set of information that has to be provided is:

  1. Company’s registration number
  2. Trade of Professional Association memberships
  3. Company’s VAT number

If the company has been established for a few years then the above information will be established. If it is a new ecommerce store or Facebook store then it will be up to the owner to decide if they become VAT registered and register to associations.

All of the information applies to the online business whether the site sells online or not. All of the marketing communications such as email, SMS and ecommerce software must also display all the above information under the ‘Information Society Service’ regulation.

The ecommerce regulations require that all pricing on the website must be displayed clearly and unambiguously. This means that all prices must state whether the prices are inclusive of tax and delivery costs.

Creating your ecommerce solutions will be a major project so by having a clear idea of regulations that govern online business ought to be a start for any company looking to promote their product or service. Having a good grasp of regulations will save you time and money in the long-term as new regulations are becoming more and more inevitable as online business continues to grow along with new, exciting ecommerce software. Having the basics in order will only benefit the company and the potential customers, as having a conformed website will add to the trustworthiness of the company.