What Is An E-Commerce Website & How Does It Work?
E-commerce, sometimes strung together as one word—Ecommerce or eCommerce—is the modern way of saying electronic commerce. While the word may sound complex or confusing, all it means is the process of buying and selling on the internet. It is a broad definition that includes products, services, and anything else you can conceivably put a price on.
While it is easy to build the bare bones of an online store, though, it is much harder to make it successful. There are a large variety of factors that go into setting up a digital selling space that actually makes a profit. If you want to learn how to make money in online sales, you have come to the right place!
The Main Goal of the E-Commerce Website
The main goal of an e-commerce website is to make its owner money. In addition to this main goal, though, there are a series of smaller goals that make it easier for the site to generate profit. These smaller goals include:
- Marketing your brand.
- Collecting data.
- Reaching new customers.
- Building loyalty.
These four micro-goals come together to make your brand stronger and your business more popular. First off, having a digital space where people can get exposure to your brand will increase your brand awareness. The more people that know about your business, the more people are likely to shop there.
As more people visit your business, you can collect data to learn about them. This data can be used to improve your site and business generally. For example, if you know the times of the year your site’s sales fall, you can then try and boost sales during this period with a coupon or promotion. Or, if you learn that your target market is actually a few years older than you expected them to be, you can better tailor your product to suit customers of an older age.
Once you know more about your customers, you will be able to reach them better. And, if you are giving them what they want, then they will eventually become loyal to your brand. Instead of wasting time searching for the best retailer on the internet, they will use heuristics to take a shortcut to your website and place an order for whatever it is they need.
Striving for the above four micro-goals will help you achieve your overall goal of conducting a profitable business. Eventually, you will be able to sit back and relax as your e-commerce website does all the work for you.
How E-Commerce Websites Should Work?
There are four great features that every e-commerce website should have. They are, in no particular order:
- An efficient and effective search bar that produces accurate results;
- Great security for both you and your site users;
- Comprehensive customer service;
- Organized data collection methods.
The following section will walk you through why these elements are important. And, how you can implement them into your own store. If you lack the expertise to do so yourself—no worries! There are trained professionals out there, like AppKong, that are happy to assist you.
Great Search Features & Rapid Loading Speed
Depending on the size of your site, the importance of having a top-tier search bar will vary. If you sell less than twenty products, likely, you will just need a landing page that showcases these products well. As you get above twenty and into the higher numbers, though, you will need to have a search bar where people can type in what they are looking for.
The results from their searches should be accurate and load very quickly. If people have to wait more than a few seconds for their search results to load, they will lose interest and likely trust in you as a seller. Then, they will look elsewhere for what they need.
There are great artificial intelligence (AI) tools in cyberspace that can help you improve your site’s search bar. And, you can make sure that your site is operating at top speeds by employing the latest and greatest programming technology on the market.
Many people’s biggest fear about online shopping is that they are going to have their credit card information stolen. That is why you must employ the best possible security systems for your e-commerce page. You will need to walk a fine line between making your customers’ shopping experience convenient and pleasurable and making sure there are implemented safeguards to protect them.
For example, you should probably have a space on your site where people can choose to save their credit card information. This will reduce the friction they feel when spending money on your site. And, save them time when they would like to make another purchase. However, allowing people to save their payment information places a higher security burden on you.
One common solution to this problem is going through a third party such as Stripe or PayPal. However, professionals can help you build a secure in-house payment system as well.
Customer Service Essentials
These days, customers want to be able to reach you quickly, in the manner of their choosing, and at the time of their choosing. The boomer generation may want to be able to call you. Millennials may want to email you. And, Gen-Z may want to text you. Depending on the generation(s) your company serves, you need to have the proper customer service options that satisfy your customers.
Pop-up chat boxes that ask your customers if they need help are one great way to meet shopping assistance needs. Having transparent pages explaining return policies and complaint processes are also key. There is AI out there that is perfect for solving these problems as well.
As briefly mentioned above, having a website is an amazing opportunity to collect precious data that can help your company thrive. Of course, data collection is not as easy as it sounds. For starters, you need to have the appropriate disclosures and legal documents to do this. And, engage in the process ethically.
You also need to have a quality data collection program that is obtaining the right kind of information from people. And, storing it in an organized manner so that your marketing department can easily analyze the results.
These results, such as hot shopping times or information about the type of device customers are viewing your shop on, can translate into changes you can make in your manners of conducting business that will increase your bottom line. For your convenience, there are actually data collection programs out there that will organize your data for you as well!
How to Build an E-commerce Website
There are two approaches you can take to building your e-commerce website. You can opt to do it yourself. Or, you can retain the help of experienced professionals. If you choose to go the first route, you might save a bit of money initially. However, the opportunity cost of you developing your own site in-house will be incredibly high. After all, your company resources, such as your time and money, would be better spent improving your business model and products or services.
To assemble a professional-grade e-commerce website, it is best to loop in professional developers to help you achieve your goals. Then, you can work with them on choosing the platform you would like to operate on. Lastly, you can work with your team on the processes you plan to use to get people their purchases and deal with unhappy customers or supply chain issues should they pop up.
HRetain the Assistance of a Developer
There are so many developers out there advertising custom and high-quality e-commerce creation. It can be difficult to sort out genuine pros from scammers. Some qualities you should look for in the developer you end up hiring include:
- Trustworthy customer testimonials;
- Employees with years of experience;
- Ability to communicate in your native language;
- Proficiency in developing both websites and matching apps;
- Flexible pricing packages that suit your needs.
Finding the right developer may feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, you don’t have to look any further! AppKong has all of the above essentials and more. Whether you are just starting out from scratch on your e-commerce journey, or need some help picking up where a different developer left off, AppKong has you covered. We can help you create your dream online store!
Choose a Platform
Once you retain a developer such as AppKong, you can communicate your needs to them. If you are interested in starting a business behemoth, it may make sense for your developers to build you a brand-new site of your own with programming from scratch. Or, you can take a convenient shortcut through a development tool such as WordPress to get you to your end result quicker.
Alternatively, if you are just looking to create a small e-commerce site for something like an online garage sale, or to get rid of some old clothes, it might make sense for you to get a page on someone else’s e-commerce site. Your developer, after hearing you describe what your unique needs are, will recommend the path that suits you best.
Create Delivery Processes
Once your e-commerce site is up and running, you will need to have ways for people to get their products or services once they pay for them. If you plan on offering returns and reimbursements for any reason, then you will need supply chain processes for these tasks too.
If you plan on selling products in relatively high volume, one way to make this process smoother for you is to schedule daily or bi-weekly pick-ups from a shipping company such as UPS. There are also options out there that will even pack your items for you if you don’t want to do it yourself! If you are selling services, then perhaps you will have to hire service providers that will stay on alert for bookings.
These days, people expect to receive what they purchase relatively quickly after sending in their payment. So, if you are shipping, you want to make sure that your products are in your customers’ hands within 7-10 days maximum.
There are a lot of seemingly small things that can end up making or breaking your e-commerce site. Looking at them all together in an article such as this one can feel overwhelming. Fear not though. While starting an e-commerce website seems impossible to do successfully, you must remember that millions of people just like you run profitable e-commerce shops every day.
To recap the content in this article, you must remember that there are 4 sub-goals that go into your overall goal of turning a profit. They are marketing your brand, reaching the right customers, collecting usable data, and building customer loyalty. Once you nail all of these things, the money will follow. Retaining the help of professional developers such as AppKong will help you achieve your goals most efficiently and effectively possible.
While paying for professional development services will require an initial investment that may make you uncomfortable, it will be worth it. After a few years or even months, you will watch your investment pay for itself ten times over. Don’t believe us? Contact a customer service representative at AppKong today and learn about our affordable pricing and revolutionary development first-hand.
You are sure to be impressed by our genius and dedicated team members, globally competitive development skills, and flexible packages available to meet your needs. So what are you waiting for? Reach out today and thank yourself tomorrow when you are on your way to having the online store of your dreams.