The modern era require all the things that can make changes a face of the companies and industries, including the flexibility and connectivity as a part of it. e-commerce are becoming very popular these days, all sales are done directly or more familiar that you can called with traditional sales. Where seller and buyer meet at the same place then conduct the payment transactions. But now, Internet can make connected people all over the world, and also tools such as credit card payment transactions and electronic money such as PayPal which has made e-commerce as one of the leading industry.
Are you considering selling products online? The process involves many aspects of the internet, enough to detour someone from even considering it. This article will help you think through some of the sections on e-commerce industry that is relevant than you walk around over the net.
E-commerce has also become very popular that there are a lot of people engaging on this business that means your business would have many, many competition. And not only competition but some of these wannabe online business owners would try to imitate your site to the extent that they would bypass the law on piracy and plagiarism.
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E-commerce in History
Back to the invention of the very old notion of “sell and buy”, electricity, cables, computers, modems, and the Internet. E-commerce became possible in 1991 when the Internet was opened to commercial use. Since that date thousands of businesses have taken up residence at web sites.
History of E-commerce is unthinkable without Amazon and EBay which were among the first Internet companies to allow electronic transactions that change the traditional markets into a modern market transactions and the internet to educate business users. Thanks to their founders we now have a handsome ecommerce sector and enjoy the buying and selling advantages of the Internet. Currently there are 5 largest and most famous worldwide Internet retailers: Amazon, Dell, Staples, Office Depot and Hewlett Packard. Now, you can even buy anything via internet. According to statistics, the most popular categories of products sold in the World Wide Web are music, books, computers, office supplies and other consumer electronics.
So this is a history of a new, virtual world which is evolving according to the customer advantage. It is a world which we are all building together brick by brick, laying a secure foundation for the future generations.
Brief Description of E-commerce
The term electronic commerce (commonly known as e-shopping, E-commerce or eCommerce) meant the process of execution of commercial transactions electronically with the help of the leading technologies such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) which gave an opportunity for users to exchange business information and do electronic transactions. The ability to use these technologies appeared in the late 1970s and allowed business companies and organizations to send commercial documentation electronically.
Today the largest electronic commerce is Business-to-Business (B2B). Businesses involved in B2B sell their goods to other businesses. In 2001, this form of E-commerce had around $700 billion in transactions. Other varieties growing today include Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) where consumers sell to each other, for example through auction sites. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) is another form of E-commerce that allows users to share resources and files directly.
Electronic commerce is generally considered to be the sales aspect of e-business. It also consists of the exchange of data to facilitate the financing and payment aspects of the business transactions.
Advantages and Disadvantages of E-commerce
E-commerce has quickly became a way of life, but like with anything – there are a number of advantages and disadvantages of conducting business in this manner. It is important that you know the advantages and disadvantages of each so you can ultimately succeed with the online business world.
Advantages of E-commerce:
- Time saving – is the reason number one for using electronic commerce. People now have access to their money and what they need to buy from home and work all from a desktop computer.
- Consumers have an access to a wider range of products – company now can use internet sites as shop fronts, so consumers can browse, buy from many different sellers and making it easier to find exactly what they are looking for.
- Allows small businesses to mix with the big business online – with a relatively small cost, a new business can set its self up to conduct transactions online.
- Provide benefits to suppliers of goods and services – company now can target a wider variety of consumers even take the product or service international, allowing them a means of supplying their goods to places that were before unreachable.
- Business is Open 24 x 7 x 364 7/8 – it works while you play or sleep. They are open for business every hour of the day, every day of the week, every week of the year. Your receptionist, greeter and front people are always working for you because they are your website. They do not complain about the long hours.
- Messages spreading (world wide market space) – advertising on the web can make a big or small firm’s promotional message reach out to potential customers all over the world quickly and small cost as an online marketing strategy.
- Help protect against frauds and theft losses – electronic payments can be easier to monitor than payments are made by cheques.
- Thinking Outside the Globe – selling something made by someone else, shipped by yet another and the money handled by yet another is the heart of the advantages e commerce brings to the business world. You can even employ an international staff. Some work you may need done can be more effectively done by companies or even individuals in other countries.
Disadvantages of E-commerce:
- Purchase to Delivery – when making a purchase at a brick and mortar business, you get the product when you pay for it. On the web, there may be a time lag from purchase to actually being able to consume. The consumer will have to wait for delivery of physical goods.
- Inability to Feel the Physical – it is nearly impossible to sell things like furniture and tires online. Furniture is something people like to sit on and know the feel. Tires need to be installed once purchased. The old tires also need to be disposed of. In both instances, there is a need for real actions to fulfill the reason for the purchase. That’s why things like food, jewelry, antiques etc. can never turn to E-commerce.
- Trouble recruiting and retaining employees – the company needs well-expert and skilled staff to keep up and create the ecommerce facilities of the company. Many companies favor to outsource their improvement and programming tasks to decrease labor costs.
- Consumers feel less confident with their credit card numbers – most of the consumers are still not confident in providing their credit card numbers for making payments on the website while shopping on the Internet.
- Not every company can take the benefit – some of the small companies may not be able to take the benefit of E-commerce for example the lack of expertise and lack of technology. The legal environment in which E-commerce is conducted is full of unclear and conflicting laws. It should be noted that mostly these disadvantages stem from the newness and rapidly growth of the technology.
Things to Consider When Starting an E-commerce Business
Leaving many people around the world consider their work in progress and start a business online. They have dreams of relaxing in the comfort of your own home, no travel, no distractions and flexible hours. Of course there is a lot to consider when starting a business. Here are a few thoughts.
- Purpose – at the very top of the list is what you want the purpose of your website to be. While this may seem basic, many people jump into building a website that they have glorified in their head only to find weeks later that the idea looked better in their head than on paper when it comes to actually making money. Try to creating list of categories that would be included on your site and range age of your consumer as target markets. Such as Converse, which only provides shoes that consists of several categories and 8 years to 35 years are their target markets. You got my point?
- It will need long learning curve – what profitable things in life do not require learning? Additionally, web success is a constantly moving target. Success will require continuous education. Try to learn and make some study case from big players that have goods and valueable services and how they can long run in this industry. Give more your attention for what condition and criteria of goods and services that consumers wants from your site. Stay hungry, stay foolish just like Steve Jobs said. This phrase means we should always want more, never be content and when you want to do something that others say is foolish, but you need and you believe it, do it anyways!
- It will need long start to success time – at the minimum it will take 6 months to get recognized by the Google search engine. Some have found that it may take up to 2 years to make a minimum income of a few hundred a month. Many if they do make an income will only make a few to several thousand dollars a month. If you just want instant success, this industry is not for you. Just go check out one of the get rich quick schemes out there! So, are you ready to be a part of this industry, ask yourself again.
- Marketing – how are your potential customers going to find your online store? While it’s true that search engines will provide some traffic, to be successful requires advertising your online business just as if it were a physical location. Building awareness for your product, brand, or store takes time and money. It will often take as much or more than the website development costs. Some key components of a good Internet marketing plan include search engine marketing, website advertising, social media, and offline advertising. And don’t forget to create email marketing for effectiveness online marketing strategies while spreading your messages, promotion or anything. Need resources? You can find here, Bulletproof Email Marketing: Overview, Tips and Tools that I’ve written previously on InstantShift.
- Logistics – an E-commerce website is your storefront. So, where is your warehouse? Where will you store and fulfill the inventory? Who will manage this process? Anyone with retail experience will tell you that inventory control will make or break your business. The other logistical challenge that can have a huge impact is shipping. The shipping carriers you utilize and your shipping charges should be determined based on the type of products and your target market.
- Customer Service – the best E-commerce businesses collect and use customer feedback. Feedback it possible to understand, anticipate and meet changing internet customer needs and wants because people come to your E-commerce web for goods and other information. The various aspects of customer needs can be provided as a resource to solve many customer service issues. It does not stop there. Sometimes a living human touch is needed. What better way to handle customer service than actually having customers who have solved complicated problems themselves help. Yes, you need good customer service to begin.
And why do I need WordPress for E-commerce site?
As we already know that WordPress is one of the best open platform for now. Because it’s free, which has become one of our point in the advantages section that I’ve mentioned above, SEO friendly and the flexibility of WordPress has always been its strong point. The fact that you can tweak and twist (easy installation, easy customization and maintenance) it to your own will with just a bit of knowledge and an extraordinary support from a large community of developers and blogger (plugins and themes) transformed what initially was a blogging tool into a powerful website CMS, may it be a blog, photoblog, portfolio, simple presentation website, or even your E-commerce site.
Effectively Tips for E-commerce Store
The most critical aspect is in your launch is just getting the E-commerce site off the ground. Once it’s safely in orbit, you’ll have other priorities. For now, here’s where you need to expend your energy:
Keep it simple.
Many people cite overly complicated navigation or too many pages in the purchase path as reasons they don’t complete their online sale or abandon their shopping cart. Successful eCommerce sites simplify the checkout process and display clear pricing and shipping information. Putting your brick and mortar store’s phone number in a visible place on your Web site is a good idea.
Optimize your headings layout.
Headings are the main place where you can persuade users to stay on your website for another few seconds. If your heading is too informational or puts them to sleep you have missed your chance. Use clear, descriptive headings that get to the point and provide users with a source of relevancy.
Make payment processing easy.
After all, it is easy to set up a website that shows off your product, but unless you have a way for customers to pay, there is no use in doing so. You can accept credit card payments with either a PayPal account or an online merchant account. PayPal is ideal for anyone trying out the E-commerce waters since there’s less of an upfront commitment, but you may end up paying more per transaction. The thing to note about PayPal is that both the buyer and the seller need a PayPal account, but that’s hardly a barrier to entry. It’s so easy to create a PayPal account that more than 96 million consumer accounts have been created at PayPal since it was founded in 1998.
Optimize your internal site search.
This is more of a usability tip, but it applies perfectly within the context of E-commerce SEO. Because your visitor found your site via a search engine, they will likely expect your internal site search to work as well. I’ve found that many first time visitors landing your site from a SERP will search for the exact same term they typed into Google.
Provide professional product images
One of the best parts about walking into a brick and mortar store to make a purchase is that you are physically able to pick up and examine a product. By giving users multiple images online allows us to overcome this barrier. On top of giving users multiple images, give them professional images from different angles and in different environments. Show them a shirt from the front, back, side, as well as on a model.
Leave a trail.
Incorporate “breadcrumb navigation” into your online catalogue pages. This will show where in the site hierarchy the currently viewed web page is located and it will give the visitor shortcuts to instantly jump higher up the hierarchy. It’s good practice for usability and for Search Engine Optimization.
A great strategy for guaranteeing unique content is displaying user generated content from your customers. Allow customers to review products they’ve purchased or comment on one’s they haven’t.
Market your site once it’s live.
It’s not enough to just build a Web site. You need to make an effort to market and promote your Web site to new and existing customers. Collect email addresses on your site to help you keep in touch with customers and consider creating a newsletter that I’ve mentioned on things to consider section above.
Study your customer’s every move.
Watch how your customers use your website and learn what frustrates them. Analyze your visitor’s traffic patterns, invite customers to complete a survey after they purchase and have informal brainstorming sessions with your most valuable customers. More research, more effective to learn habits from your customers.
Showcase of E-commerce Sites for Inspiration
E-commerce sites are more complex than static websites or blogs. Here I have collected e-commerce sites which are nicely designed and can be source of inspiration for web-designers and developers working on such type of projects.
Pure Volume Store
Me & Mommy-to-be
Nicholas Deakins Clothing
Free People Clothing Boutique
WordPress Themes and Plugins for Quick Starting
If you want to sell goods from your web site, you may want to look into shopping cart software so you can process your orders. These days you don’t have to design your cart, you can just choose a web hosting company that has a built in WordPress Installation or you can install WordPress by yourself. Hope you know that how to do that and use a third party merchant like PayPal. Many developers offer subscriptions to all their stuff specially WordPress themes and plugins for a monthly fee.
Developing a shopping cart by using a WordPress, integrating with PayPal or Authorize.net and sell products using WordPress? Now it’s not a big job anymore with this excellent piece of Software. There are three main options for setting WordPress up as a store :
- Install WordPress on your domain
- Activate a Theme related to Shopping cart
- Integrating a Plugin
But now I’m not going to tell you how to build an e-commerce site on your WordPress machine, just because there are a lot of useful tutorials out there that provided by another blog design/developer magazine that you can find via internet. Or you can just easily choose one from list a lot of great e-commerce tutorials through this post The Big List of WordPress e-Commerce Tutorials that was written by my friend, Anggi Krisna from iCreativeLabs. It contains article and video tutorials that have collected by Anggi.
WordPress looks like the ultimate platform to build a site nowadays. I’m extremely pleased let you know that you can build an Ecommerce site from WordPress with this themes and plugins. Now, you are spoilt for choice!
Great WordPress Themes to Create Your Own Online Store
WP Store [$65 for single use license]
e-Commerce [$65 for single use license]
Kidz Store [$65 for single user license]
eShop [$65 for single user license]
ArtShop [price $30]
AppCloud [Free License]
AppCloud Premium [price $35]
Kelontong WordPress E-Commerce Theme [price $35]
Dangdoot online music store theme [price $35]
ShopAholic [price $25]
Ecommerce WordPress Theme [price $75.95]
Crafty Cart [Free License]
The Clothes Shop [$42]
The Furniture Store [$47]
WPShop Reloaded [$37]
Vanilla Cart [Free License]
SimpleCart(js) [Free License]
wpStore [Free License]
WordPress Plugins that are Very Useful for E-commerce Sites
- WP e-Commerce – is a very popular and free plug-in and can be installed right from the plug-in section of your hosted WordPress admin tool. There are several modules for this product including drop shipping, digital downloads, members only, and an affiliate option. These modules are reasonably priced, but can add up if your trying to be cost conscious.
- Shopp plug-in for ecommerce – this plug-in is not free, and you will pay for enhanced features. But the thing you really like about this product is it’s breadth of features. From the WordPress Dashboard integration to the drag and drop functionality of putting products in the shopping cart. You’ll find advanced features like inventory management, multiple shipping types, data export for Excel and Quickbooks, and various language translations through this plugin.
- YAK for WordPress – is another free and simple shopping cart plugin which allows you to run WordPress as a shopping cart. There is a whole long procedure of setting up the plugin and how to configure it, to ensure that you can display the products and receive payments through cheque, deposit, credit card form or through PayPal.
- eShop – this is WordPress 2.5 and above compatible shopping cart, which is actively developed at the moment and has got some of the most wonderful options. It’s one of my first suggestions to anyone, who wants to use WordPress as a shopping cart too.
- Tribulant – costs $49.99 is a full shopping cart plugin to help you get an online shop going, you can categorize, organize and add categories fairy easily. It works with PayPal, 2checkout, moneybookers, bankwire, and credit card.
- ShopperPress – pretty darn good its a shopping cart theme, so not just a plugin but an entire theme making the whole process of getting setup very very quick and it works with every payment gateway you can imagine! There is a free trial version costs you nothing to download, a vip version which is $69 and developer version which is $175 I would highly recommend checking this out if your looking for a fast solution that looks good.
- Quick Shop – QuickShop supports any WordPress that has the Sidebar Widgets installed, really. It adds a SideBar widget that shows the user what they currently have in the cart and allows them to remove the items, not to mention a TinyMCE button to easily allow you to add products to your posts/pages.
- Wp Live Shopping – this widget enables you to display all relevant live shopping offers within your WordPress blog in one single widget. You can add the widget to your sidebar and customize its appearance as you like inside the boundaries of LiveShoppingWidgets presentation options.
- Are PayPal – this plugin is used to monetize WordPress blog content using PayPal. It is designed to sell your knowledge. Seems to be having issues right now. Basically it works with PayPal.
- StorePress – is a full e-commerce WordPress plugin that accepts PayPal, Authorize.net, and 2Checkout out of the box. It includes multiple widgets, dashboard widgets, shortcodes, and works using WordPress pages to keep everything nice and simple. Costs $49 very similar to shopper press, works with PayPal and its a theme and cart together.
- Paypal Shortcodes – let you to insert PayPal buttons in posts or pages using short code, no management panel though.
- ArtPal – ArtPal is a free (GPL) WordPress plugin, originally written for Artists, to seemlessly integrate PayPal with their WordPress blogs so that they can sell their work online. It’s totally free.
- Market Theme – costs $55 or $150 for developers, is a theme and cart. It works with PayPal only though, though there is a Google checkout module available.
- WPosCommerce – or the WP.osC plugin for WordPress is a modified version of the popular ecommerce solution osCommerce. WP.osC allows you to integrate osCommerce with existing WordPress website. The plugin displays latest products, random products, top 10 best sellers all on your WordPress blog post page. It adds a dynamic widget in your blogs sidebar to display the products.
Well, the above mentioned plugins are good enough when it comes to setting up the shopping cart, however there are several things for which you may not need a e-commerce solution. Here are some of them which have nothing to do as far as e-Commerce sites are concerned but are worth to mention.
- WP BankRoll – this is a free/premium plugin, which allows you to earn money by allowing you to sell reviews on your blog. This plugin integrates with PayPal and if installed you get the ability to sell the reviews and also even lets you configure things in a way that an advertiser can write the post himself. Ah! that’s a neat thing, isn’t it ?
- Zencart & WordPress integration – this plugin is not a shopping cart however, it integrates wonderful and open source shopping cart software i.e. ZenCart with WordPress.
- EasyPayPal – if you want to charge for your content, then you can do that with the help of this plugin. It also lets you help in creating various other type of payment pages which completely depends on your need. Without mentioning this plugin, this post would have been incomplete.
Icon Resources for Your Themes
E-commerce web design brings some unique requirements, and this usually includes the need for specific icons such as shopping carts, credit cards, and others related to the online shopping experience. In this section, if you want to improve your themes for development, you can use this icon sets, it’s free resources. Undeniably, icons are far easier to understand and creates more life to the site, more shiny and catchy in visitor’s eyes. It also produces a feeling of invitation to explore the site more.
glossy eCommerce icons
Free for private and commercial use, featuring the so needed shopping cart, money signs and credit cards.
Business icon pack featuring some must-have pieces.
WP WooTheme Icon Set
This is the first release of the WP WooThemes Ultimate Icon Set and the idea is to expand and build on the set (which contains 79 icons at the moment) in the coming months. The free download contains all 79 icons, sized at 256×256 pixels and available in both PNG and GIF formats. As an added bonus to our users, they will also be able to download Nishan’s Illustrator file, which will give them high-res, vector copies of the icons.
Ecommerce Payment Icon Pack
A free set of icons including credit card and popular payment gateway symbols in a mini format that’s perfect for ecommerce websites and online payment stores.
Payment Option Icons
This set contains 20 icons for popular payment methods such as MasterCard, PayPal, Visa, American Express, Diner’s Club and much more. All icons are in PNG format and come in three different sizes: big (130×80), small (80×49) and tiny (50×31).
Payment type icons and buttons
Collection of payment type icons (buttons) which you can embed into your website or online storefront to show which payment types that you accept.
Credit Card Images and Test Numbers
Free E-commerce Vector Icons
The set includes five icons that were created for use in e-commerce websites. The icons are free for personal or commercial use.
Exclusive E-commerce Icons
Available e-commerce icons may be used in any projects, whether commercial or private nature.
Free Checkout Process Vector Icons
Set of 6 free icons in sizes 16×16, 32×32 and 48×48 in PNG and ICO format. Vector source file also included.
Shopping Basket Icon
Shopping Cart and Basket Icons
CSS Globe Icon Set
CSS Globe offers an icon set that includes shopping cart icons.
Shopping Cart Icons
Money Icons Set
There are 10 icons in this set.
Milky – A free stock vector iconset
243 Country Flag Icons
With such a large selection, you are sure to be able to find the flag you are looking for. These are free to use for personal and commercial projects.
I would encourage you to re-check into how an e-commerce shopping cart website could benefit you, but be aware of the challenges too. It is important to work with someone that knows what they are doing and has experience with this type of website development.
After all, now is time to sharing! What’s on your mind about e-commerce industries? You can also adding other great themes, plugins and icon resources that I missed by commenting on this page. Please feel free to leave your comments if there ever had experience from this industry. I think, share would be very good for each other. Si ya!