E-commerce business has increased for over the past years. The expectations of an online store comprises a lot of unique ideas to make it successful. In order to design a good e-commerce site, it must find a common balance between the topics that I am about to discuss.
Time and Money – To start any kind of business online, you must have time and money to invest into the business. An e-commerce business has its complexities that will decide the timeline development. Determine your budget because website development can be expensive and quite tricky. Why? If you don’t have the technical ability to launch an online shop. You have to hire the right professionals and not build it yourself. Not unless if you don’t have the budget, you can do simple tasks by educating yourself.
Legal side of the business – This is an obligation for every entrepreneur to secure the legal permits and licenses before launching the real site. You need to be familiar with the documentation and the processes to undergo specific requirements for your business. If you encounter problems along the way, equip yourself with a good business lawyer (if you need one). In this area, you need to prepare you and your staff for the unforseen events that might occur along the development phase.
Merchant Account – Get a Merchant or Business Account at a local bank. Before you open, make sure they have features that will allow you to transact on the internet and internationally. Educate yourself about their fees and other features that will help you on your business like the ability to transfer money, pay your business bills, e-banking, payroll and collection.
Third Party Payment Gateway – It serves as an online point of sale terminal where you can accept credit cards, debit cards and more from customers who wants to purchase a product on your store. Provide the best user experience for your customers so they will keep coming back for more. One of the popular payments you can integrate is PayPal. Do not launch when you have not verified your PayPal business account to your bank account.
SSL Encryption – It means Secure Sockets Layer that encrypts information on the website. Your site must have its own SSL Certificate. They need a unique IP Address and registration fee. The certificate has requirements that you can choose. Check Comodo, RapidSSL, GeoTrust and Symantec. Part of the changes is your http status will change to https. The installation of the certificate on your website.
PCI Compliance – It means Payment Card Industry is an information security standards for all organizations that handles, accepts, store or send credit card information on a secure environment. Most banks are PCI compliant. As the transactions increases, it needs verification from the e-commerce merchants from their Payment gateway to their bank accounts. Just like the Payment gateway, it maintains protection and encrypted network transmissions during the Checkout and Payment process.
Sales Tax – In the United States, they have a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that limits the sales tax requirements to only those retailers that have a physical presence. Check your State, Country and Product taxes and learn how much taxes added on the selling product. In the Philippines, we call it VAT (Value Added Tax). This is imposed to all importation, sale barter, exchange or lease of goods or properties and sale of services. The charge is 12% for companies whose income tax go beyond Five hundred thousand pesos.
Shipping – Calculate your shipping costs and decide which shipping methods you will offer to your customers. There are online shipping tools that you can integrate on your site to make it easier for your customers to calculate the shipping costs and timeline.
Website design – Designing your website must have several factors specifically for the type of customers you want to attract. Compile questions about your target customers and organize the information on the page to make sure it relates to the person who wants to buy your product. Make it simple and easy to navigate. Your e-commerce business must show value and quality.
Chat support – When your customers gets confused and need some direction to purchase products on your site. Engage with your customers by using a chat tool that is available anytime they encounter issues or ask questions.
Competition – Check other websites if they are selling the same products you want to sell. Giant online retail chains like Amazon and Ebay offer millions of products and information for their shoppers. They have product reviews and features like related products that the customer might be interested in. Watch out for the prices on the products and how it is presented.
Information Architecture – The way your website design is organize and how the structure of information on the site is important to the success of your business. Rely on a niche interface rather on a generalist view. Simplify your visual and information structure as possible. Use few categories. Put high quality pictures. Two to three pictures will do.
Search – Another feature that your customers will use especially when looking for specific products. Some companies take advantage of a simple search field that allows customers to use the filter options to find the product attributes they had in mind. Be able to retrieve the best matches to the queries that the customer is looking for.
Product detail pages – The importance of this page rely on the different attributes it presents. Like the Product name, Images, Price, Buy Button, Product Description, Quantity, Number Available, Delivery information, Social Media sharing, Related Products and other details (size, materials, pages, length, weight, colors etc.).
Checkout – Some customers prefer a simple checkout experience. Based on my research, some do not want to open an account just to order and before they can checkout. Customers want the fastest checkout experience. Checkout details must also include price, quantity and the product description. Make adjustments to your cart that your buyers will give them the opportunity to tweak their purchases.