eCommerce - A Plan | Richard Takemura

eCommerce – A Plan

Designing an e-commerce website is like building a house – architecture and budget should be agreed upon before the decoration.

Requirements

Once agreed specifications agreed then solutions must be evaluated and costed against that specification are:

– Project Management
– Hardware
– Web design and software
– Marketing Site
– Project Management:

All aspects of the project should be managed. Decide who will do it and properly plan the needs, activities, outputs, targets and timeframes.

Hardware:

The options here are a managed service or on your own server. Security and disaster recovery issues is achieved with a major supplier hosting is very important. Just go with your own server if you have the experience and facilities.

Design and Software:

Develop templates and test sites with real people. They have to be easy to use and navigate. Do not allow the unit to “design” on the site, allow for ease of use and boost sales “Design”. Think about what the customer thinks.

Software

At least 5 solutions need to be considered.

– Update
– Shopping Cart
– Forum
– Email
– Statistics

Update

There are 2 routes realistic here. Any of a line or a management system based on PC online content (CMS). The online CMS can be an open source CMS (Open Source means that any application that has been made available, usually free, to developers to view and modify freely. Examples of open source applications are MySQL and PHP) or commercial.

There are pros and cons to both routes. An online system is available to anyone with appropriate security clearance at any place at any time. A PC-based system is obviously limited to computers with the licenses. An example of a PC-based system is Macromedia Contribute which integrates with Dreamweaver. There is a whole range of commercial and open source options online as SuiteWise ™, Drupal, Joomla, and website baker, etc. However, even this is complicated by the fact that some of the shopping cart solutions also contain CMS can be sufficient for many business needs.

Shopping Cart and CRM

There are two realistic ways to the shopping cart – open source or commercial.

There are excellent commercial open source carts like osCommerce and Zen, but also excellent commercial solutions such as Actinic and Customer Portal Quick Order (which comes with a full CMS).

There are other factors to consider shopping cart:

– Do you have your own or are easily integrated with inventory control systems out?

– Easily integrates with Sage accounting systems (eg, QuickBooks)?

– Do you have or easily integrated with systems that may be proposed in the future of Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?

Forum

Many CMS has good integrated forums, but if they do not our recommendation would be to use a good open source package PunBB or phpBB. They are free, robust and easy to integrate and adapt anywhere.

Email

Most CMS, shopping carts and forums have email solutions. However, some solutions are very basic. If the solution chosen shopping cart that best meets the needs of electronic commerce and other do not have an integrated email solution working and whether the same is true for the solutions of CMS and forum is only open source applications PHPlist is an alternative solution and the other is an online solution like Constant Contact and many others.

Statistics

This is possibly the most important part of the package. If you do not know how visitors to your website and in the store they behave, making them in and what goes out, then it is very, very difficult to improve sales and profitability site. Commercial applications such as WebTrends and ClickTracks should be evaluated for the best fit.

Site Marketing

There are 4 main areas to consider here.

– Offline Marketing – for example, inside the store. What works more profitable to attract traffic and orders through the web site activities.

– Site Optimization – how to ensure that the technical structure, copy the content, back links and a number of other factors that are initially and remain optimized so as to obtain as many placements in search engines for relevant searches.

– Pay per click and other online marketing – how to get traffic from advertising with the words and phrases used in search engines and ads on other sites.

– E-mail – how to grow the email list and use it to increase profitable sales.

In summary:

– Manage the project
– Think about what the customer thinks
– Get a great software to make product and price search easy
– Make clear and simple payment
– Make sure you are in the store, and have deadlines feasible
– Make sure you have a good CRM system and clear communications – mail, phone, emai
– Market the site properly
– Knowing what is going on – use your stats to test, monitor and treat

Cost ………… and how long is a piece of string, but you could be in operation for less than the cost of the new site!

Read more e-commerce Tips

Print On Demand Banner