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Online Catalog Sales

by Ron Kurtus (9 December 2011)

To a degree, e-commerce is similar to catalog sales, where the customer only sees specifications and perhaps pictures before making an online purchase. Thus, a business doing e-commerce must have a website that includes an online catalog or store.

It must be the capability to receive payments. Finally, the business needs a way to deliver the product or service.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.



eCommerce website

Anyone selling products or services over the Internet needs a website that is both an online catalog and store.

Website promotion

You need to advertise and promote your business, so that the customers will view your website. This is usually done through e-marketing.

Online catalog

Your website is an online catalog and store. It should be designed so that it is easy for customers to find what they want. They must know what is in your online store, and the products must be organized in a logical manner.

Customers need to be able to easily get around your catalog to find things. The customer should be able to easily browse the selection and mark products for later purchase. They also need to be able to information or see pictures of the items.

Shopping cart

Once customers find what they are looking for, they can put the selections in a "shopping cart" and search for other items. This makes it easier for them to purchase multiple items, as well as to buy things they may not have been looking for.

Just as in a physical store, people often buy things they just happen to see. For example, stores place some "impulse items" at the checkout stand.

Setting up an online store

You can purchase one of the various ready-made software applications that set up your shopping cart capability.

Means to collect payments

It should be easy for customers to purchase the items they want. You must have a way to receive online payments, either directly using a credit card or using payment services such s PayPal.

The purchase of the item can be complex, but it should be made as simple as possible for the customer.

  1. The customer must give certain information about himself. Usually this is name, address and e-mail
  2. A mutually acceptable payment method must be chosen. Credit card or billing information must be gathered.
  3. The merchant must process the customer's payment information.
  4. Finally, the customer must receive confirmation of the sale.

Security is a concern in credit card purchases and the ability to encrypt transfer of data.

Delivery and support

Transaction is made and product is delivered.

Delivery

You must have a good means of fulfilling the order and delivering the material to customers. Different means of delivery depends on the type of item purchased.

The product may be access to special information on the Web site, it may be downloadable software, or it may be items that must be physically delivered to the customer.

Support

The customer needs a way to voice problems. You also need a customer service system, consisting of support to handle complaints or returns in the event of problems.

Summary

eCommerce is similar to catalog sales, where the customer only sees specifications and perhaps pictures before making an online purchase. Thus, a business doing e-commerce must have a website that includes an online catalog or store. It must be the capability to receive payments. Finally, the business needs a way to deliver the product or service.


Make it easy for them to buy


Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials

Websites

List of eCommerce material - A number of good resources from About.com

Business-to-Business eCommerce - Wikipedia

eCommerce Resources

Books

Top-rated books about Online Business

Top-rated books about eCommerce


Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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