Discover the Power of E-Commerce

With the economy going through hard times, e-commerce is still going strong. E-commerce has already changed the timing, process, and technology of business-to-business and business to consumer market. As you are reading this now, it is still undergoing many changes that strongly influence the economy. An example of the change e-commerce is providing is how business provides the products and services to the customer. The common way for a consumer to get a hold of a company’s product or service is to visit them in their brick and mortar establishment. With e-commerce, the consumer will just need to visit their website and transact with it. In addition, almost everyone can make an e-commerce website since there are many cheap webhosting providers that exist on the internet.

In business to business, e-commerce has provided great convenience for the transacting companies. Sales via e-commerce have vastly inflated since 2003. The percentage it contributes to the wholesale sales in the United States is growing bigger every year with percentage with double digits. Because of these developments, many companies are greatly profiting with this method. Transaction costs were significantly reduced. E-commerce has also improved how businesses manage their supply chain. In addition, it immensely reduced the costs for local and global sourcing. E-commerce is surely having its way on reducing inflation, increasing productivity, and increasing profits.

Retailing using e-commerce is one of the fastest growing trade sectors. In around 1999, it has significantly proven that it has the capability to outpace every other manufacturing and trade sector. At the time, retail sales in e-commerce represented less than 1 percent of the total in the United States. E-commerce retail sales grew for about 1 to 2 percent every 2 to 4 years. From a recent data of e-commerce in 2010, it is now holding 4.4 percent of the total retail sales in the United States. Even with the recent Great Recession back in 2007, e-commerce was slightly unaffected. It continued growing despite the economic downfall.

If you are planning a business and want to try out how effective e-commerce is, you can try to create a website of your own first. In case that you do not know what to do, there are many tutorials swarming all over the internet for you to read and learn. In addition, you could look for a cheap webhosting provider first to set up your future e-commerce website. Many providers today offer customers or future e-commerce entrepreneur some readymade templates that can help them on creating their e-commerce websites.

E-commerce is definitely one of the ideals when it comes to business. The benefits and the rising popularity of this method of business will surely make any new entrepreneur consider making one. In addition, the risk is very low in this kind of business. Comparing it with a brick and mortar establishment, e-commerce websites are easier and cheaper to build. Moreover, it does not take many months of building. You can even hire a third party web developer to build your e-commerce website. However, if you want to do it yourself, make sure that you get the cheapest domain registration available.

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An Introduction To E-Commerce

We have come a long way from the first attempts at e-commerce in the early 1990’s, when the web was in its infancy. In fact, many of the e-commerce sites which can be built in a matter of hours now are far more advanced than sites that took months to build just a few years ago.

Creating an e-commerce site has never been simpler than it is now. You can have anything from a simple store setup with manually generated buttons on payment services such as PayPal and Google Checkout all the way to a totally custom design with custom functionality tied into your business model.

There are e-commerce news sites, forums, mailing lists, communities, open source software, proprietary software, out of the box solutions, custom solutions, and basically more information than one person could possibly digest in one lifetime.

With all of the advances made in e-commerce over the past 20 years, many people are more in the dark than ever. There is an overload of information about different software, platforms, SEO, social media, and other topics.

Who should you listen to and how can you possibly make sense out of all of the contradicting ideas out there? This book was written as a guide to help people answer many of these questions and get themselves pointed in the right direction when it comes to e-commerce.

Whenever possible, I will not be addressing particular technologies or software. These change far too often to write anything meaningful about them in any great detail. If I did so, this book would become irrelevant six months from now.

What I will address are tried and true techniques for choosing the appropriate software (whatever it may be), hiring developers, using social media (even as new sites become the ‘next big thing’), search engine optimization techniques that are always relevant, and how to convert more sales.

After reading this book you should be able to objectionably compare different e-commerce solutions, know how to hire a competent developer if you need help with your site, how to leverage social media regardless of what new social media outlet pops up, and how to use well written copy along with sound SEO techniques to drive traffic to your site and convert that traffic to sales.

I also encourage you to continue your education in this field. There is no “magic bullet” that will automatically bring you big profits and high conversions in the e-commerce game. You need to constantly stay on top of trending technologies, learn about your customers, assess your competition, and tweak your product lines.

Types of E-Commerce Sites

All e-commerce sites are not selling the same type of product. As such not all e-commerce sites have the same needs and goals. This is not a comprehensive list, and in fact many of the most successful e-commerce sites are the ones that create their own revenue model and niche.

Traditional

This is your traditional e-commerce site. This is the site that most people think of when they think e-commerce. This type of site deals in the sale of tangible, physical products. A traditional e-commerce site usually is defined by the following features:

A listed of tangible, physical products usually divided into categories and sub categories

A product details page for each product. This page usually contains a description, product specs, an image gallery, and product reviews

A ‘shopping cart’ that holds a customer’s items they want to purchase until they checkout

A checkout process that allows users to enter their billing and shipping information

Tax and/or shipping charges are usually collected at this stage.

The site owner is notified of a purchase and handles fulfillment, either through an automated process or manually.

Virtual Products

The virtual products e-commerce site is very similar to the traditional e-commerce site with one main exception. This type of site deals in the sale of virtual products such as music, images, videos or e-books. This type of site is usually defined by the following features:

1. Listing similar to that of a traditional e-commerce site
2. Shopping cart and checkout process are also similar
3. Checkout usually does not include shipping or tax charges as there are no tangible goods being shipped
4. Fulfillment is automatic with the customer usually being emailed a link to download the virtual item.

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M-Commerce – A Way To E-Commerce

When he was seven months old, my son picked up my iPhone, which he’d seen me use many times since he was born, and started jabbing at the screen. To him the device wasn’t so much a phone, but more something you touched and prodded and, unbeknownst to him, enjoyed.

Anyone who grew up in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s or even the early 1990s would have been beguiled by the prospect of a personal communications device as pioneered in Star Trek (due in part to the lack of a budget to create realistic space craft interaction), and then used in every sci-fi movie ever since. And lo, using radio waves, such a device came to pass – the mobile phone was born.

Early adopters were ridiculed, and many commentators suggested that such a thing would never take off. It would be too expensive, too cumbersome and would never achieve the critical mass of users needed to make it practical.

Well, as we know now, that wasn’t the case. Mobile phones are everywhere, but as my young son – who is now 18 months old and can actually use, albeit rudimentarily, an iPhone – confirms, these devices are proving to be more than just phones. They have morphed in a very short period of time into computers in our pockets.

The modern handset is connected to the Internet, has processing power that outstrips by some margin that found in the Apollo spacecrafts that got humankind to the moon, has a full color screen, can handle multimedia, and is connected to everyone else with a phone. This has become a modern marvel and, to my mind, is one of the defining inventions of humankind.

But hyperbole aside, the mobile phone of today is a powerful beast – with a profile and ubiquity dominant enough to influence a small boy before he could walk or talk – and this makes it commercially interesting to us all.

But what is mobile commerce and how can it benefit you? Well, to most people m-commerce is simply an extension of online shopping – connecting these devices that people hold so dear and have with them all the time to the web and hence to online shops.

Online shopping took many years to get entrenched in the public mindset, but now it is a standard way of shopping. The mobile phone clearly offers an even more convenient way to do it than a computer, allowing people sitting in front of the TV to shop, without having to get up and turn on a PC or pick up a laptop.

This view of mobile commerce is indeed a vital part of the multibillion dollar m-commerce marketplace. But there is so much more to what mobile in commerce can deliver that, well.

M-commerce, of which mobile retailing is a subset, is everything from selling content and goods, to delivering vouchers and coupons, to engaging with and entertaining potential shoppers. The phone becomes a tool to drive those shoppers into brick-and-mortar stores; a channel to turn TV, print, billboard and online advertising into sales; a payment device; a way of letting consumers share and recommend retailers; and even a tool that allows them to call you if they really need to.

M-commerce even covers a range of services and offerings that make the consumer experience in an actual shop more informative and productive; and it delivers a whole host of services that retailers can use on the shop floor to improve the efficiency and customer service of their staff, cut checkout lines and allow for more up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.

And as such, mobile is something that anyone who is in the business of selling, or buying, anything – be it digital goods, real world goods, services, content or ideas – should be looking into.

To many people m-commerce is a natural extension of e-commerce: the selling of stuff on the web moving to the mobile channel. In many cases, m-commerce is simply the mobile version of e-commerce, only using the phone rather than a desk-bound PC or a laptop. (Which is another interesting point. Is shopping on a laptop or a tablet m-commerce? Indeed, is shopping on a digital kiosk while out and about m-commerce too?)

But this belies some inherent differences between online web services and those accessed via mobile. These differences are often subtle, but are hugely important, such as taking into account how the phone’s screen differs not only in size, but also in orientation and aspect ratio to a computer screen, the processing power of the phone, the ability – or not – of the phone to multitask, and the fact that the phone may be connected via a mobile network that will have variable – not to mention questionable – bandwidth.

But the subtleties of mobile go much deeper than these important technical considerations. Mobile commerce is also a psychological shift for the consumer. A person’s mobile phone is sacrosanct to him or her and incredibly personal. It is also (ironically, considering it’s a communication device) very private. This personal nature needs to be reflected in how a business uses the mobile channel to connect with a consumer.

Anyone looking to engage consumers in mobile commerce also needs to look at where and when the consumer is accessing a brand or a retailer’s website with his phone. Making sure that the consumer’s experience matches not only each device’s peculiarities, but also the peccadilloes and even time and location of its user, is a huge challenge; and this is what separates m-commerce from e-commerce to an even greater degree than what separates brick-and-mortar stores from their online renderings.

It will take you on a wild roller-coaster ride of thrills and spills, providing a brief history of e-commerce, the rise of the mobile phone and, more pertinently, the mobile web, as well as looking specifically at how mobile is playing out in the retail space.

With my young son set to be a consumer in his own right when I deem it time to start giving him pocket money, businesses like yours need to be ready for the fact that he and millions like him will not only be digital natives (that generation growing up now that has never not known the Internet), but they will be mobile digital natives. And they will want to do all manner of commerce using their mobiles. I would go so far as to say that computers as we know them will disappear, being viewed by my son’s generation as clunky, bulky and bedeviled by poor interface (unless we get more touchscreen and voice control). Everything will be done on mobile devices, with touchscreens. These will be everywhere, an integral part of life.

We have some way to go before we get to this, but as we stand at the start of the long road that is mobile commerce, any business – your business – needs to know what mobile offers now, what mobile commerce is doing globally, and where this is likely to go in the next couple of years.

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E-Commerce Versus Traditional Commerce

The e-commerce age has arrived. Amazon is past its 20th birthday and eBay follows in Amazons footsteps being just one year younger. E-commerce is now a $200 billion-plus industry in the U.S. and is set to increase up to 15% a year as shoppers come to the realization that there is no longer a need to go out to the traditional mall anymore. In the war between e-commerce versus traditional commerce, e-commerce is clearly becoming the winner. Due to e-commerce traditional commerce is being driven to its grave.

Well-informed traditional businesses recognize the inevitable rise of online shopping. In truth they are adapting to the new and very evident realities. The megalith retail chain Macy’s shows facts indicative of this. This 154-year-old retail chain saw online sales rise 40% in 2011 while traditional retail store sales grew just 5.3%. Macy’s is currently overhauling almost 300 of its retail stores into distribution hubs in so doing speeding up the entire process from purchase to shipping its for online shoppers. It has come to the point where this retail giant is taking into consideration the option of online kiosks in-store. Another traditional commerce big-shot, Nordstrom, is going about it even more aggressively. With perks such as free shipping and free returns in its online store, Nordstrom’s showed a 35% gain in online sales over the last three-quarters. It can also be noted that the company plans to invest $1 billion into its online ventures over the next five years. The online trends and approach of such huge, well-established traditional commerce concerns validates the acceleration in e-commerce’s growth. Simply put, if they don’t become current, they will not survive.

Upon the purchase of a product in traditional ways, what the consumer does not know is that the item has been marked up at least three times. It has been marked up once when it changed hands from the factory to the brand, again as it passed from the brand to retailer and again as it goes from the retailer into the shopping bag of the consumer. Companies that are exclusively online essentially cut-out the last mark-up by selling directly to the consumer. By doing this they are able to be much more competitive. They don’t have the costs of maintaining large networks of physical retail stores. It is good to keep in mind that the staff requirements of an online site are far fewer than those of retail outlets.

There are numerous advantages to e-commerce that have traditional commerce buckling under its competitive presence.

1. Geographical limitations are not necessarily taken into account. With e-commerce the world is your oyster.
2. Consumers can be reached by making use of internet and search engine visibility.
3. Lower Costs
4. Fewer Personnel
5. Traditional commerce relies on physical store space that needs to be rented. With e-commerce there is no cost for real estate.
4. Locate the Product Quicker
5. Travel Time and Cost eradicated
6. Shopping by Comparison
7. Easy and Plentiful Information
8. Communication is targeted
9. Open 24/7
10. Create Niche Markets

E-commerce is not only the future, it is the now. The bottom line is that traditional commerce business will need to take a long hard look at how they conduct business to be able remain relevant and competitive in the huge commerce reality of today.

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The Trends And Opportunities Of Indian E-Commerce

E-commerce has now gone on a long way since its inception and it is getting larger and larger day by days. As technology growing continuously and rapidly, e-commerce retailers are working to adopting newer technologies to enable their buyers and sellers to buy and sell online easily. As the rates of penetrating internet are dropping both for mobile and web interfaces, so it increases population of internet users and increases traffic on e-commerce websites. It is the key to driving people attention towards e-commerce. The use of social media and mobile devices has helps more to accelerate this drive further, shaping the e-commerce trends for Indian market.

Consumers are now more connected than before and more source of information choices at their single fingertips today. They are now leaving their traditional interests, behavior and choices and attracting towards new products it will helps e-commerce companies to analyze interests and offer more better and competitive products. This digitization of everything affecting the e-commerce business model and it is driving growth for e-commerce merchants in Indian market.

Let’s now see the current scenario and upcoming trends in e-commerce market:

As by study of Accel partners, online shopping of physical goods will be growing to US$ 8.5 billion in 2016 and strength of online shoppers will be more than double to 40 million in India. And internet users should be increased to 300 million by 2015.

Does it mean that e-commerce is trying to do this for staying in the market, and every small and big fish wants to? This is not the real case. But these are the deep pocket incumbents who show great interest to succeed in e-commerce business and they have experience, concepts and also have variety of offerings and try to grow faster as compared to other existing players in the Indian market. Even Indian e-commerce players are trying hard to bring the concepts of international competitors.

The trends of current market and technology that define e-commerce in near future include:

Loyalty of Brand:

Price has been the main factor in Indian market and customers never hesitant about changing brands frequently if they met great lucrative offers presenting by competing brands. So, Indian e-commerce players would have to do much to make their customers feel special to retain them, as loyalty wear away fast when the shopper is confronted with promotions and deals. Know what your customer ‘interests and behavior.

Retailer’s Own Planning and Management i.e. Logistics:

It have been a great issue for online retailers in India, which leads to making strategies to handle cash-on-delivery and same day shipments. Online market leaders are selecting for building logistics such as Flipkart, who has launched ekart that is open for its rivals.

Need of Reducing Cash on Delivery:

Indian market is not yet comfortable to adopt payment via credit cards or debit cards. COD is accounts for 60% of transactions in India. It adds 3% additional costs on Cash on Delivery and also some additional process is required for COD orders, higher instances of returns and associated costs are affected margins.

Improve Customer Experience With Attractive Offers and Options:

With the advancement of technology, online retailers are focusing on attractive delivery options such as same day delivery or delivery within an hour, buying by mobile apps and buying on social media like via Facebook “Pay now” button which leads to improved customer experience. The other special features or services you provide will be added more customer experience like drones and pop up and fulfillment stores. The technologies that will affect these trends and help in shaping e-commerce business include:

Big Data:

It is must for running the e-commerce business. It is necessary for identifying the customer behavior, interest. Suppose a customer visits a website and purchases some things and saw some things then this data is saved in database of website and when customer next time opens this website or email registered with it shows these type of items, hence data saved is the big data that capture the customer’s behavior and increases the brand loyalty, adoption. It is used in target base marketing.

Mobile:

Online retailers have realized that most of the customers using mobile phones for online shopping, so they are concentrating on mobile phones so that they can provide more features and they can easily shop like provide mobile app and they can directly shop by using this shop. Moreover E-commerce website should be mobile friendly as consumers grow more if they more comfortable with using mobile devices for browsing and shopping. Now they are more open to getting messages from brands via mobiles. Thus mobile helps in increasing online shopping and online marketing.

Social Media:

This becomes more important consideration for marketing because feedback via social media channels has an impressionable effect on the customer’s mind.

Conclusion:

Indian e-commerce and online shopping are trying hard to touch heights in the next few years. This is not done by just increasing internet population but by increasing infrastructure, so, digitization and utilization both should be considered to increase e-commerce percentage in India.

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