Ecommerce isn’t new, but its likely to be older than you think. It was actually invented way back in 1979 by Michael Aldrich, an English inventor, innovator, entrepreneur. If you want to allow online transaction processing or transfer of funds between consumers and businesses, or between one business and another, you can thank Mr. Aldrich.
Every web site should have a purpose or objective, although that objective isn’t always ecommerce. Likewise all ecommerce isn’t about running an e-store or some type of e-cart system.
Get to the ecommerce, part already! I will, but let me step back just a bit.
The first and important, yet oft neglected, step in the website design and creation process is to determine the purpose of your web site. A website that lacks focus will find its visitors are quickly confused and click away.
So why do you want a website? Is it personal or business? Is it purely informational or are you trying to generate revenue in some way? You’ll find this is a consistent question we ask throughout the site.
Are you trying to:
- provide a service
- sell a product
- present information on a topic
- make an announcement
- inform people about yourself
- create a forum that addresses a certain issue
- deliver news on a particular subject
It is often advantageous and/or required to perform a combination of the above things to achieve the desired goal. In the case of a service, you might be offering marketing information and other related content, but if you are looking to get paid for your expertise, have visitors subscribe to your online service, get people/companies to donate to your issue/cause – that’s all fine and well, but understand the principal purpose of the site, then, IS ecommerce.
If, however, you are trying to sell products online, that’s a special form of ecommerce we’ll refer to as e-tail – the cyber twin sister to bricks and mortar retail.
Got it so far? All e-tail is ecommerce, but not all ecommerce is e-tail.
That said, many e-tail or e-store sites aren’t the most attractive websites. There’s often a lot of clutter with little to distinguish the design from any other e-tail site. All too often the goal of selling products becomes more important to an e-tail site than having a pretty, logical and searchable design, but that doesn’t or shouldn’t be the case.
While user experience is important on all types of websites, it is especially critical for e-tail websites where visitors will be making purchases. A poor user experience will result in visitors having difficulty finding what they want, frustration during shopping, and many lost sales.
Just as with retail layout and traffic flow management, there’s a logic to online merchandising. How the products are arranged, categorized, photographed, displayed, described, priced and ultimately delivered to the customer are all part of the e-tail equation – even BEFORE you decide how you want to take the purchaser’s money.
Selling online opens your business to a global marketplace 24/7, but there are many things to consider when designing an e-tail site. Its not just throwing up a shopping cart system and stuffing products into it. And just as you’re getting a handle on ecommerce, along comes this thing call mcommerce…
Need assistance from an experienced ecommerce & mcommerce design team? Call us, we’re here and ready to help.