THE POTENTIAL of cyber presence adheres to any form of business; as it can raise sometimes dizzying list of questions for an entrepreneur. Exactly what must be put in place to make it happen? How does an online presence change the market for the business? What are competitors doing? How will people shop? What kind of security is required? How will customers pay online? We put together this guide, a primer of sorts, to help answer those questions.
Why Go Online?
The most stunning aspect of e-commerce is its ability to impact sales and marketing efforts immediately. By going online, suddenly a neighborhood bakery or a home based consulting service expands its reach to a national or even international base of potential customers. Web-based sales know trans-border boundaries. According to a locally held survey about 64% of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) commented that cyber presence has drastically increased their sales and revenues, 48 % believed the internet helped to extend their geographic outreach, and 73% saved financial assets by cutting administrative costs.
Moving a business online doesnt have to be an arduous process. To set up an online business, entrepreneurs should apply their passion and positive thinking to three key areas of planning, developing a marketing strategy and understanding of technology tools.
Online shopping carts
Another requirement for efficient online store operation is a virtual shopping cart. This actually is an electronic order form that serves as the first step in the fulfillment process. Its purposes are to securely enable shoppers to browse and select items, and then later decide which ones they want to purchase, display a summary of items that the shopper has selected, provide links to information for the shopper to consider before confirming the purchase, such as the return policy or the description page for each product, allow the shopper to change the quantities ordered or remove items before checking out, and to enable the customer to navigate to the checkout process or to return to the store to choose more items.
Turning shoppers into buyers
Online shoppers are finicky. Those who arent experienced customers–who havent yet discovered the convenience of two-day delivery or easy returns–tend to be skittish during the entire shopping experience. A well-planned, secure shopping cart should make the checkout process easy, clear and flexible for the shopper.
When setting up an online shopping cart for a business, few considerations are mandatory to be adapted for example avoid forcing the shopper to go through a lengthy process of logging in, creating passwords and filling out voluminous forms. Privacy issues and complexity of the process can lead the buyer to end the process before even registering, include a link to a page detailing customer service policies, such as warranties, delivery guarantees, return policy, and shipping fee structure, provide help tips, a frequently-asked-questions (FAQs) page and a toll-free phone number for consumers to use if they have problems or questions relating to checkout. Furthermore, transaction security must be stressed, enable customers to call up information about the items being purchased without having to leave the checkout page, with links to windows that contain the product information page. A friendly user interface, online tracking of the order is also mandatory to penetrate into the trust zone of the consumers.
Steps to start an online business
Starting an online store may seem like a daunting challenge, but the reality is its never been easier. Today, many of the processes of moving a business online have become standardized and even automated. Business owners discover an entirely new meaning in their business lives when–through the process of building an online store–they realize theyve optimized their new-found markets and won the trust of internet consumers.
The internet, in fact, can work for any entrepreneurial personality. If an entrepreneur thinks life is just a bowl of cherries, well find him selling cherry bowls. Never have entrepreneurs had such a clear, easy and relatively inexpensive opportunity to reach a global marketplace for so many products and services. Its amazing how a business can thrive when its customers only need to lift a finger.