When establishing an ecommerce website, there are a couple of things that the online entrepreneur should take into consideration.
Of course the first thing is to build a professional, good quality and user friendly website. Unlike informational websites where a do it yourself approach can work, the sensitivities of an ecommerce website requires that one engages the services of an experienced web designer and more so one that can provide references for ecommerce sites they have built in the past. Hiring a professional web designer will cost money but the benefits in the long run far outweigh the risks of a shoddy ecommerce site.
The site must be structured in a way that makes finding a product easy. The website's pages must be logically organized with similar products grouped into sections and subsections. The transition from clicking ‘buy' to when the customer receives confirmation on the page that their transaction is complete should be kept as short as is practically possible. All links should be tested for proper working – any bugs and page errors should be rectified before the website is officially launched.
In addition, the website owner should establish contingency plans with their hosting service that will anticipate and manage any sudden surge of site web traffic. As opposed to subscribing to a hosting service that blocks traffic when the bandwidth limit is exceeded, one should go for a service that allows the excess web traffic but at an extra charge.
Next, set up the merchant accounts that will facilitate and process payments made through the website. The essence of an ecommerce website is allowing payments through the internet. When setting up the website for merchant payments, the goal should be to allow all major credit cards, debit cards and internet payment service providers such as PayPal. The more alternatives for payment the site has, the less likely the site is to lose a customer because they cannot make payment.
Given the number of internet scams, it is important that an ecommerce website to be secure. If customers perceive an ecommerce website to be unsecure, they are unlikely to make any purchases. The site should be hardened and secured before it is launched. Validation and protection by a major, independent, online security service provider such as Equifax, Thawte Consulting and Verisign, will give customers confidence with the site.
Another key requirement is being open with information and avoiding creating an impression of secrecy. The site should provide the contact details of the management of the online business including email contact, physical address and a telephone number. Instructions and policies of the website should also be clear and easy to understand.
If the ecommerce site will be selling a tangible product that will require shipping, the online entrepreneur should engage the services of a reliable shipping service provider. At the same time, the business must ensure that it has a robust supply chain so that products do not run out of stock.