eCommerce Sites – Simple?

eCommerce Sites are seemingly ubiquitous and are very easy to use by end users. What you may not realize are some of the details an eCommerce web site needs to address and some of the hurdles it must overcome to before it accepts its first order.

A successful eCommerce web site has a number of characteristics:

  • Maintain a product catalog
  • Categorize products
  • Order Management
  • Order history
  • Predictive product marketing
  • Inventory management
  • Campaign management
  • Promotions management
  • Product management
  • Pricing, sales tax management
  • Payment processor compatibility
  • Link management

A site’s product catalog is a view into the products a site sells. Products are usually arranged based on category, or type to make them easier to find. Some products can appear in more than one category, and categories can change over time. How would you want your eCommerce site to behave when you delete a category that still has products in it? Should you site delete the products too, or leave the products alone possibly making them impossible to find?

Order management is the process that takes place not only when a shopper pays for the things they want, order management also occurs when your site restocks its inventory. Your eCommerce site should be able to manage orders, back-orders, preorders, and a range of other types of orders.

Your clients’ order history is important because it provides information that supports you when you create future promotions, create advertising campaigns, and can help when ordering new products to sell. Order history is also important for incomplete orders – these are orders that users start yet never complete. An order is considered to be abandoned when a user goes to pay yet stops short of actually paying. Gaining an understanding of why users are abandoning their orders is crucial – it could end up being a simple solution that dramatically reduces order abandonment.

Predictive product marketing occurs when the eCommerce site displays products to the user that may be of interest to the user based on their previously browsed or ordered products. Analysis is usually performed as the user browses and relevant related products can dramatically increase sales.

Campaign and promotions management use order history and profile information. A campaign could be a special advertising campaign, or some special offering that’s targeted to specific users or groups of users. A promotion is less targeted than a campaign so it’s reach is broader. In both cases, your users’ profiles and order histories help you create the campaign and also target users when they browse through the product catalog.

Pricing and sales tax management can be tricky. Pricing can change based on date, product availability, and a range of other factors. The eCommerce system needs to ensure that prices are correct and that they change based on your needs. Sales tax calculations can get very involved – especially in countries or regions where sales taxes change based on the buyer’s location, the location where a product is consumed (attendance at a conference or class for example), or your organization’s location. Some regions also offer sales tax exemption in many cases, so your order pipeline needs to be able to accommodate calculations like this.

There are various payment processors for credit cards and other forms of payment. While many payment processors are standardized now, many regions don’t support the larger ones or have regulations that make using some payment processors impractical.

Link Management is an important yet overlooked aspect. Users can bookmark product pages, or send links to their friends. The eCommerce site must support all links over time, even in cases where products no longer exist.

In addition to all of these characteristics, better eCommerce sites support the following non-functional characteristics:

  • Accessibility
  • Audit and control
  • High Availability
  • Performance
  • Quick recovery from different types of failures
  • Compliance with local and international regulations
  • Privacy management
  • Stable
  • Secure
  • Testable

From the end-user’s point of view, eCommerce sites just work. This article has demonstrated some of the design that makes an eCommerce site successful.

Key Milestones in the History of Ecommerce

The history of e commerce is nothing else but captivating. It is true that e commerce has come a long way and is unthinkable without the internet and the search engines. No wonder history of e commerce has gone through an interesting metamorphosis, from an unheard of entity in the ’70s’ to the booming multibillion-dollar enterprise it is today. It has come well in handy especially in assisting today’s tech savvy businessman/woman who wants to work from the comfort of home. The term ‘e commerce’ is coined from Electronic Data Transfer (EDT) and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), the then only forms of electronic transactions in the 1970s.

In 1982 and throughout the 1980s, several online market places were started. Websites were designed and hosted and there was an increased proliferation of credit cards, ATMs, and telephone banking services. All these marked a major milestone in the evolution of the history of e commerce. Used computer parts were advertised and sold through e commerce from places as far as the Boston computer exchange market, to other parts of the world.

Come the mid-nineties and this marked a key point in the history of e commerce as the technology exploded. This period saw the designing and hosting of the first static web page. This was a website that linked individuals, organizations, and even governments to the global online market that the economic world had started to evolve into. This was the turning point of the history of e commerce where, in hindsight, electronic transactions went past the point of no return since then. E commerce was giving other manual and cumbersome marketing initiatives a wide berth and they had no choice other than to bow out. With the turning of the millennium in early 200, simplistic e commerce websites were designed by the then major computer software manufacturers.

This, by far, eased the sale of their software, music and videos could be uploaded and downloaded by anyone who met the subscription criteria. The financial industry analysts called it the economical boom of all time. Internet use exploded and the world was turned into one global e-market. Services and products sales grew by the hour. People in developed countries quit going to work daily and started working from home. Since e commerce minted money by the hour, affluent households increased and thus increased the demand for expensive products and services to cater for the whims of the affluent.

Within duration of one year (2000-2001) sales from e commerce soared with the developed countries in the lead, from a paltry figure of tens of billions to over seven hundred billion US dollars worth of total sales from e commerce recorded. The net worth of the affluent households rose, jobs were created, and the whole global economy improved. Almost ten years later (2000-2009), e commerce is today virtually indispensable. Services and products have to be promoted through e commerce.

The health of the world economic giants and the economical pathfinders heavily rests on e commerce. Companies continue to post profit returns that are beyond any CEO’s wildest dreams. E commerce sales have continued to grow and today, they account for close to 5% of total sales, globally and this figure seems to be rising almost by the hour. Thanks to the history of e commerce, it is now the stress-free electronic transaction choice of all time and the global economy heavily depends on e commerce that is only a click of a button away and so user and consumer friendly.

How the History of eCommerce Has Cleared the Way For Entrepreneurs

The history of eCommerce is not only interesting but has proven to be one of the greatest developments of humankind over time. eCommerce also known to as electronic commerce, can be used to refer to the act of conducting business transactions and communication over electronic device such as computers. It involves the buying and selling of goods and services over digital communication networks and encompasses electronic transactions such as smart cards and electronic money transfers.

There has been a lot of confusion regarding the difference between eCommerce and e business. To explain the difference between the two, one will need to look at the manner and location in which the business is conducted. E business involves the conducting of business over internet networks. It is purely an internet affair and encourages buying, selling and collaboration with partners online so that unlike eCommerce where the business is conducted at a specified location, e business is conducted online anywhere and anytime. This difference as we will see later has its bearing on the history of eCommerce.

The first form of eCommerce was conceived in the late 20th century when electronic technology was used for the transfer of information and for conducting business transaction between different business entities. The enabling technologies at the time were the electronic funds transfer and the electronic data interchange. Drawing from this part of the history of eCommerce, many businesses came up with ways through which they could expand their influence within the market and these efforts and innovation gave birth to what are now used as automatic teller machines (atm’s), credit cards and telephone banking systems.

A time went by and with the introduction of high-speed internet connections and relevant security mechanisms; the history of eCommerce was fast tracked for the business idea to become what is it is today. More businesses and especially those within the banking industry saw a lot of growth over short periods of time. However, the eCommerce businesses experienced their lowest points during the ‘dot-com’ collapse that saw a great number of internet businesses crumble to their knees.

Calm was restored a few years later when most of the businesses and especially those in europe began to embrace eCommerce. History was written once again when business transactions, driven by the desire to serve the increasing worldwide customer service demands and regardless of size and nature were conducted over the internet. The most remarkable companies during this time were amazon, eBay and dell that despite conducting small internet transactions have grown to become the most formidable electronic business entities in the history of eCommerce.

eCommerce has made life much easier than it was two centuries ago. It has taken into account how busy life has become so that not many people enjoy the luxury of shopping from one store to another without any time constraints. Buyers are now able to shop for whatever they want just by a click of a button. You are also able to compare prices of goods and services from stores worldwide but from the comfort of your home. Like all things good, eCommerce has enlightened most people on the importance of technology. It has also made it possible for businesses to appreciate just how much a simple invention can change the face of your business. Such is the history of eCommerce.