Opening a Web Shop with an E-Commerce Solution.
If you have products to sell, then your number one reason for starting a website is likely to be promoting them. Have you considered, though, that you could sell your products directly, online? This is e-commerce – basically like a much better version of mail order, where the descriptions can be any length and your customers can communicate with you as much as they like before they buy. To start up an e-commerce 'web shop', however, you need to take a look at a proven e-commerce solution.
The Free and the Expensive e-commerce solution.
E-commerce software, more than any other kind of web software, varies massively in price. There are e-commerce solutions out there that cost thousands of dollars, but at the same time there is open source software like osCommerce that you can download for nothing. What's the difference? Most believe, very little.
If you want to make a good profit from your website, then, you should really be looking at the free e-commerce solutions, or alternatively writing your own. It's madness to pay thousands for e-commerce solution when you can get software custom-built for your website for a few hundred – or, of course, for free, if you're a programmer yourself.
Integration and Templates in your e-commerce solution.
One of the most important things about an e-commerce solution is that it shouldn't appear separate from the rest of your website: you should make sure to keep its design consistent with your site's overall look and feel. In most e-commerce solutions, the way to change the design is with templates: you should look into how difficult it will be to turn your site's design into a template, or get a template version of it made for you. In some cases, you might even find it easier to come up with a whole e-commerce solution of your own instead of producing templates, if you have a lot of unique information about your products that you want customers to be able to see.
Using Hosted Solutions as an e-commerce solution.
The idea of going to all that trouble and setting up e-commerce solution on your site only to make a grand total of zero sales is what puts a lot of people off. In this case, you might appreciate a hosted e-commerce solution that offers you a ready-made e-commerce store to drop your products into and link to from your website.
Things to Do and Avoid with an e-commerce solution..
When you're opening an e-commerce solution, there are some things that you should always remember to do, and some things that you really shouldn't do. Here's a little advice.
Describe products well in you e-commerce solution. You're not limited by space here: put in every detail that you can think of about every product you sell. If you don't take the time in your e-commerce solution to put in all the information you can get your hands on, don't be surprised when nothing sells.
Make searches work. Any e-commerce solution needs to be easily searchable – at an absolute minimum, someone should be able to type in the name of any product and have the product's page appear. When implementing an e-commerce solution you should never, ever say 'no results found': display a selection of your most popular items instead, with a message saying "we couldn't find that item... maybe you were looking for one of these?"
Sort results by most popular first (that is, best selling first). Whatever you do when you are integrating an e-commerce solution, don't sort by price unless the customer asks for it: sorting by lowest price first makes your customers look at the cheapest items before the rest, while highest price first make you look like you're trying to fleece them.
Have pictures. It's commercial suicide not to attach a picture to every single item description in your e-commerce solution, and preferably more than one. Make them small, but make sure users can click them to display a bigger version, if they want to – this saves on both screen space and bandwidth.