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Aspin Interactive Limited is part of the Aspin Group of companies © Copyright 2004 Aspin Interactive

AN
ECOMMERCE
GUIDE FOR

[ ONLINE RETAIL
BUSINESS
[
www.aspininteractive.com
Aspin Interactive Limited
3 Horsefair Mews The Horsefair Romsey Hampshire SO51 8JG
Tel: +44 [0]1794 500200 Fax: +44 [0]1794 500210 Email: info@aspin.co.uk
An eCommerce Guide for Online Retail Business www.aspininteractive.com

Contents
Introduction 2

E-commerce – background 3
A five minute history 3
Whatʼs out there now? 4
How e-commerce has affected the high-street 4
The Impact of e-commerce on consumer spending 4

The value of e-commerce to your business 5


Saving you money 5
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Making you money 5


Sales Analysis 6
Customer Service 7
E-commerce as a secondary sales channel 7

Making your business ready to sell online 8


Know your competition 8
Making your products and services ready for the Internet 8
Ensuring that the business can fulfil orders 8
Working out the cost of delivery to both you and your customers 8
Managing your customers 8
Getting the price right 9
Taking credit card sales over the Internet 9
Terms and Conditions 9
Returns Policy 9
The fulfilment process 10
Monitoring the performance of your website 10
E-commerce security and privacy 10

Developing your e-commerce website 11


Interface design 11
Branding 11
DIY Software e-commerce software 12
Accessibility 12

Getting visitors to know about your site 13


Search engines 13
Advertising 13
Promotions 13
Link Exchanges 13
Editorial 13
Affiliates 13

Summary 14

Notes 15/16

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Introduction
This document will provide your business with a starting point to
consider using e-commerce.

Terms of Use

It will explain many issues regarding how to set up an e-commerce


website.

It will not provide you with a costing for your specific needs.

It does not promote our own services over any other

It does not recommend specific third party products or


services.
Aspin Interactive Limited is part of the Aspin Group of companies © Copyright 2004 Aspin Interactive

It can be used by your company for reference.

It may not be distributed for commercial or marketing purposes


by anyone without express written permission by Aspin
Interactive

Copying by academic institutions is permitted providing the


following credit is applied:

© Copyright Aspin Interactive Limited all right reserved 2004

We acknowledge the rights of respective copyright holders


where applicable.

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E-commerce – background
“The conducting of business communication and transactions E-commerce encompasses every business function, from sales
over networks and through computers. As most restrictively and order fulfilment through to human resources management.
defined, electronic commerce is the buying and selling of Although it should never be viewed as a panacea to all business
goods and services, and the transfer of funds, through digital woes it can work in many areas beyond just buying and selling.
communications. However EC also includes all inter-company
and intra-company functions (such as marketing, finance, Your website could help your business to generate and process
manufacturing, selling, and negotiation) that enable commerce sales over a far shorter timescale. It could even be used as an
and use electronic mail, EDI, file transfer, fax, video conferencing, interface for providing real time sales reports and stock details,
workflow, or interaction with a remote computer. giving you a clear picture of how your business is performing.
Essentially e-commerce technologies can give you the flexibility
Electronic commerce also includes buying and selling over the and versatility to meet the demands of a turbulent marketplace.
World-Wide Web and the Internet, electronic funds transfer,
smart cards, digital cash (e.g. Mondex), and all other ways of For any business e-commerce really means:
doing business over digital networks.”
Savings on overheads
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Denis Howe FOLDOC - foldoc.doc.ic.ac.uk Expansion into new markets


More accurate order taking
Faster turnaround of orders
Many people would state that e-commerce simply relates to Improved cash flow
selling products and services over the web. However, this Manage business anywhere online
definition misses the point and fails to touch upon all the positive
effects which an e-commerce website and strategy can have for
your business.

A five minute history


The development of e-commerce can be traced back to the
EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) systems which were used by
larger organisations to place orders and communicate with their
suppliers. However, it was not until the advent of the Internet and
the World Wide Web that e-commerce became a viable channel
for small businesses to promote and sell their products and
services to consumers.

Numerous companies and websites were launched during the


late nineties in the hope that they would be able to exploit the
opportunities that e-commerce promised. However, what the
majority of these start-ups did not realise was how radically the
Internet had changed the rules.

The use of the web as an electronic point of sale quickly grew.


The potential benefits made companies rush to the Internet to
sell. The early days saw e-commerce websites suffer from credit
card fraud, poor customer services, and unsound business plans.
The dot com was in fashion and millionaires were being made at
the click of a button.

In 2001, however, the dot com bubble burst leaving a wave of


destruction in its wake; the companies that managed to weather
the storm were faced by a marketplace which was far leaner and
more aggressive, they had learned the tricks from traditional
retailing as well as from bitter experience. In order to survive
these e-commerce companies had to develop reliable systems,
improve customer services and spend much more time identifying
online market potential.

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Whatʼs out there now?


E-commerce has finally come of age and there is now a broad
spectrum of retail and trade websites operated by every company
from the largest multinational to the smallest independent retailer.
Of course there are monolithic sites such as Amazon, eBay and Online spending for 2005 in the US
many others, but at the other end of the scale there are smaller
businesses that have been able to carve out a niche and compete is predicted to exceed $133 billion
effectively in a way that would never have been possible on the Source: eMarketer
traditional high-street.

There are still plenty of companies who have yet to get the
mix right: products, customer services, payment, deliveries,
promotions, pricing, branding and of course the website itself.
However as online retail spending continues to grow it has
become an issue which even smaller businesses cannot ignore.
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How e-commerce has affected the high-


street
The growth of e-commerce has not led to the mass high street
exodus that many predicted; instead a new retail model has
emerged. Whilst internet savvy consumers now make many
purchases online, many of them still visit the high street, using
retail outlets as showrooms. Once they have seen the product
or service they want they go online, compare prices and make
their purchase.

The problem for retailers is that they must compete in an


environment where their customers (and competition) have
access to all the price and specification information they need
to make an informed decision. This is compounded by the fact
that a customer can leave an e-commerce store at the click of
button. As a result retailers are faced with fickle consumers who
are reluctant to commit to any supplier.

But all is not lost rather what is needed is a change of strategic


focus. In order to strive in this hyper-competitive environment
companies need to be develop strategies which utilise the
strengths of e-commerce technologies.

The Impact of e-commerce on consumer


spending
E-commerce has made shopping easier, quicker and cheaper.
Shoppers have become more confident with entering their
credit card details into an e-commerce website. However, they
have been burnt by poor implementation of credit card payment
services, internet scams and simple down right dishonesty on
the part of website owners. Consumer confidence is reinforced
by seeing familiar retail names online and by shopping with
e-commerce websites that provide secure and easy to use
shopping systems.

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The value of e-commerce to your


business
So having identified that there is growth potential in online Making you money
retailing, how does your business stand to benefit from investing
in e-commerce? Saving money is important but itʼs how your businesses practices
e-commerce that matters. Making e-commerce profitable for your
business will be dependant on:
Saving you money
How well you research your market
An e-commerce website can save your business money both in Look at your competitors; see how they market themselves,
the long and short-term. For instance, since by its very nature a how they present their products. Look at the market leader
website is self-service it is not always necessary to offer assistance – do they sell online. If not, why not?
to the customer at the point of sale. This isnʼt an excuse to save
money on customer support, rather an opportunity to use your The products you sell
staff in the most effective way. Not having staff to guide shoppers Is there demand to buy your products online? Are your
Aspin Interactive Limited is part of the Aspin Group of companies © Copyright 2004 Aspin Interactive

through the buying process saves time for both parties and so products suitable for packaging and shipping by courier? Will
saves money on the cost of sale which can be passed on to the carriage be too expensive?
customer. It also makes the customer feel more in control of their
purchasing decisions. Pricing
How much can you charge for the product? Will you be able to
The hands-off approach of an e-commerce site can sometimes pass on all the fulfilment and shipping costs to the customer?
be daunting for customers so offering a live chat system to
enable staff to help customers hesitating to make that purchase, How well you market products
or supporting after-sales customer queries gives a higher level of Is it safe to rely on search engines to attract business? How
customer service. This also gives them another reason to make a will your existing marketing and advertising strategies work for
purchase from your website at a relatively small expense. your e-commerce site?

Being open for business on the web provides access to How effective are your order fulfilment processes?
potential revenue that may be lost. The concept ʼ24 X 7 X How quickly can you pick, pack and dispatch goods? Do they
365ʼ is a considerable driving factor for shoppers as it costs get delivered on time and in one piece?
no more to have your store online while your competitors are
closed. The quality of your customer services
What will happen when customers have a problem? Will you
Whilst e-Commerce can give you access to the Global be able to help them online? Are you ready to handle their
Marketplace it can also reap benefits closer to home. calls? Do your customer services have the personal touch?
Providing your known customer base with a reliable and
well stocked e-commerce site saves money on additional How well is your e-commerce website constructed?
marketing communications and also means you have an Can it be easily accessed by everyone? Is it obvious what
existing customer base who are ready and willing to buy from people can do on your website? Is it secure? Do you provide
your online store. enough information? Does your website provide a pleasurable
shopping experience?
Cost of sale from e-commerce is a key factor in deciding to
go online. As with any retail outlet, products that are cheap Using reporting and analysis of data from the website
to source, stock and deliver helps reduce the cost of sale. Do you know which products are top sellers and which are
This enables you to pass savings onto consumers. Without dogs? Why do shoppers leave? What customer segments are
the need for shelf space, savings on costly displays and store you attracting? What is the average spend?
overheads are also removed.
Incentives, promotions and deals
Shrinkage is one of the biggest problems a retailer can suffer. Provide shoppers with a range of deals. Think about cross-
An e-commerce store needs no CCTV or store detectives selling and up-selling opportunities linking products together.
and with the implementation of a good card payment and Everyone loves discounts: quantity breaks, seasonal, voucher
processing systems using AVS and CV2 checking, credit card promotions, giveaways and timed specials.
fraud is virtually ruled out.
Keep in touch with your customers
If your website has some form of content management system If theyʼve brought from you once and are satisfied there is
then it is possible to keep information up to date in a way thatʼs a much higher chance of repeat business. If they give you
just not possible with printed promotional materials. permission, tell them about your promotions and product
news and they will come back; especially if they know there is
always something happening at your e-commerce website. If
you offer a personal touch they will give you their loyalty.

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Sales Analysis
Making your business electronic taps into a vital source of sales
and marketing data which can be monitored in real time, many e-
commerce interfaces include the facility to generate on demand
reports on visitors:

How they found you


What they looked at
How long they looked at your site
What they were going to buy
What they decided not to buy
When they left

These traditional web statistics are useful but donʼt provide


important indicators to website sales and customer growth. More
importantly you want to know:
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How they move around your site


What products are selling
What are they not interested in
When do they buy most
How responsive were they to your marketing campaigns
How much was sold by what customer group
How many new customers do you have

To get the most from reporting functions, they need to be


accessible at any time to provide a snap-shot of the websiteʼs
financial and operational performance, and this gives your
business the opportunity to be far more responsive. For sales
analysis alone, reporting should be able to cover everything
from a full breakdown of sales through to a list of customers who
currently have items on backorder and be accessible from any
internet connection.

European shoppers are spending


around £4.3 million online
Source: AMR Research

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Customer Service
Many companies believe that as far as their customer service One successful way of storing large amounts of information on
goes all they have to do to satisfy the customer is handle their products is in a knowledgebase. This can be anything as simple
enquiries via e-mail. However, the reason many shoppers choose as clearly navigable web pages and documents to a question/
to make purchases with smaller retailers is because they value answer interface to find answers to problems. Discussion forums
a personal touch, something which it is hard to convey via an are also very useful for accessing customer experience on you
e-mail. products and services.

Another problem in dealing with customer enquiries with a Discussion Forums


straight-forward e-mail is that the customer may not always Websites which are aimed at niche market segments or
provide enough information for you to be able to help them. To specialist communities often provide online forums where
overcome this problem many websites provide an enquiry form users can discuss product issues and exchange advice.
which can prompt the customer for specific information. An online community forum for loyal customers is an ideal
opportunity to build loyalty but also gives prospective
Of course e-mail does have role to play. Many consumers are customers the chance to see what your customers think about
still wary of shopping online and in order to build both their trust your business. It can also give customers access to experts
and confidence in a website the majority of e-commerce systems and enthusiasts that may use your products and can help less
Aspin Interactive Limited is part of the Aspin Group of companies © Copyright 2004 Aspin Interactive

automatically send out e-mails to customers confirming both their experienced customer with problems. These experts may be
order and transaction. in-house company staff or trusted users who have volunteered
to maintain the discussion group. It is important to remember
But there are a number of features which can be built into a that these facilities should be carefully policed and any abuse
website that can improve the standard of customer service your should be dealt with as quickly as possible.
business provides:
Contact Forms
Online Chat System Ask the right people the right questions and you should be
Offering a friendly face, voice or even text message to able to reply quickly.
customers on the website will give them confidence to ask Although time is of the essence you need to remember that
you questions and give you an opportunity to lead them to a the top priority is to to provide the customer with accurate
purchase decision. information.

FAQs Customer Surveys


Frequently Asked Questions – a source of information the Keep finding out what your customers want. Ask them about
customers can refer to. A few pages are normally adequate your products, services and the website. But donʼt forget to
for dealing with most customer queries. reward them for their time.

Knowledgebase Newsletters
Providing customers with up-to-date and accurate product You can send users targeted e-mail newsletters which offer
information along with manuals, updates and announcements different promotions depending on the products which they
is extremely helpful for existing customers and people looking have already brought.
to make a purchase. However, it is important to structure it in
such a way for it to be intelligible and easily accessible. Whatʼs more these features are not complex or expensive and
are not only the reserve of larger websites. As such they could
easily be included in an affordable e-commerce package for a
small to medium sized business.

E-commerce as a secondary
sales channel
There are always going to be some customers who are To balance these concerns there are e-commerce systems
apprehensive about buying goods and services on the web, so which can provide both a self-service shop for customers and a
it is crucial that you donʼt alienate them by shifting everything to sales order processing facility, whereby orders received by fax,
e-commerce. phone or post can be entered by the office. Such features help
to ensure that the changing to e-commerce does not jeopardise
In making the decision to launch or review an e-commerce your existing customer base. Roadmap to e-commerce: Business
website you need to evaluate the services which your business Plan Builder
already offers. If you find that there is a particular aspect of your
service which works well and that your customers value, then it is Many businesses believe that putting in place an e-commerce
foolish to let the website cannibalise it. website is all about having a visually attractive site but this is
only the tip of the iceberg. Adopting e-commerce will require
However, you may think that it is highly inefficient to run an e- more than just minor adjustments to your business strategy; it will
commerce website alongside your existing system, there are the require a new outlook.
obvious problems of duplicated orders and so forth.

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Making your business ready to


sell online
Know your competition
In preparing your business for the move to e-commerce you need You need to determine the best way in which to differentiate your
to look at what your competitors are doing. Do they have an e- offering from your competitors, whether you do this by using
commerce website? Is there a benchmark standard which you a different parcel carrier, providing different customer service
would like your website to match? What distribution channels do facilities or including more information on your site.
they use? Does their website get a good position on the major
search engines?

Making your products and services ready


for the Internet
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The Internet offers numerous opportunities for enhancing your alone and unsolicited mass mailing campaigns are unlikely to
products and services. For example, a website which sells get the results you want, they may even tarnish your companyʼs
books could have an online product catalogue which included reputation.
sample pages that a customer could view before they made their
purchase. It is crucial that you do not approach your website as For smaller businesses cost, is always going to be a major
just an extension of your paper based marketing literature. constraint, so your options may be limited. Although, one of the
key factors of effective marketing is to get your positioning right,
In building awareness for the new website and your products so a small targeted mail shot or advert in a specialist publication
and services you are going to need to use the correct blend of may be sufficient to generate interest.
traditional and internet marketing methods. E-mail cannot stand

Ensuring that the business can fulfil


orders
This is going to be the core determinant of the success of a website To answer these questions you need to look at both ends of your
and there are a number of issues which you need consider. Not supply chain. What kind of relationship do you have with your
only do you need to be able to meet customer orders on time, existing suppliers? Are they reliable? Are they flexible? In turn
you may also need the flexibility to meet shifting delivery times. you also need ask the same of your distributors.
Can you deliver if the customer needs the goods by tomorrow
morning? In some cases it may be important for a businessʼs
goods to be of a consistent level of quality i.e. Are the goods
fresh and / or undamaged?

Working out the cost of delivery to both


you and your customers
What can often increase the cost of selling a product online on fulfilment. These can be passed on to the consumer to give
is getting stock to your business and out to the customer By you a competitive edge. Also streamlining fulfilment means your
reviewing your picking and packing process, your stock storage volume of order processing can increase and be turned around
and delivery and shipping costs you can make significant savings faster, removing any potential for bottlenecks.

Managing your customers


The areas which you decide to concentrate on will vary depending may help you to achieve a consistently high level of service.
the factors which you think your customers value the most and will
get you repeat business. Do your customers need to have a fast You also need to consider how well your staff will manage
yet flexible delivery services? Is it hard to predict the quality of the customer calls and problems? Do your staff need training for
goods which you the customer will receive? Do you handle a high dealing with customers?
volume of orders? In such circumstances customer feedback

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Getting the price right


The cost of sale from e-commerce is a key factor in deciding to customers enables you to apply the same price lists and matrices
go online. If you products require complicated picking, packing as normal, so when the customer logs in to the website they
and are expensive to ship this must be factored into the price. can build up an order from an online product catalogue which
uses their own unique discount structure. You get to differentiate
Although in many cases pricing on the web leaves little margin for between your customers and your customers can order even
error, there are still some ways in which a business can exercise faster.
power over its customers. Providing trade logins for each of your

Taking credit card sales over the Internet


The main issue here is deciding which you payment gateway you AVS – Address Verification System
decide to use for your website. Essentially a payment gateway The AVS requires that the house number and the postcode
is a third party which handles all the financial transactions which are collected for any ʻcustomer not present transactionsʼ
take place on your website. It ensures that all transactions made such as paying over the internet. The system verifies that the
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are valid, encrypted and secure. It also ensures that everything delivery address matches that of the billing address of the
reaches the correct destination. card holder.

However the nature of your business or the needs of your CSC – Credit Card security Code
customer may require your e-commerce website to be able to This system again uses a three digit security code which is
handle a wide variety of payment methods. For instance, some unique and printed on the actual credit card.
customers may want to download a paper copy of the order
form and pay by cheque. Retail customers may be happy to pay Payment Confirmation Process
using credit card. However, trade customers may need to raise a Your payment processing service should provide you and your
purchase order and require that you send a copy invoice. If your customers e-mail confirmation that the payment has been
e-commerce system is to become a valuable asset then it must processed.
have the versatility to cater to your entire customer base.
Order confirmations
Once you have decided your site will take credit card transactions Your e-commerce system should always display a confirmation
you need to be aware of the following items: of order screen which customers should be able to print out
and an e-mail should always be sent to the customerʼs e-mail
Merchant Account address. You should identify all stages where confirmation is
As a business you must have an internet merchant account necessary, including back orders and stock messages.
(IMA.) This is different to a standard merchant account that
many retailers use for credit card processing.

Payment Gateway
Whether you develop your own e-commerce site or you
employ an e-commerce supplier you will need to provide
your customers with a simple to use and secure method of
payment. There are a number of internet payment processing
companies who can provide multi-currency, authorisation and
point of sale services.

Terms and Conditions


Your terms and conditions of website use and terms of sale should Worldwide spending predicted to
be simple to understand and clearly accessible from every page
in your website. You may need to obtain legal advice on what near £3.4 trillion by the end of 2004.
responsibilities you have on the Internet. Make sure that you Source: IDC
are trading within the law, by referring to government legislation
regarding distance selling.

Returns Policy
Make sure that customers know where they stand regarding the
return of goods that are faulty or damaged. Again see government
legislation to check your obligations and your rights when
customers want to get their money back or exchange goods.

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The fulfilment process


Often overlooked by web designers, your fulfilment process is as Key to success is keeping customers up-to-date on order status,
critical as the homepage of your e-commerce website. Without a capturing accurate picking information and delivering in a timely
speedy and accurate fulfilment operation customer orders may be and efficient manner. You may be able to organise this all yourself
left sitting in the warehouse, could be delivered late, damaged or or you can arrange partnerships with reliable companies who can
simply lost in transit. Your customers will quickly shop elsewhere. manage warehouse and distribution operations on your behalf.
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Monitoring the performance of your


website
How you monitor the performance of your website will depend and select products which you want to promote or run a special
on the objectives which you set. More than likely the primary offer on.
reason for implementing a website is going to be to increase
sales turnover, however, this may not be the sole indicator of its You also need to look at statistics which relate directly to the
success. You also need to consider the promotional value of the website. What pages are customers looking at? How long are
website to our business, has it brought in sales to other areas of they spending on each page? How much traffic does the website
the business? receive and how many of these visits are being converted into
There are a number of performance indicators which you should sales?
try to focus on. You need to look at which products or lines are
selling and which customers are buying them. If your customers A key concern of many businesses that operate e-commerce
have individual discount structures, you may find that customers websites is that whilst a lot of visitors will build up an order in
ordering a particular item have a high discount and so the margin their shopping cart they will often abandon it before they pay. You
you make on it may be adversely affected. need to examine the frequency with which this happens; you also
need to check whether it is the customer that abandons the cart
As a result you may need to examine which products you promote or if it is problem with the shopping cart program its self.
on the website. Many e-commerce systems allow you to rotate

E-commerce security and privacy


Security is a pressing issue both you and your customers. You Another bone of contention amongst many internet users is
need to ensure that your website is not compromised. There are the use of cookies. A cookie is a tracking device which collects
a number of specific threats which you should be aware of. E-mail information from a user each time they visit a site, although they
worms are a common problem, as is the threat posed by hackers often enable greater personalisation of a website many people
planting key logging programs to gain credit card details. feel that they are rather intrusive. As such the majority of websites
now ask visitors if they want to accept cookies. However, many
In terms of the customerʼs privacy you need to be aware of e-commerce systems are now able to provide the same level of
the implications of the Data Protection Act (1998). This will functionality without even using cookies.
determine what you can do with the details which you collect from
customers.

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Developing your e-commerce


website
Interface design
The design of a websiteʼs interface needs to be looked at from You also need to consider what features you as a business would
differently depending on who is going to use it. From the point like. You need to be able to manage the site with ease. Can you
of view of visitors the site, it needs to be easy to navigate, the access all the order and financial information you need? Are you
shopping cart needs to be easy-to-use and robust and the able to update product information, add new products and edit
product catalogue should be comprehensive and provide all the sections of the website regularly?
information that they need.

Branding
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How you approach branding issues will depend on how well your
brand is developed, how well your customers know your brand
and what message you are trying to project with your branding.
You may wish to review your companyʼs identity and conduct
research into you are perceived by your customers. Do you
create a new online brand dedicated to your e-commerce site
or do you just want a good looking website with your company
logo on it?

Many people think that the branding of the website concerns only
the visual design and its ʻlook and feelʼ, other critical issues need
to be addressed. The branding of your website and the products
you sell on it will also influence where and how you choose to
promote it.

Your branding is the first point at which a customer will understand


who you are and how well you connect with the customer. If your
branding and company message appeals to your target market
you have a much better chance of making that first sale.

“Your branding is the first point at


which a customer will understand
who you are”

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DIY e-Commerce software


There are many low cost e-commerce website building Your solutions provider will become your partner in developing
applications, some even work through a web browser. Itʼs an e-commerce site. They will learn a lot about your business
possible to spend very little, provide a shopping basket facility and should be able to contrast this with previous experience in
and offer a small range of products. However itʼs important to e-commerce.
determine whether this option is going to be suitable for your e-
commerce venture: If you feel that your e-commerce site is going to be complicated
then ask for a written specification. This can then be used to
Do you have the resources to work on building a site in- double check your intended strategy and help secure funding. But
house? remember that developing a professional e-commerce website
Do your staff have the expertise or time to build a site? can become a considerable investment for small and medium
How good is the competition? sized businesses, so having a good idea of expected level of
Will the software solution provide you with room to expand sales growth is essential.
your product range and services?
What is the short and long-term cost of ownership? The DIY software route works well for companies who have a
Can the software be integrated with other business critical simple product range, but you need to consider the future. If
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systems? you are not confident in your companyʼs ability to develop an


What is the likely return on your investment? e-commerce website, it may be worth getting professional
advice from companies who develop systems for a wide range
Employing the services of an e-commerce software and solution of clients.
provider will be more expensive but if they provide the right range
of solutions they should help you get your operation selling and Whether you decide to go to a solutions provider or buy the
shipping orders over a shorter time-scale. They should be able software from a vendor, remember to ask these questions:
to:
How expandable is the e-commerce software?
Give you advice on using e-commerce for your business How comprehensive is the support?
Develop an e-commerce strategy with you What previous projects have they undertaken?
Design a professional website interface Is there a demonstration website you can trial?
Implement good website development practices Can you have customer references?
Support your software
Link to your other systems Finally how will you look after the e-commerce website?
Integrate with payment gateways
Offer advice on security and privacy
Help you streamline and automate areas of business that may
be a weak link in your supply chain
Help you measure the performance of your site

Accessibility
Accessibility touches on a number of issues. You need to make
sure that the website can be accessed via a variety of different
internet connections. Therefore you need to check that your
website is fairly fluid even if visitors are accessing it using a
56K modem rather than with a 128 KB ADSL connection. A site
which makes heavy use of flash animation may not be the best
approach.

You also need to assess the accessibility of any potential website Disability Discrimination Act Part 3
design in light of the Disability Discrimination Act Part 3. The
purpose of this legislation is to ensure that disabled users can
have equal access to a website. Many of its recommendations
not only ensure greater accessibility, they also promote increased
usability which can only be of benefit to both you and your
customer.

For instance, the DDA states that a website should not have “Assess the accessibility of any
overly complex menu systems, should use clear language so that
text readers can easily interpret a site and should refrain from
potential website design in light of
using brash banner advertising which can distract people from the Disability Discrimination Act”
the main body of a site.

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Getting visitors to know about


your site
Search engines
There are many search engine optimisation companies out there
who promising to get your website to come up on the first page
of listings on each of the major search engines. These claims
should be treated as highly suspect. Many of the major search Some popular Internet
engines state that they do not give special preference to any search engines
website.

Advertising
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Website advertising tends to be the first media used for promoting TV and radio may also be a more cost effective solution as your
a website, but itʼs not the only option. Traditional offline advertising local customers should not be ignored. Local media advertising
and TV media are just as important to consider. For a small will attract local customers. So itʼs important to refer back to your
business advertising on Google is a very cost effective form of customer groups looking at locality and how you will target local
using a search engine combined with banner advertising. Local national and overseas customers.

Promotions
A favoured method for boosting site traffic and sales is to run a The problem is that if too many people visit the website as a
promotion or special offer on a particular item. Usually a promotion result of the promotion then it may liable to crash. Not only do
needs to be supported by a mail shot or e-mail campaign to bring you risk losing sales, there is the danger that anyone who could
people into the site. However, before running a promotion on not take advantage of the promotion will not come back to use
your website you should think carefully about whether you can the site again.
handle any unanticipated demand which it might trigger.

Link Exchanges
As with search engine optimisation companies caution should many companies have been duped into linking with disreputable
be exercised. Many companies tend to believe that if they get websites using underhand tactics to try and work their way up
other websites to link to their own then they have a greater search engine rankings. In many cases the end result has been
chance of getting a good ranking on search engines. However that the websites have been penalised by the search engines.

Editorial
There are a number ways of getting editorial. Firstly, there are likelihood of people visiting your site it can also help to push your
traditional methods such as paid placements in trade magazines, pages up through the search engine listings.
whereby you pay the publication to write a promotional article
about your company. However, there now a number of websites There are a few pointers for submitting a good press release. The
which allow companies to submit press releases. One of the article must be newsworthy i.e. how the website or the products
advantages of this approach is that web press releases can and services you offer will provide something new to your market?
include links to your website. Not only does this increase the You need to ensure that the copy is succinct yet informative.

Affiliates
This is a method favoured by many of the larger e-commerce Having links to reputable affiliated websites not only boosts the
websites. Typically, affiliate websites will have some kind of credibility of your own site it also provides visitors with useful
relevance to the products or services which a website offers. information.

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Summary
E-commerce has become a profitable revenue generator for retail
business of all sizes. It has the potential to enable the small to
compete with the big players online. Internet shoppers are very
quick to find a bargain and are equally quick to go to a competitor.
But if your site gets the key elements right it can be rewarding for
you and your customers.
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If you would like to:


Discuss your requirements
To try a demonstration e-commerce product
Get advice on strategy
Request more information on products and services
Request costing information

Please visit aspininteractive.com or contact +44 01794 500 200

Aspin e-commerce solutions


We provide flexible e-commerce, eCRM and supply chain
management solutions for small, medium and large enterprises.

Our solutions cost from:


£5,000, $8000 or €7,000

Our bespoke strategy documents cost from:


£2,000, $3,000, €2,900

Technical support provides peace of mind for a companyʼs first


foray into the management and administration of an e-commerce
website. Most companies cannot afford to bring in the necessary
skills and experience, and this is what Aspin Interactive can
provide.

www.aspininteractive.com

For more information please call +44 [0]1794 500200 14


An eCommerce Guide for Online Retail Business www.aspininteractive.com

Notes
Aspin Interactive Limited is part of the Aspin Group of companies © Copyright 2004 Aspin Interactive

For more information please call +44 [0]1794 500200 15


An eCommerce Guide for Online Retail Business www.aspininteractive.com

Notes
Aspin Interactive Limited is part of the Aspin Group of companies © Copyright 2004 Aspin Interactive

For more information please call +44 [0]1794 500200 16


www.aspininteractive.com
Aspin Interactive Limited is part of the Aspin Group of companies © Copyright 2004 Aspin Interactive