E-Commerce Web Site Design
E-commerce sites and web storefronts require special considerations of their unique requirements over standard web sites:
One of the most common pitfalls of e-commerce sites is dynamically generated product pages. To tell if this is the case take a look at the product pages web address. If it looks something like this http://www.yoursite.com/cgi-bin/cart.pl?item=abc123 (see how it contains a "?") then the page has been dynamically generated. The problem lies with the fact that search engines cannot see a page such as this, therefore the bulk of a site's content will remain hidden from search engines and traffic will suffer.
Internet Advertising Solutions has developed a proprietary method of not only keeping these product pages visible to search engines, but actually optimizing each and every page for higher ranking on related search terms. Someone typing in "Panasonic PT123 cordless phone" in a search might be taken directly to that particular product page on your site over a competitor's.
Naturally, that is not the only consideration when setting up an e-commerce web site. There are many other important factors explained below.
Customers don't tend to browser around retail web sites - they get in, make their purchase, and leave. Navigation methods must be simple, and a search engine tool should be visible on every page for quick product lookup.
Since the customer can't pick up, touch or smell the item for sale on your web site the only option is to have great product photos. For download speed considerations you probably don't want to have the largest photos on the main areas of the site - but access to the full size photo should only be a click away.
Shopping cart system
An electronic cart system should be easy to use with intuitive click-to-buy and shipping options. In some cases the cart can "remember" what the shopper had from an earlier visit. The cart itself must be secure from price alteration. There are any number poorly-written cart programs that allow someone to save your product page, alter the price, and then purchase the item at the reduced price. A properly designed cart system will pull that information from a secure database to prevent such tampering.
Secure online ordering
Customer credit card information must be kept secure. This is typically done by encrypting the data before processing the order. Financial data is transmitted in encrypted form to a real-time processor such as Authorize.net. The actual order contents are generally emailed to the site owner.
The product database contains each product the site sells along with (at a minimum), Item Number, Category, Price, Description, Weight, Shipping Cost and Insurance. Other fields can be added to display the product in multiple categories, provide upsell capability (described below) and more. Different levels of access to the administrative area of the database can be provided to your staff: view-only, add, edit, delete, etc.
If a customer is purchasing a CD player, wouldn't it be nice to also allow them instant purchase of batteries, adapter, or CD cleaner right at the point of sale? Upsell capability can increase your average sale amount significantly, often on items with a higher profit margin. There is a "Related Items" field in the product database that will allow you to do just that, simply by typing in the item numbers of the related products.
If you are planning to have an e-commerce site designed, or are ready for a re-design of your existing site, please contact Internet Advertising Solutions today.