What is eCommerce and how to get started?

What is eCommerce and how to get started?

If you have a business today or want to start a new business chances are that a website is part of the plan. A website is not an eCommerce Solution. But it is part of the solution and an important part.

In 2016 Australian online retail sales will exceed $50 Billion and worldwide exceeded US$2 Trillion in 2017. In Australia eCommerce is growing at a rate in excess of 20% year over year, and mobile commerce more than 40% annually. There are over 2.5 million small to medium sized businesses in Australia and New Zealand but less than 20% have an online store. A Forrester survey found that the web influenced more than 53% of all retail sales, and that percentage is growing annually, so failure to have a web presence with your product catalogue means it is harder to be successful and grow sales.

 

eCommerce Solutions

ecommerce
Today eCommerce generally refers to selling products and services online. This may be to other businesses, to consumers or via web portals, marketplaces or channels such as eBay. A good eCommerce solution will be web based, allow consumers or businesses secure access, enable products to be searched or browsed, selected and bought via an online shopping cart.

Your customers might find you via a search online and over 70% of all online sales start with a search engine like Google. They may also be shopping from a desktop computer, a laptop PC or Mac, a tablet like an iPad or a mobile phone like an iPhone or Android. Mobile commerce is growing in Australia at over 40% annually.

Once the product has been put in the shopping cart payment can be made via a payment gateway that conforms the all the security requirements of the Provider Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). Payment gateways can connect up to your bank online merchant account or if you use something like PayPal the funds can go into any bank account. The consumer can use their credit card safely to pay or maybe their PayPal account. Or you might want a more traditional payment method like an invoice and direct debit or cheque. All that should be up to you in good eCommerce Solutions.

There are numerous features that you might need in order to have a successful eCommerce Solution. The features list can be very long and importance of each feature can vary from business to business.

 

Infrastructure

 

We have had individuals and businesses ask us if they can run the websites on their own PC or server. Technically you can but practically you do not want to do that especially if you are a small business. The technical infrastructure to run a website that is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week is expensive and costly to properly maintain. You need firewalls to protect the environment, switches and routers to properly direct traffic, web servers to handle traffic in and out, application servers to run the website and data base servers to manager the data. Then you need redundancy for data, power and all the firewalls, switches, routers and servers. Finally you need people who understand how it all works and can maintain it when there are issues. Most companies and even the very largest will outsource, let a third party specialist company, host and mange the infrastructure.

The vast majority of businesses just cannot afford or do not want the problems that all this brings and so they turn to professional data centres and internet service providers to host their eCommerce Solution. Today hosted eCommerce solutions are affordable by any company large or small. The capabilities and security that was once only available to the largest enterprises is not available to the smallest.

 

Hosted eCommerce Solutions

 

Hosted eCommerce - websites and online stores need to have access to the internet and also need to be available 24/7/365. It is possible to run your own website on your own server connected to the World Wide Web. But practically it is too hard for most small to medium sized businesses. So companies like eCorner offer a fully hosted environment where you pay a monthly fee and have all the hosting and data included in the service.

The hosting provider will maintain infrastructure in a dedicated data centre with all the necessary security and redundancy built in. This will allow many, may be thousands of businesses to operate in the same environment sharing the infrastructure which the hosting provide maintains. So the over all costs are shared and a far higher level of service and capability can be provided.

Now there are large and complex software applications that have been built just for the purpose of mass hosting eCommerce Solutions. eCorner uses one such application which is called ePages and is used around the world by more than 80,000 companies.

 

What is the business model?

 

B2C - Business to Consumer is generally the most common business model that you find in eCommerce system. But if you business is more complex and maybe seels to resellers or wholesale then you might need a B2B - Business to Business solution. If the ecommerce software that you select do not support various business models then it may not be able to support your business.

Before you make a decision on an eCommerce solution understand the business models that you need supported.

ePages will support any business model and can be customised to allow any unique business functionality that is required.

 

eCommerce Costs

 

Well how much does it cost? That is a standard question that gets asked. The answer is generally better than you think. But as with all business investments what you get for your money will vary dramatically from provider to provider. You need to plan on spending a budget that you can afford. You can find more information about costs at the Costs and Issues Selling Online.

 

Small and Home Businesses

 

Typically the costs can be paid on a monthly basis to help cash flow and their maybe some setup costs. Expect to pay $1,500 - $3,000 to set it all up and then $100 - $150 per month based on a month plan. Typically these small businesses may be getting 10?s or 100?s of website visitors a day.

 

Medium Sized Businesses

 

If your business already has a website you will no doubt have some understanding of the design and development costs. As a ball park medium sized businesses can expect to invest around $15,000 to $50,000 initially and then $150 - $450 per month. This size of business may be seeing 100's to 1000's of visitors a day.

 

Large Businesses

 

We know some large businesses who have eCommerce budgets of millions of dollars a year. So it is difficult estimating a budget. However a large business with very unique requirements and maybe 1000?s to 10,000?s of visitors a day can expect to invest $50,000 - $150,000 in development and then $5,000 - $10,000 a month in hosting and service charges.

 

Ask for a formal estimate

 

Any good provider should be able to take your requirements and create an estimate of development and hosting costs for your business. We recommend that you always ask in writing and always ask what is not included in the estimate.

We can provide you with a free quote if you complete our eCommerce Quote Form

 

How do you get started?

 

That is a commonly asked questions for businesses large and small. eCorner has provided some guidence to businesses that want to start online with our 10 Steps to eCommerce Success.

 

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