So you have a top-notch idea for E-commerce. You even have a well-considered business plan. Here’s a technical question for you: How are your customers going to pay you?

It sounds like a silly ‘small picture’ question, I know. But it’s really one of the most important and most problematic details your brand-new E-commerce project may encounter.

If you’ve got a good idea for an E-commerce web site, chances are you’ve used somebody else’s E-commerce site at some point in the past. If you paid by credit card, you’re familiar with the online payment process from the user’s side of things. But building that functionality into your own web site requires a bit of planning and some critical decision-making well in advance of your ‘go live’ date. […]

Getting your new E-commerce store up and running is only half the fun. Once that’s done – then you’ve got to figure out how to efficiently run your store in order to maximize your bottom line.

Very little of it qualifies as rocket science. In fact, most of it is nothing more than running to ground a bunch of little issues – any one of which can cause endless headaches for your new enterprise. As with most things business, what you’ll soon discover is that the devil is in the details. […]

There are many different ways to build a successful E-commerce business, but they all have one thing in common.

Loyal customers.

I don’t mean ‘just’ happy customers. I mean customers who will come back to your web site and purchase from you again. It’s not a revolutionary discovery. A lot of books and articles have been written on the same general business theme: Customer satisfaction means nothing; customer loyalty means everything. […]

Every social media platform on the Internet today has security problems of some sort. Typically, the more popular the platform, the bigger the problems. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and similar social media are all lucrative hunting grounds for spammers, phishers and hackers because they have large – and usually pretty relaxed – user bases.

Experts in the online security industry frequently moan and groan about all of the problems with social media. True, some services aren’t as sharp about protecting user privacy and other digital defense measures as they ought to be. A lot of them try to plug as many security holes as they can, but it doesn’t matter how top-notch their development team may be — there will always be one big security flaw that they can’t counter.

You.

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A surprising number of small businesses avoid E-commerce because they believe credit card information submitted via the Internet can be easily compromised. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, if your E-commerce is properly implemented by a skilled developer, your customers are safer using an online interface than they are handing their card over to the staff at their local coffee-shop. […]

Does your business really need to have a website that’s mobile-friendly, or perhaps even a separate version of the site that’s dedicated to mobile device users? That’s a question that a lot of business owners are wrestling with as they watch the mobile operating system (OS) market continue to grow at an amazing rate.

There’s no big secret to understanding the utility of a mobile-friendly website. When mobile device users search for goods or services in your market and find your website, you want to provide them with the information they need to do business with you. If you don’t help them out with pages that work for their mobile device, it will take them about two seconds to move along to one of your competitors who does. […]

Toward the end of April, Facebook took a stab at upgrading its security efforts by announcing a partnership with five major anti-virus software vendors: Microsoft, Trend Micro, McAfee, Sophos, and Symantec. The partnership is a sort of one-two punch security effort. Facebook will use the URL blacklists provided by the software vendors to augment its own URL blacklist service. At the same time, they’re offering free versions of five leading anti-virus software packages.
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When you start looking through all of the statistics regarding your website, it can be hard to sort out what’s important from what’s merely interesting. Web stats reporting packages can confront you with a staggering variety of reports. There are as many opinions on what you should worry about as there are crackpot theories about The Government hiding what’s really happening on the far side of the moon. […]

If you’re a super-hero like Spiderman or The Tick, a secret identity can come in handy. When you’re running an E-Commerce website, however, shrouding your company details in mystery can ruin your business.

One of the main disadvantages of E-Commerce is that consumers can’t see, touch or feel the actual products offered on your website. People like to know what they’re buying. Fortunately, it’s a disadvantage that can be overcome to a degree by including plenty of good product-specific content like photos, videos and reviews. Another disadvantage is that consumers can’t see you — or your business — and gain a sense of trust from that contact. As much as people like to know what they’re buying, they also want to have confidence in who they’re buying from. […]

In most of the website usability studies that I’ve read, poor legibility is by far the most frequent complaint encountered. It’s generally a sin of comission on the part of web designers, because web-safe typography by default is designed to be both legible and flexible.

A website gets into trouble when its design diverges from online typographic standards. Often, the issue begins with a site owner — or the site owner’s print marketing designer — who wants the fonts and styles on a website to mirror those the business uses elsewhere. While it may sound like a good theory from a branding perspective, it’s often a train wreck for usability. […]

If your website is built on a content management system (CMS), you’ve got a powerful tool in your hands. You can use your CMS to keep all of the information on your site up-to-date, provide fresh and engaging information to your site visitors and manage all of your site’s resources to maximize your search engine results. As with most tools, however, content management can be used for both good and evil. It’s the “evil” part you want to avoid.

Poor content management practices can kill your website’s search engine rankings in a short amount of time. Conversely, follow a few simple guidelines every time you post or edit content and you can improve your site’s search engine optimization. Use these recommendations as a sort of checklist to stay on the SEO straight-and-narrow: […]

Websites offer a seemingly endless amount of space for your content, especially compared to traditional media like print or broadcast. For a relatively small hosting fee, you can literally publish entire libraries of text. An average 500 MB hosting account has enough room for more than 150 copies of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” 400 copies of Melville’s “Moby Dick” or 600 copies of James Fennimore Cooper’s “Last of the Mohicans.”

When you’re passionate about your business, the temptation is to use as much of that space as possible to share your enthusiasm and expertise with potential customers. But it’s all a trap, a painful deception. The truth of the matter is that your customers have a lot less time than you have space. […]