When you launch a new E-commerce web site above all else there is one thing you need to be ready to face: Customers.

That might sound like a “Duh-uh” comment, but not every E-commerce operator is as prepared as they should be when their new store goes online and the first order (or ten or fifty orders) appears in their control panel. Turning those early orders into happy customers sometimes proves an unexpected challenge for even experienced retail business people. […]

One of the big advantages to a stand-alone E-commerce solution is that a skilled developer can completely customize both the design and the programming to suit your specific business requirements. No two businesses are run exactly the same way. This means that they frequently have demands that simply can’t be satisfied within the limits of a one-size-fits-all solution. An E-commerce project has the highest chance for success when it can be adapted to your existing business practices, instead of requiring that your business practices adapt to your web site.

With a stand-alone E-commerce web site you’re generally letting yourself in for more work. A LOT more work. That’s why stand-alone sites truly aren’t a suitable solution for every small business. If you plan a very small online inventory and can be satisfied with minimal-to-basic marketing tools, then a hosted solution may be the best route to take. […]

When a small business owner makes the decision to enter into the world of E-commerce, the first decision that confronts them is usually whether they need to build a stand-alone E-commerce web site or sign-on with a hosted application provider like Magento or BigCommerce.

Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages. What the small business owner has to decide is which method of online selling will provide the most value and return on investment. Today I’ll take a closer look at the plus and minus columns for online storefronts based on hosted applications. […]

Translating your E-commerce idea from concept into reality requires an investment of time, money and resource. For the small-business entrepreneur, a first-time E-commerce project can generate a few unpleasant budget surprises.

Some of your project’s budget elements may be self-evident, but a few are less obvious. An experienced and reputable E-commerce developer should work through a complete ‘first year’ budget with you before your project begins. In addition to the one-time development costs associated with getting your site built, tested and functioning properly there are continuing costs that should figure into your long-term calculations of profitability. […]

Soon after you decide to add E-commerce to your small business, you may find yourself suffering from a touch of sensory overload. There are a lot of E-commerce engines, shopping cart systems and hosted storefronts vying for your attention. How do you sort through all of that to find the solution that best suits your business?

Finding the best solution is largely a matter of asking the right questions. Today I’m going to arm you with a few good questions – along with some related ‘thinking points’ – that should help you sort through all of the information and make the best possible decision. Here are five key considerations: […]

Spend some time surveying a variety of E-commerce sites (without spending money on them, that is…), and chances are you’ll come across some sites that offer name-brand gadgetry at incredibly good prices. Sites like these often sell items such as air-conditioning components, portable power equipment or computer hardware.

With a little bit of research you’ll discover that a number of those E-commerce sites sell in great volume and are quite profitable. For some private entrepreneurs, it’s tempting to try to jump into one of those niche markets with a deep-discount E-commerce site of their own. […]

Just like a bricks-and-mortar store needs somebody behind the counter, an E-commerce web site requires somebody behind the scenes to make things run smoothly.

Your E-commerce site is never going to be a fire-and-forget operation. Somebody has to process the orders. Somebody has to insure payment has been made. Somebody has to manage inventory and pricing. Somebody has to handle fulfillment and shipping. […]

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. […]

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. […]

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. […]