Pre-sales support to encourage sales
In Part 1 of this
ecommerce series, we examined various pages that should be included on your site. A good ecommerce site is more than just a home page, product page and shopping cart.
Perhaps the customer is not yet ready to order? Provide them with an offline reminder by the provision of quick downloading info sheets about your product, valuable information regarding the area that your product or service addresses and contact details in PDF format. The infosheets should contain some of your site's branding elements to assist with recall. Info sheets also have a habit of being forwarded or printed out and passed around. This is a part of viral marketing. Read our overview of viral marketing.
Pre-sales email support
Not every question can be answered in a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions page), so offering to answer pre-sales questions should be encouraged and promoted. Rapid response to pre-sales questions will definitely assist in securing online sales.
If I am interested in purchasing a product, submit queries and don't receive a response within 24 hours - I
usually don't buy the product, no matter how good it appears. Delay in response time could mean poor
support in the future.
Live chat software
Another way of encouraging sales is to implement live online customer
support. There are many products available now that allow you to communicate with prospective clients over the Internet in real time directly from your web site.
Easy access to ordering
Having convinced your prospective online client of the benefits of your product or service, it's now time to close the deal. If it takes any more than one click to begin the ordering process, then it's too many. Make sure every page that contains information about your products has 'order now' links in appropriate places.
The links or buttons should be easy to locate, but not too gaudy - it's a balance of subtlety and promotion. The best place to implement 'order now' links is after paragraphs which detail some positive aspect of the product, or directly after a testimonial from one of your clients.
A shopping cart is a software package that showcases products (in some cases), collects customer details, assembles the order, calculates price, shipping and tax, then submits the data to you and a credit card payment gateway for further processing. The funds are then transferred into your bank or merchant account if the transaction is successful. It's important to realize that the shopping cart, payment gateway and merchant account are three very separate components.
There are many products and services on the market, but it is imperative to find one that suits your business totally and allows scalability. The wrong package or a mismatch of components could cause you a great deal of headaches and cost you money as your business grows.
The good news is that there are a number of free shopping cart software packages on the market as well, which may fulfill your requirements.
Related learning resources.
Part 1 and Part 2 of this article really only just scrape the surface of ecommerce. Once you have your online store happening, your cart installed and your payment processing implemented; how will you promote and market it? Have you considered starting an affiliate program to help increase sales? What's an affiliate program anyway?
We have a wide range of articles and tutorials on Taming the Beast.net covering all sorts of aspects of running an online business :
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