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Basic ecommerce web site design and development - Part 2

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. 

This article examines other aspects you may wish to consider as part of your online sales pitch, then leads on to further information about the nuts and bolts of ecommerce - shopping carts, payment gateways and merchant accounts.

Info sheets.

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. 

When responding to customer enquiries, ensure that your messages are well thought out. Address the question asked thoroughly and offer further support. Sales are also lost through poor spelling and grammar in email messages. View our guide to email etiquette.

Always thank the prospective client for their comments and questions, even if they are being what appears to be slightly unreasonable. You'll find that many customers will have ESL (English as a second language) and it can be quite challenging for them to submit queries. Ask for clarification if you aren't sure of what the client is requesting.

email marketing tips, software and reviews

Autoresponder software 
& mailing list managers

Get more from your email
marketing - tips, reviews 
& free trial software/services.

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.

The way that live support operates is through special HTML/JavaScript coding embedded in your site's pages, supplied by the company that you obtain the service from. It detects when a visitor arrives at your online destination. You are then alerted to the arrival by specialized software on your office system via a message from the company. 

If you do decide to go ahead with implementing live online customer support, it doesn't have to be an expensive process. View further information on live chat software and support services and try out a free service!

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.

credit card processing and merchant accounts
Learn more about processing 
credit card transactions

Shopping carts

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.

Read more about selecting suitable shopping carts; and when you're done with that; learn more about payment processing options.

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 :

Search engine optimization tutorials section

Affiliate marketing strategies and tutorials

Ecommerce tutorials and guides

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Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
Tutorials, web content, tools and software.
Web Marketing, Internet Development & Ecommerce Resources

In the interests of transparency and disclosure, please note that the owner of Taming the Beast.net often receives goods and services mentioned in reviews for free, or may receive payments or affiliate commissions for advertising or referring others to merchants of products and services reviewed.

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Online meeting & webinar software review
Powerful, easy to use collaboration tools that can help improve your marketing sales and training efforts. Learn more about these services in this review & try a free trial!

The best shopping cart software
Our reviews of some of the best shopping carts around - free ecommerce solutions  through to premium services offering affiliate programs, marketing modules & online soft goods delivery.  Shopping cart software guide 

Autoresponder software/mailing list manager
 Read our beginners guide and reviews of all-in-one autoresponder & email marketing software solutions.

Credit card transaction fraud screening!  Effective fraud screening is an essential part of running an online businesses. Fraud transactions cost you money and can threaten your merchant account. Pick up a stack of transaction screening tips in this free guide! 

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