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E-Commerce

What is ecommerce?

Electronic commerce (ecommerce) is the idea of doing business electronically over the Internet.  No longer bound by time or geography, ecommerce provides store owners with ubiquitous access to their customers.   This significantly expands a store owner's opportunity to satisfy demand for products, services, and information of each customer.

Online purchasing is becoming as common and convenient as ordering by telephone or fax.

How does an online store work?

How does a typical transaction at a retail store work? You select the items you wish to purchase and put them in your shopping cart.  When you're ready to checkout, you take them to a sales clerk at the cash register where you are given the option to pay by cash, check or credit card. The cash register used to process your payment is actually referred to as a Point-of-Sale (POS terminal). The cash register (POS terminal) is connected to the retail store's bank processing network where the credit card and/or check is verified as valid either with available credit and/or a valid banking institution. You are then given a receipt and the transaction is complete.

Ecommerce services are very similar and operate just as stated above, only without a sales clerk. Just think of your computer as your sales staff.

E-mail receipts are sent after a transaction is processed giving your customer an instantaneous online verification that the transaction was completed.

What makes a successful online store?

  1. Easy-to-use
  2. Appealing
  3. Good customer service
  4. Unsaturated market
  5. Know who your competitors are:
    How many other companies are selling similar products online?
    Do their web sites work?  Are their web sites fast?
    Do they provide secure ordering?
    What are their prices?
    How responsive are they to their customers?
    What is their reputation on the Internet newsgroups?

What are the benefits of an online store?

  • Increase revenue
  • Low-cost/high-payback alternative to traditional physical store or mail-order catalog.

  • Avoid losing sales to competitors who are online
  • Immediate international sales presence
  • Shop 24 hrs/day, 365 days/year
  • Expand customer base
  • Set up shop anywhere, no need to re-locate
  • Low-cost way to turn your Web site into a profit center
  • Reduce phone cost due to customer support via email
  • Create customized mailing list

Will your online store be secure?

Digital authentication services provided like Version, Inc. or Thawte to ensure that orders are secure.  A Digital ID binds a company's identity to a digital key which can be used to conduct secure transactions.

The Secure Hypertext Transport Protocol (S-HTTP) is an extension of the Web protocol (HTTP) and adds security features to it. The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol, originally introduced in Netscape 2.0, is a data encryption technique that allows for secure transactions across the Internet. 

This software will encrypt a customer's credit card and purchase information as it is sent over the Internet from the customer's Web browser to the Web server hosting the online store.  The customer will know their connection is secure because the lock icon in the bottom left corner of their Web browser will be closed (locked) instead of open and the URL at the top of the browser will have https instead of http at the beginning.

What about shipping and taxes?

Shipping and taxes can be defined according to each store owner's requirements and are calculated and added into the purchase amount for display to the consumer.

What about real-time payment?

Advantages

When transactions are authorized in real-time, the need for manual tracking of invalid credit card numbers is eliminated so less sales staff is needed.

Sale proceeds from credit card transactions are automatically deposited electronically to the store owner's bank account.

Disadvantages

Many fees.

 
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