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Part 2: Rules For Successful E-Commerce Web Site Design

Successful e-commerce web site design starts with applying the basics of retail success. What do bricks-and-mortar retailers do that you have to do if you're going to run a successful e-commerce site?

1) The retailer has a product or products that she wants to sell.

Everyone in e-commerce or thinking of getting into e-commerce has this one figured out.

Want a new car? Fresh spinach? A replacement part for your ancient typewriter?

You’ll find it on the 'Net. But a product, no matter how superior or well-priced, does not a successful e-commerce site make.

2) The retailer needs a place to showcase his product. Traditionally, this is a building of some kind.

Online, it’s a e-commerce web site. But take a moment to think about the traditional retail store. There are products in the window to entice the customer inside. There are aisles leading to shelves of more products, all conveniently arranged for the customer. Navigation is critical to e-commerce web site design. Visitors to your e-commerce site need the same kind of visible, easy-to-follow pathways that they have in traditional retail stores. They need to be able to examine your products and compare them with other products easily.

And visitors to your e-commerce web site need to be able to access your products easily. They can't just pick them off the shelf and carry them to the till as they would in the bricks-and-mortar store. The back end of your e-commerce site is just as important as your front end in terms of e-commerce web site design. You need to arrange the supply and distribution of your product before your e-commerce site goes “live”. You must be able to deliver on your promise to the customer.

Too many e-commerce ventures collapse because the people involved didn’t bother to secure the supply and distribution of their product ahead of time. What happens when e-commerce customers shop online and don’t get the product in a reasonable amount of time or don't get it at all? They get angry, and chances are good, no matter how nicely you apologize to them, they’ll never buy anything from you again. And they’ll tell all their friends how unhappy they are with your crummy service!

3) The retailer chooses a building for his store that is in good repair, and has all the facilities such as electricity and heat that are necessary to make his customers comfortable. If the building isn’t in good repair, he fixes the problems.

Too many e-commerce entrepreneurs don’t bother to do this. They throw up e-commerce web sites that have large sections under construction, or have their e-commerce sites hosted by providers that provide erratic or slow service. If a potential e-commerce customer tries to access your site and it’s down, what does she do? She clicks through to anothere-commerce site where she can view the products she’s interested in. Will she be back? Probably not.

You must have consistent, 24/7 hosting if you want to operate a successful e-commerce site. You must present a fully functional, complete store to entice the e-commerce visitor and get her to shop online. No big “Under Construction” or “Coming Soon” banners.

E-Commerce web site design is critical; besides being professional looking and attractive, you must make your e-commerce site easy for the customer to use. If potential customers can’t navigate your site easily, they won’t bother. Your competition is always only a click away! And you must maintain your e-commerce web site regularly and often. An e-commerce site that’s littered with dead links will drive online shoppers away. An e-commerce web site that never offers any new content will bore visitors. If you can’t afford to maintain your e-commerce site, you can’t afford to have one.

But even if you have excellent e-commerce web site design, visitors to your site still may not shop from you. The next page of this article discusses how to get visitors to your e-commerce site to trust you enough to become online shoppers. Click to continue reading.

Susan Ward


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