The following is a four part series focused on providing you with an introduction to ecommerce. We will answer many things along the way, including such questions as:
- “What is ecommerce?”
- “Should I build an online store?”
- “Do I have the expertise”
- “What are the costs involved in such a site?”
Lets get started…
Introduction to Ecommerce – Part 1: What you Really Want To Know
When being approached by those wanting an ecommerce website, I am often asked three things:
- I want to sell something online. Can I do this?
- Will I be able to update the ecommerce site myself?
- How much will it cost to build such a site and maintain it?
As a professional within the industry, it is easy to answer those questions… But, the more I have done so, the more I have found that these questions are not really what people are asking. In all reality, they simply want to know the following:
- What exactly is ecommerce?
- Is an online store right for me?
- Do I have the expertise to keep it working right?
- Will it cost me an arm and a leg?
These are all great questions. And, by answering them up front, you will be provided with a much greater understanding of the tricky landscape of ecommerce website development. In the long run, this leads to more success for you and your business.
What Exactly is Ecommerce?
Many people simply do not know what ecommerce is, let alone the intricate details of running a store. So, don’t feel dumb when asking the most basic of questions! Now is the time and place, since we are looking to cover all ground in our introduction to ecommerce.
In answering the question of “What is ecommerce”, I often describe it as follows:
“Ecommerce is simply a method of selling your product on a website to customers online”.
Sounds simple right? Right! Yet, lets break down the choice of words used above:
“Ecommerce is simply a method”
The emphasis here is that it is not the only option, but one of the many options you already know and grasp… In many ways, ecommerce is just like selling goods in a brick and mortar store. You are just simply broadening your reach by providing your products online.
It does not matter if you sell one type of item or many different types. From a hot sauce to a line of jewelry apparel, you can sell whatever you want in an online store and even expend the store to sell more in the future!
“on a website”
Again, these words may seem plainly apparent at first. But you can in fact sell the products through your site, not simply display them. Wether you decide to manually process the order(s) yourself or use a fulfillment system to do so, this is especially important to remember.
“to customers online”
I like to point this out because it places the emphasis back on the fact that ecommerce is just like selling you product as you normally would, but just through another medium (in this case the web). Again, this comes with an additional bonus: You can now reach a whole new set of customers… Those who prefer the convenience of buying online! This could be a big selling point if you are on the fence on whether to begin selling online.
Finally, in case you want an even further look into an introduction to ecommerce, here are some helpful links:
- Getting Started With E-Commerce: Your Options When Selling Online
- Wikipedia: Electronic Commerce
- How Stuff Works: E-Commerce
I have found that the above information not only goes a long way in providing an introduction to ecommerce, but also sets the stage for the next question… Should I build an online store? We will tackle this in part 2.
View part 2 in our series on An Introduction to Ecommerce…