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Planning Guide to Ecommerce success

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Resources- Your step-by-step guide to Ecommerce

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Step #6 -- Creating a well-designed Ecommerce site

Just as there are catalog experts who know how many products to feature on a page - there are Ecommerce professionals who can help you create the digital storefront which best highlights the benefits of your product or service.

Building Trust
While outlining specific design tips is beyond the scope of this tutorial, building trust is one aspect of Ecommerce design that deserves special attention.

People have a lot of choices. Make Trust a competitive advantage for your company. Let the user be in control, don't take advantage of the information they give you and do what you say you are going to do.

Here are some ways to jump start your relationship with online shoppers:

Brand: Customers trust established brands, so if you have one - flaunt it - by using established logos and graphics. If you have a new product or service, you can create your own "brand" by creating an easy-to-remember name, compelling graphics - and by promoting your brand through other media - such as TV and print advertising.

Visuall excitement also build trustEffective navigation: In order for online buying to be accepted, it needs to be as easy - or easier than -- ordering by mail, phone, or at a store. Currently, many online consumers are frequently frustrated by slow site performance, time-consuming order forms, and confusing navigation. And so, they naturally gravitate towards Ecommerce sites that are the most convenient to use.

Fulfillment: Online consumers expect fast shipments and need to be reassured that anything they order can be conveniently returned without a hassle.

Design: Like any traditional catalog or store, your Ecommerce site needs to be well-designed to highlight your products' unique benefits.

Up-to-date technology: Your Ecommerce site needs to stay current with the latest technology - otherwise, consumers will be drawn to more up-to-date sites offering faster ordering, more personalized service, and more attractive graphics.

Seals of approval from security-guaranteeing firms - such as VeriSign, BBB Online, TRUSTe and other Web-based encryption and security providers.

Security and Privacy

After convenience and service what matters most to online shoppers is Security and Privacy. Security

By creating a secure Ecommerce site, you give your customers the confidence to buy from you online.

verisign_logo.gif (1225 bytes)One way to demonstrate the security of your website to consumers is to display a digital certificate - which is the electronic equivalent of a business license - on your website. One of the leading Certification Authorities is VeriSign which has issued their digital certificates, called a Server ID, to 95 of the Fortune 100 companies. Before issuing a Server ID, VeriSign reviews the applicant's credentials - such as the Dun & Bradstreet number and/or Articles of Incorporation - as well other credentials.

You also want to be sure that your server uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology, which is the standard protocol for secure, Web-based communications. SSL allows you to communicate safely with any customer using today's most popular e-mail programs.

Another technology that you will want to know about is Secure Electronic Transactions (SET). Both SSL and SET are widely known communication protocols, each providing a way to make payments over the Internet.

Performance Computing Magazine summarizes four main benefits over SSL that SET offers:

  1. Merchants have assurance that transactions will not be fraudulently charged back, helping to reduce the risk of ecommerce adding unexpected costs.
  2. As a consumer, SET offers you the peace of mind that you really know you are dealing with a legitimate business and that your credit card number can't be intercepted and stolen.
  3. SET offers lower fraud rates and therefore keeps costs down. More banks and businesses are more comfortable with ecommerce as SET becomes more widespread.
  4. SET provides more interoperability across systems where as SSL is available only from machine to machine (the customers PC to the Merchant's server, often at the Merchant's ISP).

SET is more expensive to deploy than SSL because it requires software to be installed with the consumer, the merchant and the bank. Also, certificates must be issued to all parties. What is becoming more common is a hybrid deployment. Many many consumers have resisted obtaining a "wallet" or a SET certificate. Yet SSL is included with the popular browsers today. What is happening is SSL is being used to keep the connection between the consumer and the merchant secure and the merchants and banks are deploying SET to keep the back end secure. Until banks start sending our SET certificates to their customers, this hybrid arrangement will continue to dominate ecommerce security on the Web. Unfortunately, neither protocol supports small payments, so other forms of secure payments are arriving.

Privacy

Another important issue is privacy. Many consumers are concerned about how you will be handling the personal information you glean during the sales process.

For example, even when customers order products through traditional means - like mail order or direct mail - their information is often compiled on special mailing lists which are sold to other companies selling similar products. When it comes to online purchases, consumers are even more vulnerable - since their e-mail addresses could be sold as well.

That is why many reputable Ecommerce companies are now posting privacy notices on their websites to reassure consumers that their personal information will remain secure and will not be sold to outside entities.

Once you've created a secure site, it's time for Step 7 - Take The Order

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E-commerce is a powerful tool

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