Whether you intend a pure Internet
play (no physical store) or are looking to expand the customer
base for your existing goods and services, the e-store consists
of a few basic building blocks.
The Index (or Home) Page
is the door they come in.
It should include at a minimum navigation, contact information,
and graphics which provide a visual anchor for your business.
Top Level Pages
in an e-commerce site are
also called catalog pages. Here will be your merchandise
organized by category.
in an e-commerce site are
also called product pages. On these pages will be
the larger image of the product, a description, an options
menu (so a shirt can be purchased in "blue" and
"large"), and the buy button.
is the page generally used
to expound on your business philosophy or to introduce yourself
to potential customers. Possibly even to extol your virtues!
this page is about search engine placement... on a bed and
breakfast site this would be the "Local Attractions"
or "Events" page. But this is an integral part
of any business site because these are the pages
you can list for free on LookSmart's system. If
you don't want to pay to play on the search engines... provide
information and they'll let you play for free. What can
you add to your site as a "resource?"
- How to... pages. How to knit a
sock. How to plan a wedding. How to pick a bed and breakfast.
How to choose the right diamond. How to articles will
serve you two ways: they'll punch you up the search engine
ladder... and they'll answer questions before they arrive
in your email box. If someone does ask a question you've
already addressed, you can simply respond with "see
our article at http://www...."
- Links to other people's how to
resources. Which, from a search engine perspective, can
have the same results... and make you friends at the same
time. Everybody loves a free link.
- You can actually make money at
this by including links to suppliers from your affiliate
relationships on your resources page. Just make sure the
links are relevant. So, for example, on our chicken resource
pages "A flock of your own," we include our
affiliate links to Lehman Brothers, ebay, and Magazine
City. Lehmans sells books on raising chickens and supplies,
ebay is a source of used equipment, and Magazine City
offers Mother Earth News at a discounted rate. All of
these links have made us a little money, a few dollars
now and then, but more importantly... they spare us from
having to answer, over and over again, email which asks
"where can I buy..." The links are right there!
Resource pages, properly designed
and written, are submitted for free to the LookSmart directory,
which is the directory MSN and other major search engines
draw from. You may NOT submit your front page, or commercial
pages to this directory without paying for them, and paying
for them adds up very quickly. Writing a few articles and
coding the pages carefully to draw traffic unobtrusively
back to your main index page is a most cost effective way
of getting into the hierarchy, without having to shell out
$300 or more in placement fees. So consider "Resources"
a must include... not a luxury item.
In addition to the traditional
pieces that make up your business, you should consider these
a forms driven page for the customer who wants something
above and beyond the standard fare you offer.
The Newsletter Archive
where you store content from your fascinating newsletter.
The Guarantee is
almost never used, but look at the miles Land's End and
L.L. Bean have traveled with the "unconditional guarantee."
If you believe in your products... guarantee them. A guarantee
is a priceless piece of good public relations, and often
spells the difference between making a sale, and not.
The "Friends" Page
is a page you can use
to promote other businesses or websites who will either
enhance your site by providing content you can't offer,
or will exchange links with you.
Directions to Us,
often overlooked, but seriously,
don't you want folks to actually find you?
using your product. Sell fleece? Have a contest for the
best handspun using your fleece with bragging rights and
a small prize. Punch up your site with lamb recipes by having
a contest. Have a contest for the best vacation photo of
your resort. You can make a contest out of almost anything,
just make the rules clear and fair, and run the show clean.
An E-commerce site will also include:
The Shopping Cart
handles the transaction, including the "back end"
administration: debiting their credit card account, crediting
your merchant account, sending an e-mail acknowledging the
order, and generating an order form.
where you maintain and manage inventory, options, your shipping
options, and every other facet of your site.
Feeling comfortable? Most retail
business owners can break their inventory apart into categories
and subcategories with some ease, but are daunted by the
idea of "stocking" an online store, figuring out
how to calculate shipping, and how to manage orders. Fear
not! We use a full featured online store from Powerful Hosting
which will give you, in very simple web based format, everything
you need to manage a store. Including relieving inventory,
calculating shipping, processing the order, and printing
an invoice. It is so simple, you'll wonder why you waited.
Us for more details.
down with a nice cup
of coffee, and sketch out some ideas on how you want
your store to look and be organized... and then contact
At this point, I should say something
about design. There are as many ways to manipulate and display
graphics as there are web designers. And there are as many
ways to present information as there are imaginations. Please
visit our portfolio
where we discuss different options in detail.