E-Commerce

Volusion Update Coming Soon?

Word has it that Volusion will soon be releasing a new update. The date and feature included in update have not been disclosed. A Volusion admin on their support forum said, "we are planning to release very soon.”

We can only guess at what features will be included in the update. Considering that Volusion already has one of the most robust hosted shopping cart solutions, this update (and additional features) will only strengthen their position as one of the top carts out there.

We will update our Volusion Feature Chart as soon as the update information is made public.

eCommerce and Trust

Building Trust Online
Trust - Build it and they will buy. Lack it and they will leave.

Trust is one of the most important (and overlooked) components of building a successful online store. Customers are inherently weary of shopping online and its incumbent upon the merchant and their storefront to build a level trust with the shopper.

What is trust in terms of online shopping? Nielson (2001) defines this form of trust in the following manner:

Trust means the person’s willingness to invest time, money, and personal data in an e-commerce site in return for goods and services that meet certain expectations. The more a person trusts a website, the larger the risk he or she is willing to take when dealing with the website. If a shopper doesn’t trust a website, a “sale catastrophe” occurs. A sales catastrophe in an issue that is sufficiently important to either prevent a sale, or to discourage the person from returning to the site.

E-Commerce and Small Business

E-Commerce 101
Interested in entering the online business world? Here are some benefits of adding an E-Commerce sales channel to an existing business.

Small businesses can benefit from adding an ecommerce sales channel in following ways:

1. Allows small businesses to compete with other companies both locally and nationally (promotional tool);

2. Creates the possibility and opportunity for more diverse people to start a business;

3. Convenient and easy way of doing business transactions (not restricted to certain hours of operation, virtually open 24 hours a day, seven days a week);

E-Commerce and the Law

E-Commerce and the Law

Currently, there are not any consumer protection laws focused specifically on ecommerce. Online shopping is covered by the same consumer protection laws that cover tradition brick and mortar stores.

There are two classifications of B2C E-Commerce. They are as follows:

1. Direct Sellers
These are companies that provide products or services directly to customers are called direct sellers. These types of B2C companies are the most well-known. There are two types of direct sellers: e-tailers and manufacturers. An example of an e-tailer would be Amazon.com.

Zen Cart Review

Zen Cart Review

Zen Cart is an open source PHP based on osCommerce. It can be tied into a MySQL database and offers modular expansion if you desire to build upon the base features. I took a look at Zen Cart version 1.3.7 and must say, this is an impressive ecommerce solution. Anyone looking for a full featured Do-It-Yourself ecommerce solution should at least download Zen Cart and see what it has to offer.

Out of the box you get everything needed to setup an online store and get it off the ground, including a sample store. Without too much tweaking you can have a pretty professional looking store. If you want to kick it up a notch, the solution is based on css templates. This allows for easy editing or you can just purchases a canned template from a third party. The design possibilities are endless.

Preventing Hotlinking

HotLinking and Bandwidth Theft

Does your hosting company charge you for bandwidth overages? If so, do you review your traffic stats to make sure your images aren’t getting hotlinked? You should. Here’s why.

Hotlinking (or hot linking) is when someone references an images (or any other type of media) from your store without permission. The product image you worked so hard to take and format could end up as someone’s avatar in an online forum. To make matter worse, you are paying for the bandwidth to have that image appear in that forum. If it’s a popular forum that has a lot of traffic, your store’s load times could be diminished and you'll be flipping the bill for the extra bandwidth.

Moving from Yahoo Stores

Moving from Yahoo Stores
Free Yourself for The Revenue Sharing Price Structure.

The revenue sharing pricing model for hosted ecommerce solutions is on the way out. Why should merchants have to pay a monthly fee and a percentage of all sales to both their hosting provider and merchant account? They don’t and shouldn’t. Yahoo Stores pioneered this payment structure (while they were pioneering the hosted shopping cart industry) and over 150,000 online merchants continue to share a percentage of their revenue with Yahoo Stores.

Years ago, there wasn’t a hosted shopping cart solution that could compare to Yahoo Stores. This solution offered a low barrier of web/tech skills of launch an online store and once opened, the feature set offered was robust. The markup language used was gobbled up my search engines and Yahoo Stores could rank well with little SEO effort (still true today). The payment system is integrated into the cart so the merchant can process refunds right through the Yahoo Store admin panel. Also integrated into the admin panel was UPS shipping tools. For many years, Yahoo Stores was without rival. That has since changed.

MonsterCommerce Losing Market Share?

Hosted Shopping Cart Solution Report (Feb. 2007)
MonsterCommerce Losing Market Share?
Every time MonsterCommerce releases an update to their shopping cart solution our forum sees an increase of merchants looking for a new solution. Why this happens is best saved for its own blog entry but most tend to be moving to 3dCart because of their easy to use user interface and more robust feature list. A few of their larger stores seem to prefer Volusion. Both are great solutions (in my opinion) and offer a better product (overall) than MonsterCommerce.

I’ve found this site to be interesting:

Selecting a Merchant Account Provider

E-commerce 101: Selecting a Merchant Account Provider

In order to process sales via an online store, you need to either have a merchant account or service like Paypal of Google Checkout. While a store can get by just having a merchant account without a service like Paypal, you can’t get by without a merchant account. You need a merchant account to appear as a professional online store.

There are many different merchant account providers eager to have you as a client. These include Authoize.net, Paymentech and USAePay to name a few. Choosing a merchant account provider isn’t easy. A new merchant will find the array of services, fees and rates mind numbing. Trying to evaluate providers is major chore. With this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of criteria to investigate before selecting a merchant account provider. It is as follows:

AJAX and SEO

AJAX offers a huge leap in functionality for an online store. By dynamically inserting information into the page without the need to click, AJAX can make the shipping and checkout process a lot smoother from the customer perspective. This smoother transaction process can improve your store’s conversion rate and reduce load on your support line. AJAX is also great at rendering store data on the back end too (as 3dCart’s shopping cart solution proves). As with all new web technologies, a merchant must factor in any impact the technology will have on SEO (search engine optimization). Why? Any gains in an increased conversion rate can quickly be negated by loosing ranking in SERPs (search engine result pages).