Introduction to e-commerce: part two

In the first part we talked a bit about what e-commerce is, how to get a domain name and set up a merchant account. E-commerce is more than that, much more. To have a really good online presence that makes people stop and buy, you need a strategy for success. Your strategy should include your USP or unique selling position in the market. What sets you apart from all the other online entrepreneurs looking for the same type of clients as you? Can you differentiate yourself from the competition by quality, price or benefits? Once you know your USP, you can begin the monumental task of telling the world about your site. A truly unique selling position will give you an edge over all the competition – well, that and a lot of planning and investment of your time and money.


Emphasize the benefits and results the customer will get from buying and using your product or service. You can find out the benefits by listing all the features and then converting them to benefits. List everything your product or service offers. For each characteristic, list a relative advantage from the customer’s perspective. You can discover customer perspectives when you buy. Just ask them, “Why did you order today or use our service?” BE very specific when creating your benefit statements. An example of this is, “You will save $ 100.00 sell better than” you will save money. ” Losing 20 pounds in 10 days “sounds better than” losing weight. “Rank your benefits in order of importance to the client. If you have enough, use bullet points for emphasis.

Emotion sells. People make most purchasing decisions with their hearts rather than their heads. Paint a picture of the results the customer will get when they buy from you. “You will look 20 years younger.” “You will be $ 100 richer.”

Be sure to include a call to action. Do you want them to make a purchasing decision today? Give them a reason to do it. Offer a starter (discount, bonus, something for nothing).

Your website should load quickly and function easily. If your site loads slowly, people will get impatient and go elsewhere. Are all your links working? Have you tested your order page by running sample orders? Have you tested the loading time with different connection speeds? You can get a free analysis by visiting

Make your website easy to see and read. I find that dark backgrounds tend to be more difficult to read than pale backgrounds. The overall appearance of your site should be clean and professional. When we first created the Women’s ECommerce Association, International, we did it all internally. Not being really adept at HTML coding, we thought we could use a simple program to create a professional site. It was good, but the one we have now is much better. Why? Because we hire a professional. You can create a website with a good template program. We are using Ecommerce Templates to create our new look for WUN Posts. It is easy to use and relatively inexpensive.

When it comes to graphics, be conservative. Sites that are loaded with graphics and flash tend to take longer to load. If your site takes more than 3 seconds to do so, you will lose a lot of visitors and potential buyers. If you must use graphics, make sure the file sizes used have been reduced as much as your image editing / compression software allows.

View your site using as many different browsers as possible. Besides Internet Explorer and Netscape, there are Opera, Mozilla, Lynx and those are just the ones that run on Microsoft Windows. WebMonkey has a graph of those compatible with Macintosh, Unix / Linux and others. Also, many people will surf with their browser graphics turned off. Make sure you know what your site looks like without the graphics and that it is still easy for visitors to navigate.

One last thought Make sure all your important information is in the top half of the page. If you know your visitors are looking for something specific and you have them scroll down to find it, they probably won’t.

Excerpted from The PMS Principles: Powerful Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business © 2005 – Heidi Richards

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