Components of an eCommerce Store
The following are the typical components of an eCommerce / Shopping Cart store. Some of these components are mandatory while, others are optional depending on your situation.
Register and Login
Your customers will need to sign-up /register with your site before conducting business online. It is important that you keep this process simple so that you don’t deter your customers from filling out their information. Offering alternate login options such as Facebook Connect and OpenID can often be a good idea.
Have a product catalog for multiple products. Your products should be tagged by search-friendly keywords and also organized into categories and sub-categories. A user-friendly menu system for browsing products is essential. The menu will point to product listing pages and each item in the list will point to a product page. Having specifications and images of your products will help customers to make quick assessments. A good catalog will have a search feature that takes the consumers directly to the product they are looking for.
A shopping cart contains items that the user intends to buy. It should be easy for the customer to add items to the shopping cart from the product listing as well as the product detail pages. The shopping cart should be easily accessible and functional from any page as long as the user is logged in. The shopping cart should show applicable discounts, taxes and bonus/loyalty points. The user should be able to save the cart for later use, add items, delete items, and change the quantity of items.
Online Payment Process
If you plan to accept credit cards, you need to open a merchant account with a bank and integrate a payment gateway with your eCommerce website. When your consumer enters their card details in your checkout or payment page, these details are sent to the credit card processing company through the payment gateway. The credit card details will be verified and then either be accepted or rejected. If the transaction is approved, money will be deposited into your merchant account.
Some of the third party online payment methods that you could include are PayPal, e-checks, Google Checkout and Bill Me Later. These are good alternative options for people who are uncomfortable giving their credit card information, and may help you attract more customers.
Offline Ordering Methods
To draw more consumers to your eCommerce site, you could offer offline ordering methods such as a toll-free telephone, email, fax, cod and/or person-to-person. You can also provide a customer support number for customer help which may add a sense of security.
When selling physical goods you should provide multiple shipping options for your customers. Standard shipping, international shipping, next-day shipping and so on are all ways you can do so. By selecting an option as a default shipping method you can show the calculated costs for basic shipping. Fedex, and other similar companies, provide APIs that help you calculate shipping costs based on package weight and distance.
Being able to track your order is a necessary feature for online businesses to have. Invoices should always be sent to your customers, preferably though e-mail.
If you are into international selling, the prices for products should be viewable in different currencies. The purchasing decision for the customer is much easier when they can view the price of a product in their own currency. You can get conversion rates from exchange rate feeds; however, you have to carefully plan this as banks may charge currency conversion fees.
Be sure that your shopping cart software has a built-in sales tax calculator that will automatically calculate the tax amount based on the customer’s or your own address.
A secure protocol for transactions will help keep this information from the wrong people. SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is the de facto standard in eCommerce. For implementing SSL, you will need digital certificates, which can be purchased from agencies such as Verisign. This will provide assurance for your customers, showing them that security is very important to your business.
This back-end panel is for you and your employees. Typically, you will be able to view and manage product details, customer details, sales orders, and fulfillment status here.