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In the competitive world of the web, growing your business online requires careful planning and implementation of the steps described in Part 3 and Part 4. The following list is intended to help you avoid the major pitfalls in setting up an eCommerce site.

Have a Simple Checkout

Don't over-complicate the checkout process for your customers; keep it simple as possible, and avoid asking for more information than is necessary to carry out the transaction.

Have a Good Payment Gateway

Use a payment gateway that your particular demographic of customers or members will feel comfortable with, and one which is secure and verified.

Avoid Information Overload

Keep your site simple and straightforward, with an appropriate amount of information and simple visual design.

Provide Product Information

Be sure to accurately describe, using pictures where possible, the goods or services that your customers will receive, to avoid any disappointments.

Have a Good Returns Policy

If your customers can't visualise and feel your product, you need a good returns policy to give them reassurance.

Remember that the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) covers all Australian businesses, including eCommerce, and is overseen by the joint Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs. Under the ACL, the products and services you provide should work as expected, match their description and include all of the features promised. If this is not the case, you are obliged to provide a refund or replacement.

Secure Your Site

If you are going to be capturing customers details directly on your site, you need to ensure that your site is secure. Your site should have an SSL certificate (see Part 7 of this Module), to give your customers peace of mind about the security of their data.

Optimise Loading Speed

eCommerce sites can be 'data heavy', as there may be lots of modules and features to display. It is important to ensure that your site loads up quickly, by optimizing the coding and investing in a powerful hosting server (or using a reputable cloud services provider).

Designing with mCommerce in mind should take account of the relatively small data download and upload allowances for mobile phone plans.

Good Marketing

Once your eCommerce site is live, you will (presumably) want to attract the widest possible audience; this could be achieved by word-of-mouth, but is more effectively done by ensuring that search engines can index your site easily.

The Australian Department of Communications has a useful webpage about the online tools you can use to market your product or service, and analyse how well your eCommerce site is working for you.

Your marketing plan should allow for 'Search Engine Optimisation' (SEO), which at its most basic involves the inclusion of appropriate keywords in the underlying HTML code for your website. SEO is explained in more detail in Module 2 of this course.

Many commercial organisations exist to provide SEO advice. You can also review the Sitemaps protocol, which is jointly supported by Google, Yahoo! and bing (the major search engines).

Take the Opportunity to 'Up-Sell'

Remember that your website's home page is your shop window and is what most of your visitors will see first. Make use of this fact by promoting your top selling products, sales offers, and other products there.

If a visitor to your site has made a commitment to buy, they may be interested in your other products. The best way to do this is to have 'other products you may be interested in' links on your 'product detail' page, or during the checkout stages.

If the above points are kept in mind while setting up the online business then it at least ensures the features of Speed, Security and Simplicity, which all add value to the whole online user experience.


Return to 'Part 3 - eCommerce Essentials'Continue to 'Choosing an eCommerce Provider'