Thinking about eCommerce Website Development and setting up an eCommerce Website may seem like a straightforward idea. Yet coordinating the Web Development processes, hosting, software, and service providers can be very challenging indeed. Worse, if it is not done right … it can be quite problematic to fix. So my first recommendation to anyone contemplating a move to eCommerce is, “find yourself a well qualified eCommerce Development Specialist to head up the project”. This is the single most important and cost saving decision you can make.
eCommerce Website Development and Design Structural Elements:
• Internet Design
• Shopping Cart
• Merchant Account
• Payment Gateway
• eCommerce Software
eCommerce Internet Presence:
A website, engaging content, and search engine optimization are among the most basic requirements. These three elements, when built properly maximize discoverability to the buying public. They also encourage shoppers to go beyond browsing and actually make sizable purchases.
Shopping Cart Software:
The shopping cart is your buyer’s first exposure to your products and/or services on the Internet. The presentation needs to be smart, attractive, crisp, and easy to navigate. Its function is to allow the buyer to peruse your catalog, make selections, choose quantities, and calculate the total cost of the order. In the process it calculates shipping/handling costs and applies all applicable taxes. The second step of the process is referred to as the “checkout” mode. Here the buyer is asked to submit payment information including credit/debit card data plus billing and shipping addresses.
The merchant account is the financial arm of the transaction initiated by the buyer through your shopping cart. This is where the actual financial processing takes place. Your bank uses specific purchase data collected by the shopping cart and submits that information to the buyers bank (the buyer’s credit card provider) for payment. There are a number of approval protocols involved but assuming every indicator is a go, funds are captured from the buyer’s account and transferred to your business account. So the shopping cart is the heart of your in-house order processing and the merchant account is the heart of your financial transaction.
The payment gateway is probably the least understood part of the entire process. I have explained the function of the shopping cart as the “ordering process”, and the merchant account as the “financial processing” … but what brings the two of them together is the payment gateway. The payment gateway is provided by a service provider just as your merchant account is provided by a company. The gateway can be defined as the “technology” required to securely capture credit card information and transactional data from your shopping cart and transfer it to your merchant account for processing.
eCommerce Software in this context equates to the systems that provide the functionality of the above as a whole. Magento, osCommerce, Shopify, ZenCart are all popular examples. Selecting the right software to handle your website needs is no easy task.
As you embark on building an eCommerce website … I cannot emphasize enough the importance of using a well qualified eCommerce Web Designer or software development team. They will be experts at utilizing the latest eCommerce techniques to manage the interaction of the various systems. The comprehensive system they build will not only oversee all the others, but also compile the critical data required to help you make those important decisions about order and inventory processing, sales and merchandising, AND the financial goals you are trying to achieve.