ec Newsletter #14
Gudday from a sunny and warm Gisborne and I hope the Christmas rush to all one way to your door...!
Welcome to the new people on the mailing list and I hope you get some great ideas for your web projects from these newsletters.
The past Newsletters can be found here our contact details are below as is the unsubscribe information at the bottom.
Important E-C Toolset Upgrade Notice
We're doing some work transferring the E-C Toolset and all customer web sites onto a new server farm over the next week.
This work shouldn't effect anyone visiting your web site but will require the admin side of the system to be closed - this should happen on Sunday from midday for four hours.
The outcome is a far more robust system that will allow for growth as well as the ability to handle occasional "bursts" of traffic or database activity.
Let us know if this plan could cause any problems and we apologise in advance for the inconvenience.
Information Architecture - Online Ordering
One of the more difficult aspects to being able to maintain and grow your online information using a content management system is to work out how information should be laid out on the pages of the web site.
In this the second of a series of articles I'll look at some of the common functions of a web site and discuss how they could - or should be laid out.
Say hello to online ordering from an ecommerce shop - the holy grail of many online endeavours - selling products or services online.
Abandoned shopping carts are missed revenue opportunities and research has shown that increasing the ease of use of your shopping mechanisms results in more sales.
Having a simple and easy to use way for people to enquire; order or purchase items from your web site increases the revenue in your business and turns the web site from a cost center into a profit center.
The web site can reach new geographical customers that you haven't already targeted and can market into specialty niches - easily and cheaply.
You may think that you don't have products to sell - but in these days of "knowledge products" you may find it's your intellectual property that could have value to someone.
How about the knowledge that you have about a hobby or sport...?
And what about those associated products that you could promote if you thought about it...?
How about the complementary toiletries that you use in your bed and breakfast - or the organic pickle and relish products that you source locally...?
The original supplier may not have a web site - but would welcome you selling their items on yours.
Formatting an Ecommerce Shop depends on a number of different factors:
- The number of items available to purchase
- How many Categories needed for people to find things in a shop
- If there are "sub items" or options available for each item in the shop
- The amount of information needed for visitors to make a buying decision for the item
- If more information is needed for the item via photos or videos or other web pages
- If freight can be simply calculated at the time of ordering
There are also two main types of layout to use for an ecommerce shop:
- A list format that displays each item that you have to purchase running down the page
- A shopping cart mechanism that visitors can use to view different products in different categories and can add products from different categories into a shopping cart to "check out" through a payment mechanism
So let's mix and mingle the two lists above to see what we get...!
If you have less than 20 to 30 products then having all products in a single list is as easy as you can get. Visitors can view all products in the list - perhaps click the heading of the item to view more details about that product on a new page - and in the single list they can enter the number of units of each item they wish to buy.
The same page would have space for the visitors name and delivery address details to be entered so everything is on the single page.
If you have multiple items that need to be found under various categories then a more complex shopping cart would be required.
Some larger shops may require two levels of categories too - so a visitor could click on "Menswear" then click a sub category of "Shirts" to view the items.
With some items the system may need to also offer product options such as "size", "colour" or type - e.g. using the "Shirt" scenario above - we may click on "T Shirt" and then decide to purchase one.
The system would then need to ask me what size did I want and in what colour...? A really good ordering system would let me indicate a small size yellow one and two large size blue ones.
A common mistake that we see in our online buying attempts is the web site not offering enough information to allow us to decide to purchase the item.
A commodity item is one that we are familiar with such as a DVD or replacement printer ink - it is something that we know what it looks like and have confidence that if we order we know what we are getting.
But consider a non-commodity item - something like a service or a complex item that you need to know the exact size, shape, material of before you decide to purchase - often we visit a web site that just does not provide enough information for us to be comfortable that the particular item will fit our needs.
Clicking on the linked name of the item is an age old way of drilling down to view more information about the product and these days with more and more of your potential customers having broadband (and a YouTube addiction) posting videos of the product in use would make a huge selling point.
And now a word about online ecommerce "bad boy" freight - this can be very complex to accurately cost to the nearest courier coupon and our advise is always "KISS" (keep it simple shipper)
Ideally all your products available online would be offered "freight free" - simply add a dollar or two to each product and make the "freight free" a sales point. This also removes the perceived barrier that some people have in buying online - that is that it is going to cost more.
If you don't want to do this; then try and keep the options very easy for the web site visitor to grasp - and your web developer to create.
The simpler the mechanism the cheaper it will be to implement - to do a full freight / shipping system like a major online etailer could run into many many thousands of dollars.
The E-C Toolset allows for both shop styles discussed above as well as allowing you to have as many pages as you need for more information about each product - also great for search engine bait...!
Contact us if you'd like to chat about any products that you would like to promote online...
Google Street View comes to NZ
If you haven't already - go into Google Maps and type your street address - click the small icon and there's your front gate...!
The Street View can be embedded into your Contact Page too - way cool...!
Bonus "Bonus Offer"
We need new clients for the rest of this year...! Who do you know that needs a new web site that really works...?
If you refer a new client to us until the end of December we'll give you (and them) six months of free web hosting when we launch their new web site
- just ensure that they let us know you referred them...
If you like these newsletters then please do forward it onto a friend...
Have you seen the E-C Help section lately...?
It is available at www.ectoolset.com/help/
We've also archived these newsletters at www.ectoolset.com/news/
That's it for now - please do let us know what you think of the newsletter - and of the e-c toolset and thanks for your business...!
Cheers and thanks again