Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 35.172.217.40

Forum Moderators: buckworks

Message Too Old, No Replies

A new e-commerce site: where to start?

Seeking tips for a new e-commerce site

     
5:36 pm on Jun 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

New User

10+ Year Member

joined:June 18, 2008
posts:29
votes: 0


Hello all.

I've been reading this forum for a while, read the sticky E-commerce 101, and after gathering info from other member's experiences, I decided to start my own thread. I wish I could share information with the WW community, unfortunately, I am new to e-commerce and SEO in general. So at this early stage, I can only seek for help, and as I grow and become more experienced, I can share the acquired knowledge with the community.

After this brief intro, I'd like to expose my case.

We are trying to sell widgets (I see everyone else calls their goods widgets, I guess you can't go with specifics so I'll follow the trend) from Peru, South America. Our target market is not local, we want to reach North America (U.S., Canada) and Europe mainly. I know there are many variables involved, many aspects to cover, from choosing a good shopping cart, a payment gateway, link building to make a site become noticed in the internet.

Our page is not on flash, according to Google, our store's homepage is at 16k (compared to some competitors whose sites have 60k+ we are pretty good I guess) so it loads fast, has good pictures, product descriptions, etc.

Going to the point, what do I need to do first to begin getting ranks, traffic, etc?

Build links?
Write content?
Work on a better site presentation?

Currently, my associate is running a pay-per-click campaign for some of our niche keywords. Still, we only have 1 visits per day, sometimes none. Since launch, we have only sold 1 widget.

The site was launched in April, before that, I knew absolutely NOTHING about e-commerce, SEO, etc. All I know now, I learned it from this forum and another I'm not naming. So please, have patience with me, if you write with acronyms, it is possible I will not understand what you mean.

This is a sincere post, I am not trying to ask people to do the job for me. I want to do it myself, I'd like to learn, and if I have a successful experience, share it with the community.

If any posters need more info, I'd gladly give it (without going into specifics). Thank you.

6:06 pm on June 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Moderator from US 

WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Dec 10, 2005
posts:5853
votes: 200


My sugegstion is to focus on content (especially product descriptions) and presentation. Focus on the product pages, becaus those pages are most likely where you want to focus visitors. Make sure that once the visitor is at the product page and ready to buy that you make it very easy for the visitor to do so. Very critical: eliminate any barriers to purchasing easily.

One question I have is that you said you went live in April, but you mention the aspects of shopping cart, payment gateway, etc. Don't you have those in place already?

Also, one comment is that many U.S. people may be reluctant to give their credit card information to a company in Peru that they know nothing about. So it is critical that you make your entire site (and your business in general) as professional looking as possible to give people confidence and trust in you.

You should also look into getting some sort of toll-free or local (in the U.S. and Europe) number so people can easily contact you- this also goes a long way to developing trust. With the availability of inexpensive VoIP (Internet phones) services like Skype and others, it is a rather small investment that can make the difference between someone purchasing or not.

6:27 pm on June 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:June 29, 2001
posts:2145
votes: 0


For a new site, I would focus on adding some content every single day. Does not matter if its new pages or adding text to current pages. Google loves to find new content on a website, when it figures out that you are actively adding content the googlebot will be a regular vistor.

I would also spend time getting links. Get into some directories, like Yahoo and Business . com if you can afford it. Mine links related to your industry. If your market is North America try and get as many links up here as possible and you may want to consider hosting your website in the USA.

We are in Canada and most of our customers are in the US. There are many Americans who will not deal with us because we are "foreigners", I can not imagine the trouble a South American company would have getting American business. So it will be an uphill battle for you but if your price is competitive and you offer good service you may be successful .. its hard to know really because there are so many variables.

Stick around, everything you nood to know is on this forum.

6:36 pm on June 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

New User

10+ Year Member

joined:June 18, 2008
posts:29
votes: 0


Sorry if I wasn't too clear with my original post. I didn't want to write a wall of text, so as doubts arouse, I would clear them with new posts in this thread.

I'll answer your doubts first, then ask you some questions regarding your post.

Long story short, this e-commerce idea began in June 2007, however, we started working on specifics around October. My partner did research on shopping carts, etc. He found an integral solution, which had CRM and shopping cart, all-in-one. The problem that he didn't see with this integral solution was that it didn't support payment gateways for countries outside the U.S. We came to the realization that this solution was for bigger companies, not for a start-up, so he changed it for a downgraded version, that only included the shopping cart, and not the whole CRM software.

This shopping cart supported the 2checkout payment gateway so that alleviated the payment problem we initially encountered with the previous shopping cart. Before this, the only solution we had was to accept Western Union, Moneygram or Wire transfers. However, I know that most internet transactions are done with credit cards.

By February 2008, we had the shopping cart and the payment gateway defined. After some setbacks, we launched the store on April. Also, the hosting is located in the U.S. so the page will load faster to an american customer than us, the owners.

About your concern related to people being reluctant to give us their credit card numbers, they don't have to. As a matter of fact, they don't give it to us. All CC transactions are done via the payment gateway. The only information we store is their name, shipping address, phone number, e-mail address. Also, we have a policy section, where we include Privacy, Shipping, Returns, Refunds, etc. Our store is nothing compared to any peruvian stores, which are poor in design, have zero policies, etc. Both my partner and I have lived in the U.S. and know a lot about the culture.

I was also advised to use Skype, which is the next move I'm taking.

My questions to you would be:

1. You say focus on content, product descriptions and presentation. So far, each widget has its own name, code, and for description, it has weight, size, dimensions (length, width). Do you think I need to add more "in-depth" information, something like "this widget can be used for special ocassions, such as A, B, C or D"?
2. The products' pages are clean. Before I came to this forum, just by common sense knew that I had to keep pages simple. We have thumbnails, medium-size photos inside each product page and a large photo available when you click the "enlarge photo" option. There aren't banners, ads, etc. just the product itself. We haven't enabled the "related products" option yet (where you can include thumbnails of related products on each product page), however, that's something I'm working on now.

6:52 pm on June 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Moderator from US 

WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Dec 10, 2005
posts:5853
votes: 200


people being reluctant to give us their credit card numbers, they don't have to. As a matter of fact, they don't give it to us. All CC transactions are done via the payment gateway.

Well, most customers do not understand the differentiation. Eventually, the payment is going to you. And it's not the credit card information per se, it's the trust (or lack thereof) that they will actually get the product for the money they spend.

Do you think I need to add more "in-depth" information, something like "this widget can be used for special ocassions, such as A, B, C or D"?

Yes, that is a very good idea. Also, ask your customers if they can write recommendations for the product and/or your company.
8:08 pm on June 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

New User

10+ Year Member

joined:June 18, 2008
posts:29
votes: 0


Ruggles:

When you say

I would focus on adding some content every single day. Does not matter if its new pages or adding text to current pages.

can you be more specific about what this content can be? or can it be anything? I understand for example, if my site were informative, like a business online magazine, I would have to include daily articles related to the site. But in an e-commerce site, what kind of content can I include daily? New products?

and you may want to consider hosting your website in the USA

Yes, we bought our hosting online, from an American company.

We are in Canada and most of our customers are in the US. There are many Americans who will not deal with us because we are "foreigners", I can not imagine the trouble a South American company would have getting American business. So it will be an uphill battle for you but if your price is competitive and you offer good service you may be successful .. its hard to know really because there are so many variables.

I fully understand this. As a matter of fact, before we launched the store, we worked on the idea of opening a branch in the U.S.; we have been in contact with lawyers, read a lot about State's legislation regarding international companies, etc. We did this initially because our major concern was being competitive. Because we have to ship internationally, shipping is expensive and takes longer, much longer. Using a 15-21 day shipping costs 10 dollars, whereas the express service takes 5 business days and costs 33 dollars. I'm absolutely sure that this plays negatively in our conversion rates.

One could think that opening a branch in the U.S. could be done only when we are mildly successful at least, but in this case, I think it's a must if we want to survive and/or become successful.

8:14 pm on June 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

New User

10+ Year Member

joined:June 18, 2008
posts:29
votes: 0


Well, most customers do not understand the differentiation. Eventually, the payment is going to you. And it's not the credit card information per se, it's the trust (or lack thereof) that they will actually get the product for the money they spend.

Life, in our Privacy section we are very explicit about this. We mention that we don't keep the credit card information. However, to reach that section, you need to browse the Policies Page, then click on the Privacy section, and I understand some people may not have the time, or the will, or won't know where to look to finally find that information.

Do you think it would be wise to add in each product's page a link to that specific page, or add some sort of information like "Concerned about your privacy? click here" just to reassure that their information is safe?

9:28 pm on June 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Moderator from US 

WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Dec 10, 2005
posts:5853
votes: 200


Yes, a link to the privacy policy on every product page (perhaps every page) would definitely be good.

Again, it's not about the credit card information itself, it's about the money. You are asking people to send money to an unkown company in South America (which, unfortunately, has many countries that have reputations for high fraud). You may be the most trustworthy person in the world, but until people know you and you gain their trust, they will tend to view you with suspicion- it's sort of a form of "guilt by association" if you are familiar with that term.

Also, just because you say something on your site doesn't mean people will believe ot trust it. Think about it this way- let's say there is a guy who is only going to commit fraud by stealing credit card numbers. Is he going to say something like "Your credit card information is not safe on this web site- I am just going to steal it and sell it to professional thieves." or something similar to "We are safe. We don't keep the credit card information." in his privacy statement?

Please understand that I am not saying anything negative against you or your company or your intentions. I am just saying that many people will have the PERCEPTION of untrustworthiness, partially because of your company's age and location. Every company experiences it somewhat when they are first starting out, especially on the Internet. The fact that you are in a country outside your target market is a major factor that you will need to deal with and overcome. I am certainly not trying to discourage you from doing business either. By all means, I wish you the best of luck and hope that your company soon grows and establishes a level of trust and respect so that you can look back on this conversation with a laugh.

5:56 pm on June 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

New User

10+ Year Member

joined:June 18, 2008
posts:29
votes: 0


Also, just because you say something on your site doesn't mean people will believe ot trust it.

Yes, definitely true. One way to alleviate this negative effect is customer testimonials for sure. They will be hard come come-by initially, because we don't have many customers, and not everybody will agree to give a testimony.

Please understand that I am not saying anything negative against you or your company or your intentions

Don't worry. I appreciate your comments and suggestions. It is normal to hesitate in using a new company's services. Even locally, I rarely eat at a new restaurant before having reviews from close people to me.

It's been only 2 months since launch, but I feel like I could have achieved more in this period of time.

 

Join The Conversation

Moderators and Top Contributors

Hot Threads This Week

Featured Threads

Free SEO Tools

Hire Expert Members