The Down Low: A Basic Ecommerce Guide

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Ecommerce is a fantastic way to start a business and to make money and to get started on the web. There are all sorts of great ecommerce platforms and shopping carts available nowadays making a quality site easier than ever to set up and lowering the entry level for those wishing to start ecommerce sites.

So, here are some basic tips for those looking to begin an ecommerce site.

The Importance Of Recommendations

Recommendations can be powerful, persuasive tools to help potential customers make a buying decision. Cleverly-placed recommendations with strong relevance should be deployed during the checkout process, tempting visitors to make additional purchases. Relevance is the key here: A customer purchasing a computer will have no interest in adding cookware to his or her order. Recommend accessories like headphones, speakers, and external hard drives instead.

Paring Down The Checkout Line

Visitors should find your checkout process highly focused. They’re not going to be interested in navigating away until their transaction is complete; you can safely remove headers, footers, and other navigation aids. One excellent feature to help guide your customers through the process is a progress indicator. This reduces confusion and increases the odds that your potential customers will stick with the process all the way to purchase.

Collecting Payments

Take every possible step to maximize your customers’ payment options. There’s no lost sale as frustrating as the one you lose because you can’t provide an attractive payment system. Modern online shoppers are sometimes leery about giving up their credit card details to an untested site; give your customers alternatives such as Google Checkout and PayPal. If picking different payment options involves paying additional charges, make sure this is clear to the customer.

Order Verification

Give your customers the opportunity to survey all the details of their transaction before they commit to purchasing. Product availability, delivery details, shipping methods, and order contents should all be brought together in an easy to understand summary. Allow your customers to modify their order at this stage (by removing items or changing shipping choices, for example) to make the summary both informative and useful to them.


A lot of people overlook SEO initially when starting an ecommerce site, however this is something that needs to be sorted sooner than later. According to Abacus Marketing, the biggest issue with this comes when people realise they have to implement a new strategy on an already established website. So, get an SEO expert on board initially to prevent long term issues.


Once all of a customer’s order details have been verified, present him or her with a very simple commitment screen to place their order. The necessary link to complete the transaction should be a clear call to action with an unambiguous label, e.g. “Place Order.” This is not the place to provide your customers with alternatives and options! Hesitation at this stage can cost you sales. Hosting your shopping cart is also something that’s become popular in recent times for a number of reasons.

Order Confirmation

After the order is completed, give your customers a simple summary of the transaction, including such information as the order number. Make it easy for your users to save and / or print this information. The confirmation page should be both stylish and professional.


Many online vendors offer new customers the ability to complete purchases without creating an account. If you offer this option, bear in mind that the moments after a purchase are an ideal time to register new customers and collect their contact information. Make the prospect attractive by outlining the benefits of registration.

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