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Easier Ecommerce : Sell Anything Online

Posted on 2.14.2008

by Peter Prestipino

There are millions of active websites today, and many of them are enjoying success selling products and services online. One of the many great things about being an e-commerce merchant is that products can be sold for much less on the Web than a comparable storefront in the brick-and-mortar world. With powerful e-commerce software solutions, a good product, the motivation to make it happen and some best practices, anyone can achieve success on the Web.

Shoppers Need Product Information:
Chances are good that you have purchased something, at some point from a Web storefront. And it’s a good bet that the merchant had supporting or descriptive information about the product, as very few online shoppers have enough confidence in e-commerce to buy something without plenty of detailed information. Yet, one of the most significant mistakes that many merchants make is not providing sufficient information about their products.

The most successful merchants employ copywriters to produce these essential product descriptions. While writing is a creative process, many merchants fail to realize that good copy can be based on empirical data. Visitors arrive at your site using keywords and key phrases – important information that will give you  a head start in discovering, over time, what terminology is used to locate your site. That, in turn provides great clues as to what copy should be included in your product information.

Shoppers Expect Availability and Support:

Too many merchants hide behind their virtual counters. Those who provide support features such as live chat, contact forms and even toll-free or local phone numbers experience exponentially higher conversion rates than those who make it difficult for users to contact. For example, a sale might rely on a user knowing about the quality of the product, when it will be delivered or if it came with a guarantee? And while much of this information should be included on the website, many users still want to ask questions.

Making an effort to not only initiate contact but keep the lines of communication open will help establish more than just immediate sales – increased average order value and higher lifetime value for each customer will follow. While making sure that contact forms and phone numbers are working properly is a great first step, establishing a client newsletter or even a weblog can add tremendous value. Both serve several valuable purposes – the appearance of high availability and support, an increase the depth of product information and an aura of expertise are just a few.

Shoppers Need Confidence:

It’s the responsibility of merchants to instill confidence in consumers; not just through quality products (and their descriptions) but also in the business itself. According to research from VeriSign Secured Seal Research, 65 percent of online shoppers buy only from sites they know and trust.

There are many Web solutions that can help you achieve this credibility, including third-party solutions provided by firms like BuySafe, HackerSafe and ValidatedSite. While these solutions have been shown to dramatically increase conversion rates, even small steps such as creating a formal guestbook or testimonials page will go a long way towards giving users confidence in your business and products. Some merchants are even administering bulletin boards so that consumers can interact with other consumers. There’s no faster way to build confidence than by word-of mouth and by enabling consumers with the tools to share the good news about you and your products.

The Web provides many powerful ways to market and sell products online. With the right know-how and the right tools, the possibilities are endless. Like anything else, what you put into it reflects what you can expect in return. And with the countless options the Web provides, merchants must provide valuable tools and information, and instill the utmost confidence in their consumers to achieve online success.

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