Over five hundred million people surf the Web, yet, there are little over 1 Web sites. In Web lingo (derived from advertising lingo), Web sites fight with each other to gain "eyes" or to generate "traffic."
If you hope to successfully launch a Web-based e-commerce sales channel, first your Web site must attract visitors!
A Web "storefront" merely acts as a proxy for a physical, or "brick-and-mortar", store. Your Web site displays your goods and services on your virtual storefront in order to attract and close buyers.
With a physical store, location can have a huge influence over a company's ability to generate traffic. A store on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan in New York City lures potentially far more prospects than a store on a dirt road in a remote village.
The Web, however, eliminates location: all storefronts on the Web stand on the busiest intersection in Manhattan on the peak shopping day of the year.
The difficulty lies in getting noticed, in differentiating your Web site from others, and in developing a brand. The need to get your Web site noticed applies to all e-commerce sites, though the techniques vary somewhat between B2B and B2C.
Creating demand for an e-commerce Web site cannot be done in a vacuum. If you could drive as much traffic as you could ever want to your e-commerce Web site, would you be prepared?
Several business and technical questions must be addressed first to determine your company's Web readiness. Some questions you might ask include:
- Do we have hardware that will support high volumes of site traffic?
- Do we have inventory and fulfillment operations (such as picking/packing and freight) adequate enough to handle dramatically increased volumes of sales?
- How does a successful e-commerce Web site affect existing sales, marketing, staff, and operations?
Your business decisions and implementation issues surrounding Web storefronts should focus on the seven areas described in the SlideShow
1) New dot-coms have different branding challenges than already-existing brick-and-mortars because they usually start off with no brand.
2) If your company is a brick-and-mortar which is moving into e-commerce, remember that your Web storefront provides a very public view into your company.
3) The design of your company's website, the tone and look-and-feel, should represent your company's desired image in order to reach its business objectives.
4) In Web terminology, content is the text of your website: The 1) text 2) pictures, and 3) multimedia. (video/audio/animations).
5) If you have physical stores and mail order outlets which are not feeling a competitive push from the web, you could use a website for specific purposes
6) If you plan to use a Web storefront as a strategic product channel, perhaps you need to include your product full line on your website to increase the odds of making a sale
7) Do you save money when sales are made on the Web? If so, do you want to pass those savings directly on to web storefront customers?
8) Pricing on the Web needs to consider the context of what you are trying to accomplish in terms of business objectives.
9) A later lesson discusses promotion in portals and personalization.
10) You can always pay for banner advertising with portals and related Web sites. How do you track, however, the effectiveness of those ads?
11) When selling services and products through non-Web channels, you may work with various partners to supply you with raw materials, finished goods
12) If your existing partners cannot support your e-commerce initiative, enlist new partners who can help your company meet it's e-commerce goals.
13) Know that your Web storefront will affect your fulfillment department. Communicate those expectations to your fulfillment operations, and tell them to monitor sales traffic
14) Analyze your e-commerce sales goals and consider whether you need to increase production or increase inventory in warehouses