YOUR ONLINE SHOP NEVER CLOSES
Sell Round the Clock with an Ecommerce Shopping Cart
If you are a retailer or have products which you can ship or deliver to customers, then you should seriously consider selling directly from your website. Not only will this provide you with additional marketing, promotional and advertising facilities for your products, it will also empower you to sell 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year, at no extra cost.
That's Right! Sell 24/7 At No Extra Cost!
By adding ecommerce facilities to your website in the form of a shopping cart and payment by credit card, this turns your website into a super sales department that never closes. Customers can order and pay for your products at any time 24/7, which is an extremely powerful facility. Your website sells even when you are off duty, on holiday, or otherwise indisposed.
This effectively gives you a permanent sales assistant working round the clock at no extra cost. The assistant never takes a break. Never complains. Needs minimum management. And doesn't require compliance with employment legislation, taxation or other employment costs.
An Ecommerce Website is very Cost Effective
The minimum wage for an adult worker in the UK from October 2008 is £5.73 per hour. To provide 24-hour cover by shop assistants within a normal shopping environment would cost:
TABLE: Employee Minimum Wage Costs to provide 24/7 Cover
|Single 8-hour shift @ £5.73 per hour
|3 x 8-hour shifts @ £45.84 per shift
|Providing cover for 7-days @ £137.52 per day
|Providing cover for 52-weeks @ £962.64 per week
|These figures do not include premium rates for weekends or shift work, nor do they include employer's NI contributions or any other employment costs.
As shown above, the minimum cost of providing 24/7 cover by 3 employees is £50057.28 per year, whilst the cost of just a single employee working a 40-hour week is £16685.76 per year. And this is only minimum wage costs and does not include other employment costs!
As the average ecommerce enabled website normally costs around £4000 within a range from £2000 for a simple, no frills cart, up to £7500 for a high-end facility, this is only a fraction of the cost of employing full-time shop assistants.
TABLE: First year Ecommerce Website Costs versus Employee Wage Costs
|Simple No Frills Shopping Cart
|High-end Shopping Cart
|Average-priced Shopping Cart
|As the main web development costs are generally only incurred in the first year, the savings from Year-2 onwards will be considerably higher than shown above.
It is appreciated that few retailers (supermarkets excepted) would consider trading 24/7 as the high operational staffing and security costs would probably negate the profit potential. However, a website does not have these limitations. Once implemented, it is available 24/7 to sell your goods and products whenever a customer wants to buy, no matter what time of the day or night that may be.
This is extremely powerful!
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What is a Shopping Cart
A shopping cart is a complex software program that is added to your website by your web designer to provide ecommerce facilities. These facilities include, amongst others:
A shopping cart can be compared to the engine of a car. It is hidden out of the way most of the time, but without it a car won't do anything. It won't go anywhere. And the majority of car drivers don't need to know how it works. Probably don't care how it works. Many are more interested in how the car looks, how it performs and what features it has, rather than concern themselves about the intricacies of the more important engine.
- Catalogue display pages
- Product options
- Cart or basket to store products being selected
- Facility to select, order & pay for products
- Facility to calculate shipping & sales tax (VAT) where necessary
- Payment options, particularly payment by credit card
- Notify you & customer when sale completed
The same is true of a shopping cart. It is the engine powerhouse of your ecommerce website. Your web designer will hide the shopping cart by blending it into the site structure and build the rest of the site around it, making it look the way you want. Making it perform the way you want. And making it look the way that will have most appeal to customers.
But, like the car engine, many website owners are not concerned about how or why the shopping cart works. They simply want it to do its job efficiently and correctly!
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Static Shopping Cart - Best for few products that rarely change
A static shopping cart is so called because the products and catalogue display pages are permanent and rarely change. They are normally created by the web designer during the development phase of the website, and can usually only be changed by the web designer. They are ideal for small, start-up sites, and are cost effective for 10 to 75 products. For 100+ products, a static cart starts to get fairly expensive and, for 150 products or more, a dynamic cart is probably more cost effective.
Static carts start to get expensive because they require the services of the web designer every time a new product is added or the product details change. During the website design phase, this adds considerably to the time the designer spends building the site which is reflected in a higher cost profile for the project.
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Dynamic Shopping Cart - Gives you full control of your products
A Dynamic Shopping Cart is so called because the products are stored in an online database instead of on a permanent page, and are only displayed when a request is obtained from an end user. The request usually takes the form of clicking a link to a specific product or group of products. Upon receipt of the request, the website server retrieves the relevant product(s) and then displays them for viewing.
Whilst the web designer creates the necessary database tables, scripts and programs required to make everything work correctly, the product information is entered into the database by the website owner via an online admin interface.
As well as adding products, the site owner can also delete, change and update products at any time 24/7, enabling products, pricing and data to be kept 100% up-to-date and fresh. As soon as the owner makes a change it is displayed online immediately.
This is extremely powerful!
Instead of having to rely on the web designer to make changes, full control of the product information is in the hands of the site owner.
A dynamic shopping cart is highly recommended for site owners who want to exercise full control of their products, or for any site that plans to display more than 150 products.
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What You Need To Know
In a static shopping cart the product and catalogue display pages physically exist and, as such, are virtually permanent and rarely change. They are normally created by the web designer during the development phase of the website, and can usually only be changed by the web designer.
In a Dynamic Shopping Cart the product and catalogue pages do not physically exist, and the product data is stored in an online database instead of on a fixed, permanent page. They are only displayed when a request is received from a site user, which usually takes the form of clicking a link to a specific product or group of products. Upon receipt of the request, the website server retrieves the relevant product(s) and then displays them for viewing.
One of the most important aspects of an ecommerce shopping facility is the ability to accept payment immediately by credit card. This encourages buyers to buy on impulse which is good from a business viewpoint. There are two primary ways of accepting payment by cards - Bureau or Merchant account - and they are outlined below. Both require a secure server facility to process the credit cards - see below.
A bureau account is provided by a credit card processing organisation (CCPO). In return for a processing fee per transaction and, in some instances, an annual fee as well, the CCPO will handle the full payment process on your behalf, including checking the authenticity of the credit card being presented for payment. This is carried out within seconds using the CCPO's own secure server, freeing you from the need to have a secure server facility.
A business has Merchant Account Status when it has been authorised by one of the leading financial institutions, Banks or Merchant Services (credit card) organisations to process credit card transactions in its own right. Within such an agreement, a business has total control over the transaction processes and procedures, and must ensure that adequately trained staff are always available to administer and control the procedures involved. To run a successful worldwide Internet business with 24-hour/365-day availability, this may require suitably qualified staff to be constantly available. For internet trading, this is often called processing cards in "Customer Not Present" mode. A secure server is required to conduct these types of transactions.