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Saving Money On Your E-commerce Site
After building and transferring many e-commerce sites it still amazes me that owners of e-commerce businesses are still wasting money in three basic ways. For fear of stating the obvious, saving money is the same as making money $100 saved is $100 added to your profit margin. Here are three basic ways to save money on your e-commerce site and increase your profits. While they may be simple we know they are overlooked time and time again resulting in thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
ABORTED SALES While most modern shopping carts come with many features, they all involve the collecting of information from clients. Name, address, telephone number, user name, password, email address and so on. Yes we understand that these details are only required for the first order but let's take a look at the new buyers experience.
They have browsed your site and found a product they wish to buy, they begin the checkout process and input all the details above. Your cart then builds the order and transfers them to paypal 2 checkout or what ever payment gateway you use. What happens next? "Please input your name, address, email, telephone number......" The result? Lost and aborted sales, surfers are lazy creatures we know that. In an ideal world your cart would have passed all those variables to the gateway and the user would not have to input them again, however because there are so many gateways and they all require different variables this is difficult.
So now you log in to the admin section of your cart and see an order only to find there is no matching payment. Thje solution is simple, fire up your email program and send them an email. "We noticed that you placed an order for our xxxxxxx however unfortunately we did not receive payment for that item so were unable to despatch it. Did you have difficulty with our ordering system? Is there anything we can do to help you? If so please contact us in one of the following ways....."
Taking a few moments to send them an email can recover the sale, or at worst you can find out which part of your ordering system isn't working for them and have it worked on. If you have your own merchant account you could have them call you and take their order by phone. Customers like to feel like customers not numbers, the fact that you took the time to contact them to find out what was wrong will give them confidence in your store and may recover the sale.
CHARGEBACKS The curse of any e-commerce store the dreaded chargeback. We are sure you have all experienced it. You take an order, despatch it and a few weeks later get a chargeback. The result you have sent goods and have to refund the price of the product and pay a chargeback fee normally around $15.
Firstly make sure your payment gateway offers some sort of seller protection. aypal for example have a full seller protection policy. This is useful to prevent fraud. It is totally unfair that some dishonest people initiate chargebacks after receiving goods, however as long as your gateway has seller protection and you have saved order details and proof of despatch you can go someway to protecting yourself against that.
Surprisingly most chargebacks are not fraudulent, they are caused by the seller forgetting who they bought from, especially if your registered company name with your gateway is different from that of your site. An example your company is called freds enterprizes but your website is widgetsgalore.com, the client buys a widget and at the end of the month sees a charge to their card from freds enterprizes. They don't recognize it they contact their card issuer and chargeback.
This is very easy to avoid. Before they get transferred to payment sate clearly in your cart "Please remember you will be billed by freds enterprizes not widgetsgalore.com". When they are returned to your site thank them for the order then remind them again, "Please remember you will be billed by freds enterprizes not widgetsgalore.com"
When you send them an email telling them their order has been dispatched tell them again "Please remember you will be billed by freds enterprizes not widgetsgalore.com" By now they should be getting the message. However, and this alone has reduced the number of chargebacks to many of our clients, we recommend that you FOLLOW UP YOUR ORDERS and a couple of weeks after the purchase send the client another email. Thank them for their purchase, tell them you hope they are enjoying your product and once again remind them "Please remember you will be billed by freds enterprizes not widgetsgalore.com"
Repetition is the key the more you tell them the more chance they have of recognizing your company name on their credit card statement.
HOSTING The money being wasted on inflated e-commerce hosting is incredible. Many of our clients have moved to our service due to the limited and very expensive packages of many so called e-commerce hosts. Let us be very clear on this, if you have your own store this is what you should have.
1. Your own design. Your store should not look like everyone elses, or be template built. If you used an online store designer to build your site we guarantee there are 100 other stores that look just like yours only with a different name. Hardly good for your online image.
2. You should have your own hosting. Not a sub folder of some larger site or virtual hosting. You should be able to add things like a links directory, message boards, support forums, guestbooks and what ever else you think would enhance your site. You should be able to have features added or removed from your cart so that it operates as you want it to. To find out if you have your own hosting email your host and ask them if you can add any of the above. It never ceases to amaze us how many store owners do not even have access to simple things like MYSQL or ftp.
3. There should be no fees payable by you other than a monthly hosting fee. Incredible as it sounds we have seen sites charge a monthly fee, plus a per item listing fee, a per item maintenance fee, commission on sales and other such ridiculous charges.
Many e-commerce hosts charge inflated prices for what is nothing more than virtual hosting (a sub folder of someone elses site) It never ceases to amaze us that most online stores are paying upwards of $50 a month for a restricted and sub standard service. E-commerce hosting is no different than regular quality web hosting. It requires only mysql and php capabilities. Of course stores can use up more space than an information site for example, however in our opinion you should not be paying more than $30 a month to host your store. For $30 you can get ample web hosting for a fairly large store. If you are paying $50 plus then change your host, this can be done without interruption to your site by a competent host.
A saving of $20 a month either adds to your profit or gives you $240 extra per year to spend advertising your site.
Just like a major corporation as an online business owner you need to look at your bottom line, it affects profit. You need to monitor and improve the shopping experience of your clients.
Gary McHugh is SEO of http://www.2001web.com . A design and hosting company specializing in e-commerce. Their service is a complete solution for webmasters including design, building, hosting, editing, programming and ongoing support. They also have a very reasonably priced site transfer service for new clients.
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