What is ecommerce?

The use of electronic networks to exchange information, products, services and payments for commercial and communication purposes.

  • Brief History
  • Things you need to start your own e-commerce site
  • Key elements of e-commerce:
    • Trust and Credibility
    • Build brand loyalty
    • Know your target market
    • Content and Design
    • The Shopping cart
  • Things to consider for your site

Brief History:

  • Started back in the 80’s – Compuserve added a service called the Electronic Mall, where users could purchase items directly from 110 online merchants
  • Netscape 1.0’s release in 1994 included an important security protocol called Secure Socket Layer (SSL) that encrypted messages on both the sending and receiving side of an online transaction. SSL ensured that personal information like names, addresses and credit card numbers could be encrypted as they passed over the Internet.
  • In 1994 and 1995, the first third-party services for processing online credit card sales began to appear
  • Companies that transformed e-commerce in the mid-1990s: Amazon and eBay.

Things you need to start your own e-commerce site:

  • A Product
  • A place to sell the product – in this case the website
  • A way to get people to come to your Web site
  • A way to accept orders – an on-line form of some sort
  • A way to accept money – normally a merchant account handling credit card payments. This piece requires a secure ordering page and a connection to a bank. Or you may use more traditional billing techniques either online or through the mail.
  • A fulfillment facility to ship products to customers (often outsource-able). In the case of software and information, however, fulfillment can occur over the Web through a file download mechanism.
  • A way to accept returns
  • A way to handle warranty claims if necessary
  • A way to provide customer service (often through email, on-line forms, on-line knowledge bases and FAQs

Key elements of e-commerce:

1. Trust and Credibility:


  • Always making sure your customer knows that your website is secure and that their privacy will never be compromised
  • issue of trust – because of fraud

Money-back guarantee

  • Money-back guarantees can make a purchase easier, even when mistrust or uncertainty have a significant impact on the customer’s deicision-making. Offering your customers such a guarantee, you build up the feeling of trust and comfort, making it easier for users to actually purchase a product.
  • Be open and honest – make all information clear on the site – don’t have hidden agenda’s
  • (example: information related to the product, shipping, credit card security risks, privacy)
  • For everything you do on your website, keep in mind that the user always has to be in control of what’s happening.

2. Build brand loyalty:

  • you will earn trust
  • Clients need to “experience” the site
  • It is not enough simply to make a website usable
  • the right combination of usability, creative design, writing and a strong brand will create an experience through which your customers learn to trust you
  • When it comes to building customer’s trust in your company, a professional, trustworthy design becomes crucial.

3. Know your target market:

  • know the target market of your site – and create the website around that (example – UTI want fun element but they want older people to spend money on site, wrong target)
  • design for the customer and not ourselves – most important

4. Content and Design:

  • A professional design is necessary to differentiate your business from that of amateurs and students
  • Provide your customers with e-mail addresses of the team, phone numbers, and, of course, e-mails – earn trust by being open
  • Too much focus is put on the design and usability of the home page, and that effort does not continue through to the rest of the website
  • Tell people clearly what they should do next – good navigation to the site
  • Make the most important option the biggest. – BUY NOW button
  • “More information,” “Details” and “Technical data” are also important, but less important than the conversion itself. They should be displayed in a smaller font or in less aggressive colors.
  • Products page – clients want to spend time on this page – make sure they are buying the correct thing
  • Must be clear what you are advertising – within 3seconds you should know what the ad is about

5. The Shopping cart:

  • How well you manage to drive users to the “Checkout”-button
  • The incorrect use of the shopping cart icon = an example of flawed design decision
  • Shopping cart should become part of the site and not a seperate element
  • Important info about the cart:
    • provide customers with the information of what is inside the shopping cart,
    • indicate the minimal requirements for successful ordering
    • put a link to the checkout-section which might help users to finish the shopping process immediately
    • offer some help in case users have lost track of the process
  • Shopping Cart Gone Wrong:
    • the shopping cart icon is not clickable,
    • the shopping cart icon is difficult to recognize
    • the shopping cart icon is difficult to find.

Things to consider for your site:

  1. Social media – Very important for the customer to add your site as a favourite
  2. Polls – get more people to take your poll – giving some form of incentive to participate
  3. Neglected Thank you page – makes it more personal – someone just spent money on your site so make an effort to thank them
  4. User ratings and customer reviews

Wrap up:

Key to remember on ecommerce site – you want the customer to buy from your site!


E-Commerce Comparisons

WP e-Commerce Features

Shopping Carts Gallery: Examples and Good Practices

5 Universal Principles For Successful eCommerce-Sites

35 Free High-Quality E-Commerce Templates

The History of E-commerce

Recent eCommerce Designs

3 Responses to “eCommerce Web Design”

  1. Samantha

    What do you think would be a perfect shopping cart gallery for a website selling furniture products around 500 or so?

    • ashley

      That depends on what CMS you are using. We work with WordPress (WP) and WP-e-Commerce (WPEC). To display 500 products will mean careful planning.

      WPEC has built in categorization features, we have built a private product listing site for a client that has in excess of 1000 products. We improved usability with landing pages and good search capabilities. Search is essential with such a huge number of products. Calls to action and featured product sliders do help steer visitors. Different product layouts can be useful like grid, list or other views.

      What is your objective with the Shopping Cart Gallery? Maybe I can advise….

  2. Brigitte Aeschliman

    I just now came by means of Google and had to take some mins to say thank you for your good ecommerce program reviews which you have on this web site. I will make sure to take them into consideration even more.

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