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Selling Products from a Web Site Storefront

Think of a Web storefront as a virtual store, possessing all the qualities that a brick-and-mortar business has -- such as a display of products, shopping carts, and a checkout stand --; except everything's online.

Many Web stores feature customer service tools (such as FAQ pages and live chat) that allow customers to get information and provide feedback. Amazon.com, for example, makes suggestions about what you should buy, based on holidays, the season, and what's popular. The site even uses cookies to help it "remember" what you like to browse and order. And just as you might do in a "real" store when you find a book or other item you like, you can make choices in a Web store, such as hardcover or paperback, red or green, size S or XL, etc. You can add or remove items from your shopping cart, proceed to the checkout stand when you're done, and use various forms of payment.

Web storefronts have some advantages over physical stores. Customers are able to get a quick overview of what the store has to offer. Amazon.com, for instance, displays its wide variety of goods (everything from software to shampoo) all on one page. Finding what you need becomes as simple as typing in a keyword or two.

Plan what you'll feature in your product catalog and how you'll handle online payments and fulfill online orders. Make sure to manage your content and develop procedures to update it.

Online stores need some customer service expertise too. As with any business, there will be confusing shipping issues, questions about products, and problems with payments and returns. Make sure that you oversee customer service processes in order to give your customers the best support possible.

Building a Web store will cost you the fees for Web hosting, the price of e-commerce software components or a turnkey solution, the fees for a payment processing service, etc. Distribution and shipping both cost money too. You'll need to be prepared to fulfill your online orders.

Your Web store makes you money from the charges to your customers for goods you provide to them.Of course, your Web site itself can also be a source of income if you sell advertising space for banner ads, join an affiliate program, or create your own affiliate program.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 February 2009 12:05
 
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