E-commerce solutions...

E-commerce options
Many websites make no attempt to sell things.  They exist to provide information only.  Others provide both information and an opportunity to purchase items.  Still others, like amazon.com, exist only to sell things.

The key to selling things on the internet is to make the process as easy as possible for your customers.

1. Help your customers enjoy your website.

2. Help your customers select your products by providing excellent photographs and descriptions.

3. Make it quick and easy to buy.  What the customer really wants is to point at the product and click.  Everyone who visits your site has has already visited (and maybe bought something at) amazon.com or similar sites.

There are two basic options for taking orders through your website:

1. 'Order form' solutions,

2. Shopping cart solutions

'Order form' solutions
1. Simple e-mail response form...

An e-mail response form is a convenient way to take orders. You can provide a custom order form on your website and the information will be e-mailed to you when the customer completes the order.

The e-mail response form can be customized with your product descriptions, prices, etc.

This order form can provide spaces for customer name and address, credit card numbers, and other relevant information.

However this simple e-mail response form can do no calculations.  Hence it cannot really complete the order.

2. Full order form...

A very elegant solution for order entry is the our custom order forms.  For a website with a smaller number of items, it offers a very convenient way for your customer to order from you.

It offers many advantages over shopping cart solutions.  It is a one-page order form, customized with your product description, prices, but with the capabilities of doing calculations, accepting and verifying credit-card numbers, calculating taxes and shipping, completing the order, and sending a verified order to your customer.

Very crisp, very efficient. Customers love it.

But, an order form is a little unwieldy if you have many products to sell.

Shopping cart solutions
Many e-commerce sites use a shopping cart. As the user moves through your online store, they can freely place products into their cart. At any point, they can view their selected items, and choose to remove items in their cart. When the customer is ready to check-out, the total cost is calculated depending on the items in their cart.  Most shopping cart systems can calculate appropriate taxes, weights, and shipping charges.

The more sophisticated shopping carts will also include backend order processing capabilities including invoice printing, interfacing with your accounting software, inventory control, and shipping tracking. Of course, the more advanced carts will typically cost more.

Maine Web Networks has several shopping-cart solutions available, from simple to complex.