|"Shop till you drop! Everything you want to know about doing business online."||
E-commerce is doing business online. This can occur in many forms, from a simple request for a quote to a full-blown dynamically generated shopping cart. Let's take a look at the possibilities:
An interactive page that lets users fill in responses to various questions, the most important of which is contact information, so that the business can contact the potential customer and begin the sales process. Forms are comparatively simple to set up, and provide a good way to encourage feedback, for example from a survey or guestbook entry.
Orders can be taken this way as well, either from product names and codes given on the site, or for current customers who already have a print catalog. This saves valuable phone operator time by automating part of the order process. However, it does rely on customers to enter information correctly.
This is a good time to mention security. When credit card information is entered on the web, it should always be done via a secure connection. You can tell a site is secure when the little lock icon appears at the bottom of your browser. You should never request or provide credit card information on a site that is not secure! The information could be intercepted and used for illegitimate purposes. Click here for more information about security, and here for tips on protecting your privacy online.
If you'd like customers to order online, why not put your entire product catalog online for them to see? Products can be described fully, with images, specs, and options available such as color and size. Its like a full-color catalog that can be updated instantly! Change prices, add items, offer time-limited sales - but without the hassle of reprinting anything. Customers can then be directed to a secure order form or to a form requesting a quote or phone call from a representative.
As mentioned above, customers won't always enter order information correctly if they have to type it in. An online shopping cart remembers the names and codes for them, all they have to do is click a button to add products to a "cart." They can change quantities, and select from options available for each item. Multiple items can be purchased at once, making the process easier for the customer. The shopping cart program can e-mail orders automatically to the company, assign order numbers for each purchase, and generate printable receipts.
What if the company changes the price on many items at once, or has a big sale? It would take a while to change the coding on every page of the online catalog. Even adding or removing items requires hand-coding the changes in the HTML files. The solution? Dynamically generate the catalog from a database. Pages are created "on-the-fly" (instead of from memory) from a database, so that changes to the database are reflected instantly throughout the site. A database-driven catalog does not always include an e-commerce component, but e-commerce is very easily added to such a catalog, so customers can shop through the catalog and buy the items they see.
The ultimate in automated e-commerce. The ordering process is linked to a database of current inventory to allow completely automatic order fulfillment and inventory tracking. The order is sent to the company's fulfillment and billing departments, and status of the order can be tracked by both the company and the customer online.
Now that you're an internet smartie, find out how Dynamic Digital Advertising can fill your internet - and print - needs.
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