What is eCommerce?

Have you been thinking about creating a business to sell products or services online? Now is the perfect time to set up your online store and it’s easier than ever. With Constant Contact’s online store builder and a few helpful tips, you’ll have everything you need to get started.

So, what do you need to know before you begin? Below, we’ll answer:

  • What is ecommerce? 
  • What do you want from an online store?
  • How do you drive consumers to your ecommerce store? 

What is ecommerce? 

According to the New York Times, the world of ecommerce began on August 11th, 1994 when a man sold a Sting CD — “Ten Summoners’ Tales” — to a friend on his new online retail platform NetMarket for $12.48 plus shipping fees. Little did he know that this first fateful purchase would change the world forever, creating a trillion-dollar industry as a result. So, what is ecommerce? 

As the name suggests, ecommerce is short for electronic commerce and involves the sale of a product or a service online. Currently, there’s no industry-wide consensus as to the proper spelling of the word, but at Constant Contact, we use “ecommerce.” That said, you are likely to see any of the following variations:

  • E commerce
  • e commerce
  • ecommerce
  • Ecommerce
  • E-commerce
  • E-Commerce
  • e-commerce or
  • eCommerce (in titles)

The 4 Types of ecommerce

Similar to your classic form of commerce, there are four primary categories of ecommerce:

  1. B2B (business to business) – B2B is when companies do business with one another. They support other companies by providing them with the goods or services they need to thrive. For example, a paper company that sells supplies to another business, or a software company like Salesforce that sells cloud-computing, customer-relationship management applications to businesses.  
  2. B2C (business to consumer) – This is when businesses sell their products or services through an online store directly to the customer and is what most people would think of if they were asked “what is ecommerce business?” For example, Amazon’s sales platform allows businesses to sell their products to customers without any need for human interaction. 
  3. C2B (consumer to business) – This reverse electronic commerce business model allows consumers to offer goods or services to businesses in exchange for payment. For instance, a blogger may get paid to promote an online sale or review a product and then receive a percentage of sales. Upwork, formerly known as Elance, is a freelancing platform that connects businesses and independent professionals. Additionally, see our guide to How to Write a Product Description.
  4. C2C (consumer to consumer) – This is when consumers sell directly to other consumers online without any middleman. Such transactions can happen in forums, on social media sites, or in online classified ads. For example, eBay was one of the very first C2C platforms. Craigslist is another very popular C2C model. 

As technology has progressed over the years, ecommerce businesses have changed as well. Social media increased global access to high-speed internet, and the development of mobile technology has caused ecommerce to grow exponentially. And there’s no end in sight. Because of this, it’s essential that you take advantage of this powerful sales tool.

What do you want from an online store? 

With Constant Contact, creating an online store for your ecommerce business is fast, easy, and best of all, free to get started. Once you purchase a website plan, your Constant Contact website will only charge a 1.5% transaction fee for any order purchased by a customer.

Using our ecommerce platform, you will have complete control over your customer’s online shopping experience. It has a host of powerful features and benefits, including:

  • Intuitive interface – Creating your very own website and getting a domain name is simple. Even if you have no coding skills or web building experience, you’ll be able to create your site in under an hour. The A.I.-powered website builder comes with all of the tools and templates you need to get started. 
  • Tools galore – To get ahead of the competition and wow site visitors, you need a range of smart features and tools that can give you a sales edge. Constant Contact is capable of:
    • Tracking important metrics like orders, revenue, best sellers, and amount of users you drive to your site
    • Accepting online payments through Stripe and Paypal 
    • Managing your inventory, orders, sales, and promotions
  • Powerful marketing engine – Once you’ve built out your dream ecommerce website, you’ll need to get consumers to the store. Our website builder was created with marketing and search engine optimization in mind (more on SEO below). Pages are:
    • Fast-loading
    • Mobile-responsive
    • Secure

From lead capture forms to list-join pop-ups, Constant Contact helps ensure that you drive users to your site and then keep happy customers returning for more with our ecommerce solution. 

How do you drive consumers to your eCommerce store? 

Once both your website and store are up and running, it’s essential that you take purposeful steps to drive users to the site and then the store. 

It starts with SEO

When it comes to online search, Google, Bing, and other search engines are the best way to not only reach a large audience pool but target consumers who are already looking for whatever it is you’re selling. 

Due to the sheer quantity of information on the web, finding what you were looking for would be incredibly difficult without a system that categorizes information and then helps you sort through it. Google uses an algorithm that searches through hundreds of billions of pages in order to pull up the relevant and useful answers to your search query. 

These algorithms utilize and weigh a variety of factors including:

  • The words in the search
  • Location 
  • Settings
  • Source authority
  • Usability of pages
  • Relevance of material
  • Date of material  

Although Google pulls information from your website and pages itself, your blog is given priority, especially if it’s optimized for search. In addition to helping with search, your blog helps you build authority and expertise with your readers and is a powerful channel to drive sales. Because of this, your website’s blog is a marketing tool that should be built out, updated frequently, and written with search engine optimization in mind. 

What is SEO?

For a brief description, SEO involves the methods used by marketers to communicate with search engine algorithms and create more visibility for websites and individual pages. 

So, what does SEO-friendly blog content look like? Without going into the nitty-gritty of search engines and their algorithms, here are a few best practices:

  • Use keywords – People will search for terms related to your product or service. These terms are keywords. Therefore, it’s essential that your site uses the keywords that people are likely to be looking for.
  • Utilize headlines and sub-headers – These make pages scannable for readers, providing clues and context about what each part of the article is covering.
  • Include links to previous content – SEO content uses plenty of backlinks both to other pages on the site and to external links. 
  • Include optimized images – Images make your website and blog content easier to read, compelling, and shareable. Images can be optimized by making them the right size and adding keywords to the file via “alt tags”. 
  • Make articles the proper length – For blog posts, Google prioritizes longer, high-quality content with the most thorough answers. Most blog posts should be at least 1,500 words. 
  • Make shareable content – Your goal should be to create interesting articles that contain useful information that readers can share with others who might also benefit from reading.   

While SEO is an important part of driving ecommerce users to your site, it’s important to note that the goal of your blog content should be to create a steady readership and build your expertise. By providing actionable thought leadership, you incentivize customers to keep returning for more useful information. Doing so helps convert someone from being a one-time sale into a lifelong supporter. And Constant Contact’s powerful blog builder comes with all of the tools you need to ensure that you accomplish this task. 

Google Ads are a worthy ecommerce investment

Similar to SEO, Google needs to be a priority since the vast majority of web traffic goes through it. With Google Ads, you will pay money for Google to display your advertisement in search results. This Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ad tool makes it simple to reach your target customer.

Constant Contact has an all-in-one Google Ads builder that comes with:

  • Google Ads Creator – Easily link your Google Ads account, set your ad budget, and enter all of the basic information. Once that’s done, the tool automatically creates high-performing text ads to bring your ecommerce campaign to the top of search.
  • Industry and keyword predictor – Target the right customers using powerful A.I. tools — it helps locate the most relevant and cost-effective keywords for your industry. 
  • Automated bid management and optimization – There’s no need to worry about going over budget or wasting money, even if you have limited spending. The automated engine is able to manage your ad spend and maximize your ROI. 
  • Tracking and reporting – Keep track of your Google Ad campaigns, receive summaries, and review analytics so you see what’s effective and what isn’t. 
  • Geographic targeting – Set ads to appear to a specific location or area so that you reach the people who are likely to need your product. 

For a small upfront investment, have a marketing campaign that is highly effective and reaches the largest audience possible.

Look into referral marketing 

One of the best ways to drive traffic to your online store is through a referral marketing campaign. These days, customers are inundated with advertisements. More than ever, they rely upon word-of-mouth recommendations from friends, family members, or even strangers to influence their buying decision. 

Because of this, it’s important that you create a referral program that incentivizes customers to recommend you to others. Give any of the following as a reward for a successful referral: 

  • A discount on your good or service
  • Free product(s)
  • A gift card 
  • Cash rewards 

This is a win-win for all parties involved. You get a new customer, the referrer gets some sort of monetary reward, and the person who receives a referral discovers a product or service that was previously unknown to them.  

Social media is a powerful ecommerce tool 

Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are especially powerful ecommerce tools that not only help you build your brand but can also help sell your goods or services to targeted groups of people. Fortunately for you, Constant Contact integrates its website and store builder with social media tools, including:

  • Social Posts – Social Posts lets you promote your marketing emails through your social media channels. Pre-schedule social media posts so you can set it and forget it. 
  • Create ads – Integrate your account with your social media pages and then create engaging social marketing ad campaigns in just a few clicks. 
  • Expand your reach – Highlight lookalike audiences, target ideal demographics, or create custom target consumers based on their location, age, gender, and various interests.
  • Track your success – Powerful analytics let you identify the effectiveness of your ad campaigns and then provides insights into how to improve them further. 
  • Get support – Should you ever need assistance, Constant Contact has a support team of social media marketing experts who can help with any aspect of your social media campaigns. 

Do ecommerce right with Constant Contact

With Constant Contact on your side, your ecommerce efforts have a much better chance of success. If your mission is to drive users to your ecommerce store, it’s critical that you remember to: 

  • Focus on website SEO
  • Invest in Google Ads
  • Take advantage of referral marketing
  • Utilize the power of social media 

By taking these steps, you set yourself apart from your competitors. But first, you’re going to need a website and store that customers can go to. With Constant Contact, create your website in just a few minutes by following these simple steps:

  1. Utilize the website builder
  2. Create and register your domain name 
  3. Build out your website with the smart designer 
  4. Set up your online store
  5. Build out the website content 

Setting up your ecommerce website couldn’t be easier. So, what are you waiting for? Build your ecommerce platform today and join the world of online sales.

The post What is eCommerce? appeared first on Constant Contact.

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