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E–Commerce Websites

The three advantages of an online shop over a bricks–and–mortar shop:

  1. it is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year;
  2. anyone, anywhere in the world, can visit;
  3. the setting–up and running costs are minimal.

Features

We can incorporate almost any feature you require into your online shop, including:

  • An unlimited number of products, organised into an unlimited range of categories;
  • Secure credit card processing with major payment service providers;
  • An unlimited range of delivery options;
  • Prices and payment in any currency;
  • Search functions;
  • Automatic stock control;
  • Automatic and secure order processing;
  • Automatic generation of invoices, stock reports, etc.;
  • Integration with Sage Line 50 and Quick Books accounting software;
  • A variety of discounts and special offers;
  • A variety of tax rates;
  • Accounts for regular customers;
  • And, as with all Lab 99 websites, an attractive, functional design.

Paypal and Google Checkout

If you have only a small number of products to sell, we recommend using a system such as Paypal’s Buy–Now buttons or Google Checkout. American customers also have the option of using Amazon Payments.

Advantages

  • Customers can pay by credit card — they don’t need a Paypal or Google Checkout account.
  • Cost — integrating a few Buy–Now buttons adds very little to the basic cost of the website.
  • Speed — it’s quicker to set up this type of system than a shopping cart.

Disadvantages

  • These systems were intended for a limited range of products, and have a limited range of features.
  • Changing prices is cumbersome and time–consuming, and requires some technical knowledge.
  • Visitors tend not to receive as professional an experience from this type of website as they do from a website using a proper shopping cart system.

Shopping Carts

All serious e–commerce websites need the versatility and extra features of specialised shopping cart software.

Advantages

  • Plenty of features — see above.
  • Very flexible — can cope with large numbers of products and complex departmental structures.
  • Easy to change products and prices without technical knowledge.
  • A professional check–out process gives customers confidence that their financial details are secure.

Disadvantages

  • More expensive than Paypal–type systems. A survey by the software company Actinic in 2007 found that the average price of a proper e–commerce website was around £3300.
  • Unnecessarily complex for websites selling small numbers of products.

Our Software

To create your online shop, we normally use Trading Eye software. Unlike most shopping cart software, Trading Eye’s use of modern HTML and CSS code makes it accessible and search engine–friendly.

What Do I Do Next?

Some of the practicalities of running an online shop are explained on our E–Commerce Advice page.

Feel free to contact us to discuss your precise requirements!

You should check out other web designers too — and ask them a few questions.

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