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  • A Checklist Leading to a Successful E-Commerce Website
    Copyright 2003-2005, Bill Platt

    To succeed in e-commerce, the following eleven steps are those 
    that every business owner should tackle when developing their 
    new online business:
    
    
    THE BASIC ONLINE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CHECKLIST
    
    1. Determine your products or services - Know what products and 
    services you will be offering and define the common thread that 
    will tie all of your products and services together.
    
    2. Research your products and services marketplace - Find out 
    who your competitors are and the differences in the product 
    offerings they deliver to their customers. Find out your 
    competitors price points and value offerings. Find out who 
    your customers are. Find out how many customers exist in your 
    market and how you can reach them.
    
    3. Establish your site goals - Determine how you are going to 
    use your website in the quest to develop your customer base. 
    Are you going to use it as a billboard on the Internet Super 
    Highway? Or, are you going to use your site to develop long-term 
    relationships with your customers? Or, do you intend that your 
    site should provide everything necessary for an immediate, 
    one-time transaction?
    
    4. Plan your site layout - Understand how you are going to 
    utilize your site to the fullest of its potential. Make a 
    pre-determination as to the different sections of your site, 
    which will be vital to meeting your goals.
    
    5. Plan for growth of your site - Understand that your site 
    will grow and change to meet with the challenges of the future. 
    Anything that you can do now to simplify the transition into 
    future design changes will increase your overall productivity 
    in the maintenance of your online storefront.
    
    6. Take a quick lesson in HTML - 
    http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/teachingtool/ HTML design 
    software can help you build your website fast. Learning the 
    basics of HTML firsthand can improve your effectiveness in 
    modifying your website. If you ever need to make minor changes 
    or troubleshoot display or formatting problems in a web page, 
    you will have the basic understanding of the technology to 
    work through those problems without outside assistance.
    
    7. Build basic HTML template - Your HTML template should be 
    thought of as your custom letterhead. Each page on your website 
    will be demonstrated with a basic visual format to secure the 
    cohesion of your website. It is this basic visual design or 
    letterhead that you want your HTML template to represent.
    
    8. Build e-commerce section - The payment area of your website 
    is the most important element of your entire design. Without an 
    effective payment processing system, your customers will not be 
    able to pay you for your products or services. 
    
    StormPay is a third-party payment processor that enables small 
    businesses to provide secure payment options to their customers. 
    Learn for yourself the advantages of using the StormPay program 
    on your website: http://www.stormpay.com
    
    Paypal is a more popular payment processor from which I take 
    90% of my own online payments. You can register at Paypal by 
    visiting the following URL: 
    http://www.paypal.com
    
    9. Build customer support section - While a FAQ (Frequently 
    Asked Questions) page can be a very useful tool in keeping 
    support requests to a minimum, it cannot stand alone as your 
    customer support system. Some people need one-on-one human 
    contact to answer their sales and support questions. As a matter 
    of trust, some folks simply will not do business with a company 
    that does not offer some type of human contact point --- either 
    by email or by telephone. 
    
    10. Build site content - Once you have developed the bulk of 
    your site structure, the time will come to tackle building your 
    content pages, which will include your sales pages. As you 
    conclude building your page content, it may also be helpful 
    to undertake an understanding of the use of Meta tags with 
    your web pages. For a quick tutorial on the subject, visit: 
    http://searchenginewatch.com/webmasters/meta.html
    
    11. Begin Promoting - There are simply dozens of ways in which 
    you can promote your website --- both online and offline. We 
    simply do not have enough space here to go into all of the 
    methods available to a website owner for the purpose of 
    promoting their website. Our primary goal is always to sell 
    products or services through our business. Online or offline, 
    it is important to remember that sales cannot happen where 
    there is no traffic. To draw traffic to our business, we must 
    promote our business. 
    
    
    My hope for you is simple. I hope that you will be able to 
    develop your own online business and you will be profitable 
    in doing so. It is my hope that this checklist will serve 
    to help you reach that end. 
    

    Bill Platt owns http://www.LinksAndTraffic.com . It can be tough to build one-way, inbound links to your website. But, you need them in order to improve your link popularity and your website's inbound traffic. Through the "Links and Traffic" Link Development Systems, we can develop 100's of one-way, inbound, Natural Links to your website. If you are unsure of the what Natural Links are, please read our Natural Linking Tutorial.



    This article was originally written: February, 2003


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