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E-Commerce Topped $45B in 2002 (http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/20840.html) , during 2009 it was expected to reach $156.1 billion (http://www.internetretailer.com/dailyNews.asp?id=30341) despite the economic downturn.

The chart below, taken from the 2nd quarter Retail E-commerceSales for 2009, shows a 10-year period of continued growth of online commerce. If your retail business isn't making sales online, it's not going to compete and will be losing out to those businesses that have ecommerce websites.

Every year, the total amount of online sales is increasing. The Internet markets your prooducts and services across the world, and while you may choose to sell your goods only in the U.S., you can reach more customers with a website than would ever step through your brick-and-mortar doors.

Why should I sell my products through a website?

The Web is a very big place, with many, many shoppers online. While it has gotten tougher to get your site out there and known than it was a few years ago, it can still be done successfully with good search engine marketing (SEM).

It is up to you as the owner of the site, however, to keep up with SEM and other tasks that will allow your site to be successful. While we have helped put these sites on the web, we cannot guarantee they will be successful without active work by the site owner. We can advise on some of the things you can do, but in the end success is up to you as the site owner.

Ecommerce must be done carefully as there is risk involved whenever one begins to accept payment over the Internet for goods and services. Taking good security measures and taking care that software or programming used will be done properly and well, keeping credit card numbers secure, is a process that should not be done by amateurs or you risk exposing your business to fraud and other unpleasant experiences.

But I already sell plenty through my normal storefront...

We congratulate you if you are satisfied with the amount of business your store produces. But with more and more users buying goods over the Internet rather than throuh local stores, your business is only going to lose out if you don't have an online presence selling products over the web. If you want to expand your business, getting your products on the Web can help you expand as long as you actively grow your site. Buyers shop the web 24/7 every day of the year. A storefront is only open a limited number of hours a week. With an online storefront you can be selling while you sleep!

We can advise you regarding your e-commerce site, helping you to decide precisely what you need and not more than you require. Choosing the right shopping cart, installing a secure certificate for website security, and all the other tasks that are necessary in this process are things we have long experience in handling.

I want to start a business on the Web. Can you help?

The first recommendation for starting a new business is always to research it to make sure it will be a viable business. There is no guarantee of success just by putting up a website, but a well thought out business plan and good research can go a long way toward making your business succeed. There are plenty of resources out there for the purpose, such as S.C.O.R.E., an organization of experienced business people who help new business people through the tasks of creating a new business.

Once you have your business plan in place, and in particular your plan for an e-commerce venture, then is the time for us to sit down together and discuss your needs and what will work for you. A website should part of your marketing plan, not the entire plan, although almost everyone is aware of retailers that sell only through websites, like Amazon.com.

What goes into creating an e-commerce site ?

Planning! You must consider what you plan to accomplish with your e-commerce site (the same is true of any website), and how you want to approach it. A user on the web gives you 7-10 seconds to make your case. How will you convince him or her that you have the best product, or that your store is the best place from which to make their purchase?

Once you've figured out the marketing aspects, then it's time to get the pieces put together. Think through your buying and selling policies, your return policies, privacy policies, and any other policies a buyer would need to know. All these must be written out and placed on the site. Put together a listing of your inventory, preferably in electronic form, so it can be imported into a shopping cart. Get estimates of the cost of an e-commerce site, which will vary depending on the size of your inventory and other details. Prepare yourself as much as possible before meeting with us. If you plan well, your meetings with us, and later your website, will be productive.

Call us with your questions at (828) 891-2563! We are here to answer your questions and help you find your way around the Web.