3. Types of eCommerce WebsiteseCommerce Website Types
eCommerce has a lot to offer U.S. firms that are interested in using the Internet as another vehicle for exporting. Your marketing executive should be familiar with the steps necessary to make your website ecommerce capable. Many U.S. companies have a website that fulfills one or more of the following characteristics:
People who shop online are most familiar with this type of website. A transactional site may be an electronic storefront for a brick-and-mortar retailer or a catalog business, (e.g., Walmart), or a showroom for manufacturers that wish to sell directly to the public (e.g., Hewlett-Packard). Transactional sites can be either hosted or on-premise and can (a) conduct full end-to-end transactions via the website; (b) enable customers to search for, order, and pay for products online; and (c) allow customers to contact the company for after-sales service. The majority of transactional sites create efficiencies by seamlessly integrating the transaction process with back-office systems such as accounting, inventory, order management, logistics and fulfillment, marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), web analytics, and others.
Static Content Site
Such a site generates sales by promoting corporate awareness rather than by facilitating online transactions. Its function is similar to that of a brochure; it provides information about the product or service and contact information about how to proceed with a purchase. Because the site is often static and doesn’t require the software systems necessary for online transactions, it is less expensive to design and maintain than is the transactional site. An information delivery site is ideal for companies that market products and services that cannot be provided online (e.g., Ford, Caterpillar).
A modified version of the site permits the buyer to shop online for the best price from competing vendors that offer the identical product, such as authorized dealers of Honda America. Information about options available for a particular model enables the buyer to visualize the configuration and to obtain an estimated price for the vehicle.
Online Marketplace or Auction Site
These sites are hosted platforms that bring buyers and sellers together to facilitate transactions. Participation on one of the sites often provides an efficient way of finding a customer without the expense of building a proprietary transactional website. Types of sites include auctions (www.eBay.com), sites for local artisans (www.etsy.com), sites for retailers and wholesalers (www.Amazon.com and www.Alibaba.com), and matching services (www.buyusa.gov).
Online marketplaces and auction sites are a good venue to get started in ecommerce. However, the Department of Commerce recommends that a business explore its options regarding online stores before it relies solely on such marketplace and auction sites for its long-term ecommerce strategy. Some 70 percent of ecommerce sites in North America will be dependent on services (such as shipping, payment gateways, and fulfillment) from Amazon or eBay by 2017.
Some examples of the online marketplaces are these:
Amazon is an online marketplace on which businesses may set up a store and offer products within strict rules. Amazon offers several monthly plans for merchant stores.
Buy.com, which is now part of the global Rakuten.com, is an expansive online marketplace that receives heavy traffic.
eBay owns PayPal payment services and the Magento on-premise ecommerce platform solution. Subscription rates and fees vary by plan.
Etsy is the largest online marketplace for handmade and vintage items; it is best suited for artisan and craftsman type unique sellers.
Shoply.com is a free marketplace operating specifically with the small business owner in mind.