Catalog/e-commerce websites are simply websites that offer a product for sale to the consumer. E-commerce websites typically have a catalog of items (even if it’s just one item) and follow the same progression for the consumer to purchase the item(s). The progression usually includes the following items:
- a catalog of items
- a product profile page
- a shopping cart page that contains the items the consumer wants to purchase
- a check out page where the consumer either logs in or creates a profile (sometimes the consumer can check out as a “guest”)
- a billing/ship-to page
- a payment page (with credit card or PayPal information)
- an order review page
In order to conduct e-commerce, businesses need to have a payment gateway and a credit card processor account. Setting up these systems is very easy and increases the business’s reach and image significantly.
Looking at an e-commerce site, here are some screens of a site that is a very effective catalog/e-commerce site.
Sample Catalog Page:
Catalog pages are where the consumer can look through a product line to find what they are looking for. A good catalog page will have filters that allow the shopper to sort items by categories, price or another variable that pertains to your industry such as size, material, application, or another item.
Product Detail Page:
Product detail pages are exactly that. The consumer can read a description of the product, see what sort of options are available including size, color, shape, material or other parameter and decide whether or not to add the item to their shopping cart for purchase. Good product detail pages also include the ability to share the item with others via Facebook, email or other social media platform. This is where the consumer is also provided an option for “cross-selling” or “bundling” the item they selected with other items that are either related or necessary (ie: adding batteries to an electronic devise or paint brushes to cans of paint).
The Check Out Experience:
One of the most overlooked areas for an effective e-commerce website is the checkout experience. Allowing the most amount of flexibility and is critical at this stage. To minimize cart abandonment, options to include in the check out process include having a “guest checkout” option for those who don’t want to create a profile page, allowing various payment options including PayPal, credit cards, and electronic transfers, and carrying over data from the previous screen so the purchaser doesn’t have to enter the same data such as their name, address, phone number, email on each screen. Good user design will minimize shopping cart abandonment.
Lastly, a good catalog/e-commerce website should be built on a website framework called a content management system. These systems have a “back-end” section of the website where, with just a little bit of training, anyone who can use Word and Excel can update their website by adding or removing items, changing descriptions, updating pricing and more through the administration section of the website. Although WordPress is considered the best platform because of it’s flexibility, popularity and support community, there are other CMS systems such as Drupal, Joomla and Expression Engine.
Whether a company has a few items or a lot of items, having a catalog-based, e-commerce website is an absolute must-have. Today’s internet user expects to conduct business with companies that are easy to work with. Typical shopping hours are no longer in sync with a company’s operating hours. The ability to have product available for sale 24/7 is the new standard for any business who has items to sell to others.