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    eCommerce - Know Your Product

    Table of Contents

    Knowing your product is important because it will dictate some of the application and service provider requirements. Again there is not much difference in principle between the virtual and physical worlds of business. For example, you wouldn't purchase glass and chrome display shelves if your selling bricks.

    Although the article May I Take Your Order investigates hosted shopping cart applications in more detail, it's important to introduce some important facts now about how this technology works, and how your product will dictate required features and/or options.

    The shopping cart application is what makes it all happen. It allows you to show your products; it displays images, descriptions, and prices and provides some means for your customer to select a quantity for purchase, proceed through a checkout, and enter their shipping and payment information. In order for all this to work properly, there are a several components that must work in unison; underlying all of it are databases on the web hosting server that contain information for display and capture information provided by your customer. Fortunately, you can purchase all of this functionality right out of the box or subscribe to it through you web-hosting provider. Unfortunately, it is difficult to modify or add features/functions that do not exist.

    Consider your products for a moment. Some products are fairly straight forward, like an embroidered baseball hat; on the other hand, some products have variations like a T-shirt; color and size. In terms of displaying your product on-line, most, if not all, shopping carts provide for some basic product variations like size and color. Here's where you need to understand some things about your product and the ability of the shopping cart to manage these product variations.

    If you have a product that has some rather unique variations, you will need some way to modify or CUSTOMIZE the shopping cart application to your specific characteristics.

    The best way to explain this is by example. Let's say, for instance, that you're selling vehicle roof racks. The "FIT-KIT" for these little babies is dependent on the MAKE, MODEL, and YEAR of the vehicle. With most of the shopping carts available, you can probably change the "size" and "color" options to read "vehicle make" and "vehicle model"; the question may be can you easily add another variable to this product and include "vehicle year".

    Key points to consider here are:

    2. -If so, how much will it cost?
    3. -If you are doing this yourself, is it easy?

    Granted, this is a bit of an extreme situation. In most cases, products are fairly straightforward and you probably do not have to worry about this. In which case there are some excellent, and surprisingly easy to use options for you to develop on on-line store.

    The best thing you can do at the end of this article is to clearly define each of your products. Regardless as to whether you will develop your e-commerce website yourself, or alternatively choose to use an external ecommerce developer, this product information will be used extensively throughout the development of your on-line store.

    Here is a checklist of things about your product you should identify:

  • 1) How many items in total? (If it has its own price... it is an individual item).
  • 2) How many categories? be as detailed as you can and condense later E.g.:
    a) Clothing
      i) Men's
      (1) Casual
      (2) Formal
      ii) Women's
      (1) Casual
      (2) Formal

    3) Product variables (size, color, make, model, finish…)
    4) Product weight, price, size (as in dimensions)
    5) As your going through this, it's not a bad idea to consider which products compliment each other; (you may have the option of cross selling, depending on the shopping cart you choose.)

    Keep in mind your web-hosting provider is available should you have questions or need assistance.

    Next article: Security -->


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