Danielle Douglas

A native of Colorado, Mrs. Yolanda M. Johnson-Bryant, currently resides in the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina, with her husband. Mrs. Bryant is a published author, freelance writer, novelist, editor, ghostwriter and a literary and entrepreneurial advocate. She is the founder and owner of YolandaMJohnson, Literary Wonders! and Bryant Consulting. She is a columnist for Examiner.com, RAW Sistaz Literary Services and other literary venues. Mrs. Johnson-Bryant is a member of The Nussbaum Entrepreneurial Center, Women of Leadership and Learning (WELL Women) and Toastmasters. She also conducts workshops and classes on writing and entrepreneurship and is also a member of several reading and writing groups.

Bryant Consulting

To Buy or Not to Buy

Congratulations! You’ve set up a great-looking Website for your books and writing. Last month we talked about the key reasons for having a Website. Now let’s talk about a key component of your site: e-commerce. You didn’t think you would get viewers to your site just to gawk at the pretty colors and graphics, did you? Now that you have a Website, why not use it to make money? You’ve enticed potential buyers to browse your goods and services, now sell them.

Consider a few key components to your storefront, such as how you will list your products and services, ease of your shopping cart, and site reporting.

Products and Services: What will you sell on your Website? Are your products clear and concise? Your product description must be clear so your customers will clearly understand what they will receive. Be sure to list each of your products separately. If you are going to list the pricing for your products, make sure that pricing information is clearly visible to your customers. If a customer has to search for pricing, he or she may leave your site, causing you to lose a sale. If you choose not to display pricing on your products, make sure you clearly state where your customer should go to find the pricing information for your products or services.

It is common for business owners to omit pricing information from their Websites. Depending on the type of service, the price may vary, depending on a specific client or customer need.

Shopping Cart: Is your shopping cart easy to navigate? Make sure that your consumers are able to put things in their carts and remove them with ease. Ensure proper sales and taxes are set into your cart as well as shipping and handling options.

Site Reporting and Analytics: It is a good idea to have some form of analytics programmed into your site and your cart. Site analytics allows a site owner to monitor site traffic. You can see how many people visit your site, which site referred them, how long they stay on your site, repeat returns, and purchasing information.

Remember that consumers are visual. Thumbnail photos of your products should be of professional quality and easy to look at. Giving your consumers the option to view a larger photo of your thumbnail will come in handy, as well. This will allow them to see your products with more detail.

If you are advertising a service, a good suggestion would be to add testimonials from a client. This shows potential clients that other consumers were satisfied with your services and openly endorse those services.

It is a good idea to add a search feature to your site that will allow consumers to search by product name, product type, price, and more. An example of this is a customer wanting to buy your third book in e-book format for $6.99. They can search for format and price. Adding drop-down menus will help make your customers’ shopping experience much easier.

Payment options: This is an important part of the consumer experience. Give your customers and clients options in which they can pay for your products or services. Listed below are some payment options:

Merchant Account: You can set up a merchant account that processes credit card transactions and accepts various credit cards.

PayPal: PayPal is becoming one of the largest sources for e-commerce solutions. It allows consumers to use their credit cards securely, or if they own a PayPal account, they can bypass a credit card and use their account as a means of payment.

Google Checkout: This option provides a one-stop checkout for stores with compatible check stands. A buyer enrolls to use a saved profile on Google, which completes billing forms on other sites with one click.

Check or Money Order: Although this is not a suggested source of payment, some consumers still do not use debit or credit cards. Be certain that you receive payment and that funds have cleared before you release a product or service to a consumer. Most sites do not offer this option because the time and expense it takes to process and recover bounced checks and lost money orders is too high.

Ensure that your customers feel safe shopping with you by making all transactions secure. Companies such as VeriSign are great choices for this purpose.

Another great addition to your Website is a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section. Here you spell out return, exchange, and refund policies, along with other useful information.

It might be beneficial to add a consumer survey to your site. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, this will give you ways to improve customer-shopping experiences.

Wish lists allow users to mark and save items to purchase at a later time or date. This list will repeat visits to your site by the same consumer.

Product reviews are an excellent option for your site. If you are selling books, for example, having positive reader reviews can help boost sales of that book or related products. When a purchase is made, always find a way to solicit a review or feedback from the consumer.


Google Analytics http://www.google.com/analytics/
E-Commerce Times www.ecommercetimes.com
Internet Retailer www.internetretailers.com
Yahoo Small Business http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/ecommerce/plans.php
ProStores www.prostores.com
CafePress www.cafepress.com
eBay http://pages.ebay.com/storefronts/start.html
Go Daddy www.godaddy.com/gdshop/ecommerce/cart.asp
Microsoft Office Live Small Business http://smallbusiness.officelives.com/getonline/commerce Dummies www.dummies.com/go/webmarketing
VeriSign www.verisign.com
Better Business Bureau www.bbbonline.org
Google Checkout http://checkout.google.com/sell
PayPal www.paypal.com
Transparent Financial Services www.transfs.com