Ecommerce Business – A Blessing For Firms Looking to Reach New Customers and Grow Sales

Ecommerce businesses are getting the true value of their investments by selling products through websites and minimizing the costs of administrative overheads and infrastructure. Businesses can focus on their core competency and outsource other operations to ecommerce providers.

The year 2009, in spite of the shaky economy, saw more than $50 billion spent on ecommerce websites. And this astonishing figure is still growing at a rapid pace. The success of ecommerce as a business model can be attributed to its no fuss selling interface. Increasing number of businesses are launching ecommerce websites as these internet outlets are an ideal point of sale requiring no administrative staff, real estate or sales personnel. Web hosting services take away the it overhead by offering services for data storage and management. Ecommerce providers handle transactions and payments. This is a dream come true for businesses that want to sell on the internet.

Ecommerce websites work perfectly in volatile markets

most businesses have suffered the consequences of the economic crisis and are running low on funds and resources. It is to the business’ advantage to save on infrastructure and administrative costs. The internet has made the market global and competition is fierce. Businesses are compelled to tighten profit margins to stay in the market.

Ecommerce websites offer the perfect solution for businesses to maximize sales and reduce costs. The internet hosted marketplace is changeable and businesses can alter the offers, product combinations, and advertising strategies on the website in minimum time. Hosted ecommerce solutions help internet businesses take advantage of evolving technology and changing internet usage practices.

Hosted ecommerce solutions offer holistic ecommerce services

the design of the ecommerce website is critical as it is the portal through which customers can access business products and services. Ecommerce solution providers work with businesses to create an effective website design. Apart from providing advertising services and designing the structure of the web outlet, ecommerce hosting providers:

* take over it and administrative operations
* deal with warehousing and inventory management
* work on marketing strategies
* optimize the ecommerce website design

ecommerce hosting services allow businesses to focus their time, effort and money on the improvement of their goods and services.

Maturing of ecommerce business

ecommerce businesses have shown remarkable strength in the global economic slowdown. Ecommerce websites have supported businesses by ensuring a revenue stream at a time when funds are low and costs are high. Web outlets help save further by taking away it and administrative overheads.

Customers turn to ecommerce websites looking for competitive rates. Ecommerce outlets fall cheap as they offer more compelling bargains than their retail counterparts do. Customers also save the cost of driving to retail stores.

The upward swing in ecommerce shopping during the 2009 slowdown is an indication of the success of ecommerce solutions and their arrival in the market. At a time when many businesses are bearing the brunt of the economic crunch, ecommerce businesses are growing at around 15%, a figure that promises to keep going up. Ecommerce businesses are here to stay.

Best PHP Based ECommerce Platforms

In addition to being the most popular server-side programming language, PHP has been evolving consistently to simplify development of websites and web application. The latest version of PHP also comes with several new language features, enhanced speed and reduced resource consumption. Hence, you can always consider developing your ecommerce application with PHP 7 to make the website load faster. The enhanced loading speed will boost the search engine ranking of the website and keep the visitors engaged.

You can even avail the resources provided by various PHP-based ecommerce platforms to build a custom web store without putting extra time and effort. Also, you can take advantage of these ecommerce platforms without increasing project overheads as most of them are open source and free. Also, you have option to choose from a number of PHP-based ecommerce platforms according to your business model and needs. However, it is also important to compare the features and tools provided by various PHP-based ecommerce platforms according to your specific needs.

Brief Overview of 7 Widely Used PHP eCommerce Platforms

1) Magento

You have option to choose from various editions – enterprise, enterprise cloud and community – of Magento. The community edition of Magento is open source and free, whereas other are commercial and paid. But the community edition of the ecommerce platform lacks technical support. The themes and modules provided by Magento will help you to customize the look, feel, and functionality of the web store without writing additional code. You can further download a variety of themes and extensions from online marketplace. However, you have to incur additional expenses to avail the additional features provided by commercial editions of the ecommerce platform.

2) WooCommerce

The PHP ecommerce platform is supported by WordPress. You can even use WooCommerce as a plug-in to integrate ecommerce functionalities into an existing website developed with WordPress. The themes and plug-ins provided by WooCommerce will make it easier for you to customize the web store and shopping cart according to your business model. Despite being highly customizable, WooCommerce also allows you to choose from a variety of extensions. However, some of these themes, extensions and plug-ins are paid. But you can always take advantage of the resources provided by WooCommerce to simplify custom ecommerce application development.

3) OpenCart

The open source ecommerce platform was initially rewritten in Perl. But the developers subsequently rewrote OpenCart in PHP. In addition to providing an out of box shopping cart, OpenCart also provides a variety of themes and plug-ins to simplify ecommerce website development. Also, it supports multiple languages, currencies, tax rates, and payment gateway. The built-in SEO feature of the platform further enables you to increase the ecommerce website’s search engine visibility and ranking without deploying skilled digital marketers.

4) ZenCart

ZenCart is originally designed as an ecommerce shopping cart program. But the features provided by ZenCart enable you to set up and run a custom web store within a short amount of time. You can take advantage of the themes and plug-ins provided by the shopping cart program to customize the ecommerce website according to your business needs. At the same time, ZenCart supports multiple languages, currencies, payment options, shipping options, and discount coupons. Also, it boost customer buying experience by keeping the checkout flow and process simple and fast.

5) PrestaShop

Unlike other PHP-based ecommerce platforms, PrestaShop supports over 60 languages. You can take advantage of the multiple language support provided by PrestaShop to promote and sell your products to customers residing in various regions and speaking different languages. At the same time, the modules and layouts templates provided by PrestaShop make it easier for you to customize the web store without putting extra time and effort. Also, you can avail an array of useful features provided by PrestaShop like customizable themes, mobile-friendly design, and professional ecommerce website templates. However, you have to incur additional expenses to avail the paid modules and layouts templates for PrestaShop.

6) VirtueMart

The open source ecommerce platform is designed with features to complement Joomla CMS. VirtueMart scores over other ecommerce platforms due to its enterprise grade security features and performance. But many developers use VirtueMart for developing small to medium web stores. You can always opt for VirtueMart to avail a number of robust features like varying product edit options, creating and managing shopper groups, generate invoice, and a unified calculator. Also, VirtueMart supports multiple currencies, shipping options, payment options, and payment gateways.

7) OSCommerce

In addition to being a mature ecommerce platform for PHP, OSCommerce is also supported by a large and active community. OSCommerce developers can take advantage of the free add-ons uploaded by members of the community to add functionality to the web store without writing longer lines of code. OSCommerce further provides a shopping cart which is developed with PHP and MySQL, and can be integrated seamlessly into an existing website. Also, the ecommerce platform supports multiple currencies, unlimited products and categories, payment process systems, and tax rate. Further, it simplifies the billing and invoice generation process by updating currency exchange rates automatically.

On the whole, you have to choose from several ecommerce platforms written in PHP. But you must remember that these ecommerce solutions differ from each other in the category of learning curve, technical support, maturity, and compatibility. That is why; you must evaluate the pros and cons of each PHP-based ecommerce platform, and choose the one that meets your precise business needs and objectives.

Creating an Instant Ecommerce Web Site With Little Or No Money

Creating an ecommerce web site doesn’t have to be as difficult or as costly as you may think. Many forms of ecommerce solutions can be extremely intimidating to new online marketers.

Though many new online marketers quickly realize the benefits of offering products online that can be instantly purchased and processed by means of an efficient shopping cart system, many fine the process of establishing efficient ecommerce systems complex, costly and technically intimidating. This is totally understandable however these factors alone drive many new online entrepreneurs away from testing and implementing eccomerce solutions that could bolster their visitors web experience and earn extra income from their web properties.

This doesn’t have to be the case, particularly if you do a little research. Ecommerce enabled web sites don’t have to involve laborious activity and costly start up investments.

One way to add value to your web property is to find an ecommerce solution that is “pre-designed” and pre-populated with products that compliment your existing content. These ecommerce systems can be plugged right into your existing web site and many require very little technical skills. Some pre-designed ecommerce solutions offer web site owners the ability to customize content, design and product categories with design elements and products that easily fit into your current web scheme and enormous the value of your existing content and offerings.

Here’s a few reasons you should consider this option, especially if you’re new to online marketing and ecommerce activities:

1. Low start up cost to completely ecommerce enable your website.

Obviously this is a huge advantage to those that want to determine ecommerce feasibility without spending huge sums of money.

2. Quick deployment with very low technical challenges.

If you simply do not have the technical resources for deploying an ecommerce site this totally removes the technical road blocks associated with deployment.

3. Scalability of the ecommerce solution is flexible and immediate.

Once you’ve tested the ecommerce solution you can quickly scale the product inventory and expand your offerings without having to call upon exhaustive resources and technical expertise.

4. Design customization of your ecommerce site for easy integration into existing content.

There’s no need to re-invent the wheel here, simply extend your current design, color schemes and layouts to the pre-designed ecommerce solutions to easily blend into your web site.

5. An overall reduction of typical headaches associated with design, development and deployment.

This is one area that totally intimidates many web site owners that are considering expanding their web properties to include ecommerce functionality. Pre-designed ecommerce solutions can totally eliminate these hurdles and allow you to easily test and deploy your ecommerce ideas.

6. Immediate niche level testing of your ecommerce ideas.

In many cases you may not be sure if your web site lends itself to ecommerce activities. Pre-designed, plug and play ecommerce web sites allow you to determine feasibility and test additional potential revenue streams that can bolster your existing web properties.

Although all of the factors listed above can prove vital with respect to adding ecommerce functionality to an existing web property, there are a few that are particularly important if you’re considering adding dynamic eccomerce functionality and additional monetization to any existing web presence.

One of the biggest advantages by far is the low start up cost associate with monetizing your web site with an ecommerce system. Low start up cost will allow you to test your ideas, offer targeted product lines for your visitors and evaluate the feasibility of expanding your ecommerce offerings without the fear of spending tons of money to do so.

Under typical conditions, testing any form of ecommerce system could be very expensive. Pre-designed ecommerce solutions eliminate this hurdle and allow you to accomplish this with very little effort, design cost and “back-end” administration cost. In most cases the products offered by these types of ecommerce systems are direct shipped to your customers and you never even have to become involved with the fulfillment process. It simply couldn’t be any easier than that!

Once you determine the feasibility of adding an ecommerce system to your web site you can migrate to a more controlled platform that allows more flexibility and increased profit margins once your initial testing is complete and you’re experienced positive results.

This process can occur after as little as a month or two of testing and satisfactory results have been observed.

One of the more pressing questions regarding pre-designed ecommerce systems is this… “Where can I find these types of pre-designed ecommerce systems that I can test?”

After researching a few of these options I’ve identified a solution that is easy, effective and quite simple to implement.

Here’s a simple solution that allows virtually anyone with a web site or web presence to start making extra money today. Amazon and offers a simple plug and play solution that’s quite easy to customize and integrate into almost any web site.

This is also effective because you can use the credibility of Amazon and the power of Amazon’s product inventory and technology to easily sell through your own customizable web store.

This gives you the ability to operate a fully functional web site powered by Amazon in minutes. Better yet they offer a FREE 7 day trial which allows you to familiarize yourself with the functionality and features associated with the program.

Don’t allow the possibility of adding ecommerce enabled functionality to your existing web properties to intimidate you. Sure cost, administration factors and fulfillment are all challenges however these issues can be addressed with solutions that are quite easy to implement. All that is require is a little research, testing and of course a little creativity.

Statistics show that online shoppers are steadily increasing. Test your ecommerce options by using pre-designed ecommerce web sites and systems that provide full functionality and credibility to expand your web presence and add value and functionality to your web properties.