Comparison Between Shopify and Squarespace

E-commerce has occupied a special corner of the marketplace, and is a buzzing hub for entrepreneurs selling their wares online. It draws on technologies such as electronic money transfer and inventory management systems to promote its goods. It provides good opportunities to create new business relationships, by promoting business-to-business websites, as well as a good platform for budding entrepreneurs. And the only way to get your online presence noticed is through a website. The main contenders leading the race for hosting websites are Shopify and Squarespace.

Shopify was launched in 2004, and was originally launched for small to medium businesses. Since its popularity, it has grown to envelop website hosting inside its domain. In 2010, it started the Built-a-Business competition to encourage budding entrepreneurs. The winner of this competition received a cash prize, as well as mentoring from renowned businessmen such as Richard Branson and Timothy Ferriss. It launched an iPad-centric application to accept payment from credit cards, as well as send items to faraway locations, without physically being there. Other than this, it supports many payment outlet apps to make transactions simple and secure.

Squarespace is a website building as well as a blogging platform for novice users. It has a very intuitive interface, and makes website creation easy with drag and drop features. It makes editing of the website easy without switching between the site manager and the preview mode. It has additional features of free Typekit fonts and discounted Getty images, so as to make the website more presentable.

Without further ado, we present a comparison of Shopify and Squarespace in E-commerce.

Shopify Vs. Squarespace

Interface
◼Setting up a website in Shopify is not as simple as one would like, with filling up link lists and metadata tags, that are too complicated for the average user to handle.◼The interface of Squarespace is far easier to use, and you can create your website by choosing a template of your choice, and enhancing your page with predesigned logos.

Browser Compatibility
◼Shopify has support for older versions of Internet Explorer (IE) as well as the new ones.◼Squarespace won’t be available for anyone browsing on IE 8 and below.

HTML and CSS Support
◼Shopify lets you have extensive control over the HTML and CSS coding.◼Squarespace only lets you modify bits of CSS, without any tech support from the Squarespace team.

Payment Gateway
◼Shopify has integrated with third-party payment gateways like Paypal and Bitcoin to make online transactions easier.◼Squarespace has only one payment gateway, Stripe, which means that you can conduct transactions only in a handful of countries.

Pricing
◼There is a basic package starting at USD 29 per month. The features are 1GB storage, unlimited products, and 24/7 chat, email, and phone support.
◼There is a professional package starting at USD 79 per month. The features are the same as the basic one, except for an increased storage of 5GB.
◼It has an unlimited package starting at USD 179 per month, which includes unlimited storage, 24/7 support, and fraud analysis tools.◼It has a basic plan with unlimited storage, but can sell only one product. It costs USD 8 per month for the annual plan, or USD 10 for the monthly plan.
◼There is a professional package that has the same structure as the basic plan, but can sell up to 20 products. It costs USD 16 per month for the annual plan, or USD 20 on a monthly basis.
◼The business package has all the features of the professional plan, and has real-time carrier shipping information too. It can sell unlimited products. The owner can also keep a track of the costs due to its integration with Xero accounting software. It costs USD 24 per month for the annual plan, or USD 30 per month.

Both websites offer a 14-day trial period, after which you have to choose a plan that suits your needs. Shopify is for those who wish to maintain an online business store, while Squarespace is for novice users who are still new to the process. As of 2012, E-commerce sales topped $1 trillion. With the above information, you can now join the booming online trade by making an informed decision.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/comparison-between-shopify-and-squarespace.html

Planning a Successful eCommerce Site

So you want to sell stuff on the Internet, and eBay and Craigslist just aren’t doing it for you anymore. It’s time for a real, live, grownup website of your own. But God, there’s so much to think about. An eCommerce website is much more involved than a static website – it’s always changing, it must have search capabilities, and you absolutely have to be able to accept payment securely.

First, calm down. There’s a process for this. If you have the money, you can actually hire someone to take care of the whole thing for you – but smaller companies aren’t left out of the game. You absolutely can do this yourself, but you have to commit to seeing it through.

Location, Location, Location

If you don’t already have a website (why not?), you must first register your domain name and pay for hosting (unless you have your own server). A basic website is pretty easy to design using a basic web editor and templates. If you already have a site, plan how the shopping section will fit in with your existing pages.

Shopping Cart

You will need to choose a shopping cart software – some are simply plugins that work with pre-existing website templates, while others are entirely separate customizable things that require a much deeper level of involvement. Choose one that suits your business and your product. Look for things like search capabilities and display – the closer it is to what you want, the less work you have to do before you can just plug in your stuff and go.

The shopping cart software is what allows you to take orders, calculate tax/handling/shipping, process returns, send receipts and notifications – in short, it’s your virtual sales clerk. There’s no reason to blow your entire budget, but don’t go cheaper than you have to.

Money

You have to have the ability to accept payment online, and the customers must feel secure in the fact that their information is going only to you, not some phisher in a dark basement somewhere. A secure server is the first step, but you also need a safe way to process credit card information.

First, set up an Internet merchant account with your bank to allow the money to flow from the customer to your account. Then you need a payment gateway account, which acts as an intermediary to facilitate the transaction. Your shopping cart software may come with this capability, so double-check before spending money on another service.

In lieu of all that, you could also just enable PayPal on your site. People trust it, and it’s secure. They don’t charge a monthly fee, but they do take about 3% of every transaction, so that’s something to think about. In fact, even if you do have separate payment processing, it’s still a good idea to offer customers the PayPal option because many people won’t trust any other form of online payment. This is especially true for smaller businesses that do not have a national reputation. PayPal also offers basic shopping cart software for a low price if you don’t need any super-customized functionality.

Final Checks

Once you think your site is ready to go, run a few checks to make sure everything is working properly. Pictures should load quickly, pages should scroll smoothly, and the site as a whole should function quickly and properly. Send a few transactions through to make sure payment goes through right, shipping costs are in line, and auto-mail like receipts and shipping notifications are sent as scheduled.

Double-check spelling, photo orientation and size, verify that links are working, and run a load test to make sure the site can handle heavy traffic. Then go live and sell hard!

How to Sell Used Electronic Items Online

In this age of rapidly evolving technology, electronic items like cell phones, mp3 players, computers and laptops tend to get replaced fast, as newer and better products come up in the market every month. A consequence of this phenomenon is piling up of used electronics products every year, that find no takers and end up being toxic trash dumped in junk yards. Not only is it bad economics to throw away an electronic product which could be still useful if repaired, but it’s damaging to the environment. In this Buzzle article, I provide you with some suggestions on how to sell used electronics online, which not only provides you with some ready cash, but also contributes to the global effort aimed at cleaning up technological waste.

With the rising rate of electronics waste, many tech entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to create an online market place, where used electronic items could be bought, repaired and sold as refurbished items or their parts be salvaged for cash. With this philosophy, many websites have sprung on the Internet, that buy such items from you, get them shipped for free and pay you an appropriate price for it. They earn money through resale of the item after repair, sale of spare parts or recycling. In the following lines, I provide you with information on such websites where you can trade your used smart phone, laptop, iPod or any other such item for cash.

How to Sell Used Electronics Online For Cash?

The online marketplace has been teeming with buyers who are ready to purchase all kinds of used electronics goods. Here are some suggestions on where you could sell your used phone, desktop computer, music system, speakers or any other such items.

Sell Them to Gazelle
A website accredited by Better Business Bureau, Gazelle is one of the premier web companies specializing in the purchase of electronic goods. They buy everything from calculators, e-readers, digital cameras, external hard drives, gaming consoles, GPS devices to LCD monitors. The selling procedure is also quite simple. You find the right category to which a product belongs, provide your mailing address, get your item shipped and appraised, after which you are mailed a check of appropriate value. It’s as simple as that! Oh yes and the shipping is absolutely free. Check out Gazelle website for more details.

Make Money Selling Electronic Items on Amazon
Amazon is probably the largest online retailer of electronic goods and it also buys used electronic items. They charge you a commission for advertising and selling your product. Amazon provides you with exposure to one of the biggest consumer bases in the world. You will have to create an account with Amazon to start selling products. Visit the website to know the complete details.

Sell them to BuyMyTronics or YouRenew
Two more options for selling electronic items for cash are BuyMyTronics and YouRenew. Both these sites will buy all kinds of electronics gadgets, repair and sell them as refurbished items or get them recycled. Check out both websites for more information.

Trade Used Electronic Items on eBay
Another option for selling electronic goods is good old eBay. With one of the largest user bases, this site makes for a great selling platform. You can list your product, advertise it and sell it at a fixed price or through auctioning to earn a decent amount of cash. Try out eBay if you think that your used electronics product could fetch good value.

Sell them Via Craigslist
The online classifieds website – Craigslist has been operating for years now to bring together buyers and sellers online. You can advertise the sale of your used iPod, desktop, camcorder or any other gadget and find customers who are willing to pay for it.

Collect and list out all the items you could trade. Contact any of the above suggested websites like Gazelle, ship over your electronics item, get it valued and earn cash directly. All you have to do is get your product mailed to the right address and the website management team will take care of the rest. Even if the used phone or any other gadget does not earn much cash, you can at least have the satisfaction of not contributing to the rising pile of technological junk!

How to Build an eCommerce Website

The Internet is flooded with numerous e-commerce (electronic commerce) websites and setting up an online business is not very difficult today. If you are determined to sell your products online to earn a big sum, then you must plan and execute the business wisely. The website that you launch should be absolutely user-friendly and it should be visually appealing as well, because the design of a website also plays an important role in attracting customers. The first attempt to create an ecommerce website might be a little confusing, but once you get complete hold on the norms and the basic policies involved, things will automatically start rolling in the right direction. The more you market your website with the aid of search engines, the more you make sales.

☛ Research Thoroughly
The first and foremost tip for making an e-commerce website is, carrying out an intensive online research on every aspect pertaining to success of a website. Remember that your motive is to earn money. Therefore, check the demand and sale value of the products and then pick up products that fetch heavy chunks of money. Get to know the keywords that will support your product and which people use randomly for searching products online. Check other eCommerce websites that have a high ranking over the Internet for understanding the design, layout and transaction mode implemented by them.

☛ Purchase a Domain
Once the research is over, you can register a domain name. Never choose complicated domain names, rather name your domain in a way that would be easy to remember. The domain name should be short and relevant with the product as well. The URL and the topic of the site should be compatible with the keywords selected by you. You also need to tie up with a web host company. Avail their packages and check for features like, bandwidth, web space, database, pricing, etc. before making any investment. You should opt for a cheaper price initially and then proceed to the expensive packages if at all necessary.

☛ Construct the Page
Building the pages is probably the most important aspect of an e-commerce site. The number of pages, their appearance and the content are some of the important factors that you should take into account. A welcome paragraph should be present that will introduce your product to customers. The navigation links should be well placed so that people can easily switch from one page to another. The content that you frame for the website should inculcate trust in the customers. The products and services should be defined clearly for assisting people to understand and access them without any difficulty. There must be a FAQ section where people can find out appropriate solution to their queries.

☛ Design the Website
Take help from professional graphic and website designers to make it look the best. The sections that you must include in the front page of the website are, ‘about the company’, ‘products offered’, ‘product description’, ‘what’s new’ and ‘contact information’. Design the layout in such a way that it is easily accessible by customers and they do not find difficulty in finding the product that they are looking for. The website should not be crowded with numerous links, rather incorporate links that will provide useful information on clicking. Heavy designing and graphics are not required for an e-commerce website. Since it’s a business site, you must keep the layout simple and sophisticated.

☛ Payment Options
Customers should not be misguided with the payment options. eCommerce websites usually open PayPal shopping accounts that make payments easy and it also eliminates use of a merchant account. You can use your credit cards as the mode of payment. If you have accepted a non-hosted package (like Magento), then you must open a merchant account at a bank and then integrate it with your website for ensuring better security. You should have the options clearly defined on your website so that users can access them freely.

After reading this crisp and compact guide, I hope you have fairly got an idea on how to build an ecommerce website. All you need is, a drive for establishing your website successfully in the huge competitive market. Therefore, analyze everything in depth and discuss with an experienced entrepreneur before launching your ecommerce website. All the best!

O2O Commerce is the New Hot Methodology for Local Business

Typically, it is safe to view the ‘next big thing’ moniker with skepticism when it comes to the Internet. There is such a history of false starts and ideas that seemed good on paper―but then ultimately failed―that it is a common response. But the newest ‘next big thing’ in online commerce is not something to dismiss so easily. It’s called ‘Online to Offline’ commerce, or O2O. Like its predecessors in the Internet commerce world―B2B and B2C come to mind―it promises to be something that truly is a big deal.

Put simply, O2O Commerce is the utilization of online efforts and methodologies for driving offline, local sales. As online local commerce continues to explode on the web, brick-and-mortar business owners who once felt helpless to take advantage of the worldwide phenomenon of the web are now grasping it enthusiastically and with a very specific direction.

Some very obvious examples of O2O Commerce are Groupon, Restaurant.com and SpaFinder, all of which were recently highlighted in an article on O2O Commerce in TechCrunch. What all of these sites have in common is their use of the Internet to appeal to consumers via an online connection, and the leverage of that connection to persuade the consumer to purchase locally, and in person.

According to research, the average e-commerce shopper spends around $1,000 per year. However, that number is still dwarfed by the amount of money that is spent ‘live and in person’ at local establishments. All the aforementioned companies, as well as essentially all companies engaging in O2O Commerce, share one thing in common, in that they act as a platform for discovery of local venues or service providers via the web. For example, even though a great restaurant may be only a few miles away, you may have never heard of it. With Restaurant.com, and many others that work in the same space, you can research restaurants in your area by type of cuisine, price, reviews, and other criteria, and then make reservations online.

Groupon, another big player in the O2O market, is unique in that it provides coupons for local services directly to consumers. Consumers sign up to receive special offers from Groupon―narrowing down their interests via the site’s functionality―and receive one offer each day in their local area. In some instances, consumers may receive deals for stores, restaurants, pubs, and other establishments that they are already familiar with, but are nonetheless drawn back in by the ‘deal’ that they received via e-mail. In other instances, consumers can discover new spots via Groupon, making the company one of the best known and biggest in the O2O space.

And while all of these O2O sites are very attractive for consumers, they also are huge for local businesses. In the past, local businesses had great difficulty tracking the effects of their local advertising efforts. With Groupon and other O2O sites, however, everything is very easily and obviously quantified and tracked. Businesses utilizing O2O services understand exactly what their ROI is on their ad spending, and can make fine-tuned changes as needed to bring in more business. And, thus, the era of brick-and-mortar businesses not getting to share in the joys of widespread Internet marketing are a thing of the past.

The Future of E-commerce

The Internet has proved to be beneficial to mankind in the last five years, by providing all kinds of products and services at the click of a button. Whether one wants to book air tickets, or buy a pair of denims, the Internet is a single gateway for everything. E-commerce is a powerful tool provided by the world wide web that makes transactions possible, without any actual hand-to-hand transfer of money. Since a lot of people are virtually imprisoned by work and household activities, Internet and e-shopping save a lot of time and provide them with an opportunity to choose goods at best prices. With rapidly growing technologies and constantly improving protocols, here are a few features one can expect from e-commerce in the near future.

Virtual Dressing Rooms
The biggest advantage of buying clothes by visiting a brand outlet or regular shop is that one can get the best fitting apparel by multiple trials. In a trial room, he can wear it and check out in front of the mirror, whether or not the apparel fits him and suits his personality. It gets hard to find good fitting clothes, while shopping online through various e-commerce sites. This problem can be solved with the implementation of new technologies, which will enable the user to choose a 3D-animated figure of his built, and try the chosen dresses on it. It will also provide flexibility and variety over one’s choice and will help to look out for the perfect fit.

Improved Supply Chain Process
Supply chain process is the system of different organizations, people, technologies, activities, and resources, which is involved in moving a product or service from the supplier to the customer. It involves everything, right from purchase of raw products to the dispatch of finished goods. In the near future, e-commerce will be able to facilitate the supply chain process, which in turn, will make the transactions easier for the end customers.

Sharing of Product Lists and More Choices
It is possible to clip one’s choices on the Internet and make a list for easier accessibility and payment options. Such lists can be shared by many users, and the products can be discussed online, in order to find the best possible deals. With advancement in web-based services, it will be possible to offer a provision of shareable lists to the people who want to use them.

Easier Transactions and Better Delivery Options
There are a lot of future innovations coming up, which can really make online shopping a better experience. The features offered may include night-time deliveries, ability to pick-up products from multiple drop-off points and return them, and being able to choose times within 30-minute windows. The shipment charges may also decrease, with more vendors and franchisees coming ahead to cater to the needs of customers.

Secured Transactions
While making online payments, one is always worried about the security threats imposed by hackers and various non-social elements. A payment gateway provides a mechanism, which sends credit card information from merchant account to the bank for making payments. For the security of these transactions, there is Secured Socket Layer (SSL) protocol, which enables encrypted, authenticated communications across the Internet. With time and improved network security software, the protocols and procedures are supposed to get improved, providing a secure and richer shopping experience to customers.

With the increasing popularity of e-shopping, in the near future, e-commerce will surely become a notion, absolutely inseparable from the concept of the world wide web.

E-Commerce Education

The presence of e-commerce is vital nowadays with hundreds of thousands of e-commerce websites on the cyber space. Owing to this, e-commerce is in itself an established industry now and has a huge potential to grow. This has necessitated the need of structured and organized education among students so that they can be equipped with the Internet knowledge to be globally competitive.

US has been the torch bearer for the world in introducing e-commerce as a tool for spreading education. Since the inception of 21st century, educators and scholars have realized Internet technology as a powerful tool and vehicle for growth and development. Hence, in this technologically advanced era, Internet has become a central component of learning in schools and colleges. While colleges in the US and Europe have been phenomenal in imparting online education to their students for years, Asian countries like China and India are accelerating faster to make them an integral part of their educational system.

E-Commerce Courses

There are numerous ways in which online courses can be undertaken. You can begin your stint by taking a single e-commerce course or by gaining an insight about principles of E-commerce and its similarities and differences to other trainings. Almost all universities of repute offer online degree courses and so you have several options to choose. You can advance your career with the distinctive online degree programs of any university. You can go for certification programs or for full-time degree courses. No matter what you want to study―accounting, consulting, commerce, business administration, e-business & e-commerce, finance, marketing, or management, you can get all the courses online by applying to the university that offers these programs. In case you wish to study something technical like website design, you can get courses to learn about them online.

Online education has been phenomenal in making a deep impact on higher education. Growth in the Internet over the last few decades has led to a great impact on communication and research in the higher educational institutes. Many administrators, MBA’s, working professionals, housewives, and similar people who fell short of time to go to a campus program have been able to benefit immensely from online courses.

Moreover, online education has opened new avenues for cyber law studies. It need not be stated that the importance of cyber laws has increased by leaps and bounds in the recent years. With hundreds of cyber crime cases everyday, awareness and knowledge about Internet has become more important.

Online education not only equips students about latest career development advancements, it also opens doors for access to information and knowledge. The introduction of teaching online has the potential to evolve as one of the biggest trends in the US educational system. Next to the health care industry, the educational system is the biggest sector in US, and e-commerce is evolving as a popular trend in it. The future in this sector is bright and we’re bound to witness online education as an established form of distance education.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/e-commerce-education.html