What is e-commerce and how can I make best use of it for my website?

Any transaction that takes place online comes under the term ‘e-commerce’. This can be as simple as paying a bill or as complex as signing up for a regular service that takes the correct payment automatically.

The ability to go onto a website, select a product or service and to then pay for it all in one sitting benefits both the customer and the business. It benefits the customer because they have received exactly what they set out to obtain and without the hassle of a busy high street or the disappointment of not finding what they were looking for. It benefits the business because a sale has been made safely and securely and without the need for shop staff, and other associated bricks and mortar costs.

21 million households in Great Britain (80%) have internet access and it has now become the norm for people to look online to purchase their goods, as opposed to trawling the high street, it’s quicker and it’s more convenient. In fact over 12% of all retail transactions now take place online."

In most cases it is sensible to use a third party transaction provider who will handle the processing of the credit card details for you. Without this you need to have what is called PCI compliance, which in brief terms is a set of processes that ensure you can keep the credit card details safe.

In simple terms it works as follows:

  • Customer chooses what they want to pay for and clicks to go to checkout
  • 3rd party transaction provider processes credit card details and takes money
  • Customer is passed back to your site and transaction marked as processed
  • Money is passed to your bank account (usually after a delay)

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