Setting up a website for e-commerce involves what is generally referred to as a Shopping Cart system. The analogy here would be to a shopping cart you might use in a grocery or department store. As you walk through the store (browse a website) you chose from the offerings and place them in your shopping cart. Then, when you are finished, you go the checkout counter and pay for the merchandise. Likewise, as you browse a website, the option is always presented to place an item or service in your virtual shopping cart. And, as with a typical brick-and-mortar store, when you are finished shopping, you click on "Checkout Now" and see a page that shows the entire contents of your cart. At this time, you are presented with the opportunity to eliminate items from your cart, change quantities, or, if you realize you have forgotten something, go back and add it to your cart. Once you are sure everything is correct and you have all the items you want in your cart, you move on to choose a payment method and complete the purchase.

All of our design prices include setting the client up with a shopping cart service and coding each product appropriately for checkout. Because the coding process is the most time consuming element of the shopping cart system, our basic packages include coding for 25 products. Additional products can be added for an extra charge per block of 25.

Free Content
In the early days of the "Dot-Com Boom" the prevailing theory of commercial success on the Web was based on advertising and creating as much traffic as possible to view the ads. This led to literally tens of thousands of websites that did not actually sell anything, but that offered free information or other services to entice people into visiting. If the idea behind the site was successful and the number of visitors high, the site could then sell advertising to other sites, whose ads would be seen by thousands of Web surfers. Unfortunately, this theory did not work out as well as expected, and reliance on Web advertising as a revenue stream became one of the major causes of the "Dot-Com Bust" that followed. Though many of these informational sites survived and now prosper, direct e-commerce has now taken over as the most popular was of creating revenue streams from a Web presence.

The lesson learned through this evolution, however, remains valid; that presenting "free" content on your website is one of the best methods of attracting visitors and getting other sites to link to yours (a prime factor in establishing high rankings among the search engines). For example, one of our clients, Electronixwarehouse, offers a huge tech section, in which visitors can find the answers to almost any question they may have concerning car stereo systems and equipment. In addition, they also offer a free tech-advice question & answer service, and a humor section. Though this extensive "content" does not necessarily generate sales directly, it has enormous positive impact on the popularity of the site and has gained Electronixwarehouse thousands of links from other sites and personal Web pages.

As a promotional ploy, offering free content can be one of the most effective marketing tools you may have at your disposal. When planning the format and content of a website, consideration should always be given to providing as much free content as is possible, if the site theme and category lend themselves to doing so.


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