Online Payment Systems
Online payment systems and financial tracking tools are a vital purchase if you want to manage orders, track sales conversions and the steps leading to those conversions, and gather data on the people using your site: terms like EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale) and EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) describe these processes.
To manage orders, you must make sure that your shopping cart program deletes an item from your stock and tracks when it is sent out and that the customer receives the item in good condition. Making sure you are fulfilling your orders successfully is vital if you want customers to return: when purchasing your shopping cart software, make sure you find out whether it includes order management software and an online payment system that allows you to extract as much information about your visitors as possible.
Financial tracking tools can also help analyze customer user data effectively, and look at the effects of your online marketing strategies. Simple traffic counts from sites www.thecounter.com are used to see how many people visit your website, but programmes like FastCounterPro (www.microsoft.com) monitors your web traffic in real time and can help vendors look at where a potential customer is leaving the site - maybe it's hard to navigate, and sections need redesigning? Clickshare (www.clickshare.com) is another useful site that contains customer-tracking software, downloads and member newsgroups (a useful e-commerce resource).
And more importantly, you can see which pages visitors are clicking on most frequently, and capitalize on this. You'll also be able to see if your marketing spend has been worth the effort: if the spend isn't translating into sales, either a new strategy needs to be employed, or you need to decide whether money from this budget needs to be allocated elsewhere.
You can also see where your customers are coming from (have search engines driven people to your site, or are they coming from other sites and businesses that you could strike up a relationship with?) When Amazon.com struck up a relationship with Wal-Mart in 2001 its share prices recovered, proving that successfully teaming up with other commercial concerns can lead to higher returns.
Allcharge (www.newgenpay.com) is another web-hosting provider and payment processor that allows you to gather statistics about your customer's purchasing behavior - and help you make decisions about your products and pricing strategies.