Actinic Catalog - Introduction to Ecommerce

Everything you need to sell on the Net

Catalog


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Ecommerce
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Overview

Actinic Catalog enables your business to grow by selling across the Internet (ecommerce). It easily handles orders, bookings or subscriptions by providing an interactive online catalogue of your products and services. Enables your customers to browse the catalogue, making selections and placing orders.

The main advantage of the Internet is that it makes communication easier and cheaper. The web can help in many areas including customer service, gathering information, and selling over the Internet (also known as online selling, esales, e-commerce).

The steps to follow are:

  1. Plan your approach which involves deciding what products and services to sell over the Internet and what you want to achieve by selling through this medium.
  2. Prepare for ecommerce by selecting an appropraite domain name.
  3. Produce your site so that it is capable of supporting Internet sales. This is where Actinic Catalog comes in.
  4. Promote your site so that prospective Internet customers can find you, by utilising Othello Technology Systems search engine placement services.
  5. Process the orders as they come in.

What does "selling over the Internet" entail?

E-Sales requires a different approach to that of managing a normal shop or physical catalogue. To enable your customers to view your products (or details of your services), and place orders you organise an on-line catalogue accessible over the Internet like any other webpage. This means that:
  1. Your on-line catalogue must be well designed and have a professional look and feel so that your customers feel they are buying from a reputable company.
  2. You need to allow your customers to easily place orders on-line. It needs to be as easy as pushing a shopping cart around a supermarket.
  3. You need to think about payments and remember that you won't be able to see your customers. If you intend to allow your customers to make payments over the Internet, they need to be reassured that paying ver the Internet is secure and protected against fraud.
  4. You need be clear about how orders will be processed, and to have mechanisms in place to ensure that orders are properly received and handled and not mislaid (or even duplicated!).
  5. Your business will not stand still. You will need to be able to rapidly change the contents of your on-line shop to take full advantage of seasonal factors, special promotions and changes to your products.

The Benefits of using Actinic Catalog

Actinic Catalog simplifies the whole process of setting up and running an online shop capable of e-commerce. The whole process is so simple that you will not need access to technical experts such as web site designers, HTML experts and Java script programmers. The benefits are:
  1. Actinic Catalog frees you to concentrate on your marketing plans and the products you sell, without getting bogged down in technical issues.
  2. You can run catalogs generated by Actinic Catalog alongside your existing web site.
  3. Actinic Catalog uses standard technologies. No transaction charges are used so that running costs are kept low.
  4. Actinic Catalog makes it easy to design, build and install professional looking catalogs, enabling sites to be up and running within hours.
  5. Actinic Catalog includes encryption facilities ensuring full privacy of customer orders.
  6. To use Actinic Catalog you do not need specialised technical knowledge. This ensures that you can keep your product lines up-to-date and keep the catalogue maintenance costs low.

Catalog Concepts

  • What is an on-line catalogue?
    An on-line catalogue is simply an Internet shop where customers can browse through your products and services, make up orders and pay for their purchases.

  • How do I build a catalogue?
    You can set up a catalogue in no time at all. All you do is insert product descriptions into the catalogue. To help your customers find the products you can divide the catalogue into sections and sub-sections, each dealing with a particular product type. It is also possible to import existing product information into a catalogue. The description of a product can include all the pricing information you need, including VAT and postage/delivery charges. The product description can also include details of any discounts you offer.

  • How will my customers access my catalogue?
    After you have built your catalogue you need to get it onto your web site host. With Actinic Catalog this is very easy to do. With a single mouse click you can simply upload the catalogue to your web site and it's there ready to use by anyone browsing the Internet, or who knows the web address of the site. You will need to ensure that your catalogue site is publicised and added to the appropriate search engine indexes. For example if your catalogue contains fishing equipment you could add the URL for the web site to your advertising in specialised angling magazines. More information on how to publicise your site is held elsewhere on the Othello Technology Systems web site.

  • How will my customers use this catalogue?
    Try visiting some of the example sites to see how they work.

    The catalogue you build is designed to be very quick and easy to use. Using an Internet browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator your customer simply opens the appropriate URL for your web site and is immediately welcomed by your company's splash screen.

    As a standard feature, you can present a marketing message for your customers to read. For instance you might wish to highlight special offers, the high quality of your services, or the wide range of products that you can offer.

    Once the catalogue is loaded the customer browses through the sections in the catalogue, picking up an electronic "shopping cart" and adding the products he/she wants to the cart. When all the products required are picked the customer simply requests an order by adding name, address and payment details to a pre-defined order form. To help your customers the form is already partially completed using the contents of the shopping cart. With a single click of a button the customer "sends" you the order which is stored at your web site ready for you to download and process at your convenience.

  • Is the catalogue easy to use?
    In the past, many Internet-based catalogs and shopping malls have been difficult to use and rather slow. For on-line catalogs built with Actinic Catalog this is not the case.

  • How do I keep the catalogue up-to-date?
    You can make changes to the products in your electronic catalogs at any time. Once changes have been made you simply upload the revised catalogue to your Web site.

  • Can I change the way my customers use my catalogue?
    At any time you can change the way the catalogue is set up to receive orders and payments. For example you can change the marketing messages in the catalogue, stop receipt of orders or disable receipt of payments by credit cards.

How orders are received and processed

  • How do I receive orders from my customers?
    When a customer sends you an order it is stored in an orders file at your web site. Periodically you use Actinic Catalog to download the outstanding orders to your local computer. You can set up Catalog so that it sends you an email the first time a new order is received at the web site since the last download took place.

    The downloaded orders will be added to a local file of outstanding orders ready for you to process. How often you do this will depend upon your sales volumes and the way you run your business.

    It is also possible for payment to be made through a secure server or an Online Credit Card Processor such as NetBanx or Datacash. In this case, both an order file and a payment file is stored at the web site. These are then downloaded and 'glued' together by Catalog ready for processing.

  • How do I process the orders?
    Precisely how you process the orders is up to your organization, but the general approach will be the same for most businesses. Using Actinic Catalog you can print hard copies of the outstanding orders so that you or your staff can pick the products and package them up ready for shipment. When the completed orders are ready to ship you mark them as shipped on the outstanding orders file. Using Catalog out of stock items can be marked as cancelled and the order adjusted to match.

    Before shipping the orders you will want to check any credit card authorizations and wait for cheques to clear. You may also want to perform credit checks against new customers who pay on receipt of invoice. Catalog can deal with a wide range of payment options including all types of credit cards, invoice with order, cash on delivery, cheque on delivery and invoice and payment before delivery.

  • How do I keep track of my orders?
    Catalog allows you to deal with the orders at the item line level. That is you can ship parts of an order and mark the orders accordingly. You cannot delete the order from the file until it has been completed when all order lines have either been shipped (or cancelled). Because the order contains all the information you need, you can easily contact the customer and query items so they be processed later.

Communicating with your customers

  • Splash screen

    When you set up your catalogue you can define a splash screen to provide important information to your customers while they are waiting for the catalogue to load. The splash screen can display:

    1. Technical information, such as the likely load time
    2. Marketing messages
    3. Information about your company
    4. Terms of trade

  • Header and footer text

    In addition to the splash screen, you can set up text to display at the top and bottom of the web pages. This is where you can display the edition level of the catalogue and the date of publication.

    Your header might say : "MyBusinesss.com Catalog, Sept 12,2000"

    And your footer might say : "Sale Now On - ends Monday!"

  • Catalog Information Panels

    When you set up Actinic Catalog, you can predefine a whole series of information panels for your customers. The information panels set out your trading policy in an easy to read format, and include:

    1. Information about your company
    2. The procedures for making a purchase using the catalogue
    3. Shipping and handling policies and charges
    4. Delivery schedule information
    5. Procedures for dealing with back orders
    6. Information about VAT/tax charges
    7. Assurances about credit card security
    8. Guarantee terms
    9. Information about how to contact your company

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