Seven E-Commerce commandments

Monday, 15 November 1999

1. Get on Main Street

A shop in a backward alley will attract less customers than one at main street. Make sure that your site is visual on the electronic highway. Register your site at search engines, colleagues (, the yellow pages (, the local virtual business park (, etceteras.

2. First things first

There are billions of web sites around. Make clear in what kind of business you are. The home page should state the nature of your business in a very clear way. Reserve some space at the home page for the most popular products (, luring gimmicks, or most important revenue generators. This will make it easy for a large public to do business with you. has best sellers on its home page for example.

3. Simplicity Rules

The internet has very high demands on usability. Users of Office software have no choice. They have to use the software suite, no matter how bad it is and how frustrations it generates. The Internet has different rules. The user can choose from a wide variety of sites. You'll loose the customer upon the very first obscurity or irritation.

The quality of your website reflects the quality of your company. Create a easy-to-use site and consumer's trust will grow ( Make it easy for a customer to find the right product. Each click is a threshold that needs to be passed, the less the better. Three screens, including the home page is the maximum for the customer to find the right product. One click would be even better.

4. Let the customer take initiative

Most customers prefer to browse around at your site before buying something. A site that starts with customer registration ( is just like a pushy salesman interrogating the customer at first sight. A login screen is also an unnecessary threshold. Allow the customer some time to become a customer.

Open de door as wide as you can, without any security at the gate. Use the most common technology. Everybody is welcome, even with a very old their browser that lacks the latest plug-ins.

5. Gain confidence

There is quite a bit of chaff among the internet wheat. Make clear what kind of company is behind the website. An organisation chart is far too boring. Show some products, business knowledge, location and a personal touch of the human behind the company.

6. Close the deal

Ease the order process, a single click would be ideal. Now is the time to fill the screen with a form, as small as possible.

Allow customers to ask further information. Create a contact screen with your phone number, address or e-mail possibility. Don't rely on just a mailto: link, as that does not work for all users.

7. Keep your promises

Make sure that advertised products and services are really available.

Despite the speed of internet, it's faster for consumers to visit a physical shop. They can take the product home right away, without any delay. "Delivered within 24 hours" sounds fast, but it is still much slower than a conventional shop. You'll loose a customer that has to wait too long for a product. If you advertise a delivery deadline, make sure you can deliver on time.

Till next week!