The importance of create and own a professional website whatever it is representative of one's activity no longer needs to be proven. It's an effective way to get known and a great complement to a company's social networks.
An old style, however, full of bright colors and out-of-place elements tends to convey little professionalism and attention; a site with a chat always available for the visitor, however, offers the possibility of always staying in contact with the customer and conveying seriousness and availability to the latter.
If the objective also included the sale of products made by the company, however, the issue would become further complicated.
The first obstacle you might encounter is the type of website to be created.
There are mainly two opportunities for creating a web portal: a so-called showcase site or an eCommerce.
This article aims to expose the differences between the two and why, often, the most immediate choice is to resort to the first.
What is meant by showcase site
As the name suggests, a showcase site acts as an exhibition for the company's activity.
More precisely, such a solution allows a company, whether small, medium or large, to make itself known in detail, in its mission, in its production methods and to present its activities.
Internet users can find information on the opportunities offered, its location, products and services it offers.
Generally, such a portal is composed of a number of pages ranging from five to ten and include:
- a homepage that acts as a graphic cover;
- a presentation page of the company, with its history, the list of its employees and its objectives;
- one or a few pages presenting the products and services offered;
- a page containing the form to write to the company;
- a page presenting legal information, which is a must for any legal activity.
In short, a showcase site serves above all to highlight the company's identity. All the information you need is present.
They range from company contacts to prices, through to the opening hours of the points of sale if present. A showcase site should represent the image of the brand, which is why it is important to focus on web-design.
Reasons why to choose a showcase site
Also known as a "virtual business card", this category of sites is intended for companies that wish to take advantage of the advantages of a web presence. The goal is to present the company itself, but the dynamic exchange and sale of products is limited.
However, creating a website remains an opportunity for all sectors of activity. In the hotel sector, for example, customers can make reservations through the portal itself, by calling directly or by sending an email.
It is also of great interest for structures that do not carry out direct transactions on the Web, such as communication agencies, photographers and beauty centres, not to mention manufacturing and craft companies or companies that operate in the tertiary sector, therefore services.
These professionals can, thus, take advantage of their online existence by working on their brand image with customers.
The counterpart called eCommerce
A site of this type has, rather, the purpose of increase commercial exchanges with customers.
This type of portal is also called a buying and selling site or online store. Simply put, this choice allows you to have a virtual shop and its creation is more complex and detailed than a showcase site.
In addition to the presentation of a company's products, it must make direct online sales possible.
To be able to carry out transactions, an eCommerce must necessarily have:
- a product catalogue;
- a system called "cart" to group products and change their quantities;
- a secure remote payment method;
- a product search tool;
- a page that presents the purchase and delivery conditions, with a customer service to help consumers.
This alternative can be applied for most tasks. Furthermore, the site is able to completely replace a physical store by facilitating sales, without the buyer having to travel.
The advantages of this approach
The creation of this website is aimed at companies that wish to take advantage of the opportunity to sell online. Nowadays, this trend is in full growth. In particular, it concerns clothing and footwear shops, household appliance and electronics shops.
The improvement of online payment methods, also thanks to the development of mobile applications, is the basis of the enormous growth that this sector has been able to experience.
By creating an e-commerce site, companies get closer to their regular customers and, at the same time, attract new consumers. The business, in fact, has the possibility of extending beyond its geographical area with extreme ease.
Differences between the two types of websites
Given the extreme simplicity of creation, showcase sites are almost always requested by companies that decide to go online, even if they decide to still rely on an eCommerce which would probably be accessible from a section of the showcase site.
When we hear about eCommerce, we are referring to a particular type of dynamic website, very complex and whose objective is merely to sell products from a catalogue, manage orders, shipments, user data and transactions.
This involves the creation of a system that can connect the site with the company database, where all the information of members, orders and articles resides and with the accounting software.
From a technical point of view, it is clear that the skills needed are infinitely greater to be able to set up such a portal, not to mention the management costs.
Use a showcase site for online sales
Although the primary purpose of a showcase site is not to sell products, there is still the possibility of using it for this purpose.
An eCommerce, by nature, offers a wide range of managerial possibilities that would otherwise be impossible to achieve and, above all, provides automation both during the implementation phase and in the management and maintenance phase.
As mentioned above, however, such an approach involves several levels of complexity above the simplest and most straightforward showcase site.
Sales through the latter must be managed manually and the simplest approach involves direct contact with the customer, who communicates (via e-mail or telephone) the products he intends to purchase. The transaction must take place by bank transfer or cash on delivery and there are no large logistical possibilities.
Free tools are available that can easily direct the showcase site towards online sales, for example by adding the cart concept, management of registered users and integration with other payment systems.
However, these remain limited functions which cannot be integrated with other internal information systems of the company, but which can prove useful for all those whose purpose is not mainly retail sales.
Creation of a showcase site or e-commerce site: The selection criteria
Whether it's a showcase site or an e-commerce site, they are both powerful marketing tools. To make the choice, a company must consider the following criteria:
- The showcase site it is limited to the presentation of the business with limited buying and selling opportunities and allows customers to contact the company and obtain information about it;
- A eCommerce site it is proposed with the specific purpose to open an online shop;
Finally, an eCommerce site and a showcase site are two distinct solutions, both with a significant role for corporate marketing, both in form and function. The choice merely depends on needs, although all companies, nowadays, should have at least a showcase site.