Cutting through the eCommerce jargon
Internet ecommerce is like everything else - a bit daunting if you don't know the terminology. So here's our guide to some of the terms you're likely to come across when creating your eshop.
Ecommerce jargon - a short dictionnary
Acquirer / Acquiring bank: this bank provides you with a Merchant Account specially for e-commerce payments. Not all banks are acquiring banks, so you may have a business account with one bank, and a Merchant Account with another. Some patyment gateways can provide you with a Merchant Account alongside payment processing. For more information, refer to Merchant Accounts.
Card Issuer: the card issuer provides payment cards for shoppers. When a shopper pays at your online store, their card issuer has to authorise the payment.
CNP - Cardholder Not Present: this is when the payment card is not seen by the merchant and includes all online transactions as well as transactions by phone, mail order or fax.
Domain Name: this is your address on the internet. It's the way people find your online business, so having a domain name your customers can remember is really important. For more information, refer to Domain Names.
Host/Hosting: a web host is a company you can pay to maintain your website on a web server. And a web server is basically an internet space for your e-business, which means that it can be found 24/7. You can host your website yourself if you have the right resources. For more information, refer to Hosting.
IP Address: your Internet Protocol (IP) Address is the unique number that identifies every computer connected to the internet. When your web browser or email application requests a web page, it's the address other computers will email the information to.
Internet Service Provider: the company that gives you access to the internet and may also host your web pages. For more information, refer to our post about ISPs in Cyprus.
Merchant Account: see acquiring bank (above). A Merchant Account is specifically for accepting payments online - you can't trade on the internet without one. [WorldPay can provide you with a Merchant Account alongside payment processing.] For more information, refer to Merchant Accounts.
Mail and Telephone Order (MOTO) Payment Service: this allows businesses to take order and card details over the phone or by post.
Payment Gateway: A service provided by a third-party organization, that automates a payment transaction
between the shopper and merchant. A payment gateway is actually a system of computer processes that process, verify, and accept or decline
credit card transactions on behalf of the merchant through secure Internet connections.
Payment Service Provider: to ensure that your customers' details are kept safe, this service provides secure links between your website, your acquiring bank and card issuers.
Pay-per-click advertising: online advertising is there to bring customers to your e-business. With pay-per-click you'll be charged an agreed amount every time a user clicks through to your website from one of your online ads. For more information, refer to Pay-Per-Click Advertising.
Search Engine: this provides access to a searchable database of website addresses and descriptions. Google is the most popular, with 90% of UK internet searches. For more information, refer to Working with Google.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): this is how you get more visitors to your website who are likely to buy something from among search engine users looking for particular keywords and phrases. For more information, refer to Search Engine Marketing.
Storebuilder/Shopping cart: this software lets you create an e-shopfront which acts as the site's virtual shopping cart, catalogue and ordering system. You can buy it 'off the shelf' or get it custom built for your business. Storebuilders can let you do everything from designing the look and feel of your website, stock control and delivering goods. For more information, refer to our e-commerce section.
Ecommerce Hosting Solutions
Before you can open up your eshop online, you first have to find a place to host the website . This Ecommerce Dictionary explains some of the more common types of ecommerce site hosting phrases you are sure to encounter when setting up your online business.
Dedicated hosting: Sometimes referred to as a dedicated server: your website is the only one on hosted on a given server. With a dedicated server, security is often tighter; however you will largely be responsible for the server management -- not just the website.
Shared hosting: Sometimes called virtual hosting, or referred to as a shared server: your website will share resources with other websites as multiple sites are running (hosted) on the same physical server.
Virtual host: A provider of Web services that includes Web server functions and Internet connection services. A virtual host is often used by companies or individuals that do not want to purchase and maintain their own Web servers and Internet connections.
Web host: The company, or service provider, that provides server space, Web services and file maintenance for Web sites controlled by individuals or companies that do not have their own Web servers.
Web server: A computer that delivers Web pages. Every Web server has an IP address and possibly a domain name. When a user types your domain name into a Web browser, it sends a request to the server to fetch the page.
Common Ecommerce Website Processes
The following ecommerce phrases are ones you will encounter when designing, hosting and launching your own ecommerce website. There are a number of ecommerce standards and financial accounts you will need to be familiar with before you can accept online payments.
Credit Card Interchange: The phrase used to describe the process involved in completing a credit card transaction. The "Interchange" refers to all organizations involved in the transaction, including processors, acquirers and issuers.
Shopping Cart: Ecommerce software that acts as an online store's catalog and ordering process. A shopping cart is the interface between a company's Web site and its deeper infrastructure, allowing consumers to select merchandise; review what they have selected; make necessary modifications or additions; and purchase the merchandise.
Commerce Server: Web software that runs some of the main functions of an online storefront such as product display, online ordering and inventory management. This type of software is also called storefront software.
Ecommerce Marketing: Email Marketing
Learning email marketing lingo is important to help you understand what features and options you will have for tracking your email marketing campaigns. To get you started, here are ten email marketing terms you should know before starting a subscriber list for your ecommerce business.
A/B split: A type of marketing test where an email subscriber list is split into two groups; every other name in the list is sent one email message and vice versa to see which marketing message has the most successful response.
Conversion rate: In online marketing, this phrase refers to the percentage of visitors who take a desired action. For example the percentage of people who click a hyperlink in your message and make a purchase from your Web store.
Direct digital marketing: An online marketing method that is addressable -- meaning you can identify the recipient of the email message you're distributing. Addressability comes in a variety of digital forms including an email address, a Web browser cookie or a mobile phone number.
Event triggered e-mail: A message sent to list subscribers based on an event. For example, a special message or discount coupon delivered to subscribers on their birthday or anniversary dates. The events are determined based on the information the subscribers provided when joining the list.
Open rate: This is a common email marketing phrase that basically means the number of list subscribers who opened the email message you sent. Open rates are used to track how successful your email marketing campaign is.
Ecommerce Laws, Standards and Protocols
CAN-SPAM: The CAN-SPAM Act applies to almost all businesses in the U.S. that use email, and provides recipients of spam with the right to opt-out of these spam messages, and have their opt-out (or unsubscribe) request acted upon. Under the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, permission of the email recipient is not required prior to sending out the emails, however if a recipient wants to unsubscribe or opt-out of the mailings then the business must stop sending the emails as per the opt-out request or face severe penalties.
Certification authority: An organization or company that issues digital certificates used to create digital signatures. The role of the certification authority (CA) is to guarantee that the individual or business that has been granted the unique certificate is, in fact, who they claim to be. CAs are a critical component in electronic commerce because they guarantee that the two parties exchanging information are actually who they claim.
Electronic Data Interchange: The Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a standard for the transfer of data between different companies using computer networks. EDI is becoming increasingly important as an easy mechanism for companies to buy, sell and trade information.
PCI-DSS: Short for Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS), it is a standard that all organizations, including online retailers, must follow when storing, processing and transmitting their customer's credit card data. To be PCI complaint companies must use a number of security features, such as a firewall between a wireless network and their cardholder data environment, and also use the latest security and authentication. The PCI DSS standard specifies 12 requirements for best security practices
SSL: Short for Secure Sockets Layer, SSL is a protocol for transmitting private documents via the Internet. SSL uses a cryptographic system with two keys to encrypt data -- a public key known to everyone and a private or secret key known only to the recipient of the message. Many websites use the protocol to obtain confidential user information, such as credit card numbers.
Interested in more definitions? See also the WebDesign Dictionnary