What is the difference between brochure and eCommerce websites?

You know you want to showcase your products online, but what’s the next move? One thing is
certain: that you want a strong and striking website design that engages your potential customers.
But what about functionality? Is a brochure website the best vehicle for your business, or would
you be better suited to an e-commerce website? There’s a whole subsection of showcasing tools
to get your head around and it can be confusing. Because although we like to think it’s all about
making a visual impression, it’s actually as much about usability for your customers.

e-Commerce Websites

These websites are all around us, and are no longer limited to straight forward retail shopping
experiences. More and more of our day to day transaction activity is taking place online. This
means that e-commerce functionality is required more often than not. So, should your business be
among them?

What makes an e-commerce website?

The basic feature that e-commerce sites hold in common is that they are virtual storefronts
in which transactions can take place. However, there are a huge range of different types of
commerce within the e-commerce umbrella. From retail to wholesale to subscriptions and
even fundraising, if a transaction is required to take place, the site requires an e-commerce
function. So your e-commerce site is the digital portal to facilitate these transactions.
Depending on the industry, the purchase journey will vary in experience, and different
priorities will apply to different aspects of the site.

Who do they work for?

Basically, any product focussed business or individual can benefit from an e-commerce
website. This includes Business to Business, Business to Consumer, and any subtle
permutations in between. Users need to be able to browse a catalogue of products or
services and be able to select and pay for their choices as part of their journey on the site.
The checkout experience has become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. This is the
reason that product based businesses benefit so much from e-commerce sites. The basket
to checkout journey is a perfect place in which to cross sell other products.
Why they’re great!
The weight of expectation amongst consumers and businesses alike is very real when it
comes to e-commerce now. For many consumers, if there is no online purchase option they
will simply go elsewhere. This makes an e-commerce website an essential asset for most
businesses. However, it’ll only be great if you get the look and process right. Think about
your customers and visitors and tailor your user experience accordingly. Include relevant
and up to date content to add value to your offering.

What are the disadvantages?

The disadvantages to choosing this path are all really to do with how much ongoing input
you are willing and able to put in. With price fluctuations, seasonality and promotional
offers, keeping the shopfront up to date is a time consuming task. However, it’s one that is
worthwhile in the reach that your e-commerce site enables for you. Similarly, you must get
your purchase journey right. An unsuccessful checkout process can lose you customers in
the long term.

Brochure Websites

It’s true that e-commerce doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes it’s simply not logical and can
even confuse matters. This is where brochure websites are a wonderful solution.
What makes a brochure website?
Think of a brochure website as being exactly what you’d expect from a printed brochure. It’s
like a showroom for your products or services. Yes, it all has to be designed with a sale in
mind, however the business needs to be contacted for the sale to take place. Because of this need for direct contact, a brochure website must be visually engaging and sell through its content. In this way, you’ll often see a heavy focus on images and branding on a brochure website.

Who do they work for?

Businesses who provide a service, or whose product or service is bespoke tend towards
brochure websites over e-commerce websites. Services and bespoke products simply don’t
have an ‘off the shelf’ price tag, and this makes straightforward online transaction journeys
extremely complex. Since pricing isn’t the primary information on a brochure website, the
service or product being showcased is more crucial. In this way, you should focus on
content that helps the potential client understand more about the service being offered.
Why they’re great!

Brochure websites really can be the most creative of places. When there’s no limitations
put in place by the practical features of the purchase journey, then beautiful, interactive and
fun things can happen! They’re also lower maintenance than e-commerce websites, since
there’s no product pricing, rotation and detail to manage. This means that they will tend to
have a longer shelf life. However, don’t forget that all sites benefit from regular fresh
content, so even a brochure website shouldn’t be left languishing in the either.

What are the disadvantages?

This lies in convenience and that extra step in the purchase journey. Making direct contact
with the business is a task that some can see as unnecessary hassle. This is especially
true with e-commerce expectations rising by the day. However, for bespoke services and
products, an ‘off the shelf’ priced purchase option simply isn’t practical. So your brochure
website must engage your client sufficiently to balance things out.

What about my business?

Not sure where your business fits in all of this? Or perhaps you feel that your circumstances fall
between the two models. In truth, there is no hard and fast answer, and nor is there a standard e-
commerce or brochure website. Every organisation is unique and as such, your website should
reflect that. This is true whether it’s an e-commerce site, brochure site, or hybrid of the two.
When you’ve made your decision about the functionality of your website, the fun really begins! Just
get in touch with us here at Planetwide City to find out how we can help you to authentically
represent your business online.