SEO? PPC marketing? A guide to ecommerce jargon

Making the most of mobile technology is one technology trend small business owners need to stay on top of.

Mobile phones have now overtaken computers as the most used ecommerce device.

By Henry Brown

Since the Internet’s invention in 1994, it has completely revolutionized many aspects of our daily lives. It is estimated that there are 2.32 billion smartphone users worldwide right now. That number is expected to rise to 2.87 billion users by 2020. The more amazing thing about this is that modern smartphones have more computing power than NASA put into its Voyager space probes (an iPhone 5 has 240,000 times more memory to be exact).

Smartphones are obviously convenient and they are so ubiquitous that they are sometimes taken for granted. For small business owners, they are more than just a convenience — they can also help you grow your business in ways you would never have anticipated 20 years ago. More and more entrepreneurs have invested in ecommerce and why not, when in 2015 alone, global online retail spending amounted to $1.6 trillion.

Have you stayed away from ecommerce because you’re intimidated by the jargon of ecommerce, that hodgepodge of mysterious terms and acronyms that stand for who knows what? If you want to get a piece of the action but you don’t know your PCI from your POS, here is a guide to ecommerce jargon:

Attribution model: If you use Google Analytics, you can find out exactly what aspect of your online presence induced a customer to buy something from you. There are many different types of attribution models, and they are useful because they can tell you which parts of your online infrastructure are successful and how you can continue to improve you CRO.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): This refers to the process of improving aspects of your website such as layout, design, and content to convert more visitors into paying customers.

Domain name: Also known as a web address, it is just the name you chose for your online presence so your customers can reach you. A domain name is necessary if you want to run your own site.

Gateway: Provided by an ecommerce application service, a payment gateway authorizes payments from credit or debit cards from your customers. It communicates with a company’s merchant account.

Merchant account: This is a type of bank account that accepts payments from customers. It is not a personal bank account because it serves as the receptacle of payments and is therefore subject to the regulations of card associations.

mCommerce: This one is rather obvious when you know the answer, but it is simply transactions that take place through the customer’s mobile device. In 2016, smartphones overtook computers for the first time to be the most used device in ecommerce transactions.

PCI: Payment card industry compliance ensures that businesses are safe and secure when they process online transactions.

POS: Point of sale refers to the software that facilitates the online transactions themselves. In traditional brick and mortar stores, the POS is the till or register.

SEO: Search engine optimization is the process of tailoring your website to appeal to the algorithms that search engines use to produce the top results in response to a search. SEO rankings are important, of course. If a customer does not know your site exists, they are not going to be able to buy there. Few people look beyond the first page of search results, so you need to be among the top sites coming up in a search.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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