The exchange of mp3 files has posed a threat for record companies and CD stores the world over. Along with lobbying for legislation forbidding the exchange of music files, many companies are rethinking their strategies in order to start selling music in digital format through the Internet. Itunes Music Store is one of them.
At the same time, some bands and musicians have decided to cater to their audience directly through the Web, keeping full control over their material and avoiding the intermediaries which usually increase the retail price due to promotion and distribution expenses.
The Web’s music-selling potential is without bounds, but few existing e-commerce tools are prepared to set up a complete online music store.
The first mistake when implementing this type of store is using a shopping cart originally designed for the sale of tangible products. As obvious as it sounds, selling an mp3 file is not the same as selling an umbrella.
A shopping cart which hasn’t been designed for the sale of intangibles will pose the following problems:
1- It won’t offer the option to disable shipping quotes
2- It will lack tools for automatic distribution of mp3 files
3- It will make you load useless fields such as product weight
4- It won’t let you easily customize the specific attributes needed for the sale of digital goods.
Comersus has been designed for the sale of digital goods and it includes several specific tools for this field.
Music shoppers can locate the songs they are looking for in various ways. E-commerce tools should support search by author, style, best-sellers and new releases. Comersus includes all this, and more. It also supports the creation of a category tree with unlimited structure where one song can be assigned to several categories. Therefore, “Say It” by John Coltrane can be categorized within Jazz and within 35-45 years old, in the case that you have age-related categories.
With respect to new releases, Comersus dynamically creates this list based on the load of products from the BackOffice and you can configure the period of time during which a song will be considered a new release.
Another important factor for online music stores is offering a sample of the music on sale. With this purpose Comersus lets you load HTML into the details field of each item, therefore the links to samples can be placed there as HTML. It is also possible to load the names of sample files in generic fields and modify the product details view template to show the links.
The sale of music online allows the sale of songs rather than albums; still some customers prefer to buy all the songs which make up an album. Comersus’ Bundle Products feature (a product made up of other products) lets you create albums which will be listed as such.
With respect to distributing the purchased songs, the shopping cart supports immediate download after payment. Customers hate waiting, and in the case of delays in the delivery of music they will simply ask for a refund. However, delivering the purchased music is not as simple as sending a link for mp3 download, since links can be exchanged and many people will be able to download the file. The delivery of music entails providing temporary access to the file only if the order has been paid and the customer’s identity has been verified. Comersus includes a download obfuscator which hides the real location of the file in the server and sends a dataflow to the browser to allow download when the customer requests access to the purchased music. It’s up to the store’s administrator to decide the period during which download will be enabled. You may also implement additional custom security measures such as distributing a password for file decryption or creating a music file which is sent by email and deleted from the server.
A customer whose music purchase is a satisfactory experience is bound to come back. It is important to implement tools to keep the customers’ interest and guide them to music they might like, based on previous purchases. Comersus’ Custom Recommendations feature fulfils this need. This utility processes the customer’s previous purchases and makes recommendations based on factors such as category, price and author. The store administrator can also define random recommendations with the Related Products feature.
The sale of music online is at its early stages. The possibilities are endless, provided there is a full-fledged e-commerce tool for the implementation of an efficient and reliable selling system.