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The Building Blocks of eCommerce and Internet Retailing: 10 Basic Concepts I Learned as an Intern

Posted on October 1, 2008 by Interns

Our second addition of Intern Week posts is brought to us by Kelli.  You may realize this while reading the post but in case you don’t, she was the ornery one of the bunch.  I personally enjoyed having her around as I finally had another girl participating on the basketball court amongst the many guys that play.

- Vanessa

Why would one want to do free busy work for a company when another company could pay for the work to be done? This whole internship shindig isn’t all sunshine and roses. We get stuck in between the bathrooms with all the ants, and even the day to day Surplusers call the intern section of the office the “dungeon”. What good can come out of all of this?


These thoughts definitely crossed my mind when I took on this internship, but I quickly realized that it is probably one of the best learning experiences I have had to date. There is not one collegiate class that I have taken that has measured up to the amount of information that I have acquired through this internship. Here at the Surplus, there is probably about two years worth of information thrown at you in the time span of about two or three weeks. After I and my fellow interns felt comfortable with all the information thrown at us, we then have the opportunity to put it to work. Employees around the Surplus then ask us interns to help them, at which point, we let our knowledge shine. This helps us further understand the information we have been given, as well as giving us real life situations to utilize these different concepts.

Here are just ten of the many things that I have learned about at the Surplus:


  1. Keywords - Keywords are the words that individuals may use to search for different items on search engines and websites. When thinking of different key words we had to stretch our minds and think about all the different ways a user may search for the keywords we were targeting.
  2. eCommerce - Basically eCommerce consists of things that are bought or sold through the Internet and other computer networks. eCcommerce is important to understand, considering that in this generation more and more companies are getting started by establishing their business on the Internet.
  3. HTML - HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. I found this concept especially difficult to understand, and implement successfully. From my perspective HTML is basically the matrix like gibberish that creates an internet page.
  4. Pay Per Click - Pay Per Click (PPC) is paid links that are placed on websites, mostly search engines, as advertising. Each time these links are clicked the site owner pays the website a designated fee. The websites that advertise for retailers gain money from the clicks and the advertisee gets increased traffic.
  5. Google Adwords - Adwords is the PPC Google advertising platform.
  6. Buying/How to guides - Too many websites have products that people know nothing about.  What better way to teach consumers about the products than with a buying or how to guide? These are exceedingly important for those who are trying something new. Buying guides tell the prospective buyer what they may need for different products they may be planning to buy as well as possible problems they may need to look out for. How to guides are exactly what it sounds like, they tell you how to do a certain activity, with simple, clear, step-by-step directions.
  7. Importance of Content - Good websites that are trying to sell things should have content that appeals to the prospective buyers. The website should not just be trying to fill in space and make their site look longer and more knowledgeable.  The content needs to be easy to understand yet contain specific information as it relates to the products or services offered by the internet retailer. Everything that is said on the page should be organized and flow. Pages with content that is all over the place are confusing to the readers, consequently this will shy away potential buyers from the website.
  8. Importance of Pictures - Pictures seem like such an easy thing for websites to master, yet almost every website has flawed pictures. Obviously when making a buying decision the images with the best colors, details, and views becoming increasingly important. Overall pictures can make or break a sale. Even after the sale, if a customer receives his or her product and is unhappy that the picture was different then the actual product received, the consumer will likely return the product and possibly never purchase from your website again.
  9. Food is Key - I have worked a few different jobs, never have I seen such a happy bunch of employees, the reason…FOOD! Hungry employees can lead to grumpy employees. Stuffed employees can lead to happy employees.
  10. Get the Food Fast - The people at the Surplus are savages. Consequently, when a new shipment of food comes in you have to run to get what you want.

For those that are considering starting an internship program, I have one tidbit of advice, it is better to not think of an internship as pro-bono work, but as a regular job, in which you get paid in knowledge verses money. 

- Intern Kelli


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