What is the difference between a sales funnel and a regular e-commerce site?

When it comes to selling products or services online, businesses have a lot of options to choose from. But – have you ever wondered what the difference is between a sales funnel and a traditional e-commerce website?

They may seem similar on the surface, but sales funnels are actually quite different than traditional e-commerce websites and cater to different types of businesses.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the differences and give some examples of which types of businesses would benefit from each approach.

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What is a sales funnel?

A sales funnel is a series of web pages that guide a potential customer through the process of buying a product or service. The goal of a sales funnel is to convert website visitors into paying customers by guiding them through a series of steps designed to persuade them to make a purchase.

A typical sales funnel will include a landing page, an opt-in lead capture page, a sales page, and a thank-you or “next steps” page. These individual pages work in series and are designed to capture the visitor’s contact information, build their trust, and ultimately lead them – or “funnel them” toward making a purchase.

Popular sales funnel-building software suites include ClickFunnels, Leadpages, Dropfunnels, and Kartra. These tools make it easy for businesses to create and customize their own sales funnels without the need for technical expertise.

Businesses that would benefit from using a sales funnel include:

  • Digital product providers, such as download or ebook creators
  • Service providers, such as online educators or business consultants
  • Businesses that sell high-ticket items, such as business or agricultural equipment, employee training, or mastermind courses
  • Marketers that use webinars to build interest prior to the sales process

What is a traditional e-commerce website platform?

A traditional e-commerce website platform, on the other hand, is a website that is designed to allow visitors to browse and purchase a variety of products easily and quickly.

These types of websites use a site builder, like WordPress, along with a cart like WooCommerce or an all-in-one site builder/shopping cart combo like Shopify or BigCommerce.

Traditional e-commerce websites typically include a homepage, a product catalog, a shopping cart, and a checkout page. The goal of a traditional e-commerce website is to make it easy for customers to find the products they want and purchase them with minimal friction.

By far, the most popular e-commerce website platforms in the USA are Shopify and WordPress, alongside the plugin WooCommerce. These platforms provide businesses with the tools they need to create an online store, manage inventory, process payments, and fulfill orders.

Examples of businesses that benefit from using a traditional e-commerce website:

  • B2C businesses that sell physical products, such as consumer goods, CBD, smoking accessories, or tactical items
  • Wholesale businesses that sell B2B products in bulk
  • Businesses that have a large number of products and SKUs, such as online supplement stores and smoke shop websites
  • Marketers that sell simple subscription-based products with recurring billing

Differences between sales funnels and traditional e-commerce websites

There are key differences between sales funnels and traditional e-commerce websites that businesses should be aware of. Some examples are:

  1. The Purpose: The primary goal of a sales funnel is to convert website visitors into paying customers or highly motivated sales prospects for a specifically defined product or service. A traditional e-commerce website, on the other hand, is primarily focused on making it easy for customers to find and purchase a wide variety of products.
  2. The Structure: A sales funnel is a series of web pages that guide visitors through a specific journey. A traditional e-commerce website is a website that is designed to sell products more directly.
  3. The Features: Sales funnels typically include features such as opt-in forms and email integration to capture visitors’ contact information. Traditional e-commerce websites typically include features such as product catalogs, shopping carts, and basic checkout pages.
  4. The Target Audience: Sales funnels are well suited for businesses looking to sell high-ticket items, digital products, or complex services. Traditional e-commerce websites are well suited for businesses that sell a variety of straightforward physical products.

High-risk payment gateways for sales funnels

Sales funnels that sell regulated items, such as high-dollar coaching, new-to-market nutritional supplements, or online education programs, often need a high-risk payment gateway and merchant account in order to process credit card transactions.

This is because traditional payment processors such as Stripe and PayPal may not be willing to work with these businesses due to the regulatory and chargeback risks involved.

High-risk payment gateways and merchant accounts have specialized underwriting capabilities that allow them to process transactions for businesses that operate in regulated industries.

Need help accepting payments for your sales funnel or e-commerce website?

Gateway Funnel Pros can help your high-risk online business process credit cards – even if you have been turned down or shut off by Stripe, PayPal, or your local bank.

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