The world of commerce has changed dramatically in the last ten years. Consumers are changing their buying habits. Nearly half of Americans have access to a computer. Most consumers are now very comfortable buying products online. It’s creating a global market where merchants can sell products to customers to which they never had access before.
There are many different options available to sell your products online. A few examples are:
- Shopping Carts in your own web site
- Shopping Comparison Sites: for a price, uploading products from text file
- Ebay auctions and stores
- Google Base: also known as Google Shopping
- Yahoo Stores
- Amazon Stores
- Facebook Ecommerce
I can help you decide which option or options will help you the most.
Keep in mind, what works great for one type of business, doesn’t work well for another type of business. I recommend, if you are so inclined, that you look into all of them but first start with selling the products on your own web site. The profit margin is higher as you don’t have any third party taking their cut. Like everything in life, you have to find your niche in the world of E Commerce too.
To complete your shopping cart and make it ready for purchases, you’ll need to have the following setup:
- A way to accept payments, for example, a merchant account, Paypal account or Google Checkout account (or all of them)
- If accepting credit cards on your site, An SSL certificate to provide encryption / security of sensitve data
- An online shipping account with a shipping provider such as UPS, USPS or Fed Ex
- Tax rates for your state
Once your shopping cart is built, you’ll need to market your new store. Any web site doesn’t just appear on the first page of Google, there are ways I can help you with that, see my section on Search Engine Marketing.
You’ll also want to establish a trust factor with your clients via testimonials, online reviews, trust seals, memberships like the Better Business Bureau. New businesses may want to invest in as many of these as possible. Would you buy online from some company you’ve never heard of? That’s the hurdle you have to overcome with visitors who have never met you or have never heard of your company.
You’ll also want to make sure that the web site you create with your webmaster is PCI Compliant. PCI Compliance is becoming increasingly important in today’s ecommerce. It’s a way for credit card companies to require certain steps be taken to safeguard information regarding ecommerce transactions such as credit cards and name, address and phone number. This helps to prevent fraud. To simply put it, when a company is PCI compliant, they completely separate their credit card information from the web site and maintain this PCI compliance with the PCI Security Standards Council.
I only provide ecommerce solutions for clients that are completely PCI compliant, as I’ve heard that eventually merchant accounts will start requiring it.