With e-commerce enabled on your web site, you can take orders for your products and collect payments over the Internet. Customers can pay with their credit or debit cards, or sometimes by check.
Low-Cost Solutions. E-Commerce is now within the reach of every budget. Services like PayPal will collect the payments for you, then deposit them into your bank account. With PayPal, your business does not need to accept credit cards directly. PayPal does not charge a setup fee - they just take a percentage of the transaction amount and a small transaction fee. This makes it a great startup solution for low-volume e-commerce.
Full-Function Solutions. For higher-volume e-commerce, you may want to use a commercial shopping cart solution like MIVA Merchant. Usually you will use your own merchant account to take credit cards directly. Customers can enter their credit or debit card information securely on your web site when they order the products. You can later submit the charges manually, or use a "payment gateway" (for an additional fee) to have the charges automatically processed.
Commercial shopping cart solutions will often have higher monthly costs to cover web site hosting, merchant accounts, payment gateway and secure certificate. Some of these solutions can be configured to add functionality like online coupons, shipment tracking, catalog display options and more. Many have a web-based interface that let you update the products on the web site yourself.
The Plan. When you sell products over the Internet, it's important to have a plan that addresses these issues:
- How often will you process the new orders that come in? How much time will this take out of your schedule?
- Will you be using a payment gateway?
- What will you do if you run out of inventory?
- How you will ship the products?
- How much will it cost to ship orders?
- How much will you charge for shipping?
- What do you need to charge for sales tax? Sales tax is usually required if you ship to an address within your state.
- Will you ship outside of the country? To Alaska or Hawaii? How much will you charge for non-US shipping?
- Who will ship your orders?
- What will you do if a customer claims they never received the product?
- What if the product is damaged during shipment?
- What is your return policy? How should the item be returned?
- Can customers call a phone number for customer service?
- What is you exposure for Internet fraud? How will you recover those costs?
- How will you draw traffic to your web site? If you invest in a commercial shopping cart solution, web site traffic is key to justifying the cost of the site.
For more information about e-commerce solutions offered by iMarks, click here.