You’ve probably heard about e-commerce websites. Sometimes they are known as web stores, online shops or online shopping sites. Although they may be known by different names, they are basically websites which can handle commerce online.
An e-commerce website is suitable for selling both tangible and intangible products. Tangible products may comprise consumer items such as books, clothes, computer gadgets, household items and lots more. The e-commerce website owner needs to pack and ship these products to his or her customers once he or she receives their payment. On the other hand, if you sell intangibles such as e-products (e-books, music or computer software), your customers can download these products immediately after paying you.
To set up an e-commerce website/online store to conduct business transactions online, you need to:
The costs of the domain name as well as the web hosting are renewable yearly. As an e-commerce website owner, you will need to pay for the domain name and web hosting annually in order to continue using them.
Next, you will need to get yourself an e-commerce website or a website which includes a shopping cart software which is linked to a payment gateway. This ensures you can receive payments from customers via credit card. A shopping cart software in your website helps you track what the customer buys, totals up the price, includes shipping rates, gets her details including credit card information and sends these information along to the payment gateway for processing.
The payment gateway is a separate service and should not be confused with the shopping cart software. You have to sign up or register with payment gateway provider to process payments which come through your website when a web visitor buys from you. Since it is offering a service, the payment gateway will charge you, the e-commerce website owner, a fee. The fees vary so it is best to always compare fees first before you decide which you want to use.
Some charge a one-time sign-up fee in addition to transaction fees. Others allow you to sign up for free but again, transaction fees apply. Again, it pays to check and read carefully because some transaction fees can be quite steep. On top of that, some will charge a fee whenever they mail you your cheque.
Do some research and check out PayPal (www.paypal.com), 2CheckOut (www.2checkout.com), Ikobo (www.ikobo.com), WorldPay (www.worldpay.com) and StormPay (www.stormpay.com). However, these are not the only payment solutions providers or payment gateways available. You can find many more by doing a search via Google or Yahoo.
Don’t forget about shipping methods. It’s best to consider carefully product delivery methods before you start your online shop. For online transactions, it is understood that the customer pays for shipping. How will you send the product to the customer and how much will it cost the customer? Are there minimum units which customers ought to buy before you ship the products to them? Will you use regular post or courier? How will you track the shipment? Therefore, you need to check out the various postal or courier rates (both local and overseas) so that you can include these rates when a web visitor buys from your online shop.
Nic Sim of Redbox Studio helps solo professionals and small businesses go online affordably and profitably with customised e-commerce websites. Get more tips, brainwaves and ideas at http://www.RedboxStudio.com