Selling Online
In the early days of the Internet everything was free – well I say everything, early e-commerce was driven by the adult-entertainment industry.
Modern e-commerce allows everyone to trade and to make/save money online, but there are a few simple rules to obey.
For the most basic online transactions many small businesses use eBay. They set up a small shop and wait for the customers. It is true that eBay does generate a great deal of traffic, but it would be akin to setting up your stall in the busiest Bazaar in the middle of Istanbul, you can easily be overlooked!
So how about going it alone. This used to be expensive and complicated. I won’t say that it is a walk in the park now, but with the modern e-commerce packages, life has got easier. So how do you go about it?
If you only have one or two products, setting up the store is easy. If you sell, say over 100 products, you need a strategy. I would advise you to take things a step at a time (the old adage about how to eat an elephant… one mouthful at a time!). Pick your top two or three products per product group and then have something with which to launch. Trying to get all 100 or 1,000 products online before you launch will just delay things.
Prepare your legal policies - your terms and conditions; your privacy policy if you intend contacting your customers about the latest deals; and your returns policy. Many businesses launch without the latter, and this comes back to bite them.
So if everything is place, check your online processes. There is a rule of thumb in designing online shops called ‘two-clicks to buy’. If a customer is sent on a long journey through multiple screens before they can checkout, you are likely to lose them. ‘Two-clicks’ means that they confirm that they want the product – “Click”. They then log in or register their details and payment information and confirm – “Click”.
You may have seen Amazon’s “One-click to buy”. If you have the customer’s details and they are already logged in, this is a great way of getting them to impulse buy – but you must have your returns policy in place for these customers.
Make sure that you have the prices right – all necessary taxes, shipping, etc., because nothing annoys customers more that being told that they need to pay extra because you calculated things wrongly.
OK, so you are set up. Now back to eBay, well almost – the payment engine for eBay is PayPal, and this is available to anyone who wants to trade online, not just via eBay. It is easy to set this up as a payment gateway, and they will then take the headache out of collecting credit card details. Other payment gateways are also available – some people feel that PayPal looks to ‘amateur’ because of the eBay link, so we offer a range of options.
So, if you have your products ready, you have your legal policies prepared, and you have traffic coming to your website – you are ready to earn money in what we can only hope will be the next boom!
Good luck.