What options for selling on the internet are there?
There are many ways to set up your website to sell your items, and how it is
done depends on your budget, the number of items for sale, how you wish to accept
payment, and how automated you want the process to be.
A small store can be set up fairly simply and inexpensively to sell and collect payments online. There are several payment solutions available, but the most economical to set up and use is PayPal. They are the largest online payment processor in the world, and are owned by the largest internet presence in the world (Ebay). You can read more about PayPal and how to use it here, and you can sign up for a PayPal account here.
For this type of store, it might add as little as $100 to the cost of the site development, depending on the requirements and number of items.
For a slightly larger store, we can use a shopping cart and use online payment processing through a payment gateway and your merchant account, or can use an integrated payment system such as PayPal, 2checkout, or Authorize.net.
For a large store of a few hundred or more items, things need to be more automated, and organized into a database. Ordinarily a Payment Gateway is used with your Merchant Account for billing customers. This involves setup fees, and ongoing monthly fees as well as the per charge fees, so it is only economical to do if the online store is fairly large with adequate monthly sales to cover these costs. Creating the website with the shopping cart system and database will typically cost $2,000 or more, depending on the size.
What do I need to do?
What you need to do depends on the ultimate size of your store. Here are some thing to do or consider doing if you are setting up a very large online store:
- If you want to take credit card orders, you must first obtain a merchant account through a bank or financial institution. If you already accept credit cards, just contact your financial institution and tell them you intend to accept online orders as well. Using your merchant account without informing the bank you are doing online selling could jeapordize your account, so be sure to let them know.
- Decide whether you want offline order processing (swipe, phone or computer entry of credit card orders at your place of business) or real-time order processing (all automatic - you are sent confirmation of the order - no order entry on your part). Both methods involve per transaction fees - but real time order processing is more expensive because you will need to be on a secure server and have a "Payment Gateway" which entails more monthly and transaction fees. This resides between the website shopping cart and your Merchant Account, and offers a secure and automated method of handling the orders. Just as with Merchant Accounts, there are many possibilties for choosing a Payment Gateway; just do a search in Google to learn more.
- Decide on shipping and return policies up front and have the information readily available on your website.
- Decide if you want order integration with a back-end database or accounting package. This involves programming which can run in the thousands of dollars. A smaller online store will not need this.
- If you are in a very competive area, you should consider signing up for a "pay per click" program through the search engines, such as Overture or Google's "Adword".
You must also "work" the Web
If you do not update your site, add new content, give visitors a reason to return, you will not be using your site to its full potential. You must market your site through conventional means by including your Web address on letterhead, advertisements, etc. Getting links to your site from other related sites will bring you more traffic, and is imperative for getting a higher ranking in the search engines. Just because you have a site on the internet does not mean "they will come", you need to put in some effort to get them to you.
Selling on the internet does not have to be expenive to set up. If what
you want is a small storefront to sell a limited number of items, we can create
a very economical solution for taking orders and recieving payment securely
either online or offline.
Larger storefronts requiring databases, payment gateways and online processing through your merchant account can be expensive to set up, but we can do it for a price that will be hard to beat.
Alohas Online for Web Design