Last week we discussed the 4 fatal factors to consider when deciding to sell online. This week we’ll delve into the techniques you can implement to set up shop and start selling online with ease.
The beauty of selling a service online is that you can start selling straight away and don’t have to consider the logistics of shipping and returns. However, if you want to sell products you’ll have to think a little more strategically. We’ll talk you through the best Ecommerce methods for ensuring your products reach the hands of your target market.
How you set up your Ecommerce website is dependant on whether you would like to host eCommerce functionality on your existing website or whether you’d like to create a new website purpose built for selling online. If you decide to create a standalone site there are a variety of online selling platforms you can choose from, including Shopify, Weebly and Magento. A platform like Shopify allows you to select and customise your theme and choose your desired E-commerce functions. It also allows you to add any code you desire to further customise your website – handy if you’re working with an experienced designer or programmer.
If you want to add Ecommerce functionality to your existing site, some of the best E-commerce add-on shopping cart options include PayPal, ProductCart, CubeCart and Adobe Muse. You have to bear in mind that shopping carts don’t actually process payments – they simply allow your customers to browse items, make multiple selections and review any shipping, taxes and any other additional costs upfront, payment processing comes from your payment provider.
The first step to choosing an effective payment provider is to decide how to you would like to receive payment details from your customers on your website. You will also need to consider user experience and security issues when choosing a payment provider. For example, providing a payment form on your site and posting the details on your server can create a seamless user experience but it’s the least secure method. You will therefore need to take additional security precautions (that could prove costly) to ensure you comply with PCI s ecurity standards.
To make your payment process more secure you can ensure the payment details go through a secure iFrame within a page on your website. Alternatively, you can redirect customers to a hosted payment page. Another option is to include a payment form on your site and ensure the details are sent straight from your browser to a secure payment gateway. To do so you can use a service like the Stripe payment gateway system. The benefit of this service is that it offers a merchant account combined with the payment gateway system so you don’t need to get your own merchant account.
A marketplace is an E-commerce site that allows multiple merchants to sell their products on the same website. For example, Amazon, eB ay and MercadoLibre are examples of some of the most sizeable and reputable marketplaces. You can benefit from the scale of the online presence of these marketplaces and potentially get your products in front of millions of customers searching specifically for your products or product types. You can also benefit from the marketplace’s established credibility – people are more likely to trust your products if they are displayed on a well known site.
The drawbacks of marketplaces are that it can prove costly as you will need to pay marketplace fees. Another factor you might want to consider before you sell through a marketplace is that these providers are focused on their own brand and not yours. That means they might restrict the products you are allowed to sell through their website, limit your branding opportunities and set the terms for how you communicate with new customers.
Marketplaces are a decent option to trial to help you market your brand and your products, at least at the start when you’re trying to get your business off the ground. However, before you make your decision you will need to weigh up the pros and cons as listed above. If you decide that selling through a marketplace is the right option for you, it’s best to choose one or two marketplaces that best suit your target audience.
Stay tuned for next week where I’ll discuss how to get started with digital marketing.