Many small businesses can benefit from providing an online retail location. E-commerce opens up your business and products to a world of consumers can provide a huge audience at a very small start-up cost. The additional cost to selling online is usually very minimal compared to the costs already put in to a retail infrastructure.
When looking to sell your wares online there are many options available. Classifieds and auction type sites (like craigslist.org and ebay.com) are either free or charge a small fee to list and sell your items. Ebay has a stores option which enables you to have a very rudimentary website that lists your ebay items. Both sites hit a very large audience and are widely recognized online. (Craigslist.org is generally not for retailers but those with specialty products may find it as a good resource)
Other players are starting to enter the marketplace that either didn’t offer these options before or who are getting in to the industry anew. Paypal has significantly increased their shopping options since eBay acquired them back in 2002. From simple “Buy Now” options integrated in to your website to full shopping carts and subscription options Paypal offers a wide array of charging methods. Beware, however, that paypal is not a bank and is not regulated with the same strict federal regulations that real banks are.
Another new e-commerce option is Google Checkout. The popular search engine has launched their simple and quick checkout process that some major online retailers have added to their payment options, even offering $10 off your first Google Checkout payment. Google’s offering is a much more slender package and doesn’t offer peer to peer money transfers or but money is directly deposited to your bank account whereas Paypal holds your funds until you transfer them out.
As you look in to more professional and complete offerings to start a retail store online there are several e-commerce options. Pre-packaged products offer a quick start option (like Yahoo Stores) but limit you to their available designs and options (custom designs are available through designers but up your startup costs significantly). To really sell online with a custom shopping cart suited specifically to your products and industry the only way to go is a custom or semi-custom implementation.
Next month we’ll look further in to the custom shopping cart options, the fees you may encounter and what you’ll need to know to get your business selling online.
Magical Productions is your local source for web design, development and e-commerce. You can find them online at http://www.magicalproductions.net. Contact via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 661-977-9509.