* E-commerce: How to get in the game

November 11, 2007

According to Forrester Research, US online retail sales this holiday are expected to reach $33 billion - an increase of 21% over the 2006 holiday season. A record 126 million users (6% increase from last year) will buy online.

You’re probably thinking - how in the heck do I get my piece of that pie? Should my product or service be included in that pie? Do I even like pie?

Top e-commerce sites to date are Amazon, Walmart, Target and so on. These sites have several items that aren’t customized and can be shipped for little money. Top sellers will be apparel and accessories. They also do amazing revenue in gift certificates.

What you need to ask yourself is “will my product or service sell online?”. You might start by asking your best current clients if they would use it. Products and services are too numerous to cover here so I’ll leave it to you to do the research. I will, however, give you some ideas for testing the waters.

One entry level solution is to use a service like Google Checkout or Pay Pal. You save money by not having to pay merchant fees and buy an SSL certificate. You simply login to their website and create an account. You then input your products or services along with cost and product number. They will generate “buy” buttons for you to place on your website next to pictures and descriptions or your product or service. When the client clicks on the buy button, they will be redirected to either Google Checkout or Pay Pal’s site where they will input their credit card information. You will be notified by email that a purchase has been made. You can also use the service for email invoicing, if you currently can’t except credit cards. Some services will actually tie into Quickbooks.

The cost to you will be anywhere from 1.9% to 3% per transaction and a transaction fee of anywhere from 20¢ to 30¢. There are no monthly or cancelation fees. In other words, if nobody uses it, you pay nothing.

Some of the draw backs to this method:
1. At some point, if successful, the merchant fees will be less than the transaction fees so you will have to switch.
2. Some of the services will only let you draw out a certain dollar amount per month.
3. Neither service wants to talk to you on the phone.
4. Users will leave your site to pay - may not be the most professional image for your brand.

There are numerous other avenues to getting a shopping cart on your site; from moderate cost of a separate website service that hosts your catalog and gateway, to the expensive proposition of having a cart built for your website. The point is to test the waters before paying a lot of money. Go online and read the blogs about each service. Look for statistics on your particular industry and online purchasing. Do your research before you spend your money.

Now get out there and look good!

Chris Motley
Motley Creations
©2007 Motley Creations.

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