It’s all well and good wanting to launch an ecommerce website and believe me I don’t want to discourage the reader as that’s how we make our living. There are however a few factors which need to be considered along the way.
Whilst the list below is not definitive it’s based upon our experience of what our clients go through en route to building their online riches.
There are many providers of payment solutions out there ranging from the bottom of the pile and frankly terrible Paypal right through to an integrated solution provided by a high street bank. Firstly you will need a payment gateway provider. What is that? I here you say. A payment gateway supplier provides you with the required level of security on a web page to take credit card details from your customers. The most common way of doing this at small business level is that once people elect to checkout they are redirected to another, highly secure, web page that safely allows you to take card details. Popular providers of this service are Sage Pay or World Pay. This gateway will typically cost £20 a month.
You will also require a merchant account from a bank, most people tend to choose their own business banker for this but you are not obligated to do so. The merchant account is essentially an account that allows you to accept card payments online and settle the payments. This also tends to cost £20 a month….spooky.
You will need both a gateway provider and a merchant account to trade effectively online. Do not delay in starting the set up of these accounts. The banks move slowly, it often takes 6-10 weeks to get everything in place and can lead to delays in a site being launched.
A good logistics supplier is worth their weight in shiny, yellow stuff. Are you going to offer next day delivery? How heavy is your product, etc? Different suppliers specialise in different areas and offer different levels of service at the different prices. It is worth talking to several before committing. It would appear that everyone we speak with has a different recommendation but from our point of view Citylink and Interlink seem to offer a very good service.
It is the law in the UK that you operate under distance selling legislation and without operating under its framework you will come unstuck. Not just because the merchant account provider you will choose will insist on seeing how you are displaying terms and conditions, returns policy and delivery details.
Be very clear at the out set how these regulations will effect your business, I would also suggest you take some legal advice, even if it is at the most basic of levels.
How will you market your website?
Please plan now for how you will promote your website and the products within it. Do you know how you will fair in the search engines, are you going to use google adwords to acquire customers and what offline marketing activity will you be utilising to raise awareness?
You do need a plan, there is no fairy godmother going to wave a magic wand and make products fly away in a couriers van. If you don’t have a plan we need to speak sooner rather than later.
The above is not meant to sound daunting but should allow you to do a little more planning in advance, particularly if mail order is a new concept to your business. If managed correctly owning your own ecommerce store is enlightening and let’s face it is the future of retail. Call noovo now on 01642 913525 for indicative costs and advice.