Starting an online store is an exciting venture. You will finally be able to be your own boss, and make decisions about the business that are in your best interest. You know that starting an eCommerce business is going to take a lot of work and that the competition is going to be stiff, but you can’t think of a better way to spend your time. With more and more people starting to head online to do their shopping, you know that now is a great time to start an online store.
Online spending is expected to reach an estimated $370 billion by 2017, according to a report released by the Forrester firm last year
If you’re ready to get down to business and get your eCommerce store opened, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind when you create an online store. Along with choosing a good eCommerce platform and making sure that the design of your virtual store front is visually appealing, and that your user interface is engaging enough to convert your visitors into paying customers, there are a few items that many first-time eCommerce entrepreneurs overlook when setting up their shop.
If you plan to sell physical products on your eCommerce site, you have to make sure you consider how you will ship items to your customers. Shipping is one of those costs that can quickly kill a sale if it is too high.
The first thing that you need to figure out is which shipping provider you are going to use. Will you be using UPS and FedEx? Or will you stick strictly to shipping products through the U.S. Postal Service?
You will also need to decide how you are going to charge for shipping. Will you go with a flat-rate charge depending on the service your customers choose, or will you charge based on where the package is being shipped and the weight of the package? If you decide to charge based on the weight and shipping destination, you will want to include a live feedback service on your site. This enables customers to know exactly what they will be paying for shipping, based on where the package is being shipped. Shipping is an important component to how you set up your online store and will determine whether or not you get repeat business.
The issue of whether or not you have to collect sales tax on the items that you sell on your eCommerce site is a tricky one, but it is something that you need to consider before you open your virtual doors. As things stand now, the only time that you are required to collect sales tax from online sales is if the transaction takes place in the same state in which the business is located. However, if you don’t have a physical store presence in a state, it is not required for you to collect sales tax for sales made in that state, according to the Nolo website.
To keep things simple it may be to your benefit to simply charge all customers sales tax no matter where they are physically located. Plus, in the next year or two you may see the current laws regarding how sales tax is collected by online stores change; soon, all shoppers, no matter where they are located, will be required to pay sales tax on all purchases made online.
Collecting payments from your customers is the most important element when opening an eCommerce store. In order to do this you will need to make sure that you have a merchant account with a bank so you can process your customers’ credit cards when they make purchases. With a merchant account you will be able to process payments from Visa, MasterCard and Discover. You can also choose to accept payment from American Express. By accepting these types of payments, you will be required to pay a monthly fee to the bank for your merchant account as well as a transaction fee, which is usually a percentage amount of each sale that you make.
There is another payment method that you may want to consider adding to your eCommerce site. With the uncertainty surrounding the recent online security and hacking issues, consumers can be hesitant about providing their credit card information online. To encourage more sales on your site, you can offer other payment methods such as PayPal. This allows your customers to pay for their merchandise without having to provide their credit card information. They simply have to log in to their PayPal account and make the payment directly from there. Starting your own eCommerce business couldn’t come at a better time, and it couldn’t be easier.
The industry is heating up and consumers are taking to their computers to find everything from dollar razors to their next big-screen TV. Making sure you have a great looking site and paying careful attention to the little details will help you to achieve eCommerce success.