Before you get started selling products online, you will need a few things in place depending on how your online ordering system will work. Here we will cover everything from SSL Certificates to legally protecting your business if things go wrong. To get started selling products through your website, you will need the following;
- Product information (including images, description, size, weight, etc
- SSL Certificate (if taking payments directly through the site)
- Method of performing transactions
- Shipping method
- Terms & Conditions agreement
Your Products and the Law
First, it’s important to understand the laws surrounding the purchasing and transportation of your products. Wine, for example, has different laws on both purchasing and shipment based on province here in Canada. This means that the website must allow the user to validate their age and location prior to any transaction taking place. Some of our winery clients have chosen to let the user ‘request’ an order, and have the winery itself manually process the transaction to make sure that everything is in place. It’s important to collect and provide customers with product information such size dimensions, weight, availability, among other custom options such as colour.
Next is determining how you will actually process payment. Whatever payment process you choose to use, if the payment is being process directly on the site (as opposed to directing the user to a different site such as PayPal), you will require an SSL Certificate. An SSL Certificate (Secure Socket Layer Certificate) provides security for both the merchant and the customer by encrypting any credit card information, client-side authentication, providing protection against hijacking, and most SSL Certificate providers offer support for transaction issues. Paypal has become a familiar standard to most online buyers, and certain business accounts will allow you to bypass the need for an SSL Certificate by sending the user to PayPal’s site directly to process each payment, unless you choose to use PayPal’s API. Many stores already have Moneris Solutions currently working in their physical stores, so using them to process online payments can have many benefits. Another element to take into consideration is if you want the ability to implement coupon codes or discounts to specific customer accounts. Many stores deal with large corporate clients that consistently place large bulk orders, so providing them with a discount online can save a lot of time and provides a great incentive to keep using your services.
Shipping & Support
Now that your users have purchased a product, the next step is shipping and delivery. Many shipping companies such as FedEx provide API’s (Application Programming Interface) for online merchants with a business account. This is where the products’ weight and dimensions will come in handy. It is very important to not leave shipping and delivery out of your Terms & Conditions agreement. Have a plan for when customers receive damaged products, or if an order is unable to get to its destination on time. Having a lawyer take a look at your Terms & Conditions agreement could save you a lot of headaches later on if things are missed, so it’s best to be very thorough with protecting your online store. Dealing with customer support is a large part of selling products online, so make sure that you are available to deal with product enquiries, customer complaints, shipping issues, and are able to handle large orders. Making sure that you have all of these elements in place will ensure that your online store can process orders from start to finish!