In this day and age very few businesses do not have some sort of online presence, whether it be a listing in an online directory, a social media page or a website. If you cannot be found online in some form or another, you are seriously limited in your reach to potential customers.
A digital presence is an absolute must for any business.
At the very least your potential customers should be able to find out what you sell and how to contact you. Even better if your customers can see what you sell and buy your offerings online.
So what are the advantages of selling your products or services online?
- You have a wider reach to potential customers, including global prospects
- As orders are automated you can trade 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- It is convenient for your customers to shop online
- Potential customers can easily compare products and pricing
- You can showcase more products to your customers
- You can build a database by inviting customers to sign up for newsletters or special offers and market to them easily
- Record keeping is improved
And if you are purely an online business, with no brick and mortar presence, there are more advantages:
- You can operate your business from anywhere
- You save on operating costs such as shopfitting, floor staff and rental
- Scaling up in volume and product lines is relatively easy
- There is no shoplifting risk
- Inventory management is improved
- You do not have the security risk of dealing in cash
If you are a new business, or an established small brick and mortar business wanting to expand into the wonderful world of ecommerce, where do you start?
Firstly, you need a website. It does not have to be a really expensive website, but there are certain basics that will inspire customer confidence. Think about what you look for in your own online shopping experiences – what makes you comfortable about buying from your favorite online shops?
Your ecommerce website should at the least:
- Have an SSL certificate
- Be mobile friendly
- Be fast loading
- Be easy to navigate
- Have details on how to contact you
- Give clear information about your offerings, including prices and images
- Provide your terms and conditions of sale, including your returns policy
- Have a user friendly shopping cart system
And last but not least, your website should make your customers comfortable about how they pay for their goods.
The good news about building an online store is that there are many established systems for selling and shopping carts that are relatively easy to implement, especially if you are using a website builder platform like Wix [wix.com], WordPress [wordpress.com] or Shopify [shopify.com]. If you are technologically inclined you may even be able to undertake the process yourself. If not, then there is an entire industry based on building small ecommerce websites on these platforms.
That’s the easy part. The more difficult part is actually being able to take your customers’ money online. You are reliant on somebody else in order to do this. You need some sort of third party provider in order to accept payment online, and then get it into your pocket.
Large established businesses can have what are known as Merchant Accounts with banks, or bank sponsored organizations, and they allow the businesses to accept multiple forms of payments such as debit and credit cards, both in-store and online. They can provide a multitude of services such as card machines, online gateways and even Point Of Sale services. They also often also have hefty fees, as well as complex and strict compliance requirements. A merchant account is usually out of reach for the majority of small or new businesses, and usually not an option at all for an industry that may be considered high risk.
A far more accessible solution for a smaller or new business is a Payment Facilitator. In this case, the vendor is able to accept payments via the Facilitators infrastructure. The Facilitator onboards the vendor and provides them with the technology to accept electronic payments online. This system is usually quite fast compared to alternatives.
Obviously there are costs involved, and certain requirements, and not all providers and offerings are equal. But the Facilitator route is a very attractive one for new or small businesses, or businesses that may be considered high risk by banks or financial organizations.
If you are in the market for the services of a Payment Facilitator, here are a few things to consider:
- What are the fees?
- When do you get your money?
- How do you get your money?
- Is the payment process secure for you and your customer?
- Do they offer your customer a range of currency and method of payment options?
- What is involved in onboarding?
- What happens with disputes and chargebacks?
- Is it simple for your web developer to integrate their system with your website?
- What reporting systems do they offer?
- Do they have good support systems?
If you are looking for an affordable, low hassle and secure way for your customers to pay for your goods and services online, contact us at Baer’s Crest . We have decades of experience in the fintech industry, and we have helped countless businesses with their requirements. We have the right solution for you,and it’s easier than you think. Talk to us – we can help.