Thursday, February 1, 2007

Are you ready to cash in on-line?

Let's review some basic web tools like Yahoo's Shopping Carts
and
Advantage Merchant Accounts.

To be completely honest I can't imagine any business today, regardless of industry, driving their success into the future without on-line purchase or payment options. Can you?

It is a no-brainer that every successful business these days has an web presence. But you need to ask yourself what is your website doing for you? For most small business owners the expense of having a website designed and hosted is/was a significant business investment. What return are you expecting on that investment?

Presuming that you have a site up and running, and that you have optimized it for peak traffic, let's get down to the business of having it generate money for you. You wouldn't spend a thousand dollars on a fancy new store sign if you didn't believe it was going to drive more paying customers into your store. Neither should you have a fancy website sitting out there in cyberspace not generating revenue.

Step 1. Decide what to 'sell' on-line

  • If you produce or stock products, decide which items will generate the most interest to on-line buyers. Grocerygateway.com while gaining some success has shown that there aren't enough buyers willing to pay a premium for e-shopping for groceries, so forget the milk and bread.
  • Get creative in your thinking Ladies and Gentlemen. If Produce and Groceries is what you sell find something related to sell online. How about pre-ordering party platters? How about recipe books. How about hosting a cooking class and taking online registrations? There is Always something to sell online that relates to your business!
Step 2. Prepare your business for stocking/producing & delivering online orders.
  • Don't go a step further without having a well laid out plan for how, when and where you will fill and deliver all of these new orders.
  • I have personally seen too many eager business owners put up their webStore only to dissapoint customers with delayed delivery. Know how long it takes to produce or receive additional stock and be prepared to make honest delivery promises to your customers.
  • Once you put products or services on the internet for sale they will be available to the world. Decide now who you can reasonably sell to, and plan on stating that clearly in your 'Store'. It is one this to accept orders from around the world if you are selling an e-book on Cold Calling, but another altogether if you are offering Delicious Deli Platters.
  • If you will be physically delivering products to consumers then you will need to choose a service provider. In Toronto the top three are: Purolator, UPS, and Fed-Ex, but you will need to do your own investigating to find out which carrier best suits your business needs.
  • Also consider giving your customer the option of good old fashioned 'Mail', if it is at all viable for your product.
  • Consider how additional volume will affect your daily operations. Is it possible that a 20% increase in sales would require more labour? Could you have on-call staff? Be Prepared!
Step 3. Build your online Store
  • If you had your website designed by a professional you likely have an existing service contract with them so it will be a simple matter for them to put your store together. Be sure to negotiate your best price by offering a clear link to their own business site.
  • If you self-designed and built your site check to see if the software you used has a shopping cart plug-in, many do at no additional cost. Your hosting provider usually has links to tutorials on all elements of their web builder tools. So sit yourself down and Learn! And be sure to take advantage of the support offered, go ahead click that 'Ask Us' link and fire off an email with your 'stupid' question.
  • However you go about it, there is absolutely no point in setting up your Advantage Merchant Account until you have your products being assembled.
Step 4. Preparing to get Paid
  • While your web designer/developer is preparing your product or service shopping cart you can set up a merchant account.
  • Do your own investigating, try Advantage Merchant Accounts or Merchant Accounts or Canadian Merchant Accounts ... just Google it my friend, the possibilities are endless!
  • Decide what factors are most important to you, your business and your customers, check for BBB status, check references and take the best deal that suits your needs.
Step 5. Tie together your merchant account & Shopping Cart
  • More work for the web designer/developer, this should be smooth sailing.
  • Your store is now open and ready for taking orders
  • Having prepared and planned ahead, you're ready to take & fill those orders
We'll talk more about driving business to that store ... stay tuned folks - so much to discuss.

Here's to a very successful week!

3 comments:

shannon said...

you may not even need a merchant account at all if your business' sales volume isn't enough to justify an annual or even monthly fee or both. paypal and yahoo shopping cart are both fine solutions in determining your business' credit card processing needs. it can be costly, but if you consider how much you'd make if you didn't accept credit cards (probably NOTHING), it's well worth it.

ilanit said...

Banks are falling over themselves to lend money, at ultra-low interest rates and with no strings attached. And the Los Angeles private equity firms do not even need to have a good credit rating. They secure the debt they borrow on the assets of the companies they buy. With pre-determined debt interest costs, any increase in profits from reducing staff numbers, for example, goes straight to the private equity investors.

joshua said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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