Features and Relationships to support your Internet Store
Despite the media hype,
most Web sites still cannot process credit cards online. Many sites that
do accept credit cards actually process them offline, using online forms
to gather a customer's information and then processing the transaction
POS terminal when the product ships.
If you plan to take credit
cards or other forms of online payment as part of your business model,
you'll need to plan on these Web site features and business
You'll need a product catalog to profile multiple products for your Web
audience. It will integrate with your shopping cart program and may even
be a feature that is included in your chosen shopping cart package or
turnkey Web site solution. You'll need to decide which items you'll sell
on your Web site and obtain high-quality photos of your merchandise.
Your catalog will include a product image, description, product code,
product category, and price as the basics.
Shopping carts are used online to keep track of and record customers'
purchasing decisions. Shopping carts also do the final addition, and add
in sales tax and shipping charges. Shopping cart tools are
typically stored on your Web server. But it is possible that your
shopping cart program will be hosted on a remote server.
provider. A bank or financial institution that provides you
with a means for accepting and processing credit card transactions over
the Internet is known as a
provider . MAPs, as they are called, may charge you a monthly or
yearly fee, a set-up fee, and a per-transaction fee.
software. The term payment
to code that is embedded in your site, or stored on your host's server,
that allows your customers' orders to be transmitted to and from your
bank's transaction-authorizing agent. In most cases, this
transaction-authorizing agent will be your merchant account provider.
Your merchant account provider or other authorizing agent will most
likely provide you with the code to use on your site. This payment
gateway usually includes a
secure socket layer (SSL)
, which is a system for
confidential data sent over the Internet. An example of a payment
gateway system is www.authorize.net
There are well over 60 different payment gateways to choose from.
Determining the right one for you depends on which shopping cart system
you use, which merchant account provider you have, and the fees
associated with clearing the credit cards real-time.
payment options. Internationally, credit cards are not as
popular as they are in the United States, and younger buyers often do
not have access to credit cards. So you may want to offer
payment options to your customers who do not wish to use (or
cannot use) credit cards.
Before you offer your product for sale, you need to make sure that you
can deliver on promises that you make to your customers. This means that
you need to figure out how to get their orders to them quickly and
without hassle. Completing the sale to the satisfaction of your
customers so they return and order again takes planning and
organization. You also need to make sure that you can make a profit once
you take into account the logistics of getting your products to your
customers in diverse locations. In order to
online orders efficiently, you'll need to
assess your order
fulfillment requirements and determine whether you might want to
hire an order
fulfillment house or drop shipper to fill your online orders.
There are lots of ways to
provide excellent customer
service over the Web . And the good news is, lots of customer
service tools are available, such as free scripts, downloads, and
services. Some of the
customer service tools that you should look into are:
notification. You'll want to have an automated system of
sending e-mail notification messages to your clients to let them know
that their product has been shipped, their order has been processed, and
so forth. Many times this is a function of the shopping cart.
FAQs. It's important to allow your visitors access to a list of
asked questions so that if they have specific concerns in mind,
they can quickly and easily get answers and help. Providing an FAQ list
is great for you and your customer service team as well, because it
saves you time. Instead of repeating your customer service policies and
practices over and over, you can simply direct visitors to a single,
Think about it. If your customers come to your site for one thing and
one thing only, you want them to be able to find it quickly and easily
before they decide to go somewhere else.
The right staff.
You will need to successfully
hire and train your
customer service staff in order to have a profitable site.
This article contains excerpts from
resource for small businesses.
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