Taking the step from having a well-designed web site to actually taking online orders for products and services can be a daunting task. As a business owner, there are some things you need to be aware of.
- The Shopping Cart: Why reinvent the wheel? There are many great shopping cart solutions out there already programmed. Work with your web designer to choose the best solution for your business. The benefit of using an existing shopping cart solution is that first, most of the programming is already done, so it will be much more cost effective than programming a custom solution just for your business. Secondly, most of the security issues have been ironed out and most good shopping carts are kept up to date with security patches. A custom solution will be out of date almost as soon as you launch the site. The downside of using an existing solution may be the lack of customization ability. For example, many solutions have an existing shipping method and if it does not fit with the way your company calculates shipping, you will need to change to fit the shopping cart’s method.
- Security: If you are going to host the eCommerce site on your existing web hosting account, you will need to work with your hosting provider to install and maintain a proper SSL certificate. This encrypts communication between your server and the customer’s computer, keeping the transfer of credit card and other customer information secure. As stated above, she shopping cart solution you choose will also help with security as shopping carts need to be updated with the latest security patches. No solution is 100% secure and even the best shopping cart will become out of date within a few years as hackers continue to find holes in the code.
- Payment Solutions: The source of a lot of anxiety for many business owners, generally you can get a proper payment solution from your existing credit card processing company. This normally entails setting up a gateway account such as an Authorize.net gateway that allows your shopping cart to talk to your credit card processing solution in real time. Discuss this with your banker and let your web designer know what solution is going to be used. Most shopping carts can handle multiple payment solutions.
- Shipping: Simple is always better than overly complex when it comes to shipping decisions. Most shopping carts are pretty flexible when setting up your shipping costs, but many businesses make the mistake of getting overly complicated here. If you make the customer think too much, you’ve already lost. Just make sure you are covering costs and keep it simple. You also need to decide if you are going to confine your shipping to certain geographic regions. Studies show that the bulk of eCommerce orders coming from certain regions of the world are fraudulent and you take the risk of shipping a product and not getting paid.
- Order Tracking: Most shopping carts are pretty basic, an order is placed, the credit card is run through your bank automatically, and you receive an email saying there is a new order. Anything beyond this, such as a solution that integrates orders into your existing point of sale system, will require a lot of custom programming which increases the cost to you and the complexity in programming and maintaining and has a big impact on the final shopping cart solution you choose. Ask your web designer for a demonstration of how their solution would work before making any final choices.