10 Things You Need to Start Selling Online
Have you decided to take your business online? There are a few things you will need before venturing into the world of e-commerce. Internet is a powerful channel to reach out and better serve your customers. Below are the 10 things you will need to give yourself a head start.
1) Domain Name
A unique address on the Internet, like www.neowave.com.my, where clients or potential customers can find your business. This is the first step to get your business online. Normally a business will either register for a .com / .net / .org domain or a Top Level Country Coded Domain e.g. .com.my / .net.my. / .org.my.
Why wait? Check for your domain name availability and register for it now before someone take it away from you! Want to know more about Top Level Country-Coded domain? Click here
2) Web & Email Hosting
Just like a warehouse that keeps your stocks, you will need a place that keeps your web site files and web applications. It is a service that provides server space (a.k.a. hard disk space), tools, always-on network connectivity, email services and more so that you can publish your website on the Internet and MILLIONS of potential buyers from any corners of the world (
theoretically, of course) will flock to your website and buy your products!
For a list of trial and tested local web & email hosting providers, please Click here.
Not sure which hosting platform supported by our e-commerce software, please use this tool to check. If it shows that your current hosting plan is a windows plan, Yahoo! Our software can be deployed without any fuss on your hosting space.
3) web design, WEB design, WEB DESIGN !!!
A great design speaks a thousand words. It is the front-end which represents the ultimate image of your company. It's like if you are running a B.A.M. (Brick and Mortar) store, you hire the best interior designer to put up the best renovation for your store, the same should go for your e-commerce website. Designing an e-commerce store takes more than just artistic skills, you will need a professional web designer which possess in-depth knowledge about usability, shopping cart buying process, web technologies, e-commerce software, and most of all, your business. The good news is, it cost much lesser compared to your burn-a-hole-in-pocket renovation, a good web design service probably will cost you only 20% of your renovation cost or less. We cannot emphasize more on the importance of a good web design; it can make or break your online business.
4) Online Storefront (e-commerce) Software
Also known as Shopping Cart Software or Online Storefront. It allows you to build an electronic catalog of your products which allow online ordering and seamlessly integrate with modules like order management, shipping management, tax and payment gateway. There are lots of applications to choose from, so make sure the one you choose is easy to install and use. Please check out what we have to offer in webShaper e-commerce software.
5) Payment Gateway
A service that acts as a "Secure Escrow Agent" between the online storefront software and the credit card processing network. It is used in real-time authentication and charging of your customers' credit cards. You can think of it as a digital equivalent of a credit card processing terminal. Before you decide on which payment gateway to use, please ponder through your targeted market, convenience and popularity of payment gateway, how and when money is deposited to your account etc. Typical types of charges by payment gateway are Setup Fees, Deposits, Monthly Rental Charges & Transaction charges (also known as discount rate) & Chargeback fees. There is no one-size fits all solution, decision should be made based on which (or combinations) payment gateways best suited your business needs.
Below is a list of international payment gateway supported by webShaper e-commerce (More to come!!!):
For a list of local payment gateway provider, please check out GHL's Paydirect, Commerce Payment, Maybank2u , Mobile Money , NBEPay & Pay88.
6) Merchant Accounts
Merchant accounts are commercial bank accounts set up between a retail business and a financial institution to allow a business to accept credit card transactions. In short, it's just an account to receive funds from credit card sales. Please take note that it is NOT a must to apply for a merchant account locally as most foreign payment gateways providers like Worldpay or Paypal will have a merchant account setup for you. But if you opt for local payment gateway providers, you will need a local merchant account, you can contact Maybank Bhd, Citibank, Alliance Bank or United Overseas Bank for more info:
|Banks to contact for local merchant account
Malayan Banking Berhad
Merchant Business Section Credit Card Centre
Tel: +603-2074 7952 / +603-2074 7571
Tel: +603-2383 4355
Alliance Bank - ebanking group
Tel: +603-2730 2300
United Overseas Bank
More info at: http://www1.uob.com.my/webpages/b_merchant_e.htm
7) SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Certificate
NOT a must. But in order to build Trust and Credibility for your customers, we strongly recommend that you consider spending some cash to obtain a SSL Certificate. So, what does SSL do? It enables a secure connection between your website and your customers' browsers and it can help you to boost your customers' confidence levels. Besides that, most of the SSL Providers also provide Trusted Site Seal which validate the originality of your website. It helps lower down the risk of exposure to a malicious attack like Phising and Identity Theft! Last but not least, a SSL certificate will need a Fixed IP Address (a dedicated IP to your domain) to work properly, it can be obtained at around RM100 / year from the web hosting companies.
Want to know more about SSL? Read on "SSL: What Is It and Why You Need One to Sell Online?"
Check out some of the popular digital certificate authority worldwide: Geotrust and Thawte (owned by Verisign).
Can you bear with the speed of a 56Kbps download? Forget about it, by the time you came back from YOGA class, it still has YET to finish downloading all your SPAMS. Not to mention login to your storefront software to actively update your e-commerce website and process the orders. But, please don't dismiss dial-up entirely, we actually recommend to have one dial-up account for emergency purpose considering the "stability" of broadband services by local service providers. Check out below of the list of services available:
Wired Broadband: TMNET Streamyx, Time Biznet , Jaring Broadband
Wireless Broadband: Airzed Wimax, Jaring Wireless , Maxis Wireless Broadband, Maxis 3G, Celcom 3G, Digi Edge, NasionCom
Dial-up? Check out TMNET 1515, Jaring 1511 or FREE dial-up account from TimeNet!
9) Security Tools: Antivirus, AntiSpyware & Firewall Software
Computer viruses and malicious software are the "bad things" living on the Internet that can cause you to lose a lot of time and money(even sleep). The security software is the guardian to protect you against various attacks.
A computer virus is a malicious piece of software that replicates itself and most likely will cause harm to your computer. It is rampant nowadays and you need to protect your computer that always-connect to the internet via a broadband connection. You can buy the antivirus software from the established security software vendors like Trend Micro, Symantec, or McAfee at a very affordable price. If you were looking for cheaper version of the same software, a.k.a. OEM package (without manual & packaging - CD Only), you can try our local computer stores. Don't feel like paying? Check out some antivirus freeware (for home use only!!) like AVG or AntiVir.
Spyware, is a broad category of malicious software that secretly installed on your computer without your consent. It has become a serious security threat that Microsoft is releasing a beta program dubbed Microsoft AntiSpyware to fight all the malicious program installed on your windows-powered PC. Click here to download the spam tools NOW!!!
Firewall is a system designed to prevent unauthorized access to your computer (or network) which connect to the internet. It can be implemented in either hardware or software, or combination of both. Free download available for personal use at Zone Alarm & Kerio Personal Firewall. To learn more about how firewall works, Click here.
Delivery of goods is important, especially when your orders could be coming in from all over the world. Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than not being able to receive the goods they pay for in good condition and timely manner. An online order doesn't end until the parcel is delivered to the customer's doorstep. To do it right, you can start by picking the right courier services company.
If you are delivering the goods locally,
check out some local courier service like POS Laju (EMS), GDEX, CITY-LINK EXPRESS, NATIONWIDE EXPRESS, Secure Xpress, and
ABX Express. If you are delivering the goods worldwide and won't mind paying extra for reliable and fast services, you might want to consider the BIG 3 - FedEX, UPS, and DHL.
In summary, these are the basic fundamentals that form your e-commerce website. This is only the first step towards e-commerce venture. Remember, e-commerce is no magic, just like running the Brick and Mortar stores, you need a SOUND business plan and very good execution to make it a money spinner.
On coming articles, we will talk more the "soft side" of e-commerce, meaning the business process, marketing plan, order fulfillment, fraud prevention etc. check back more often!
Neowave e-commerce team
Neowave is a software company focusing on developing the best tools to help merchants to sell more. Any comments on this article? We would like to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: This article is for informational purposes only. NEOWAVE MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS DOCUMENT. Use it at your own risk.