eCommerce is one of the fastest growing markets in the UK, with weekly spend sitting just above £540 million during February. That figure represents a 10% increase on the same period in 2012 and this pattern is set to continue. As a result online channels should play an increasingly important part in any sales strategy.
Often businesses feel that to sell their products or services online they have to invest in the whole shooting match: eCommerce software, credit card payment systems, secure servers and more. This needn’t be the case. Websites are scalable by nature so it is possible, and often very wise, to start small and build up.
At the most basic level users must be given all the relevant information and a clear point of contact. Many customers carry out their research, or do their ‘window shopping’ online, even if they don’t actually make the purchase itself through the website. So, even if taking money via your site is not realistic, having a user-friendly and information-rich website can still pay dividends.
Once your business does reach the point where you are ready to take online payments you need to consider 3 key features: the checkout, a trusted secure connection and a payment gateway.
The checkout is where the user fills in his or her credit card details. This process can take place on the seller’s website or the user can be taken to the payment gateway provider’s website to fill in these details.
If the seller chooses to take card details on their website they need to a) make sure these are sent via a secure connection and b) prove to users that the site is secure.
Finally you need an eCommerce payment gateway to process the card transactions and transfer the money into your bank account. Many banks provide this service so it’s worth contacting your bank to see what services they offer. Alternatively there are many third-party providers, the most well known being Paypal and Google Checkout. All gateways come with costs, either in set-up or transaction fees, so it’s worth shopping around – if you’ll pardon the pun.