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The need to adapt: We are all trying to come to terms with the state the world finds itself in. COVID-19 has impacted us all, and will continue to do so for some time.

Creating an online shop (ecommerce) – What you need to know about taking your business online. The different systems, costs, and essentials you need to be able to start selling from your website.

For many small businesses, right now is about working out how to adapt, what direction to take in order to keep our businesses alive. Many are looking at ways to take their business online, selling either goods or services; and for many this is a very foreign and scary jump. Below is a guide that will hopefully help you answer the questions you have about moving your business online.

What platform do you need.

Ecommerce takes a lot of forms. Selling physical goods, digital downloads, training and online services. These are all saleable commodities through ecommerce, however they often require different systems in order to sell.

Physical Goods

The most common ecommerce setup, a shopping cart system, such as Woocommerce or Shopify, creates a catalog of your individual products, and allows your customers to select and pay for any number of products that you are selling directly from your website. You can set up minimum and maximum orders amounts, postage and freight cost, taxes, and even specify countries or states that you will and won’t deliver to.

Digital Downloads

Wanting to sell your latest ebook, music creation, or high res photography; you can do that. Digital downloads work slightly differently from physical purchases. Firstly, there’s no inventory or postage to consider. Secondly, it usually comes with a members section, allowing people to view all the purchases they’ve made and, if allowed, redownload them.

Online Training Courses

From pilates and fitness to cooking, gardening tips, or art, online courses are booming right now. They are a great way to continue to offer your services to your loyal customer base while they are at home. In order to set this up you will need an LMS (learning management system). This will allow you to set up multiple courses, each with video and document tutorials, questionnaires, and even tests to ensure they have got the point of the lesson. You can sell individual courses, or set up subscriptions that allows access to multiple courses for a weekly / monthly price.

How do payments work?

There are two terms to remember when talking about taking online payments; Merchant Facilities and Online Payment Gateways. You will need both of these in order to take payments on your website.

A Merchant facility is a type of bank account that allows you to accept credit card payments directly from your website. There is usually a per transaction or per month price attached to the account. You will have to speak directly to your bank in order to set this up. Alternatively, Australia Post offers its own Merchant facility called SecurePay.

An Online Payment Gateway is the checkout system that allows the payment to go through. Your bank will usually have their own Gateway to accompany their merchant facility, as does Australia Posts SecurePay.

Website Hosting and Security

Having a good website host is essential, as an online shop will require additional storage and power that cheaper hosts may not be able to give you. If these additional requirements aren’t met, it could mean a slow and unreliable website, or even one that breaks completely.

In order to take payments, you will need an SSL certificate from your website host. This encrypts credit card and personal details which is a requirement of all Merchant facilities. An SSL certificate also gives your google ranking a boost so even if you’re not taking payments directly from your website, its best practice to have one.

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