Over at Business Communication Group We have released a three part series on e-Commerce
B2B Sellers of the eCommerce Seas: Promise of the Shopping Cart
B2B Sellers of the eCommerce Seas: The Key to an Overflowing Treasure Chest
and the final article, fresh off the press,
B2B Sellers of the eCommerce Seas: At Shopping Cart’s End
It's a great overview of the trials and tribulations of eCommerce with a nautical flavor to it. I had to do something to make it more interesting. Sadly it really is that complicated when you have to deal with money transactions. Give it a read and a comment over at b2bcommunications.com
There is a great deal of interest in a small scale eCommerce platform. Let's break out a couple of scenarios in which a small business would require on-line payment services. I will try to keep it simple and around a limited amount of products that do not require a full scale eCommerce shopping cart. Let's say no more then 10 products or services. Before we dive into the various online services there are some merchant requirements to consider.
You can use an existing business account to open an merchant account and then open a payment gateway account or you can get the merchant account and payment combined as one like authorize.net, Google Checkout, PayPal and SimplePay. Some of it is around brand and all lot is about functionality. A merchant account allows you to accept credit card payments, that is process and deposit with a 'slight' charge for the trouble. The payment gateway provide an connection between the Internet and the banks's secure network. You need a account with both or a single provider of both services to transact sales.
With today's tough times it seems that it's difficult to get a business into and onto the Internet effectively. 10 Internet years leap past by many businesses and now from every corner there is talk of blogs (web logs) and 'tweets'. Something called social media is developing it's own wings with millions of people breezing past one another anonymously on the Internet. The key is social interaction, not necessarily social media.
The Internet has introduced a whole new world that defies some of the traditional elements of starting a business. Overhead can be much lower without the requirements of location, location, location. A good Internet connection is of greater importance and a logistics plan on how the Internet business will get the product to the customer. A traditional business relies on walk-in traffic to generate sales whereas a web based store can actively promote the product in a live fashion without the hassle of someone needing to walk into the store. For the Internet merchant the advantage is the greater opportunity to drop ship items that may not be as heavy a mover but still compliment the product line. There is a trade off in a tactile sense but the advantages of comparing greater numbers of similar items with user reviews really can allow a customer to make a more informed decision. We sites can offer a shopper a far larger selection of products without wearing the customer out walking hundreds of miles to find the right fit.
This basic flowchart shows the typical E Commerce transaction path. E commerce provides a means of selling tangible goods on the Internet. The transaction is captured through the shopping cart which in the first image shows the simplistic flow of the purchase. A shopping cart can be an entire web site and encompass far more then check out processes.