Tag Archive for e-commerce

E-commerce solutions for small business owners – part 2

You didn’t think I would leave it at simply telling you about a couple of web shop solutions, did you? There is of course a lot more to think about when it comes to e-commerce.

Now that you’ve decided on which web shop to go with, you need to have a look at payment solutions. You have several to choose from. I’ll take you through a few.

PayPal

This is the obvious one to start with. PayPal has been around for a long time now, and it has established itself as a stable and secure payment solution all around the World. Setting up a PayPal account is free. There is no monthly fee, so if you don’t use it you don’t pay. The fees are instead imposed on whatever you charge your customers. The standard rate for receiving payments for goods and services is 3.4% + $0.30 USD. The percentage may get lower depending on how much you sell for. So, knowing this it’s easy to include the cost for PayPal in your price.

It’s an unfortunate fact that online fraud can erode your business. This is another good reason as to why you should use PayPal. They have developed advanced techniques to keep your business secure and fraud free. I have personally used PayPal for many years and I highly recommend it!

Authorize.Net

Authorize.Net is another payment gateway service provider who, much like PayPal, lets your customers pay online using their credit cards. In fact, the difference is not that big, apart from the fact that, unlike PayPal, you have to pay a hefty sum for setting up an account($99 USD) … and pay a monthly fee ($20 USD). On top of that there is also a transaction fee (this may vary) to pay.

You might wonder why, with all these costs, do I bring this service up. Well, it is a well established payment service, and it offers pretty much everything you need for your online business. However, unless you’re selling tons of goods each month, this may prove quite expensive to the average small business owner.

2Checkout.com

Here’s another payment gateway service, perhaps slightly more diverse than Authorize.Net. With 2Checkout.com you can actually use PayPal to pay for your goods. This service is not as widely spread as PayPal or Authorize.Net but it seems to me to be a good enough alternative to both. Setting up an account with 2Checkout.com comes with a fee of $49 USD, but there is no monthly fee. 2Checkout.com does, however, collect a 5.5% commission on each transaction plus a $0.45 USD charge per sale.

Conclusion

So there you have it, a few of the most commonly used payment solutions. They all work with both OS Commerce and CubeCart, and probably with most other web shop solutions you may come across as well. From the point of view of the small business owner, my recommendation will have to be PayPal. It has all you could really wish for, and it’s both cheap and secure.

E-commerce solutions for small business owners

As a small business owner you might not have a whole lot of money to spend on a professional e-commerce solution. Building something similar to, for instance, Amazon or some other huge multinational web shop could easily cost you thousands of dollars, if not more. A small business owner just do not have that kind of money to spend.

OS Commerce

Now, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to open your own web shop, in fact you can get away with virtually nothing. The perhaps most well known solution is called OS Commerce. It’s an open source solution, and it’s free! However, free doesn’t mean that it won’t cost you anything. The thing about open source software is that you generally need a certain level of programming skills, usually PHP. Unless you’re a programmer, this could be a problem. The solution to this problem is to hire someone to install the software on your server (which ever web hotel you use). Once it’s installed you may still need to customize your shop with different functions and perhaps a unique design. You’ll most likely need someone to help you with this too. Although there are free designs (themes) to be found, they are scarce and usually quite basic and not very inspiring. So you see, open source software does not necessarily mean free.

CubeCart

There is an alternative to OS Commerce. It’s called CubeCart. CubeCart is not an open source solution, but it does come as a free version. There’s a version you pay for in order to get a few extras, but it’s really not necessary. The free version will cover most of your needs. The thing about CubeCart if you compare it to OS Commerce is the installation process. It’s very straight forward, pretty much as easy as with WordPress. Unless you have no computer skills at all to speak of, you could easily do it yourself. The same can be said about designs (themes) for CubeCart. Installing a theme is fairly straight forward, best done via FTP, and there is an abundance of free themes to found on the Internet. If you’re willing to pay a few dollars you can find even more of them. All in all it seems CubeCart might be the best choice for the avarage small business owner.

Conclusion

Obviously there are plenty of other solutions out there, both open source and non open source, but to keep this post a reasonable length I’m limiting myself to these two. Both OS Commerce and CubeCart are adequate for running your online business. The first takes a little more effort, and perhaps the help of others. The second is a bit more straight forward, as the installation process is more or less automatic. Unless you’re planning to sell hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of products in your shop, I would probably recommend CubeCart. CubeCart is the better choice for the non programmer, and it does work great. As I have personal experience of these two solutions, both installing and running, I feel that I can with good conscience give this advice.