Ecommerce - what do I need to consider?
Most online stores follow a process similar to this:
- Products on display in a website with price, description, image, and an "Add to Cart" or similar button.
- Customer uses Search to find products.
- Customer adds required products to cart.
- Customer goes to Checkout.
- Customer enters details such as name, email address, postal address and whatever other information the store owner requires to be able to send the products.
- Shipping costs are calculated by the website.
- Order total + shipping is presented to the customer.
- Customer selects payment option.
- Customer completes payment.
- Order is added into the system. Email sent to both customer and store owner.
- Order is processed. Store owner updates the order status. Email update sent to the customer.
- Order is shipped. Store owner updates the order status. Email update sent to the customer.
- Order is complete.
What information do we need to build your online store?
The first thing we need to do is add your products to your store. For that we need:
- Product Name
- Price(s) (you may have different price groups, eg. wholesale (B2B) and public (B2C), or VIP pricing)
Next, we need to work out how you're going to send orders to customers.
How do you want to calculate shipping? In Australia, shipping is calculated not just by weight, but also by dimension and sometimes distance. Generally, this means 1 of 3 options:
- Flat rate shipping
This is relatively simple to configure. However, it is important to consider the following:
- If you set a flat rate of, say, $10 per order, and you sell 1 product within your own state, $10 may cover your costs. However, if you sell 20 products interstate, $10 may not cover your costs.
- If you set a higher flat rate of, say $15 per order - are customers likely to be turned away? For instance, if your products are $7.95 and it's another $15 to ship, will a customer pay that or look elsewhere?
- By weight/dimension/distance
This is more complicated to configure, but means your costs are covered:
- Australia Post and most couriers are configured to ship by weight/dimension/distance, and most ecommerce platforms include an Australia Post shipping calculator to allow your site to correctly calculate a shipping cost.
- However, to implement this, we need to define a weight and dimensions for every product in your store, so when a customer orders 4x product A and 3x product B, the shipping calculator can work out the total weight and total dimensions of all products together. It then uses the customer's postcode to calculate the cost to send that package, to that postcode.
- Free shipping
This is easy to configure but you will likely want to make some pricing adjustments to your products to ensure shipping costs are included.
As you can see, there are a number of ways to configure shipping in your store. Some store owners go with option 1 but set a minimum number of products, or minimum dollar value, that people must order to achieve a certain shipping deal. Another option is to offer free shipping over a certain dollar value, which may encourage customers to add one more item to the cart to achieve this. Some software allows you to configure geozones, for instance by state or by postcode, to define different shipping costs for different zones.
However you choose to operate your business, we will need instructions on how you'd like shipping to be set up.
Which payment options do you want to offer? In Australia this is generally credit card, a payment processor like Paypal, or Bank Deposit. Here are some things to consider:
- Credit card
This is a great option for you, because you receive the funds immediately. However, most ecommerce software is built for use by a global audience, and therefore may not have the required configuration to communicate directly with your Australian bank account. If the configuration doesn't exist in your software, it may require custom development.
- Paypal / Stripe / eWay / other payment processor
This involves creating an account with the payment processor, and configuring your store to offer that option. Most ecommerce software includes Paypal as a payment option, and a number of others.
However, be aware that payment processors make their money by taking a percentage of all sales that go through their system. The percentage varies depending on which payment processor and which plan you use. Paypal, for instance, is available in the highest number of countries, so if your store has a global customer base then this might be the best option. But it also takes a higher percentage than something like eWay, which is limited to only a few countries. Stripe is another popular option. Some homework is usually required to establish the most suitable payment processor option.
- Bank Deposit
There are no percentages or fees associated with this option, so it is an inexpensive option for you. However, it is only available to Australian customers.
It also depends on a customer completing checkout on your website and then logging into their own Internet banking to send the payment. In some cases this means the payment may not land in your account for a day or 2. This means you need to wait and check your bank account, before processing the order, which takes more time and is a more "manual" workflow for you. It also gives customers the opportunity to find and order elsewhere so you don't receive payment at all.
Generally, for Australian ecommerce sites we configure Paypal, because it can process credit card payments even for customers who don't have a Paypal account. If a client requests Bank Deposit we would also include that.
To be able to set up payment options, we will need access to any payment processor account for testing (you can change your password once it's set up), and bank account details if you choose that option.
As you can see, there's quite a bit more to setting up an online store than just adding products! Feel free to get in touch if you need assistance with the best configuration for your store.