If you want to be a serious contender in your industry, would you take your products, wavetaxi put out a blanket on the street or in the carpark of a mall and sell them, with handwritten receipts? If you took this approach what would the manufacturer of your products think about how you are representing their brand? Would people see you as the next big place to buy those products?
Selling in the backstreets is not the best way to sell if you want to represent a professional, reliable brand.
Most people who want to set up a store will look for a high-traffic area in a mall that’s reputable, has good security, promotes itself and has reasonable rent. That way your customers are encouraged to visit your store, feel comfortable about shopping there, and already have a certain level of trust as a merchant when they walk through the store.
Online, you’ll need the same things: security, the potential for traffic and a quality and inviting design. There are a lot of dishonest operators out there that will tell you anything to get you to buy, and then rip you off as soon as they have it. You have to go the extra mile to sell successfully online, and that should start at security and design.
Do you want an inviting web 2.0 design or an ugly backstreet shop? Do you have the graphic design skills to compete with the big stores in your industry or are you going to be a “mat seller”?
If you’re accepting credit cards through your website and don’t meet Visa and MasterCard’s PCI DSS security standards then you risk massive fines if something goes wrong and you weren’t compliant. It’s a bit like driving a car without insurance – if you crash you’re in big trouble.
Small or non-specialist hosting providers will not guarantee that your hosting meets these requirements, and you are putting yourself in big jeopardy if you don’t know how to meet these security requirements.
Part of these security standards will mean that your checkout needs to be protected by an SSL Certificate (which is a piece of software that helps encrypt private information as it is passed to the credit card processor) – many online shop builders do not even offer SSL certificates unless you ask them about it.
If you are a “mat seller” online, tampacomputerstore how will you protect yourself against hackers? Against credit card theft? A major seller in Australia and the UK was recently hacked and lost thousands of dollars with their store offline while the problem was corrected and a new site built.
Whatever industry you are in, try this. Go to Google and type in the key phrase that describes your industry. Look at the ten sites that come up first. Count how many of them look like they’ve prepared with online store builders.
If you want to wow your customers, you need to look beyond online store builders. They are great for hobby businesses but few of them will cut it as professional ecommerce solutions.
Get what you pay for
If you only have $100 – $200 to spend a year, your outlay on your website will be low, but so will the quality. And do you have a plan in place for what to do if something goes wrong? Will the guy who designed your site know how to fix it? Or will you have to bring in an expensive consultant to fix the problem?
You are much better off with a hosted ecommerce solution with a provider that takes care of the security for you behind the scenes, has great designs that you or your designer can then modify for your business (or better, find an ecommerce provider who will do that for you).
You do get what you pay for online, so make sure that you choose carefully.