Before building your website, you must create the right processes and procedures to support it and put in place the resources to deal with orders.
You need to work out how to:
- deliver your products or services - see fulfilling online orders
- collect payments
- maintain security and demonstrate this to the customer
- let customers contact you
- comply with relevant regulations
Test your website and processes thoroughly. A soft launch allows you to test it before giving it stronger marketing support. You also need ensure you understand e-commerce contracts. See selling online: consumer contracts.
You'll need to ensure good customer care by delivering goods or services in a reasonable time. See manage your customer service.
You should be ready to deal with calls, emails and queries about delivery - consider whether you need extra staff. Find delivery methods that keep charges low.
Customers should be provided with contact details in case something goes wrong including:
- your business name, address, phone and fax numbers
- an email address for enquiries or orders
- the name of the person to contact in the first instance
Customers may be wary of paying online. Reassure them by providing a secure area on your website for placing orders and giving debit and credit card details. This can prevent late payment problems and helps to safeguard your cashflow. Read more about accepting online payments.
You may also wish to offer other payment methods such as invoicing, or paying card over the telephone.
With the use of encryption technology, virus-scanning software and a 'firewall', e-commerce transactions can be as secure as offline ones. It's important to create confidence in your shop. A professional-looking website with an explanation of your security precautions will help.
Consider how to:
- handle debit and credit card details safely
- ensure key online information cannot be defaced or altered fraudulently
- preserve the confidentiality of customer data