Ecommerce

What tools do you need to sell your products online and accept credit card payments on the internet

how to sell your products online

The internet is a convenient, quick and low cost way of selling stuff. You can take orders and accept payments 24/7 through a website and you don't need to operate a physical store to showcase and store your products.

It is especially ideal for home businesses and micro businesses who can't afford to spend a lot of money on the sales infrastructure. If you have a product for sale or a service to offer, you can start selling it in less than 15 minutes on the internet.

Options for selling online

There are 2 ways for selling goods online as a small business or private individual:
1.) Selling through your own website
2.) Using an external market place

1. Selling products and services through your own website

You have the most control over the sales process when you sell items through your own website. In order to do that you will need 2 things: a merchant account for accepting online payments and a sales page that could be a stand-alone web page or a complex ecommerce online store.

1.1. Get A Merchant Account To Accept Online Payments

When you sell products through the internet, practically the whole world is your target audience. There are very little geographical limitations and you can take orders even while you sleep. This is a rather convenient way of selling goods and earning an income. In order to handle credit card and other forms of payments through the internet, first you will need to get a merchant account.

What is a merchant account:

A third party merchant is a service provider that collects money on your behalf. They can take credit card payments, handle checks and even wire transfer. Their role is to connect vendors with customers during the payment process. Merchant account service providers are also referred to as payment gateways.

The most popular and well-known online payment gateway is PayPal. When you register an account with them as a vendor, you get a snippet of code that you can insert into your web pages. These are usually in the form of 'Buy buttons'. When a customer clicks this button on your web site, PayPal will take money from the customer and credit the sum to your account.

Popular merchants (or payment gateways) for online payment:

You can search for other alternatives on Google. When choosing a merchant account the most important factor is their reliability and reputation. Does this payment processor have a good reputation? Is it widely known? Then come the other important aspects like geographical limitations(in which countries is the payment gateway supported) and the variety of supported payment forms like credit card payments, wire transfer, echecks, etc.

1.2. Set up a sales page

A sales page is basically any web page throughout your website where you display information about your product or service. You can spice that page up with adding product images and then inserting a 'Buy' button that you got from a merchant account provider such as PayPal.
When you run a Wordpress site you can even use a plug-in that creates stand alone sales pages within your website. Other options for a 'sales page' are ecommerce scripts (shopping carts) or the integration of external shopping cart services.

Option 1: An HTML website as a sales page

If you know a bit about web design and HTML, you may decide to set up a sales page using a nice looking pre-designed HTML template. Themeforest offer these in great variety and at a very low price (starting from a few bucks).
- Corporate HTML templates >>
- General HTML templates including niche templates >> (you will find sub categories for creative, retail, nonprofit, personal, entertainment, etc)

Option 2: A Wordpress site as a sales page

Wordpress is a very popular tool for setting up a website without having any web programming skills. You can install it with a couple of clicks through your web host's cpanel (we recommend Bluehost as a webhosting service where they offer click installations of Wordpress included in their web package). There are thousands of professionally looking high-end Wordpress templates available for download that you can customize quickly and easily, and use it immediately to start selling your products on the internet to the world.

Where to get Wordpress templates:
Ther are many places for downloading Wordpress themes. One of the key providers is Themeforest with thousands of templates categorized by industry or niche. Follow the links below to browse their catalog.
- General Wordpress templates >> (including templates for niche blogs / sites)
- Wordpress templates for corporate websites >>

Option 3: Ecommerce scripts / online store software /shopping carts

For a complex online store where you sell multiple items (often hundreds or even thousands of products) a convenient and automated way of selling through your website is to install an ecommerce software or shopping cart script (e.g: osCommerce, ZenCart, CubeCart, Prestashop, AgoraCart, Woocommerce). Many webhosting companies - such as Bluehost - offer pre-installs for ecommerce programs. An ecommerce / shopping cart script or an external shopping cart service provider (see below on this page) can give you a wide range of additional features that not only would automate your whole online business, but could also contribute to growing your business. Here are a couple of features worth considering to implement into your business when you sell stuff through an online store:

  • directing customers to a download page after payment
  • setting up an own referral / affiliate program, offering affiliate tools and tracking affiliate sales
  • handling discounts and coupon codes
  • integration with email marketing
  • managing recurring billing
  • listing bestselling or complementary products on product pages
  • handling upsells and downsells
  • offering shipping services
  • offering built-in customer service

Option 4: External shopping cart services

When you sell only 1 item or a handful of products, but you don't want to install an ecommerce software, the simple solution is to use an external shopping cart service. All you need to do is to get a 'Buy button' code (a snippet of HTML codes) from these services and insert it into your own web pages. Then, in the case of selling digital products, product delivery is done in an automated way after payment is completed.
Please note that in many cases you will need to incorporate a payment gateway / merchant account like PayPal into these shopping cart solutions in order to handle payments.

Here are a few popular external shopping cart service providers:

Some of these shopping carts allow you to start your own affiliate program which is a type of referral program. You will find dozens of other useful features included in these shopping cart services, such as using discount coupons, integrating it with your autoresponder service, collecting recurring payments, and a whole lot more.

2. Selling products through an external market place

A convenient way of selling product on the internet is to join an online market place, list your goods there and let potential buyers find your listings. Auction sites are a good example for such market places. Here are a few other examples:

  • eBay
  • etsy (for crafts and hand-made stuff)
  • e-junkie Marketplace (it's an external shopping cart service, but they also have a market place where sellers can upload 'product listings')
  • JV Zoo (for digital products)
  • Clickbank Marketplace (it's an external shopping cart service, but they also have a market place where sellers can upload 'product listings')

When you use an external marketplace, there's no need to have your own web page. However, you might need a merchant account. Many auction sites use PayPal to process payments and deposit money from buyers to vendors.

Selling products and services online is not a difficult process. You just need to find the right tools. But what may be the right tool for Business 'A' may not be for Business 'B'. You always need to consider which solutions fit best to your own needs. Do a research and pick the ones that cater most to your busienss's needs. If it doesn't work out, you can always switch to a better, more effective sales method and tool.

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