Sep 10th 2015
Websites can be powerful tools to educate, to inspire or to bring your goods to market.
With increasing confidence and trust in the security of online purchasing, the need for a brick and mortar store to sell your wares is gradually diminishing. This shift has ushered in a new era of virtual stores – that have a broader selection and even offer price comparisons, which takes the legwork out of it for the buyer.
The environment at the moment is definitely tilted in favour of the consumer, as online stores spring up every day looking for new ways to captivate shoppers. Carving out your own niche in this new landscape is easier than you think, but there are a few key things to cover first.
As the owner of your online store, you will need to take certain components into consideration:
One of the most important considerations for your new e-commerce website will be predicting your users’ preferred method of payment. There are several payment gateways available, most of which will require a percentage or a fixed per-purchase fee, as well as a term subscription fee. Although the public’s trust and faith in online shopping is growing, some customers may be more inclined to shop if they know they will be using a known and trusted payment gateway like the ones offered by established financial institutions.
If you are a small business, your customer base is probably local. However, if you are casting your net farther out, you may need to keep other factors in mind. When shipping across international borders, there will be duty and taxes to pay, as well as brokerage fees. These things will be expected by your clients, so making note about these costs is advisable.
Whenever you are accepting credit card payments for products or services you are selling online, you are usually required to have a page that outlines the ‘Terms and Conditions’ of using your site. Be as detailed and accurate as possible when informing the user about conditions of sale, any additional charges, payment methods, and especially return and refund policies you have in place. Here is a handy template for harmonized consumer protection related to online sales, so you are sure you are covered.
Sales tax can be a tricky thing to navigate if you are selling to other provinces. If your e-commerce solution has the ability to add taxes for different regions, you are good to go. If not, you may have to look at getting paid extensions to your e-commerce setup. It is worth looking up what your obligations are to collect and remit taxes, which can be quite different for online commerce versus a retail store.
A good sales pitch comes with a follow up. Make sure you are aware of Canada’s Anti-spam legislation and how it affects your plans for future promotional campaigns. For instance, sales offers and promotions can only be emailed to your customers if they have “opted in” to such offers. It is your duty to understand and be in compliance with the laws that govern privacy and your obligations.
Being aware of your legal obligations will help you to mitigate any risk of unpleasant conflicts, complaints and cancellations that could potentially happen when selling online.