Carolyn Holgate is the General Manager for Mweb Connect. Read more
Hi, I would like to start a small online shopping business, where clients can get my make-up products. I work full-time so I would like to do this on a part-time business and I like the flexibility of selling on the internet. I make the products myself and have been selling to friends and associates for six months. Do you have any suggestions for how I can get started with selling online?
An always-on connection, like ADSL or 3G at home is a must if you plan on starting a online business part-time. In addition, an e-mail address preferably at your own personalised domain and website address like www.mybusinessname.co.za showcasing your products are the key ingredients to getting your business online.
Ecommerce is a great way to broaden your business - One of your first questions should be whether going online will expand your business opportunity and if so, then answer the following questions:
- Do you think you are able to serve more customers whilst continuing to work full-time?
- Do you have a delivery plan for customers outside your town?
You should base your decision on a realistic return on investment that you expect and if the types of products or services that you sell are suitable to sell online. The costs of website hosting and registering your own personalised domain name have decreased substantially over the last 2 years – Typically these costs range from R29 per month with an annual domain registration fee between R79 and R199. Whilst my expertise does not extend to make-up, I would recommend checking the appearance of your product colour palette on as many screens possible - Computer screens may be deceiving!
If you plan on accepting credit card payments, you will require a merchant account with your bank capable of accepting online credit card transactions. You will then also require integration with a payment gateway to facilitate credit card payments from your website. This will more than likely require some form of specialised web development expertise. MWEB has a great ecommerce product called Safeshop that will securely manage credit card payments from your customers with the bank. It can also be used to facilitate direct deposits and other payment methods for customers without credit card facilities.