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Question added to topic Building a WebsiteJanuary 19, 2009

What are the most important things to consider when starting an online store?

I plan to start an online business that specializes in hand-painted crafts and house items (i.e. painted glasses, ceramics, toy boxes). I plan to target buyers from all over the world.

Congratulations on starting your online business venture! Some of the things you want to consider are:

* Will you launch your own website or will you use a tool like YahooStores?

* Is your shopping cart intuitive and easy for your customers to use? Does it need to interface with your inventory system for real-time inventory up-keep? Will it be server-based or third-party software?

* What is your return policy? What if an item breaks during shipping?

* Which service will you use for processing credit card orders? Remember you need a gateway AND a merchant account. Most merchant account providers will provide you with a gateway, but not always.

* Will you allow people to pay with checks online?

* What is your shipping policy? You need to be careful with fulfilling international orders to avoid fraudulent charges.

That should be enough to get you well on your way.

Lena West is the CEO and Chief Strategist of xynoMedia Technology, a New York-based firm that helps high-growth companies leverage the power of social media, blogs, podcasts and online communities.

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