What's stopping you from selling products and services on the Net? Is it that you don't know how to process credit card payments on a Web site?
Solutions to this problem are plentiful and pretty much fit any business owner's wallet and Web savvy. The fastest solution is to turn over transaction intricacies and site maintenance to a hosting service. America Online's (AOL) PrimeHost (http://www.primehost.com) is one possibility, with its optional flat-rate "Storefront Solution," which includes e-commerce transactions with real-time credit card processing and do-it-yourself storefront creation software. The cost is $199 per month for basic support and maintenence and an extra $100 monthly for the "Storefront Solution" e-commerce add-on; setup fees are $499.
Viaweb (http://www.viaweb.com) offers similar services (including software for fast setup of an online store) for a monthly fee of $100 to $300, depending on the number of products sold at your site. There are many competitors in the hosting marketplace, so surf around before inking a lease.
Want to avoid monthly service fees? Set up a dedicated computer and host your own site. Complicated? Not with software such as Forman Interac-tive's Internet Creator ($149; download a free, 30-day-trial version at http://www.formaninteractive.com) and Luckman Interactive's Web Commander Pro 2.0 (about $495; http://www.luckman.com). Both programs provide secure e-commerce transaction capabilities as well as easy-to-use Web site design and maintenance tools.
Want a simpler solution to Web selling? "Just use e-mail," advises Shannon Entin, founder of Fitnesslink (http://www.fitnesslinkpros.com), an online health and fitness information center with attached storefronts. Include a "mail to" link on a how-to-order page. This isn't perfect, but it gets your feet wet in online commerce.
Need to know more? Head over to the Electronic Commerce Resource Center for Small Businesses (http://gwis2.circ.gwu.edu/~rwill/) and Electronic Commerce & Electronic Markets (http://www.brint.com/Elecomm.htm), two Web sites full of useful links.