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

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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.

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