There are so many things to consider when planning to sell online, but here are some of the first issues that should be discussed, decided and planned out:
- Fulfillment. Once an order is placed, are you going to personally pick, package and ship each order? Will the order go into your traditional shipping system? Or will you partner with a fulfillment house to take care of the order?
- Shipping. How are you going to charge for shipping? Will it be per item? By weight? A flat rate? Will you offer FedEx, UPS or another shipping service?
- Taxation. How will you tax the order? Will it be based on the state where the buyer is located or the state where your company is based? What about overseas orders? Will you even bother with international orders initially?
- Return Policies. What will you do when items are returned? Keep in mind that buying online is still unfamiliar to many people and images online are of a lesser quality than most paper catalogs, so returns could be far more frequent than you're used to experiencing. How will you handle the extra expense of dealing with returns?
- Customer Service. How will you handle customer service inquiries? Will you use e-mail, phone or some other means? Are you staffed to handle the need?
Planning ahead means a better chance at a successful online selling experience.
Aliza Sherman is an entrepreneur and author of Cybergrrl: A Woman's Guide to the World Wide Web (Ballantine Books). She is currently working on her next book and new company.