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									Keep up with the trends Business Link Guide to Online Trading

Telephone:0845 600 9 006 Visit: www.businesslink.gov.uk/southeast

Keep up with the trends Business Link Guide to Online Trading
The internet has opened a gateway of opportunities to trade online, and this, coupled with the surge in online expenditure should prompt all businesses to exploit this market place. To explain how businesses can achieve maximum benefit from online trading, Business Link has written this informative guide. This covers the opportunities of online trading, how to get started, rules and regulations and of course, a checklist of things that you must consider. This guide also includes a section on online auction sites which are growing in popularity with businesses. So, what are the opportunities for trading online?

• Rising internet sales, with consumers opting for the convenience of online trading • Businesses can compete in a global marketplace – this gives access to a wide market, increasing your customer base • Lower overheads than a conventional store • Accessibility 24 hours a day
Whether exploring a new sales and marketing avenue for your existing business, or launching a brand new venture, online trading could transform your business.

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www.businesslink.gov.uk/southeast or call us on 0845 600 9 006 Step 1: Getting started
You can get an online presence either by sharing space on an existing website that has online trading facilities – such as an online auction site, for example eBay and Amazon (explored on page 5-6 of this guide). Or for an exclusive presence – you can build your own website.

Step 2: Setting up your own website
Build your website If you have decided to build your own website and are confident in doing this, a web design package can be bought to create your site. Alternatively, there are many specialists that can do this for you. Domain name Domain names play a vital role in identifying your presence on the internet - this should be relevant to your business and easy to remember. But consider that your planned domain name may already be taken, so it is best to check this on the Nominet website. Hosting your website So that your website is available on the internet – your website needs to be hosted. This can be done in-house, but would require considerable resources. Or, you can have an external Internet Service Provider (ISP) host it for you. All ISPs offer similar basic facilities; choice of internet connection, access to the World Wide Web, email and web space for hosting your website. The cost will depend on the amount of space and technology required.
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Keep up with the trends Business Link Guide to Online Trading
Step 3: Implementing e-commerce
In order for you to market and sell to customers, you will need to set up an e-commerce system. This consists of: • An online catalogue - to allow users to browse and select your products/services. However, always remember if customers cannot find the product they are looking for quickly - they will go elsewhere. • Shopping cart - Once the goods have been selected, the shopping cart should be clearly visible so that customers can proceed to payment. This should include any postage and packaging costs and the customer should receive a printable receipt and email confirmation of their order. Method of payment - Three options are available for accepting payments, including: 1. Open an internet merchant account – this is the best option if your business already accepts debit and credit card payments for face to face transactions. Several banks and processors offer this, but bare in mind – they do have strict requirements. 2. Use a payment processing company – this is an alternative for businesses with a small turnover from card transactions or who are unable to open a merchant account. This option simply obtains the payment from the customers’ credit/debit card and forwards on the money. This is a quicker process than the merchant account, but the charges are generally higher.

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www.businesslink.gov.uk/southeast or call us on 0845 600 9 006
3. Set up an online shop with a virtual shopping mall – this brings together a number of online shops on the same website. It hosts and processes payment, providing an immediate online presence. But, it is the most expensive way to sell online (requiring a joining fee and monthly/annual fee) and you are often tied to a set format.

Step 4: Managing your online sales
It is essential to manage online sales and provide excellent customer service, this includes providing confirmation of orders. Delivering the order quickly is important and so any delays should be communicated. Offering a tracking service is also useful for users. There will be some customers who will not be happy with their purchase and therefore an option for returns needs to be made available.

Step 5: Rules and Regulations
There is a range of legislation that governs online trading. This includes: • • Contract agreement; terms and conditions must be incorporated when the contract is concluded The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations; information including – your business name and address, goods description, prices, delivery costs, payment and delivery arrangements, the consumer’s right to cancel the order and method of returns must be outlined

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Keep up with the trends Business Link Guide to Online Trading
• • • Intellectual property; issues including copyright and trademarks should be considered Consumer protection legislation; legislation including the Consumer Protection Act 1987 apply to goods sold over the internet Security; Customers will be submitting payment details and this information needs to be handled securely (this may include a certificate of authentification and encryption to prevent unauthorised disclosure) Exclusions on restricted goods; some types of goods/services are prohibited to sell online Online traders may need to pay Income Tax, National Insurance contributions and fill out a Self Assessment return. You may also need to register for VAT, and those starting a new online business need to let HM Revenue & Customs know within three months of trading.

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Checklist
• • • • • • • • • Ensure you set measurable objectives with realistic targets and outline all hidden costs such as training, maintenance, support and marketing Keep the layout and navigation simple Use small images otherwise download speeds will be slow Update content regularly, ensuring accuracy and that it is easy to read Ensure you publicise your website; put this on all stationery and in relevant directories Ordering must be quick and simple Ensure quick delivery and notification of orders and have an effective returns policy Ensure you install adequate security measures Make sure you have a contingency plan in place as downtime can impact severely on your business in terms of company reputation and losing customers and sales

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www.businesslink.gov.uk/southeast or call us on 0845 600 9 006
Online auction sites are emerging as a key trading space for businesses to sell online. Without the expense of building an e-commerce site, this also enables sellers to get the best price. It also provides the opportunity for businesses to test new products and sell off existing stock quickly. The emergence of eBay as an online auction site provides an option for businesses to trade online.

So, what are the top tips for selling on eBay?

• eBay is governed by its own rules and regulations and some items are not allowed to be listed • Use good photography and a clear description when you list your item • Offer pay pal as a payment method (as recommended by eBay) • Communicate with your buyers on any queries • Send items promptly and handle any discrepancies

For more information or further resources: Call 0845 600 9 006 or visit www.businesslink.gov.uk/southeast
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Telephone:0845 600 9 006 Visit: www.businesslink.gov.uk/southeast


								
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