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Wyoming Business Tips for Aug. 23-29

August 14, 2015

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

Jim Drever, WSBDC regional director

“I want to sell online. How do I get started?” Jane, Laramie

Selling online does not have to be difficult. A basic understanding of how shopping online works -- which can enjoyably be gained from doing a little yourself -- is all you need to get started.

In this short article, I am providing the nuts and bolts to get you into the channel but, ideally, your online sales should be part of a broader marketing plan to make the most of reaching customers -- just about anywhere.

My first recommendation is to never use your own credit card gateway online. Fraud with stolen credit cards is common, as you would suspect. If you become targeted and have numerous chargebacks, your bank may close your account.

Instead, use third parties that can help detect and avoid fraud, and also provide a small layer of protection between you and potential fraudsters by protecting against payment-related fraud.

First, do you need to reinvent the wheel (or shopping cart) on your own website? Not necessarily. Instead, how about using one that already exists? Last September, the billionth website came online. At the same time last year, Amazon had 270 million active users, so why not leverage their great user base?

You can sell as an individual or professional seller on Amazon for a small fee. If you plan to sell more than 40 items per month, it is a better deal to sell as a pro, which also lets you sell things that don’t fit in existing categories and allows you to make bundles that sell for more.

Often, there are other online markets that have niches you might want to consider, such as Etsy.com for crafts. Maybe if you are selling collectables, something like bidstart.com would be more appropriate than trying to use the behemoth of eBay. These online marketplaces provide their own credit card processing.

If you have a lot of traffic on your site, consider plug-in shopping carts, like shopify.com or ecwid.com. The latter is my favorite because it lets you add a shopping cart/page to your Facebook account and have a mobile-friendly store at the same time. It is free to use for a limited number of items, but you will need to use a third-party gateway for payments. ECWid lists about 50 it will work with, including PayPal.

Finally, if you do decide you want your own online store, you will need to find a good Web developer. Be ready to pay a lot to have a good online store that is easy for you to manage and easy for customers to use.

Wyoming Entrepreneur Small Business Development Center offers additional resource on our website (http://wyen.biz/), in addition to free one-on-one confidential advising.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at http://wyen.biz/blog1/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email wsbdc@uwyo.edu, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.


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