Opening an Online Store

E-Commerce and the Law

E-Commerce and the Law

Currently, there are not any consumer protection laws focused specifically on ecommerce. Online shopping is covered by the same consumer protection laws that cover tradition brick and mortar stores.

There are two classifications of B2C E-Commerce. They are as follows:

1. Direct Sellers
These are companies that provide products or services directly to customers are called direct sellers. These types of B2C companies are the most well-known. There are two types of direct sellers: e-tailers and manufacturers. An example of an e-tailer would be

Selecting a Merchant Account Provider

E-commerce 101: Selecting a Merchant Account Provider

In order to process sales via an online store, you need to either have a merchant account or service like Paypal of Google Checkout. While a store can get by just having a merchant account without a service like Paypal, you can’t get by without a merchant account. You need a merchant account to appear as a professional online store.

There are many different merchant account providers eager to have you as a client. These include, Paymentech and USAePay to name a few. Choosing a merchant account provider isn’t easy. A new merchant will find the array of services, fees and rates mind numbing. Trying to evaluate providers is major chore. With this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of criteria to investigate before selecting a merchant account provider. It is as follows:

Shopping Carts and Store Portability

Have store. Will Travel.

Changing hosts is a pain in the neck for any website. This hassle is quickly compounded when you have a online store. Finding a new shopping cart solution is the easy part, moving product and customer data is a whole ‘nother story. Each hosted shopping cart solution organizes their databases differently. So your exported data from your old store isn’t likely to slide into the new database without some finagling (read: a lot of finagling). Typically, you’ll have to map each data field to match the destination field. Fun stuff, especially if you maintain a large store with an extensive amount of data to move.

Shopping Cart Upgrades. Pushed or Pulled?

We are so many hosted cart solutions so pushy when it comes to upgrades?

Have you had issues with your store after your solution released an upgrade? I have. Many, many, many times. It got to the point that I cringed when a new release was announced. I felt like Tokyo upon hearing Godzilla just booked passage for a short stay. I would clear my schedule in anticipation of lengthy tech support calls and lost sales. It was a monster of a headache. Eventually it got so bad, I just moved my stores to new solutions.

One of the new solutions I moved to promised to never put in fear of the forced (pushed) upgrade. It was Volusion and they take a very unique approach eith their upgrades. They allow me to upgrade the software for the my stores whenever I feel like (queue singing angels..). All I have to do is push a button and begin (pull) the upgrade process. This means I can do in the early morning hours when the large percentage of my customers are sound asleep. Viola. No lost sales. To top it off, Volusion does a great job during the QA process so post-upgrade bugs are very uncommon.

Google Sitemaps Made Easy by Hosted Carts

Creating and maintaining a xml or txt Google sitemap for your store can be a huge time drain. Sure it’s worth it. Adding one will ensure that Google will have a detailed road map to crawl your site and make sure all your product pages are indexed . This is hugely important for newly launched stores.

Two hosted cart solutions I use make it real easy to create and maintain a Google sitemap. Volusion and 3DCart automatically generate an asp page called (or something like) googlesitemap.asp. Its updated whenever you add a page or product to your store. You can then easily point Google to this page of regular downloading. Talk about easy. No more searching for third party tools or site to crawl your store in order to generate a site map.

Shipping to Canada ey?

I stopped shipping to Canada after a high percentage of orders were stepped on by the Canadian customs office. Along with their order, customers would get a bill for a Custom Brokers fee and any applicable duties. This would send customers into a rage that I, as a storeowner in America, was powerless to prevent. Bear in mind we shipped to Canada using UPS Standard and for some reason, the frequency of this occurring when orders are shipped via USPS is significantly lower. Go figure..

One of e-commerce’s strengths is supposed to be opening your wares to a global market. This strength can easily be nullified by inconsistent Customs offices in the destination country. So if you ship overseas, make certain you present the customer with clear documentation on who is liable for ANY Customs fee and Duty. This will shift the responsibility to the customer, albeit an angry one.