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.

Google Checkout. Viable payment method?

Google has launched its answer to Paypal.

When news of Google Checkout was announced many merchants jumped with joy. Just think; a payment method that doesn’t exploit the merchant! Google Checkout offers free processing (until December 31, 2007), $10 off coupons for first time customers, $50 AdWords coupon for merchants and robust anti-fraud tools. Google also promised seamless integration with the major hosted shopping cart solutions. To date, Volusion, 3DCart and MonsterCommerce offer Google Checkout integration for their stores.

Google Checkout promises to help merchants in three areas:

EV SSL Certificates

EV SSL Certificates
These certs go to eleven.

There is a new type of SLL certificate on the block. The Extended Validation SSL Certificate has been developed by Verisign as a way to increase consumer confidence while shopping online. The EV SSL certificates are expensive and getting one requires additional paperwork. Verisign provides a EV SSL cert for $1,299 for a year. Thawte and Geotrust offer the same cert for $899 per year. This is huge leap in cost when compared to the traditional 128-bit SSL certificates annual cost of around $150.

So what does this extra outlay of cash afford the small e-commerce business? The ability to have 256-bit encryption and more detailed store identity authentication visable to the customer (to stave off phishing). Plus, customers using IE7 will have their address bar turn green while shopping on your store. This is supposed to increase “your site visitor’s confidence.”

E-Commerce S.W.O.T. Analysis

E-Commerce Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats

Are you considering starting a new e-commerce business? Yes? Do a SWOT analysis of the industry and your niche within the world of electronic commerce. Below is a general e-commerce SWOT analysis that highlights some on the particulars of selling items online.

Ability to compete with other companies global and locally
Implementing an e-commerce business solution allows companies to expand their customer base to a global level without considerable time or expense.

How to Switch Shopping Cart Solutions

Switching Shopping Cart Solutions Checklist

Are you considering moving from one e-commerce shopping cart solution to another? Below you will find a checklist that lays out the step-by-step instructions for making the move. Switching website shopping cart solutions isn't as hard as you may think.

Switching Shopping Cart Solutions Checklist

1. Research and select the shopping cart solution that best serves your business’ needs. This is a very important decision. Take your time and choose wisely. Questions to ask include:

A. Does your shopping cart solution integrate with my gateway?

Preventing Chargebacks for Online Sales

Just about every merchant will get the dreaded chargeback notice sooner of later. Unfortunately, it’s part of ecommerce and truly hard to avoid. Bearing this in mind, merchants are forced to stay on their toes as the credit card company place all the risk upon merchant's shoulders. An important part of running a successful ecommerce website is minimizing chargebacks so as to not only avoid monetary loss but also to stay in business. If you store racks up too many chargebacks, it won’t be long until the store’s merchant account is revoked.

What is a chargeback?

A charge back occurs when a customer disputes a charge on their monthly statement. The customer calls the issuing credit card company and answers a few question on the charge in question and then the chargeback process is set in motion. A letter is then sent notifying the merchant of the chargeback or charge dispute and from this point forward, it’s up to the merchant to prove the charge is legitimate. If the merchant can’t successfully argue this case, the charge is reversed and money is automatically withdrawn from the merchant’s bank account. To make matter worse, the merchant is then charged with a chargeback fee that is typically in the $20.00 dollar range.

E-Commerce Customer Expectations

What are the hardest things about running an online store? Using the technology? Fighting off competition in a low barrier entry industry? Sourcing products? Sure. All are big concerns. One surprise challenge for new online store owners is customer expectations. For instance, customers might have the following expectations when shopping your store:

You are available to answers their questions via the phone 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Business days? Never heard on them… “I paid for second day air shipping. How come my order didn’t arrive on Sunday?”

Or, “I placed my order an hour ago. Where’s my tracking number?”

E-commerce and Protecting Credit Card Information

The industry is racing to tighten security standards and the online merchant is now burdened with becoming an expert in all the different credit card industry regulations. The onus is on the merchant to protect all the informationthat they gather. Each credit card company has very specific regulations that all merchants that process their cards must follow. Leading the charge are the CISP and the PCI regulations.

About the CISP and PCI regulations:

CISP compliance is required of all merchants and service providers that store, process, or transmit Visa cardholder data. The program applies to all payment channels, including retail (brick-and-mortar), mail/telephone order, and e-commerce. To achieve compliance with CISP, merchants and service providers must adhere to the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard, which offers a single approach to safeguarding sensitive data for all card brands. This Standard is a result of a collaboration between Visa and MasterCard and is designed to create common industry security requirements, incorporating the CISP requirements. Other card companies operating in the U.S. have also endorsed the PCI Data Security Standard within their respective programs.

MonsterCommerce Shopping Cart Review

MonsterCommerce Review
Software Version Reviewed: 4.2

MonsterCommerce is a leading provider in the ASP hosted shopping cart arena. Boasting a clientele of 5,000 store owners, they offer highly available 24x7 support, rich product documentation and a lively customer forum. Support is what separates MonsterCommerce from its competition and appears to be the cornerstone of their business model. This high level of customer support goes a long way to entice fledgling online merchants to select their shopping cart solution.

Where MonsterCommerce Excels

1. Support, Support and Support.

As stated above, MonsterCommerce offers 24x7 phone support, excellent documentation and a lively customer forum that when combined; provide an industry leading support system.

InstanteStore Shopping Cart Review

InstanteStore Overview:

At last, a solution based on something other than ASP. InstanteStore separates itself firstly by their ColdFusion platform and secondly for vast array of features provided. At first log in, we were impressed with the slick and easy to navigate admin or control panel. The admin panel only takes a few minutes of clicking around to get the hang of it. I must say, this was a breath of fresh air after working with some more cumbersome shopping cart solution admin panels. Most everything was easy to find and laid out in a cohesive and well thought out manner.

Setting up the store was easy and a splash page on the admin panel offers a step-by-step checklist for the merchant to follow. First was adding categories, which was easy and straight forward. Next was adding products. There were a few way to accomplish this as the merchant is given the choice between adding product one-by-one or via a .csv or .txt file in bulk upload mode. The bulk upload tool is robust but not forgiving in terms of formatting. The files for upload MUST follow InstanteStore format to the letter or the merchant will receive error messages at upload. We found this process not that easy to master and a potential source of frustration for a merchant that didn’t review the formatting guidelines. Save yourself time and review these standards before attempting any product bulk uploads.