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What is e-Commerce?

Electronic commerce, commonly known as e-commerce or e-Commerce, is buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems such as the Internet. Online sales can certainly make transactions less resource intensive, but if your products are larger ticket items, the internet (and with it, high speed broadband) allows display and demonstration of your company’s unique selling points while not necessarily requiring final sales conversions conducted online. A very helpful guide for small business can be found at Flying Solo – Australia’s solo ( www.flyingsolo.com.au/ ) and the Australian e-Commerce community.

How secure is it?

Most companies engaging in e-Commerce, whether business-to-business or business-to-consumer, believe their websites and transactional activities are secure. Their main concern is that unauthorised users will gain access to customer information on their sites. Some of the best ways to secure your online financial transactions are via virus scanning and scrubbing software, firewalls, traffic monitoring and so on. If you feel your system is vulnerable, many guides are available online to help (such as  5 E-Commerce Security Tips , eCommerce Security and Protection for Your Online Store (2019). Alternatively external consultants might be better suited to help (such as Australian companies  eCorner  and  Spiffy Stores .

Benefits for merchants

E-Commerce gives companies the opportunity to showcase all their products to the entire world of prospects allowing business to carry on without the barriers of time or distance. A key benefit is the ability for a company to display and demonstrate their entire range of products in an online environment. This is compared to the expense and practicality of displaying a full range of products in either brochures or showrooms. Data analysis of your website’s traffic will also provide you with insight into which of your products are attracting higher levels of interest, thereby informing future marketing activities.

Benefits to purchasers

If your business requires materials and or products, e-Commerce provides the advantage of being able to review prospective suppliers, their products/services and other customers’ comments before purchasing. This presents the obvious advantage, as well, that not only local suppliers need be considered and purchases can be made from your office or mobile device, saving cost and time.

What are the costs?

Costs for e-Commerce solutions vary widely and it will be necessary for you to review what is available against what you feel is needed for the benefit of your business. While top end software solutions can demand a considerable financial investment, there are a lot of commercial solutions that web providers can set up for a modest investment which can be managed by internal staff with only a small amount of training. An example of this is Software as a Service (SaaS) which is a pay as you go alternative to investing in an e-Commerce platform of your own. An overview of SaaS benefits can be found through  salesforce  and Micronet Systems.

How to assess risk

Services such as PayPal may provide low risk options for companies looking to sell their products/services online.

How to set it up

Getting started in the world of e-Commerce is as simple as setting up a webpage with a means to send payments over the internet. This can be setup by a web design company or even a staff member given the appropriate training. There are a number of ‘off-the-shelf’ software products available to help a business set-up an online retail system. Australian company, Shopify may be a good place to start investigating.

Currency conversion

Handling different currencies is achieved by using a dedicated program or plugin for your website that automatically updates and converts currency and exchange rates in real time with no need for human input. A good place to investigate this are Australian companies  HiFX  and OzForex.

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