Doing business online
If you are committed to creating an online business, you can find out more about selling your products online here.
According to the NAB Retail Sales Index, Australian consumers spend billions of dollars each year ($12.3 billion in 2012) online.
How do I sell online?
If you have a website and you have products and services to sell, you should be selling them online.
There are four main things that make up an online store:
This is the basic content of your website, the way in which you market your brand and what it is you are offering your customers.
For example, an online clothing store would have several catalogues of clothing divided into men’s and women’s clothing and possibly styles, seasons and sizes.
Many businesses doing a large volume of selling online have a merchant company that collects and collates their customers’ purchases.
PayPal is a basic merchant account that many small businesses use, but a larger volume of online selling will require a more sophisticated merchant company.
SSL is a code on your web server that keeps online interactions private, even though they travel across the public internet.
When a web browser contacts your secured website, the SSL certificate enables an encrypted connection.
It has been compared to the process of sealing an envelope before sending it through the mail.
The processes of buying and selling online require SSL protocol to ensure the business and banking details of the buyer and seller are kept secure.
The web hosting company you choose to host your website will normally offer SSL services as part of its hosting package.
Learn more about using SSL on your website
The merchant company you choose to set up your shopping cart will have what is known as a “payment gateway” which allows credit card and payment processing so your customers can pay for the products and services they order.
Credit card processing services usually attract a monthly fee; sometimes a start-up fee, and the processing itself will have fees that are a small percentage of each sale.
Find out more information about the payment gateways Australian businesses are using.
Prices and shipping
Be upfront on your website about the full cost of the products and services you are selling and how much shipping or postage could be added.
Creating and managing a website to support foreign trade is more complex than an Australian-based e-commerce platform. Further information about online exporting can be found through Austrade
When preparing to sell your products online to international markets, first consider:
Taxation and Customs
Tax rules for e-commerce are constantly changing and evolving.
It is recommended you take advice from a Certified Practising Accountant for all global and national buying and selling undertaken by your business.
Remember to monitor taxation developments so you can plan ahead and make the necessary changes to your systems and be aware of the tax implications of the countries in which you are trading.
There will also be customs duties to contend with, and these are usually collected by the purchaser, so they will need to be factored into your costs.
For more information on the types of documentation required to adhere to taxation and customs laws when you are trading internationally online, visit the Australian Institute of Export.
Legals and regulations
Legislation surrounding e-commerce transactions is evolving and it is recommended that you take advice from a qualified legal professional to assist you with meeting the complex regulations of cross-border transactions.
As a start, you can take some simple steps to ensure you are complying with domestic and international consumer protection laws.
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