Manage online sales and payments – Business Queensland

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To sell your products or services effectively online, you will need to set up your online platforms for transactions and taking payments. You will need to decide which platforms you will be selling and presenting your products on, such as your website or social media platforms.
There are many benefits to promoting your products and services online, such as:
As more people buy goods and services online, more businesses are setting up online product and service presentation and payment options. A secure and reliable payment system is critical if your business operates online.
When preparing to invest in promoting or selling your products and services online, you should consider developing a digital business strategy—an outline of your goals, objectives and methods to take your business online.
Ecommerce is the practice of buying or selling goods and services online. A common method of ecommerce is using a digital store as a part of your website or social media platform.
You can add a function, page or section to your business website to promote and sell your products.
Online stores can be simple or complex, depending on the needs of your business.
Other options for presenting products and services online include:
Ecommerce on your website needs to provide a secure online payment system to meet customer expectations and legal requirements. Read more about legal obligations.
Make sure any terms and conditions are clear—this should include your refunds or cancellations policy.
When preparing to set up ecommerce capabilities, you will need to consider which of your online platforms you want to sell from and the different options for preparing them.
Common ecommerce methods include:
Look at other examples of online shops and think about how you want to display your products. Read about building a website or how to improve your website.
You will also need to set up methods to receive online payments. You can offer customers 1 or multiple payment options, including:
A typical online website with ecommerce capability will include:
You need to give your customers precise information relating to ordering, shipping and prices. They will also be interested in refunds, warranties and returns policies.
Customers may be concerned with online shopping safety, so you need to provide them with clear information about your privacy and security policies.
The same laws apply to online selling as traditional selling methods. Make sure you are familiar with the regulations outlined in the Fair Trading Act 1989 (incorporating Australian consumer law) before you begin selling online.
When pricing to sell online, it is essential to consider all selling costs, such as:
When selling online, shipping costs can be high. If you sell low-value products, the shipping costs may even be more than the product cost. You should then consider your pricing strategy for shipping costs.
Apart from creating ecommerce capability on your website, you can also sell your products and services through other channels. You have many options and each has the potential to broaden your customer base.
Using existing sales channels and ecommerce sites rather than your website avoids spending too much money and time while you are building your customer base. These existing sites will likely have current brand awareness and website traffic that you can benefit from.
Each sales channel will have advantages and disadvantages. You will need to consider the time, setup costs and any ongoing fees. You will also need to consider the terms and requirements of each channel and its fit for your business and customers.

Online marketplaces bring together multiple sellers, products and buyers in 1 location. It is like a large shopping centre that allows buyers to shop for products from different stores in 1 location (e.g. Catch.com.au and Etsy).
Selling via an online marketplace is generally quick to set up and offers credibility and a large customer base. The online marketplace maintains the website and security, and provides established processes and tools for purchasing and payments.
Online marketplaces can charge ongoing monthly fees and commission. You are required to comply with the marketplace’s terms and conditions. Depending on your product, you may be directly competing with other sellers.
Advantages of online marketplaces may include:
Disadvantages of online marketplaces may include:

Auction marketplaces are online facilities that allow buyers to place a bid online (e.g. eBay).
If you sell using an auction marketplace, you’ll need to wait a certain amount of time to finalise the sale (i.e. once bidding closes). If bidding is low, you may receive a lower price than your regular selling price.

Social media sites (e.g. Facebook) have options to set up a store within your business page. Adding payment options to your social media allows you to sell directly to your followers within the social media platform.
Some social media platforms will also have a marketplace (e.g. Facebook Marketplace) that allows you to list goods and services for sale.

If you sell similar products to other sellers, you can list them in comparison shopping engines (Google Shopping).
These sites allow buyers to compare prices for different sellers and are particularly helpful if your pricing is competitive. But it may not be beneficial if you compete on quality rather than price or sell unique items.
Comparison shopping sites charge you fees to use their service. Comparison sites may charge on a pay-per-click basis, so you may incur fees even if you don’t make a sale.

Deal sites operate by encouraging sellers to list their discounted products and services in return for business exposure and access to a large selling platform.

Freelancing platforms are online marketplaces for selling services. These platforms allow you to create a profile to advertise your services and provide your skills, qualifications and experience.
Buyers can also post details of services they require.

Affiliate programs allow you to increase your reach by using other people or organisations to advertise your products or services.
You provide each affiliate with their unique selling link. You pay the affiliate a commission for each sale made through their link.

There are many other online sales channels that you can use. These will vary depending on your industry. For example, you can sell music through iTunes or meals through Uber Eats.
These third-party sites will have existing payment options and processes for ordering, customer services and shipping. Third-party sites allow you to focus on your product or service.
Third-party sites will charge you fees or commissions.

Digital downloads allow your customers to buy any media from you—for example, software, videos, games, documents, pictures or ebooks. Your customer will click on a link and download the file onto their computer instantly, saving you on delivery and printing costs.

Businesses such as restaurants, florists and catering companies can expand their customer base by partnering with a delivery service that can provide physical products to customers within short time frames (e.g. Uber Eats and Menulog).
There are various options for selling online and taking payments and you must choose the most appropriate options for your business.
There are also costs and risks associated with taking online payments, so it is worth considering if your expected amount of online transactions justifies investment in your own secure ecommerce website or whether you should explore other options.
You can set up payments on your business website using:
Merchant accounts and payment services suit businesses that operate online stores and expect high volumes of transactions.
There are several methods for taking payments. You can use some of these options on your website; others have emerged to help businesses establish online payment capacity without developing sophisticated websites.

You will need to establish a merchant facility with your bank that lets you accept credit card payments online. Some banks offer software to help you set up an online store.
Talk to your bank about how they can help and what costs are involved. It can be worth shopping around as banks may have different fee structures for merchant accounts and internet payment gateways.

A payment gateway links your shopping cart to your bank’s merchant facility. Some small businesses choose this option because it can be easier and quicker than setting up your own merchant facility with a bank, while also avoiding customers’ dislike of multi-step payment processes like PayPal.
You will need a merchant account to use a payment gateway.
Some web-hosting services also provide payment facilities. Ask your web host or designer about how they can help.

Online payment services allow you to accept payments through a third party. PayPal is the most well-known of these services and operates worldwide, so people anywhere in the world can purchase from you.
Many of these services will process payments on your behalf through a payment system built into your website. You can also create a link on your website that takes customers to the third-party online payment service.
Online service providers may also accept payments via mobile devices, which is an important consideration when selecting your online payment service provider.

You can choose to sell your goods through an online auction site, like eBay. The auction site will collect payments from buyers after the auction and transfer them to you.
You can register as a business on auction sites if you use them commercially. Some online auction sites offer you the option of setting up an online store on the site to bring together all your products.
Online auction sites typically charge sellers a fee for listing an item for sale and a commission-based fee per sale.

You can choose to invoice customers to make a manual payment rather than enter into an online payment arrangement.
You may program your website to generate an invoice when a customer wants to purchase a product. Alternatively, you can just ask customers to email or phone you to arrange to purchase goods or services.
You could then ask them to pay with:
Instant payment options are also available using many of these services.

Buy now, pay later (BNPL) services allow your customer to pay for their purchase over time. Customers are not charged interest but pay fees to use these services. Examples include Afterpay and Zip Co.
BNPL is like traditional layby, paid over time—the difference is the customer will receive the goods or service immediately and not when payments are complete. With BNPL, the customer pays the BNPL service provider rather than the seller.
The BNPL service provider pays you the sale amount upfront. You will be charged fees, including a flat fee and percentage of sales amount.

Cryptocurrency is a digital currency—for example, Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency is paid or received using a virtual ledger so you can send it to anyone anywhere in the world.
You will be charged a transaction fee on all cryptocurrency payments.
Cryptocurrency is not the official currency of any country but operates using a pre-defined monetary policy. The value of cryptocurrency can fluctuate.
Payment method
Explanation
Own website required
Considerations
Fees
Risks/Warnings
Your website—merchant account
Requires you to establish a merchant facility with a bank that collects payments on your website.
Yes
You must have a merchant account with a bank.
There will be both cost and time involved to set up a website if you don’t have one.
Ongoing fees must be paid to the bank. Different banks will have specific fee requirements—usually, these will be flat recurring fees or a percentage of the transaction.
You will need to maintain your website, including meeting security and compliance requirements.
It is essential to consider all costs involved and if this is feasible given your expected sales.
The application process with banks can be time-consuming.
Your website—payment gateway
Requires you to establish an account with the payment gateway, which will collect payments on your website and sends the funds to your merchant facility.
Yes
You must have a merchant account with a bank.
There will be both cost and time involved to set up a website if you don’t have one.
Ongoing fees are paid to the payment gateway and bank.
You need to ensure your website meets all compliance requirements.
Consider all costs involved and if this is feasible given your expected sales.
The application process with banks can be time-consuming.
Online payment service provider
Requires you to establish an account with an online payment service provider, and allows you to collect payment via a built-in payment system, link in a third-party website or mobile device/app.
Yes
There will be both cost and time involved to set up a website if you don’t have one.
Ongoing fees must be paid to the payment service provider.
Payment is made to the payment service provider initially.
The process to transfer to your bank account may be manual and have limitations.
Some payment service providers will handle customer disputes and may issue customer refunds at their discretion
You are subject to payment service provider’s terms and conditions.
Online auction sites
Allows buyers to place bids and will collect payments from the buyer after the auction.
No
You must be comfortable allowing a third-party site to collect fees and you will need to have time available to wait for scheduled auctions.

Fees for each item are listed for sales, including commission.
You will need to wait a certain amount of time for the sale.
The selling price is variable, and you may not receive the item’s total value if bidding is low.
You are subject to the auction site’s terms and conditions.
Payments are not made direct to you and will be processed through the auction site, resulting in potential delays in receiving funds.
Manual payments, BPAY and direct transfers
Invoice customers so that they can make a manual payment—for example, using internet banking transfer into your bank account, BPAY, credit card via mail or phone, or online payments service provider.
No
Consider how the invoice will be generated—for example, through your website, automatically or manually.
There are no additional fees.
As the customer is not paying at the point of purchase, there may be a delay in receiving funds.
You are required to track/confirm payment and follow up if necessary.
Buy now, pay later (BNPL) services
Allows your customer to pay for their purchase over a period while receiving their order immediately.
Yes
There will be time and cost to integrate this option into your website or another payment process.
You will be charged fees, including a flat fee and percentage of sales amount.
You are subject to BNPL’s terms and conditions.
Payment will be made to the BNPL provider, so there may be a delay in you receiving the funds.
Cryptocurrency
A digital currency paid or received using a virtual ledger.
No
You need to register to pay or receive cryptocurrency.
A transaction fee will be charged on all payments.
The value of cryptocurrency can fluctuate, so you need to monitor it closely.
You need to build and maintain customer relationships when selling online. You can do this by:
Once you have set up your online store or marketplace listing, you need to consider promoting your online shop. Your aim should be to drive people to your website or marketplace listing.
You may also have them sign up for your email list or follow your social media profiles so you can continue to promote your products and service to them.
You can promote your online shop using:
Your website should also have relevant information about your products and services and grab your potential customers’ attention.
Having products available to purchase online can be a cost-effective way of expanding your business or creating a business that operates fully online.
Providing products online can also be part of a multichannel experience (e.g. your social media campaigns and customer emails can include links to your online store so customers can purchase the product right away).
Once you have decided what and how you will sell your products, you must prepare to present these items for sale on the chosen platform.
You will need to consider the following:
Once you have decided on how to present and offer your products for sale online, you will need to work out how you will arrange for the customer to receive their order.
Consider the methods of delivery or fulfillment you will use to complete the sale of a product.
Offering your services online provides opportunities for you to reach more customers outside of your local area, which can help you to grow your business. When preparing to provide services online, it’s important to consider which services elements are suitable for online delivery.
Many services traditionally offered in physical stores and face-to-face interactions can be delivered online. The move from physical selling to online selling is known as ‘service digitisation’ and uses advancements in technology to expand how you can provide services to your customers.
Consider the range of services that your business either does or could offer, and think about how they could be delivered online.
Think about your services and how you interact with your customers to work out what elements of your business you could offer as an online service.
Examples of traditional services delivered online
Consider the following:
You also can sell your service online and deliver it in person.
There are various ways to sell services online.

Bookings for restaurants or reservations for a hotel can be managed online. Beauticians, hairdressers and other service providers may allow their customers to make appointments online.
These systems can work with an online database and diary and reduce scheduling issues. They also allow your customers to check or make appointments at any time.
It can also help you keep your customers’ details up to date.

Courier companies can allow customers to track their orders online.
Online tracking and delivery scheduling give customers an idea of how long they need to wait for a delivery so they can make sure they’re home when a delivery is due.

Businesses such as clubs and gyms can offer customers the option of managing their membership online.
Customers may want to make changes to their membership package, check schedules, change their details or check a record of their bookings online.

You can partner with services-focused marketplaces to use their infrastructure and large marketing budgets.
Follow these tips when preparing your products and services online.
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