Sell Online: Part 3, Accepting Payment

Why sell online? That's easy. It's a way to create another profit center. I've been exploring this subject so I thought I'd share each Friday what I'm learning.

Here are the previously-published parts of this series.

Sell Online: Part 1, Need To Know Basics

Sell Online: Part 2, Where To Sell

This week, we're going to talk about Part 3. . .

Accepting Payment

If you sell online under the umbrella of another domain, for example, a CafePress shop and others of that type, then you don't have to worry about receiving payment, making refunds, fulfilling orders. It's all done for you. This is the easiest way to sell online. I've been operating my CafePress shop, The WRITE Way, since 2005 and have never had a problem.

Your financial reports for CafePress are always on your account. When you report income on your tax return at the end of the year, it's a simple matter of seeing how much you earned.

Sales Tax is handled by the domain, not you, which is another plus.

As I've previously said, there are many websites where you can set up "shop" and sell whatever you wish as long as that is not prohibited by their specific Terms of Service.

Selling Directly

Selling directly to your buyer is more complicated but by no means is it impossible. 

1. If you have hard copies of your self-published books that you want to see in bookstores, read this ABA article reprinted by GalleyCat. It includes a list of bookstores across the country that will take your books on consignment. Don't forget to approach your local bookstores. In fact, that would be the first stop on your quest to sell your books in book stores.

2. Sell directly to the public. I talked about how to accept credit cards in Book Sales Outside The Box. If you want to read only the part about accepting credit cards, scroll down to How To Accept Credit Cards.

This is for people who are so extroverted that they carry products with them and sell at the drop of a hat. Authors may speak at a luncheon and sell copies of their book afterwards. Using Square, they can easily accept credit cards for those sales. Crafters at a fair or vendors in an antique mall can easily accept credit cards this way also.

3. Set up your own storefront using a service.

Shopify which offers a starter site for $14.00 a month.

PayPal also helps you set up a storefront -- they're not just for eBay.

Volusion which has a starter package for $15.00 a month.

3DCart costs a bit more but they say they offer Premium services even for the lowest priced tier.

Miiduu offers a free Basic ecommerce site with limits set for customers, downloads, etc. Check their pricing structure. If you anticipate small sales each day, this may be the way to go.

Made Freshly is easy and free if you have only 10 products you want to sell. You can upgrade at any time.

4. Sell from your own website. Chances are you already have a website. You'll have to do your own fulfillment, but if that isn't an issue, for instance, you're selling reports or books in PDF or digital ebook format, then the only thing you need is a way to accept payment. Of course, you'll have to have a policy in place that explains payment, refunds, fulfillment, etc.

What you need to sell and receive payment is called a hosted shopping cart. Here are some free hosted shopping cart providers. To use it for free, payments are usually accepted via PayPal. Usually, if you want the ability for buyers to use credit cards not through PayPal, you have to upgrade your account.

Mal's E-commerce has been around a while and is well-established. Badging on the site indicates it is secure.

CS Cart says it is totally free. Basically, they give you the software to install and everything else is up to you. I haven't used this, but I suspect that if you're not tech savvy, this might be challenging. They do have a Help Desk.

Mercantek offers a totally free shopping cart with credit cards accepted through PayPal, Google Checkout, Amazon Payments, and others.

E-junkie offers 2 free shopping carts. When you visit the E-junkie website, you'll immediately notice there aren't any bells and whistles. You have to be a bit tech savvy to install the software, but they do have clear directions.

This is probably enough information to get you started in your quest to sell your products online. By the way, I started this series because I'd been thinking about selling from my website but also because of a friend who lost her job in the economic downturn.

My friend had emailed me asking for advice. She wanted to know how people went about selling things online. She'd heard about making money online, but she didn't know how to go about it. So I did this research to help her and me and to pass it on to you.

When I have the blog set up for selling, I'll blog again about this subject.

Takeaway Truth

So now you know the basics of how to sell online. If you have identified what you want to sell, where you want to sell, and how to accept payment, then the next thing you need to do is to get started.

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