Small business owners in Nigeria are struggling to have a strong presence on the internet. Whatever product or service you are offering, the internet levels the playing field and lets you compete with the bigger businesses, reaching customers all around the world who can buy from you 24 hours a day.
In the competitive world of the internet, being successful requires careful planning and taking the right steps. This article, it is hoped, will help you take the right steps to launching a successful e-commerce website.
Many Nigerian banks have partnered foreign organizations like Visa, Mastercard and Interswitch to help Nigerian businesses benefits from e-commerce. However, a lot has to be considered before choosing to have an e-commerce website.
Some of the things to consider include
Cost: The cost of having a fully functional ecommerce website most times runs into several thousands, if not millions of naira. Some of the tools you’ll have to put in place includes an Internet merchant account i.e. a special account with an acquiring bank that allows the merchant to accept credit cards over the Internet. The merchant typically pays a processing fee for each transaction processed, also known as the discount rate.
A merchant applies for an Internet Merchant Account in a process similar to applying for a commercial loan. The fees charged by the acquiring bank will vary.You’ll also need a payment gateway i.e. a service that provides connectivity among merchants, customers, and financial networks to process authorizations and payments. The service is usually operated by a third-party provider such as VeriSign.
Security: The security of your site and your payment gateway has to be seriously researched as neither you nor your clients would appreciated having their private and personal information breached by hackers.You’ll also need to provide an SSL certificate When taking your customer’s sensitive information over the web.
Hosting: A mission critical website hosting solution has to be put in place to ensure that your website has 99.99% up-time availability. There can be nothing worse than someone trying to visit your website only to discover that it is not available.
Charge Backs: Do you have policies in place that takes into account possible scenarios such as charge backs i.e. a situation whereby a customer returns your product and requests his/her money back? God forbid, but if such a thing should happen on a regular basis – taking into consideration all the commissions you’ll be paying to the banks, payment solution providers etc -
this alone in capable of making you go bankrupt!
Sustainability: Moreover you have to seriously consider whether you are capable of meeting the demand of your customers for for your product or service on a long term basis all year round.
These are just a few of the things you’ll need to consider. We shall go into more details on this topic in a future edition. If you have any doubts about your business’ ability of meeting up with any of the above, then you simply aren’t ready for e-commerce yet.
Do you operate an ecommerce website? If so, what has your experience been like? We would love to hear from you. Feel free to comment below.