How do I open an online retail store?

How do I open an online retail store?


Fred Lowe, senior developer for Internet marketing agency, Purple Cow Communications, provides a basic rundown of what you can do to start selling online. Please note that all of the options below will require the website to be converted to an online shop.

This means that the website should have product/services area, shopping cart mechanism and a check out system.

Option 1

In 2010 Paypal was introduced to the South African Public. Up to that time you could only purchase items online with your Paypal account in South Africa. Starting June 2010 FNB partnered with Paypal to bring its e-commerce platform to SA.

Merchants can now use the Paypal platform to sell online without all of the overheads normal e-commerce has. This option is ideal for a small company or someone who can’t afford to pay thousands of rands per month on e-commerce fees.

The negative of following this approach is the fact that you can only use this platform in conjunction with a FNB Cheque account.

Option 2

This option requires the entity/company to obtain a Merchant account from the bank of their choice. After opening your merchant account you have two options:

Option A – On domain processing

  • When following this route, the entity/company will need to obtain a SSL certificate from a third party as well as create a shopping cart, checkout and payment system. The payment system will then still be linked into an external payment gateway to process the payment.
  • Although with this route you do everything from your website, it is very expensive. The costs usually start at around R1500p/m and then a percentage of each sale.

Option B – Off site processing

  • When following this route the entity/company will have their shopping cart on their website, but as soon as the client activates the checkout/payment part of the process they are redirected to a third party payment gateway.
  • Once the payment is completed, the client is then returned to the entity/company website. This route is a bit more affordable seeing as you don’t need a SSL certificate, but also various monthly fees as well as transaction fees.
  • Lowe adds that there are a lot of different options when it comes to e-commerce. Most companies prefer to build their own shopping cart system and then just connect to a third party payment gateway such as Virtual Card Services, Netcash and Shop Direct.
  • If the client however does not want to build their own shopping cart mechanism, then they can use open source platforms such as OpenCart, Zen Cart and osCommerce.
Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.