So far in this series on how to create a successful e-commerce web site for your business, we’ve looked at how to plan your site and appoint the right service provider, how to create an excellent catalogue and other content, and the importance of receiving training.
1. The importance of trust
If you’re asking people to give you their money online – where they can’t see or hear you, or touch or smell the merchandise – you need to give them lots of reasons to trust you.
Professional design is one way to build trust: it will help to ensure that wherever they are on your site and whatever they are doing, your customers feel secure that they know what’s going on, what is required of them and what they can expect from you. This is especially important on your shopping cart and payment pages.
Before your site goes live, ask a couple of trusted friends and family members to test the checkout process for you – and be sure to watch and ask questions while they do so. Where do they hesitate? What makes them feel comfortable or uncomfortable? You may need to adjust your design or add some explanations to increase trust.
2. Make it easy to pay
Once people have decided to buy something from your site, the last thing you want to do is put obstacles in their way – and yet this is exactly what many sites do.
The main thing that makes it easy for your customers to pay is offering a wide selection of payment methods. This includes credit cards, debit cards, Paypal, direct bank transfers and mobile payments.
The good news is that you don’t have to do all this yourself: It’s the job of your payment services provider. Whichever payment services provider you choose, check that they offer the widest possible range of payment options. It’s also a good idea to ask how often they add new payment options as these become available.
Also make sure you’re not making it too difficult for your customers by making them fill out too many forms. From a security point of view it’s often a good idea to ask them to register – but then keep the forms short, and definitely never ask for the same information twice. Ask your web developer to guide you through this element of designing your site experience.
3. Make it easy to get paid
Making it easy for your customers to pay is one thing — getting that money into your own bank account is another. If you have your own merchant account with your bank, this should be no hassle: Payments should go directly into your own bank account.
Related: Make Money On The Internet
If you’re too small to qualify for a merchant account, you may want to find a payment services provider that offers a payment collection service for small businesses. PayGate has a product specifically geared to start-up businesses, that allows you to get up and running within 48 hours of approval.
Whichever payment service you choose, be sure to ask exactly how your money will move from their account to yours: Will it happen automatically, or will you have to initiate a transfer yourself? Is there a waiting period?
4. Consider the real costs
Many people choose their checkout and payment method based solely on the immediate costs – but beware of hidden costs that might come up later.
For example, there are some e-commerce hosting services that allow you to set up your site for free – but then either the site will be very difficult to change later, or they will charge you high fees. You will need to weigh up for yourself whether saving on the one-off cost of hiring a web developer is worth paying a percentage of all your sales on top of processing fees and a basic monthly cost.
What happens when your site starts turning over a few thousand rands a month, or tens of thousands? That extra couple of percentage points could start to make a real difference.
The lesson is: Do your sums before you start, and be realistic about how your business is likely to grow.
If you get payments right, on top of paying proper attention to overall strategy, content and site maintenance, and if you choose your partners and suppliers carefully, you have every chance of succeeding in your e-commerce venture.
The Simple Way To Pay Wages When Your Staff Don’t Have Bank Accounts
If you have employed casual workers over the busy season, you can pay wages even if they do not have bank accounts.
At Absa Business Banking, the things that are important to you are just as important to us. We understand your business needs, which is why we have developed tailored solutions to help you where it counts. Take CashSend Plus, for example. It is a payment solution that enables you to pay workers even if they do not have bank accounts.
It is safe and secure
Your employee will receive a six-digit access code and a ten-digit reference number, so that they can verify the transaction. The money is instantly available at an Absa ATM.
You can even pay yourself
We have all lost bank cards or wallets at some point in our lives. What an inconvenience. Well, it is good to know then that you can access cash by sending it to yourself. Now, that is what we call better.
Please speak to one of our consultants or call 0860 111 123 or visit your nearest branch.
Absa Business Banking
Do better business. Prosper.
Entrepreneurial Balancing Acts with Debt
Young South African entrepreneurs face many challenges when it comes to debt-related financing. Small and medium enterprise (SME) owners typically require extensive debt financing from bank and non-bank lenders.
Young South African entrepreneurs face many challenges when it comes to debt-related financing. Small and medium enterprise (SME) owners typically require extensive debt financing from bank and non-bank lenders. Unfortunately, many South African entrepreneurs are limited in their ability to access capital markets. Among others, the major challenges facing entrepreneurs include lack of credit history, no collateral, shaky credentials, and unformulated business plans.
Regardless, SA entrepreneurs are forging ahead and using multiple resources at their disposal such as payday loan providers, non-bank lenders, family and friends, crowdfunding and other economic empowerment initiatives to raise the necessary seed capital for investment purposes. Given the staggering unemployment rate in the country (+25%), the only way out for many people appears to be entrepreneurship. The 2008 global financial crisis threw the economy for a loop, and now the hopes and dreams of many South Africans hang in the balance.
ISM Study Sheds Light on SA Entrepreneurial Pros and Cons
An intensive study conducted by the University of Cape Town’s Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing (ISM) found that the country is experiencing ‘a crisis of aspiration’. Simply put, many South Africans are struggling to attain their career objectives in an economy that has been ravaged by corruption, mismanagement, and scandal. Despite tough economic times, South African entrepreneurs are determined to try their luck. Pressing challenges in the form of rising unemployment, and an economy mired in failure are challenging entrepreneurs to be more inventive than ever before. The most volatile component of the economic spectrum in South Africa is the middle class.
Many South African families have lived the high life, or ascended the rungs and then been knocked down a peg. This instability is creating added volatility in a country where high crime, mismanagement and political rancour pepper the scene. For many entrepreneurs, any access to credit is a godsend. Banks and non-bank providers offering personal loans, business loans, or credit card funds invariably expose themselves to debt default. For entrepreneurs, it’s important to know where to draw the line. Access to lines of credit in a crippled economy is significantly more valuable than the equivalent access in a developed economy.
How to Know when you are Overstretched as an Entrepreneur
Debt is considered a prerequisite for investment purposes. Most South Africans simply don’t have the necessary capital to start up a high-tech venture, fund a new business, or conduct marketing and advertising activity. As such, lines of credit are increasingly being used to propel business activity among SMEs – both in the formal and the informal sector. However, once debt reaches untenable levels, the tough questions need to be asked. For example, if multiple loans and multiple payments are required monthly, revenue streams need to be evaluated against expenses to gauge whether this is a feasible status quo.
Related: How To Handle Your Post-Holiday Debt
Many entrepreneurs find it difficult to manage multiple loans simultaneously, although it is necessary to acquire the capital from multiple sources. One of the ways to deal with these types of exigencies is a single loan from a low-cost lender in the form of debt consolidation loans. Simply put, these loans are provided by bank or non-bank lenders at lower interest rates than the prevailing interest rate on other lines of credit. By taking out a debt consolidation loan, the entrepreneur has more disposable income over time by not paying the higher interest on credit card debt.
Escape Debt Before Debt Consumes You
There are several other ways to know when your personal financial situation has reached critical mass. For starters, the nature of your business may require you to continue dipping into lines of credit to maintain business operations. If you don’t have the requisite discipline to stop indebting yourself, you may not be able to get out of debt. Debt consolidation is only effective insofar as you have the necessary discipline to put an end to debt financing of all business-related activity.
Credit should be used sparingly, and profits should be generated to allow your business to prosper. In a tight economic climate, costs are the bugbear that need to be attacked. Lavish trappings are unnecessary for business functionality – modest budgets, and high-quality goods and services are far more effective than window dressing at a premium.
How South Africa’s Small Businesses Plan To Invest Their Money In 2018
Here are their five areas they should focus their attention on in the next year and beyond.
Despite economic uncertainty, South Africa’s small businesses are positive about the future. In fact, our State of South African Small Business report reveals that 40% of small businesses are expecting to grow. However, to achieve growth without overextending their limited resources, small businesses need to invest wisely.
Here are their five areas they should focus their attention on in the next year and beyond.
When times are tight, companies typically reduce their marketing spend. This isn’t the case for 36% of South Africa’s small businesses. These respondents recognise marketing as a critical investment area.
They’d rather make a concerted effort to grow their customer base, than sit still and do nothing as consumer demand declines.
Without access to the latest technology, business growth can quickly stagnate. This is why 23% of South Africa’s small businesses plan to invest in up to date equipment, whether that be new machinery, mobile devices or computers.
The right investment in this area can give a business a real competitive advantage.
It can help boost profits and improve operational efficiency – both of which can help a small business withstand difficult economic conditions with greater success.
Consumers are spoiled for choice. Their needs are constantly changing and companies can’t afford to become complacent. To keep up with market demands, 22% of small businesses plan to invest in product development. Barring a few timeless classics, most products need a regular review and tweak to stay relevant and popular.
Digitisation is transforming business functions across the board. Technologies, like cloud software can take care of laborious administrative work.
This liberates employees from time-consuming tasks, enabling them to focus on more strategic work like customer retention and acquisition.
Technology has the power to improve productivity and efficiency. Which is why 18% of small businesses are going to focus their investment plans on this area of their businesses.
The customer should always be the priority. It doesn’t matter how good a product is, if there are no customers, then there’s no business. As competition increases, the user experience becomes more and more important to win over customers.
Business growth depends on happy customers and to achieve that, 18% of small businesses plan to invest in delivering better service.
All five of the above business areas are worthy investment focuses. The question is, how does a small business work out what to invest where? The only way it can invest effectively is with a full view of its company finances. A small business needs to be able to see which functions have provided the best return on investment to date.
It also needs to consider how much investment capital it has to spend. What’s more, before it makes an investment in say, marketing or product development, it must know exactly how and where the money needs to go.
The right software can help a small business access the real-time insights it needs to make better, faster financial decisions. To combat increased competition and market uncertainty, South Africa’s small business owners need access to up-to-the minute information from any device no matter where they are. An informed investment has the greatest chance of success.
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