Does anyone have experience of setting up online ordering and payment for a small business?
I know there are many companies who will set up the service. They maintain the site, take payments, remove a percentage commission and pass payment to you - often some time in arrears.
Is this the best way, or can anyone recommend alternatives?
Provided I had a good connection and was allowed to use it for profit, and have at least some knowledge of servers, html and databases, I’d do it myself. That is, build the database and pages, and probably use PayPal for payment (unless I found a better way).
But I’m not saying this is for everyone, and it will take some time and effort to get it up and running, and keep it that way. If what you’re selling is the important thing (say if you’re making something and that is your interest, not keeping a site going etc), then handing it over to someone else is probably the better way. Just make sure you keep some sort of control over things so you don’t loose control over the business if the company helping you with it goes tits up.
PeeGee, it really depends on the scale and nature of your operation.
If I were a small trader, I’d look at e-bay, and collect payments through PayPal and cheque.
Even if e-bay are not for you, I’d trawl through their FAQ’s, Forums and How-To’s, because there are people there who have set up small businesses trading on line. They’ll high-light the pit-falls
As a larger organisation we use a specialist shopping host (http://www.venda.com/)
THIS IS NOT A RECOMENDATION - simply the people we use, there are others.
I would seriously avoid taking credit card details yourself, use an agent (PayPal, the Credit Card company, a shopping host).