Commerce for Dummies

Raymond McNealy illustrates the first steps a remodeler should take when setting up a website.

June 30, 1999

The technology and security are the least daunting hurdles to overcome when setting up online sales, according to Raymond McNealy. Most customers are fine with credit card transactions over the Web, and most web design companies can add any nuance you can think of. Instead, concentrate your efforts on making your online store as beneficial to your customers as you can.

The first step, says McNealy, is making sure you’re familiar with all the legal nuances of selling state-to-state. "Check with your local state and municipalities and your accountant about tax information. Find out the nuances from them, and have an attorney to guide you through," he says. Familiarity with the tax laws could allow an online store to sell many of their products without sales tax-enabling products to be sold at a lower price than local vendors or retail stores.

A site should also be prepared to take orders from customers in several ways. McNealy’s order form allows customers to submit orders through an online form, but McNealy’s process also allows the security-conscious to call in or even mail in an order.

A budding e-salesperson should also keep in mind that price, as well as convenience, is what entices a customer to purchase online. McNealy has set up arrangements with his vendors that allow him to sell small bath fixtures at low prices, but this system breaks down for larger items, such as whirlpool tubs, that would require heavy shipping costs. "We decided to do faucets because they’re UPS-able," says McNealy. "You have to keep the freight to a minimum to be competitive."

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