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Six often overlooked complexities of selling online

Even if you're confident with technology, there are some complexities involved in getting set up in online retail that shouldn't be overlooked. From privacy policies to returns protocol, here are six things to bear in mind

Before setting up an e-commerce shop, it’s important to be aware of potential pitfalls. Here are six important considerations that, if addressed early, can save you from some major hassle down the road.


1. Privacy policies


For the sake of transparency, it's essential that your e-commerce website has a privacy policy disclosing how you gather and use customer data, such as email addresses, credit card numbers and browsing activity.
While templates are available around the web, the safest option is to hire a legal professional who can help draft the correct privacy policy for your business.


2. Returns and refunds


Returns can be stressful for online retailers. It’s all too easy for customers to request a refund simply because they changed their mind or found a cheaper alternative.
Under current Australian consumer lawbusinesses are not obliged to replace or refund a non-faulty item. For minor faults, merchants can also offer the customer free repairs rather than a refund or exchange. To avoid problems, always use a parcel tracking service and lots of padding for fragile items.


3. Terms and conditions


Creating terms and conditions should clarify the rules under which customers purchase goods or services from you. At the bare minimum, they should cover your delivery, return and refund policies. This way, customers won't be surprised by hidden costs or restrictions.
Like your privacy policy, terms and conditions can vary across different businesses, so it's worth getting legal help when writing them.


4. Managing stock


Your garage might be an adequate stand-in for a real warehouse at first, but until you're able to afford your own stock room, drop shipping is the next best thing. This is where all storage and shipping operations are carried out by a third-party provider. It can be a great way to get started in selling online without having to deal with excessive start-up costs or fulfilment hassles.


5. Going international


While selling goods overseas can be a powerful way to drive business growth, it also means you'll need to consider things like shipping costs, duties and taxes, and export and import laws.
You'll also need to be aware of cultural differences, which can affect everything from product preferences to how customers pay for items. Austrade provides free information and advice for businesses that want to sell internationally.


6. Multi-channel selling


Many e-commerce businesses also sell their goods via third-party channels, such as Facebook, Amazon and eBay. However, this requires maintaining the same product and pricing information across all platforms in real time.
Many popular e-commerce platforms, such as ShopifyMagento and BigCommerce, are able to automatically synchronise store information across different e-commerce websites. Keep in mind that this may require paying for extra features or modules.
Despite the hype, there's much more to online selling than just setting up an e-store and a shopping cart. Paying attention to these fine details can have a big impact on your future e-commerce success.