Business Friendly Online Services That Support Start-up Sales

On March 1, 2017, I shared on the how new technologies enable new innovative business models which help people to achieve their dreams, in the article, New Technologies Open Opportunity.

In this article, I am sharing the various online tools or platforms used to stage the whole Order-To-Cash process.

Payhip (https://payhip.com/dashboard)
This is a free hosting site for various forms of digital contents (ebook, music, video ..etc) up to a size of 5GB. The site charges 5% for each transaction which I think fair enough if you made a transaction then pay. I like this site as it is easy to use for Direct-To-Consumer model as the site with integrated payment services,  Paypal and Stripe, for credit card transactions. The site supports DRM (Digital Right Management) and ensures  customer get the digital products. It has marketing assisted features such as coupon, facebook like discount and coding for widget for your website. It is very simple to sign-up, it took me only within 30 minutes from sign-up till upload my ebook and link to my paypal and stripe account and my eStore for my ebook is ready for business. The payment is also very clean-cut, once your customer make the purchase the money immediately goes directly into your paypal or stripe account. I also like the analytic feature which help me understand my audiences. The only thing is that you need to market and promote the link to  your estore. As unlike iTunes or Amazon or Play Store, it doesn’t have a big ready customer base.

iTunes Connect (https://itunesconnect.apple.com/)
eBook can be directly sell in apple iBook store through iTunes Connect . However, you need an apple machine to operate iProducer in order to get your ebook loaded into iTune Connect. iTune stores distributed in 51 countries globally and having your ebook available in iTunes store mean available to a big ready customer base. iTunes Connect link the finance to your Apple Pay, thus the sales proceed pay directly to your Apple Pay setup. iTunes Connect is another Direct-To-Consumer model.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (https://kdp.amazon.com/)
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing allows you to sell your ebook and physical books using Print-On-Demand with delivery services. The terms and conditions of publishing is agreed between publisher and Amazon, while the  term and conditions  of sales is between consumer and Amazon. The sales proceed goes to Amazon while Amazon will pay publisher a royalty fee of between 35% to 75% from the sales. Thus based on these two processes I classified Amazon as indirect distribution model. Amazon is already an established platform especially with Kindle as one of the top reader with a big ready customer base. Thus having your ebook on Amazon increase your channel of sales and exposure to market with at least 11 countries supported by Amazon globally. What I like about KDP is that they support sales of your ebook physically through print-on-demand. KDP also comes with reporting features to let you understand your sales and customers. It comes with marketing features such as discount coupon too. The only thing I find KDP is troublesome is payment of royalty fee through cheque mails to you which I find ironically from a Tech firm. Wire Transfer only available to the 11 countries. Also currently it is supporting the paperback Print-On-Demand for selected languages only.

Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/)
Smashwords is an indirect distributor and publisher support ebook store site. By itself it already have a ready customer base due to it is operating an  eStore . It also help to distribute your ebook to all majors ebook reader or store, ibook, Amazon, Nook …. etc. Thus your ebook basically expose to the digital market globally. As the site founder is an ebook writer and publisher himself, he understands the challenges faced by an ebook writer or publisher, thus he have books and advices posted to help fellow writers and publishers.  I consider smashwords as publisher as it is approved publisher for iTunes Connect and for many platforms. While the process of payment, consumer pay to say Nook (tier 2), while Nook pay to Smashwords (Tier 1) and finally Smashwords pay to writer through Paypal, I consider Smashwords as indirect distributor.

With the channel and eStore already setup, there are other services required to support the sales ;
PayPal (https://www.paypal.com/sg/webapps/mpp/merchant)
Paypal is used in at least in two of the platforms above and a trust channel for your customer to pay you directly. It charges a fee of 3.9% plus S$0.50 per transaction, however, this can be reduced with increased volume which I like. It also provides paid services such as invoicing, reminders …etc

Stripe (https://connect.stripe.com/)
This service allows eStore to accept credit card payment from customers who do not have a PayPal account. It charges a fee per transaction. This tool also provide a free simple CRM feature that help you understand your customers. It also provide anti-fraud features too.

Wave (https://www.waveapps.com/)
I use this free online service to manage the simple accounting for my sales of ebooks. I had setup a bank account specific for this purpose and connect this directly to this Wave account. My wave account also connected to my stripe account thus the transactions are mostly auto input into my balance sheet.

With all the backend support services ‘outsource’ to these online tools, I need to promote or market my products and I used these for such purposes;

WordPress (https://wordpress.com)
I use WordPress to create an offical webpage or homepage for my publication. It is simple to setup and many themes to suit the designs I wanted. WordPress provides analytic for me to understand who are interested in my publications.

Facebook
I created an official Facebook Page for my publication to reach out to audiences beyond my contact list. Facebook also provides paid marketing services to boost views or visit to your eStore.

Twitter
I use twitter to boost the reach of my publication.

Google+
I also use Google+ Collection feature to increase the reach to other groups of audiences.

Thus  it is demonstrated from above that you can setup a business without any cost but your time and efforts only. You can pay for the services upon sales which can provide business friendly environment for start-up. In fact, these site provide me metrics of their expertise free, all I need to understand what these metrics meant to my sales and take the right action.

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