November 15, 1998
Electronic Commerce...this topic would be best covered in a book, not a newsletter.  I will however, attempt to scratch the surface and who knows.. we may just scratch the winning ticket here...
Statistics:
Oh you know how we love playing with the numbers...IDC projects 426 BILLION dollars in new sales through online purchases by year 2002!  Now that's a nice number!
Security of E-commerce
All companies of course are vying for their portion of this statistical measure...who can blame us?  If you're not currently selling your product or service online...keep the above statistic in mind. 
Clients ordering from your site will be reassured with a secure transaction that is easily processed.  When you design your site, keep a secure ordering process in mind. 
Secure Socket Layers or SSL will be a must when choosing a web hosting company.  This system encrypts all information begin transported from the form to the web server.  I can't help it, my fingers are typing out of control now... visit http://www.novahosting.com for secure and reliable web hosting at affordable rates.  Whew.. ok, back in control. <smile>.. I couldn't help myself.
Keep it Simple:
The form should be easy to fill out online (print, fill-out and mail forms from a website?  I guess some may... but not most.)  Make the form easy to fill out and send via e-mail online.
If you have just a few items or services a simple form that is sent to your e-mail will be fine.  Maybe a drop down menu they can click on showing the items available.
Selling more than a few items or services online may require a shopping cart.   This way items can be placed in a "cart" (or memory) and processed at check out to include tax, shipping and the total amount due with no math on the buyers part.  Some web hosting firms have shopping carts as an option that are very easily configured for the needs of a small business with less than a few dozen items.  Oh no.. my fingers are running away again.. yes, our e-commerce package includes a shopping cart that is very easily configured.. http://www.novahosting.com/store/commerce.cgi 
If your needs are more extensive I understand http://www.shopsite.com offers a very reasonable shopping cart for sites selling many items online.
Processing Services:
Once the information is submitted how is it processed?  The answer to this is a tough one as there are many ways it can be done.  Some companies such as CyberCash, DebitNet and others will do the complete processing for you....but not without a fee.. and usually a very high fee. 
Other options for the small business vary depending on if you have a merchant account to currently accept credit cards.  Sites you may wish to visit are listed below:
If you have a Merchant Account:
http://www.cardservice.com Card Service International
http://www.natlcard.com  National Card
http://www.creditcards.burst.net  BurstNET
http://www.bankcardsystems.com  BankCard Systems
Without a Merchant Account:
http://www.checksoftware.com/credit-cards 
http://www.ibill.com
http://www.ccnow.com
http://www.epochsystems.com
Checks and Phone Charges
What about the millions that do not have credit cards or cards that are maxed out?  Will they be any part of this e-commerce online transaction statistic?  Absolutely...through check drafts and phone debit transactions.
http://www.e-charge.com  Charge your clients phone
http://www.checksoftware.com Check Software you purchase allows you to accept checks online.  I use this program.  We have a form on the website which sends the order and bank information to us in an e-mail after being filled in by the client.  We open the software and it automagically imports the bank information... we click print and print these out on our inkjet printer...on special paper.. total cost 3 cents per check.  I work with three banks and have not had a problem depositing these printed checks with any of them.  

I hope this helps you.  If you have any specific questions I can answer for you drop me a line at  yoursuite@novaplaza.com