ARTICLE:  HOW TO LOWER
WEBSITE START-UP COSTS
               The Internet is an exciting tool for unique niche companies and a challenge for new businesses or companies not yet accepting credit cards. I hope this article helps to make your website more profitable and cost effective by lowering and controlling start-up costs.
 
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                Aloha! I'm David W. Fukumoto, Fuku-Bonsai founder and president. We are the pioneering innovator of True Indoor Bonsai(tm) since 1962 and are committed to integrity, high-value products, and word-of-mouth referrals with mostly repeat business. We're Hawaii's first certified nursery and have shipped to all parts of the United States. Over 50 of our articles have been published in national and international bonsai magazines.
 
                Since 1973, Fuku-Bonsai mail-order customers and widely scattered retailers sent payments with orders and this eliminated a lot of unnecessary bookkeeping. When the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center & Hawaii State Bonsai Repository opened and visitors didn't have checks or enough cash with them, we simply tagged the plants and shipped them after customers got back home and sent us a check.
 
                Getting our website up was a challenge! While there were many experts who wanted to work for us, no one was willing to build, promote the website, and handle order processing with compensation by equity ownership and a sales commission. We learned there were really two routes: 1) Invest a lot of money to hire people and accept questionable results. Or, 2) Do it yourself with modest investment of funds with continuing additional website investment paid from website business proceeds.
 
                So we built our website ourselves and delayed accepting credit cards because we didn't have the resources and expertise to provide security for our customers. Frankly, we didn't think we needed it.
 
                We began our website in October of 1999 and later learned that PayPal went online in the same month. In the July 16, 2001 issue of Newsweek there was an article by Brad Stone: "BUSTING the BANDITS; Online fraud was threatening to drive an Internet start-up out of business. Then PayPal decided to stay and fight back." Now that's the kind of company that we want to handle our online business transactions. We know bonsai and they know online payment service!
 
                PayPal was the world's first instant and secure online payment service that allows businesses and individuals to send and receive payments through the Internet. It provides a safer, faster, easier, and cheaper way to move money in today's digital economy. You can use PayPal to send money to (or receive money from) anyone with an e-mail address. It's free for buyers or for those accepting a modest level of payments and popular with eBay participants. The fees for Premier and Business Accounts are much lower than the total costs of standard merchant accounts as there are no equipment or monthly charges.
 
HOW TO START & HOW IT WORKS
 
                Buyers can go to the PayPal website and create an account by providing personal data and verifying your e-mail address. To send money, enter the e-mail address, other information, and the amount to be sent. The cash goes into the payee's PayPal account at the speed of e-mail and billed to your PayPal account that is electronically tied to a credit card, debit card or checking account. For sellers, it's very easy, too, and we've worked out the following procedures.
 
FUKU-BONSAI PAYPAL PROCEDURES
 
           1. SEND US AN ORDER. Select items to be purchased and send us an e-mail with all information that is on our regular order form. Compute the total including shipping and e-mail the order to sales@fukubonsai.com. We like this method rather than setting up a shopping cart system as it assures personal contact as the first step toward trust, credibility and repeat business.
 
            2. OUR RESPONSE. We will confirm that the ordered items are available, that the computed amount is correct, and shipping schedule information as part of a PayPal invoice. The exchange of e-mails builds confidence and allows asking questions or requesting special handling that is not possible with impersonal pure online transactions.
 
            3. PAYPAL'S ROLE. PayPal will forward the invoice to you and you would then authorize PayPal to make payment to Fuku-Bonsai's account from your credit card (or bank account). PayPal will send notification of the completed transaction to both you and Fuku-Bonsai. Customers are protected because PayPal will investigate PayPal sellers who don't ship as promised and the system discourages unnecessary chargebacks.
 
            4. VERIFICATION. To guard against fraud, PayPal Premier and Business accounts can be "verified." The PayPal verification test deposits a few cents into a user's bank account and verification is completed when the exact amounts deposited are correctly reported back.
 
            5. INCENTIVES. PayPal credits $5 for signing up (with $100 in your account) and another $5 to us for each new person referred by Fuku-Bonsai. PayPal's viral marketing is cheaper than advertising and it's nice to get a bonus when you are comfortable making a referral. If you maintain a minimum amount in your PayPal account, you'll earn interest. You can pay your bills out of your PayPal account to anyone who has an email address or use their debit card and get cash back rebates. There's no charge when you electronically transfer funds from your PayPal account to your bank business checking account.
 
                High quality bonsai grower-sellers must establish significant credibility and there may be several small purchases, educational assistance, and exchanges of e-mails (including photos) before a customer will consider the purchase of more expensive bonsai. PayPal's online payments are also ideal for those facing a gift-giving deadline. If an order clears before the end of the week, it's shipped on Monday via Federal Express and delivered by Wednesday or Thursday.
 
                PayPal claims over ten million registered users (as of September 6, 2001). Less than half of our customersknow of PayPal and so we created a PayPal information page link http://www.fukubonsai.com/3a6.html. If you follow each step exactly, PayPal works flawlessly. After a few transactions, you'll be very comfortable and an enthusiastic user, too!
 
                So, after 28 years in business, Fuku-Bonsai began accepting credit card or bank transfer payments through PayPal! Please visit our site to see how we've incorporated PayPal. If this fits your business and you visit PayPal, don't forget to go through our link so that they'll know Fuku-Bonsai sent you!

 

About the Author:
                David W. Fukumoto has been fascinated with bonsaisince 1962. At 59 years old and without any computer training he learned FrontPage with the goal of "building the most comprehensive bonsai website." See how he's done by visiting http://www.fukubonsai.com
 
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                You have permission to publish this article electronically, in print, in your ebook or on your web site, free of charge, as long as you notify Fuku-Bonsai, provide a copy and as long as the author bylines are included.
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