By Ivan Croxford

Many businesses are put off developing an e-commerce arm because of concerns over technical complexity or the risk of online fraud. However, these can be overcome.

Trading on the internet is becoming easier— the hard part is becoming and staying visible in front of customers. Business social networking sites are invaluable tools for achieving this. They are free and easy to join and give SMEs a great chance to showcase their goods before millions.

The sites enable companies to buy and sell online, tap into expertise from similar firms and build their own profiles. The best sites include simple tools to sell online (catalogue and checkout) and have a customer feedback section to build relationships and help other consumers form a rounded view of what is on offer. It is not all about price, but enabling customers to be confident about their purchase.

Transactions should be risk-free and this is achieved by establishing a secure merchant account using a trustworthy payment mechanism like PayPal. Finally, online catalogues should also be regularly updated in line with changing stock levels.

The benefits of e-commerce vastly outweigh any potential pitfalls and to miss out is to sacrifice a huge opportunity to succeed in a rapidly-changing marketplace.

Ivan Croxford is managing director of the business social networking site, www.bttradespace.com