As part of launching an online shop, It's important for me to show that I am a legitimate supplier that deserves your business, so I need to include on my website, the information that I look for when I'm shopping at a new site online.
While finding any or all of the following doesn't guarantee that a site is trustworthy -- because there is no verification -- they do show if a site owner _cares about being traceable._
*Company Number: *if a registered company in the UK. Sole traders will not have this, but are required to state the name of the trader.
*VAT Number: *if registered for VAT. Small and fledgeling companies usually don't register until they reach a certain yearly revenue.
*Registered Address: *required for all traders in the UK.
*Contect Details: *an email address is better than a web form, but a phone number is best. At least a phone call should be a contact with an immediate response.
Because I'm a sole-trader, and my turnover doesn't reach the VAT threshold, I can't show the first two, though I understand why a business may opt for VAT registration early; to show they are a traceable entity. I can make sure that my shop-front shows the registered address that recorded with HMRC, show the statement of my trading name, contact email and new phone number. And, at the request of a reader, I've made this new contact information easier to find, with a link to the contact page at the bottom of every page.
The bit that was cuasing the biggest headache was the phone number. While I don't need to have one to be a shop, it is rather handy. A mobile phone doesn't really have much of a permanent feel about it for a business, and a land-line number comes with a noticeable cost and keeps you fixed to a single physical location.
The answer was actually remarkably simple, a VOIP line with a normal telephone number. This was really not as complex now as it could have been: I was up and running, making and receiving calls in a few minutes after setting up with my provider. And the best bits are that:
I didn't need any new hardware. Both my computer, and my android phone can run SIP clients to make and receive calls.
The voicemail service is amazing. Should I miss a call (which might happen, it is just me after all) my VOIP provider forwards the message as an email attachment, so I don't have to go anywhere to collect voicemail; my voicemail comes to me.
VAT - Value Added Tax. A sales tax on most non-essential purchases in the UK. Currently 20% for most items. HMRC - Her Majesties Revenue and Customs: The tax man.