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The Five Steps of E-Commerce
You set up a retail business, you advertise in your local newspaper, you get customers coming into your store, and you receive payment at the cash register. Create an online store, and...how do you get customers? How do you receive payment?
The concept is the same, but the steps are different.
Step 1: Create your website
If you don't have web design skills, you can hire a qualified web designer to create a website for you, or you can use an online site builder. Think of it as hiring an architect and an interior decorator compared to setting up shop in an existing store.
Using a web designer
With the services of a web designer, you can have a unique website template and website customized to your specific needs. A web development team can also add features such as Flash headers or any programming needed for your site. If your company image is critical, a custom-designed site that conveys the right professional image is a must.
Using an online site builder
An online site builder is the budget way to go. With site builder programs such as Site Studio, your website can be online within minutes. A step-by-step menu allows you to choose a layout and colors, and then add a site description, a logo, and content. Your template may not be unique, but your content will.
Step 2: Set up an e-commerce store
Your customers will browse at your website, select some items, and then pay for them. When you set up an e-commerce shopping cart, you're providing a way for your customers to bring their purchases to the cash register. The program you choose will allow you to enter your products in the database and allow shoppers to choose products when they click on "Add to cart" or something similar.
Two well-known shopping carts, osCommerce and Miva Merchant, both allow you to do these tasks:
? Add, edit, and delete product categories and other information
osCommerce is an open source program. Store owners can set up their online stores using osCommerce with no costs involved. For small stores, it has all the features you need for an online store. Drawbacks of osCommerce are that customization is not easy, and online stores using osCommerce tend to look similar.
While Miva Merchant carries a price tag of $995, some web hosts offer Miva Merchant licenses with their hosting plans. If you choose Miva as your shopping cart, be sure to host your site with a host that provides Miva support. Its learning curve is steep, and it requires the support of people who know how to work with it.
With the price and the steep learning curve, you get more features, and you can customize the program more. Add-in modules can be bought that perform a number of tasks. In addition, a strong support community is available in the Miva user group forums.
Step 3: Get a merchant account and payment gateway
When customers arrive at the checkout counter, you need a way for their payments to be transferred from their credit card accounts to your bank account. The method you choose may depend on your sales volume.
For high-volume sales, an e-commerce merchant account plus a payment gateway will meet your needs. A merchant account provider authorizes the transfer of payments to your account, and a payment gateway transfers the information from your customers' financial institutions to yours.
Most merchant accounts have setup fees, transaction fees, monthly fees, and statement fees. The transaction fees are less than what you'd pay using a third party credit card processor such as PayPal. With all the fees, however, the overall cost is typically lower only if your monthly sales volume is over about a thousand dollars.
For medium and low volume sales, PayQuake and PayPal are viable options.
PayQuake offers three merchant account types to choose from. Although they all require payment gateways, the two smaller plans have no monthly minimums. You can upgrade to a higher or lower plan if your needs change.
PayPal has become a household name. Customers can send payment through PayPal via credit card or via money that they transfer into their PayPal account. While the fees per transaction are higher than with merchant accounts, there are no setup or monthly fees, and you don't need a payment gateway. You pay only when you have financial transactions.
Step 4: Create a secure payment environment
A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate enables you to receive credit card information securely from your customers. When a payment page is using SSL data to encrypt data, a small image of a lock appears at the bottom right of the screen.
Some web hosts offer SSL certificates as part of their hosting packages. If your web host package doesn't include SSL certificates, you can purchase one separately.
With PayPal, no SSL certificate is required.
Step 5: Generate traffic
Your products are on display in your newly designed store, your shopping cart is set up and ready to use, and you have everything in place to be able to receive payments securely. Now all you need are customers.
This is where marketing comes in.
? Submit your site to search engines.
For related information, see these pages:
? Do-It-Yourself Search Engine Optimization
Government Buying and Selling on the Internet
Global Insight, a leading economic and financial forecasting company, (formerly DRI-WEFA), states that all levels of government (federal, state, and local) should see steady increases in the purchases of goods and services through the year 2009.Vendors willing to make the commitment to sell to government can reap the benefits of this projected government spending.
Select a Niche Market for Ecommerce
Choosing a carefully pinpointed niche market should be one of the first steps that an internet business owner has to take. A very common way of describing a niche market is 'a targeted group of individuals with very specific and similar needs or interests.
Outsourcing Your Ecommerce Order Fulfillment
When your eCommerce business grows to the point where you can no longer package and ship the orders yourself, it's time to begin outsourcing your order fulfillment. Although all order fulfillment centers offer the same basic services, their individual methods and costs will help you choose one over the other.
Selling From Your Website
Greetings!Friends and relitives ask us all the time " How do sell from your website?" and no doubt you want to know as well. Over the next two issues we will be covering this very thing! We decided to divide it into two camps - tangibles and non-tangibles.
Web Users Crave Familiarity
The sad truth is, general Web users would love it if all our sites looked like Amazon.com.
How to Start a Business on the Internet
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How Measuring Key Performance Indicators Can Improve E-Commerce Strategy - Part Three
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Say Something Worth Talking About
I recently published a short e-book called 'One Thing I Know About Doing Business Online'. Seventeen people contributed - including Seth Godin, Jeffrey Zelman, Danny Sullivan, Jared Spool, Gerry McGovern and Ann Handley.
Online Shoppers Say They'll Buy from Small and Large E-Businesses Alike
As the holiday shopping season begins in earnest, consumers say they're just as willing to buy from small online retailers as they are from large, national e-commerce providers.In addition to this key finding, a new national survey of 2,500 consumers discovered extremely high levels of consumer participation in - and satisfaction with - shopping on the Internet, despite continuing concerns for security and privacy.
Why Ecommerce is Not Ready for My Daughter or Me
As the mother of a teenage clothing fanatic I'm often at my local mall. It occurred to me that the shopping experience for my daughter is attractive to her not because she wants to spend my money, but because the experience of buying itself is so rich to the senses.
Effective Management Of Your Customer Services
With a third party merchant account you will have a dedicated 24/7 support team to handle your credit card payment on your behalf as part of your package. You will also need to provide your own support for issues relating directly to your product.
7 Suggestions for an i-Mom Friendly Web Site (e-commerce news and statistics)
The Internet began as a male dominated medium, but those days are long gone and merchants are advised to make sure their websites are female friendly to faciliate the rising surge of busy i-Moms shopping online for their family and friends.Women now account for 51.
Dont Get Ripped Off Getting A Merchant Account
Far too many people get ripped off when setting up a merchant account for their online business. The biggest reason is that they don't understand their options and are intimidated by the whole process.
Guide To Safe Online Shopping
Online shopping can be a little frightening to people who are new to the internet,but as long as you follow a few easy rules you should have no problem shopping online.What are the rules ?First before buying from an online store find out what that online stores return policy is.
The Rise of Multinational Virtual Corporations
The virtual corporation is the emerging organisational form, which best combines, a fluid ability to adapt to rapidly changing markets and is able to leverage its skills with the complementary skills of other corporations. In the concept's purest form, each company that links up with others to create a virtual corporation will be stripped to its essence.
Ecommerce Solution for the Big and Small Business
First off, you need to know what an ecommerce solution is. An ecommerce solution can be defined in many ways.
How E-commerce Web Site Design Differs From Normal Web Design
When it comes to e-commerce everything is a little bit different, even the web site design for an e-commerce site as compared to a normal web design. If you are interested in developing an e-commerce site, then it is important to learn about the differences between the two types of website designs and how you can design the best e-commerce website with your resources.
How Measuring Key Performance Indicators Can Improve E-Commerce Strategy - Part One
The problem with most e-commerce marketing strategy today is that companies don't understand how they use things like web analytics. Most e-commerce directors or web marketers are given a budget and told to stick to it, and good analytics don't usually come cheap.
The ClickBank E-Commerce Solution
ClickBank.com can offer you multiple solutions for your e-commerce business.
Online Consumers - What Are They Complaining About?
For many businesses, e-commerce represents a tremendous method for generating revenues. To maximize the profit potential, you need to keep an eye on issues that drive your prospects nuts.
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