| Ecommerce consists of the buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems, usually the Internet. Methods include:
Since the acceptance of the Internet Ecommerce has grown dramatically. Source:Wikipedia
The first form of ecommerce came in 1886, after telegraph operator Richard Sears was able to sell watches through the telegraph to fellow operators and railroad employees. After a short while of selling he was able to save up enough money to start his own store, later calling his company Sears, Roebuck. Source:Answers.com
Shopping Cart Software
Choosing a shopping cart system should be based on your particular needs. It is good to visit a top tier shopping cart system website and write down all the features they offer. Then go through and make a list of the things you will need. Sort the list with the most important at the top. Use this as a guide to pick the solution that best fits your need. One of the first decisions you need to make is to use a hosted system or one you host yourself.
All prices are for base package in dollars ($).
Advantages - No need to upgrade software.
Disadvantages - No customization. Locked in features. Limited # of products.
Self Hosted Solutions
Advantages - Customize as you see fit. No limit to # of products. Limit is usually only to hosting plan.
Disadvantages - Need to stay up to date with software and security updates.
Ecommerce / Shopping Cart Setup
There are two basic functions any ecommerce / shopping cart system needs; somewhere to show products and a way to complete the payment transaction.
- Paypal - After signing up you can use the Buy Now button generator to build purchase buttons to put in your blog.
- Blogger - A free blog system will allow you to write about your product and also include the paypal purchase button in the post. Another option besides Blogger is Wordpress.com.
Advantages Ease of setup and you will not have to update the software allowing you to focus on your main goal; selling your product or service. Also this happens to be completely free solution.
Disadvantages Very limited on customization. Since you do not have access to code you will not be able to modify and add different tools. Also you are limited on tools. A more advanced shopping cart system will have coupons, affiliate system, cross selling, newsletters etc. All of these can be accomplished with extra work but if you feel like you will really needs alot of this it is better to purchase a shopping cart system.
Tips If you do not know if your product will sell then this is a great way to start off. If you find you need more sophisticated software then usually you will be making enough to afford a better system.
Now we take it up one notch. Here we are going to purchase a domain name so we can start establishing branding.
- Domain Name Purchase - Purchasing a domain name is kinda like deciding what your company name will be. It does not have to be exaclty your company name but something close that is
- easy to remember
- shorter the better
- is easy to say verbally (remember word of mouth is very important)
- .com (everyone assumes when they hear an address that it is a .com)
- Payment Processor
- Shopping Cart System
This category is for experienced programmers with knowledge of back end payment processors and overall ecommerce / shopping cart experience. Everything is going to be written from the ground up. You will also probably host your system on a VPS or dedicated server.
Advantages The sky is the limit. Allows for total customization.
Disadvantages Will have to stay on top of security, server configuration, software updates, essentially you will need to take care of every facet of the system.
Tips If you are not an experienced programmer you will need to hire one. Since you are building your system custom really spend time understanding what your customers want. Are they tech savvy? Will a one page or 3 page checkout work best? Which will work best, a large email campaign or a blog with RSS feed?