How do I setup an ecommerce website?
For online storefront, you need something better than a cheap web hosting or budget web hosting. You'll need a plan that offers 24x7 support, and dedicated IP address for SSL installation. The plan should also provide you with high-quality, shopping cart enabled, and secured server environment for conducting secure business tractions online.
Ecommerce web hosting substantially improves your ability to reach customers with online catalogues, personalized profile, and decreased overall cost of doing business. It is an ultimate vehicle for reaching a broader group of customers, and increase your revenue without spending huge amount of investment. Ecommerce web hosting not only reach distant customers, but also improve communications with customers and increased exposure of your products and services. Even if occasional customer dispute occurs, as an ecommerce host you'll be able to access records of transactions and payments, avoiding the problem of misplaced paper records.
To establish an ecommerce website, you'll need to do some research and setup following accounts and services.
- The first thing you'll need is to setup a website. If you're comfortable building your own website, you'll need to pick a shopping cart for your website. There are a number of freely and commercially available shopping carts that you can choose from. Picking the right operating platform (Linux vs. Widnows) is another choice you'll have to make. If you're not comfortable building your own website, any ecommerce web design company can help you design one with search engine optimization.
- Once you've built a website, you'll need to create a merchant account. Merchant account allows you to accept credit cards. Be sure to apply for one that includes MOTO (Mail Order Telephone Order), which will allow Internet transactions. A retail merchant account cannot be used for Internet transactions, unless you add MOTO service.
- You'll also need to apply for a payment gateway service which will perform online credit card processing for your online store. Before getting your payment gateway service, you'll need to make sure that the gateway is supported by the shopping cart you're using. Most common payment gateway services include Authorize.net and Verisign Payflow. Many merchant providers provide packaged bundle that includes merchant account and payment gateway service.
- Once you are ready to accept credit cards online, you'll need to secure your website by installing SSL certificate. SSL is a protocol developed by Netscape for transmitting private documents via the Internet, which uses a cryptographic system to encrypt data. Without SSL, your merchant provider will not grant you permission to use your merchant account online, and your users will turn away from purchasing products from your website. With ecommerce web hosting plan, you'll need a dedicated IP address which allows you to install your own certificate on a shared server. To purchase SSL certificate, you'll need to generate a CSR (Certificate Signing Request) from the web server with Linux openssl (via ssh) or control panel.
- The next step is adding your products, and setting up shipping methods. Your shopping cart will provide you with administrative control panel that you can use to easily add additional products and services, as well as setting up UPS, FedEX, USPS and other shipping methods.
Starting an online business is no different than starting a bricks-and-mortar business. Before you begin setting up your business, you'll need to put together a solid business plan that includes all the bells and whistles of your business objects including competitor analysis and marketing plans. No one will visit your site if your online store is not advertised or promoted on media. To get it exposed to search engines, it's a good idea to build your website search engine friendly from the ground up, and also place pay-per-click marketing campaign during initial debut and until your site is ranked well on some of the major search engines. To learn more about search engine optimization, please visit SEO page of our website.
This article is written by Scott Seong, President and CEO of Edula, Inc. If you have questions or comments about this article, please forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org.