Welcome to the ecommerce tutorial. Would you like to be able
to accept secure, real time credit card transactions on your web site? Well,
here's how! This tutorial will show you how to get started in the complex
and exciting world of Electronic Commerce.
This is how ecommerce works.
The consumer first moves through the internet to the merchant's
web site. At the web site, the consumer is briefly given an introduction to the product
or services the merchant offers. It is at this point that the consumer
makes the decision to visit the web store by clicking on a link or button
located on the web page (e.g., Buy Now, Shop Online, or an image of a shopping
cart button are common entry points into a web store). After choosing
to visit the web store, the consumer is typically connected to an online transaction
server located somewhere else on the internet which runs software commonly
referred to as a shopping cart application. The shopping cart application
has been setup by the merchant to display all products and services offered,
as well as calculate pricing, taxes, shipping charges, etc.
From there, the consumer decides that he wants to purchase
something, so he enters all pertinent information, provides a credit card
number, and is immediately notified if the order was successful.
Now, there are several basic steps you will need to accomplish
before becoming Commerce Enabled.
Getting a Merchant Bank Account
Obtaining a Web Hosting Account
Web Design Considerations
Registering a Domain Name
Obtaining a Digital Certificate
Let us review each step in more detail below.
a Merchant Bank Account
order to be able to accept credit cards, you must apply for an account
with a credit card merchant account provider. This can be relatively easy
or somewhat difficult, depending on which country you live in, and the
type of business you are running. In the past, many businesses would
sign up for credit card processing through their own commercial banking
institutions. However, the card processor you get signed up
with must be able to support internet-based transactions in order for
ecommerce to work.
Many card processors treat ecommerce as separate types of
transactions and may require you to open a separate account to segregate
card present and non-card present transactions.
If you plan on using ManageMore's eConnect Cart, you may
want to contact Intellisoft to ensure that the Merchant Account you plan
on using will work seamlessly with the shopping cart software as well as
Web hosting is a very important step in this process, as this is how you gain
a presence on the internet in the first place. There are actually two
scenarios that can be used for web hosting. Scenario 1 involves setting
up and maintaining your own web server, while Scenario 2 involves
outsourcing all web hosting administration to an ISP. (Scenario 1 will not be
discussed further in this article as it pertains to organizations that
typically have their own IT staff and/or are knowledgeable at running their own web server, dealing with security, etc.)
An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a company that provides you with
internet access and limited hard drive space on their web servers for hosting
your web site. You will need to setup an account for internet access with
the ISP of your choice.
The following should be noted when searching for an Internet Service Provider:
- Choose an ISP that is known for good technical support and has knowledgeable
people familiar with ecommerce sites.
- Choose an ISP that consistently has fast connection speeds and few
- As with any company you do business with, make sure the ISP is reputable.
Web Design Considerations
With little knowledge of HTML and a lot of patience, you can
probably create your own corporate web site with the help of products like
Microsoft FrontPage™ or DreamWeaver™. However, when adding a web store
to your web site, you may want to seek the help of professional web designers
to make the look and feel of your web store consistent with the rest of your
corporate web site. In the case of ManageMore's eConnect Cart™ , the
scripts are all open source and can be easily modified to look and feel
exactly as you wish.
a Domain Name
If your business already has a corporate web site implemented,
then you probably already have a domain name and don't need to read this section.
Domain names are the names for computers on the Internet that
correspond to IP (Internet protocol) numbers to route information to addresses
on the Internet network. Domain names serve as a convenient way of locating
information and people on the Internet. In layman terms, will it be
important to you, for customers to find your web site by typing "123.123.456.456"
or by typing something simple to remember like "www.mybiz.com?"
Registering a domain name is one of the most important decisions
you can make for your online identity. Your domain name says who you are to
your clients, your peers - the whole world.
The basics for registering a domain name are:
1. Contact a domain name registrar on the internet to register
for a domain name. There are many to choose from, just do a web search
on "domain name registrar" to get you started.
2. Select a unique domain name you would like others to use
for finding your web site. One place to go for checking availability
of a domain name is www.whois.net
3. Expect a registration fee of $5 - $25 annually for the
central registrar to keep your domain name active on the internet.
There are many other questions that arise when considering
a domain name for your business that go outside the scope of this tutorial.
For more FAQ's on domain names, check out
Obtaining a Digital
digital certificate, also known as a SSL Server Certificate, enables SSL (Secure
Socket Layer encryption) on the web server. SSL protects communications so
you can take credit card orders securely and ensure that hackers cannot eavesdrop
on you. Any ecommerce company that provides you with an online web store will
require you to have SSL before you can use their services. Thankfully, for
most people obtaining a digital certificate is not a problem. For a minimal
fee, one can usually use the certificate owned by the web hosting company
where your page resides. If you are a larger company, however,
you may want to get your own digital certificate. A certificate can cost
anywhere from $30 to
$125.00 annually. We recommend
www.godaddy.com as a reliable and very inexpensive solution for this.
eCommerce can be a very rewarding venture, but it should not be undertaken
lightly. There is a lot of information to absorb. Here are some additional
tips on creating a successful Online Store:
- If you know nothing about web design, it is probably a good idea to
hire a designer
- Marketing your site is very important on the web. Here are some useful
- Submit your site to as many search engines as possible
- Try finding web sites with similar themes and make deals to create
- Put your URL in the signature file of your email and the header of
all business correspondence
- Word of mouth is very powerful on the Net; tell all of your friends
about your page
- Investigate the web sites that are possible rivals and formulate a strategy
for competing against them
- If you anticipate a lot of growth in the amount of orders coming through
your site, figure out how you are going to cope with the increased load
before you get swamped (In other words, consider ManageMore eConnect
Cart for your back end office control of web orders)
Now that you know the basics, you should be able to make some informed
decisions about how to proceed. Remember that you can ask for further advice
from the ecommerce company that you decide to employ.