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Tutorial on eCommerce

The following article explains the steps involved in setting up ecommerce and requirements for your online web store to properly integrate with ManageMore's eConnect Cart™.

ON THIS PAGE

Introduction
Getting a Merchant Bank Account
Web Hosting
Web Design Consideration
Registering a Domain Name
Obtaining a Digital Certificate
Conclusion
 

 

Introduction

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.

 

Getting a Merchant Bank Account

In 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 within ManageMore.

 

Web Hosting

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:

  1. Choose an ISP that is known for good technical support and has knowledgeable people familiar with ecommerce sites.
  2. Choose an ISP that consistently has fast connection speeds and few interruptions.
  3. 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. 

 

Registering 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 www.domainbank.net or www.netsol.com.

 

Obtaining a Digital Certificate

A 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.

 

Conclusion

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 tips:
    • Submit your site to as many search engines as possible
    • Try finding web sites with similar themes and make deals to create reciprocal links
    • 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.






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