Monday, September 20, 2010

eCommerce 101

There's the idea in  most business owners that setting up an eCommerce website is a difficult thing.

It really isn't.

Sure, if you're a large company that needs to integrate a site with back-end fulfillment systems and has a complex and ever-changing product offering, then you're going to need a scalable, flexible online trading service.
But if you're a small to medium sized business and you want to turn your website into a platform for sales.... then you don't need a kingsize budget to get started.  Most of the time it is possible to use one of two methods to get your ecommerce idea off the ground:

1. Hosted
These days, most hosting companies offer a transactional 'online shop' creation service. They range from the very basic templated service for simple products, through to flexible set ups that allow you to build & configure: your own design, complex product catalogues,  multiple currency & delivery options, downloadable products, eBay integration, discounts/coupons, rating systems and much more.

2. Software
By installing an application into your own hosting environment, you can have all the features of the above hosted service plus the possibility of  integration with other business systems (e.g. Finance / Accounts, customer / order management and mail / telephone ordering).

However if you want the very simple ability to transact online, without moving to another platform or installing software, then you want to consider adding PayPal to your existing site. You simply sign up for a basic business account, drop a button onto your website and either have an instant payment (even taking credit cards) or have a shopping cart  if you have more than one product or service.

eCommerce doesn't have to be difficult
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