This article is part of the WWW 101 Series which provides an introduction to small business websites.
There are many different ways that you can sell products or accept payment for services online. This article provides an overview of the typical items you will need to create your own small business ecommerce website.
If you have a website, you may be able to add ecommerce functionality depending on your platform. If you don’t yet have a website, you can select a platform that allows you to create a website, ecommerce, and even a blog at the same time (I recommend WordPress).
The shopping cart provides a way for people to put products in a cart and then pay online.
A merchant account allows you to accept credit cards in person, by phone, and on your website. Some also allow you to accept checks online.
A payment gateway is the technology that allows your website’s shopping cart to talk to your merchant account to process the payment. Some merchant account providers have their own payment gateway; others don’t, so it is necessary to get a separate payment gateway.
A SSL certificate encrypts customer data to protect it against cyber theft. Depending on the payment gateway you use, you may need a SSL certificate.
When you set up the products on your website, you will typically need to enter the following information: sku, product name, description, price, and at least one photo.
Do some research to determine if your products and services are taxable. If so, find out the tax rate for your area.
If you sell shippable products, select a shipping provider like US Post Office, Fed Ex, UPS, etc. Then determine how you will charge for shipping, e.g., flat rate, by weight, etc.
Your website can automatically send an order confirmation email to customers. You should be able to customize the content of this email.
Plan to have at least one page for customers to find information related to the order process, get help, and contact you. You could call the page ‘Help’ or ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ or ‘Contact.’
Are you a small business owner who knows the value of launching a website, but don't know where to start? Or, maybe you haven’t had a chance to spend much time learning about the web. Or, maybe you are not very comfortable with technology. I created the WWW 101 Series for you! The articles provide a high-level introduction to websites, blogs, search engine optimization, and website analytics in easy-to-follow, every day language.