Last week, we talked about what e-commerce is and how online businesses work. If you are convinced that an e-commerce platform is what you need to get your online business going, here are some more essential facts that you need to learn. There are several basic steps involved in becoming e-commerce enabled, including:
Applying for an Internet Merchant Bank Account
In order to be able to accept credit cards over the Internet, you must apply to your bank for an Internet Merchant Bank Account. This is a fairly simple procedure, but it usually takes about a month. Many banks offer Internet Merchant Accounts, and most online transaction providers support them.
Getting reliable web hosting
Web hosting is a very important step in this process, as this is how you gain (and maintain) a presence on the Internet in the first place. It is equally important to make sure that the web hosting company is capable of providing you with the level of service that you need to maintain your online store. A reliable web hosting company provides:
- Good uptime
- Good technical support
- Fast connection to the Internet
- Staff that is knowledgeable about e-commerce
- Compatibility with major e-commerce providers
It is always good to spend some time when selecting a web hosting company since there are many ‘fly-by-night’ businesses out there.
Obtaining a digital certificate
A digital certificate, also known as a SSL Server Certificate, enables SSL on the web server. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer encryption) protects communications, so you can take credit card orders securely and ensure that hackers cannot eavesdrop on you. For a minimal fee, one can usually use the digital certificate owned by the web hosting company where your page resides.
Finding an online transactions provide
Selecting an online provider depends on your requirements such as the number of transactions you expect to be completing in a month, how many products you want to put on your website and how complex the transactions will be. 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, or else you might not be able to fulfill the demand, making you lose your credibility.
Creating or purchasing a shopping cart software
Adding shopping cart functionality to your website enables your customers to add multiple products to a virtual cart and then pay you at a virtual checkout. You have the option to either purchase shopping cart software that can be added to your website or use a third party service.
If you choose a third-party company to generate the cart and checkout pages, this means that customers will temporarily leave your site and go to the third party site to view their shopping cart and to checkout. The up-front cost will be less than that of buying shopping cart software, but you will usually have to pay a flat fee (possibly a monthly or annual fee, too), as well as a per-transaction fee.
Are you ready to build your e-commerce website and start generating sales online?