So how do you go about opening an ecommerce store? First and foremost, it is obvious that you need a service or product to offer for sale. If you are already running a physical store, you could put the same products up for sale on a site. The kind of hosting package you require will be determined by the quantity of products you are selling. For instance, if you have not more than 30 items, you will require a small hosting account to set up the site. However, if you are listing hundreds of products, you will require more bandwidth, more disk space, as well as features such as secure connections for payments and databases.
Getting paid is a very vital element of ecommerce. There following are the different payment options available, as well as the kind of hosting required for each.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)
If you are intending to use a merchant account which will facilitate the processing of credit cards, then you will need to have a secure connection for your site. Such a connection would be able to encrypt sensitive data to protect it from being intercepted in cyberspace. Without a secure connection, it will not be easy to collect credit card numbers. Prospective customers will be reluctant to submit their sensitive financial details on a website which is unsecured.
Getting a secure internet connection is easy. All you need to do is to make an application for an SSL certificate. You will be required to provide verifiable details about your location as well as identity. When you get your certificate, you should then have it installed in your site. However, before installation, make sure you have your own unique IP address. This is usually available from web hosts at an extra cost. You might also be required to pay a small fee to have the certificate installed.
Third party gateways
If the idea of SSL certificates is too complex for you, there is the option of getting a third party service to manage all the financial transactions on your behalf. When making payments, customers are requires to submit their credit card details on the sites of the payment service. Some of these services charge a fee for setting up, as well as commissions for every sale. With other services such as PayPal, you can open an account free of charge. You will only be charged a commission for every sale.
Shopping carts are vital for automating the ecommerce process and thus offering a more enjoyable shopping experience. They allow you to categorize your items, allow customers to rate items bought, as well as keep track of customers. Many web hosting providers offer free shopping cart scripts like Zen, Miva, osCommerce and Agora.
When selecting an ecommerce hosting package, find out if it is capable of supporting your method of payment.
Guest article written by: Charles Mburugu often writes about e-Commerce and social media. He is presently contributing to Web Hosting Secret Revealed, an amazing blog that features Jerry’s Hostgator Review.