E-Commerce Basics

E-commerce, short for "electronic commerce", is the selling of products or services over the internet. E-commerce has become a popular way to sell products/services in recent years. With this rise, it has become easier than ever to set up your own e-commerce site. There are platforms and plugins devoted solely to the purpose of helping you easily establish an online shop and getting your products in front of the virtual audience.

Shopping Cart Software

One basic component of an online shop is the shopping cart. You're most likely familiar with it already: you browse the shop, find an item you like, and add to your virtual shopping cart. When you're finished, you return to your shopping cart to check out.

While this is simple on the user end, it's more difficult on the backend. But don't worry - there are a lot of software options out there that you can use on your site.

Some popular platforms, like Weebly or WordPress, offer integrated shopping cart software to their users. Weebly's e-commerce solution is built into the site builder, while WordPress offers e-commerce through plugins that can be added to the site.

You can also use an e-commerce site software, like ShopSite, to build your entire site, including a shopping cart feature.

Payment Gateways

Payment gateways are another vital piece to a functioning e-commerce site. They are responsible for processing the payment method when a customer checks out. Most online transactions use credit cards, so it's a good idea to have a payment gateway that allows customers to check out in real-time. Once the customer makes the payment, the funds will be deposited into your merchant account.

There are many payment gateway software options out there, like PayPal and Stripe. To implement a payment gateway, see the documentation for the software you have chosen.

Not technically savvy? Not a problem. Both Weebly and WordPress have payment gateways that can easily be incorporated into your site. No coding required.

You can also check out ShopSite, an e-commerce site builder. They offer payment gateway integrations with many of the popular payment gateway software.

SSL

Most e-commerce sites use credit cards as the preferred method of payment. This is convenient for shoppers and for you, but it can introduce problems if a hacker tries to spy on your site. You'll need an SSL certificate to keep those transactions encrypted and safe from prying eyes.

Sites protected by SSL indicate a green lock in the address bar, so customers will see that your site is safe to use. However, sites without SSL will display a "not secure" message in the address bar, and browsers may even warn visitors of security issues before they visit.

To stop this from happening, you need an SSL certificate installed. We offer a free SSL certificate option called a  Let's Encrypt certificate that can easily be added in your pair Networks account.

We also offer pairSSL certificates that come with relying party warranties, so that if a hacker ever does break in, you're insured up to a certain amount.

Storefront

The storefront is the part of your site that shows your products and services. Customers will browse through the storefront to find what they like, then add it to the shopping cart from there.

You can set up a storefront in a couple different ways. The first option is to use a storefront software, like ShopSite. This type of software will build out the entire site, along with shopping cart software and payment gateway integration.

It also offers:

  • Setup wizards to help guide you through setting up your storefront
  • Integration with most payment gateways
  • Track and update inventory
  • Send notification of low inventory
  • Customization
  • Generate traffic and sales reports

If you're interested in a shop building software like this, you may want to check out our ShopSite Hosting offerings.

Another option is to use a site builder, like Weebly or WordPress. Both offer e-commerce specific themes that come with a storefront built-in.

PCI Compliance

PCI DSS is the global data security standard adopted by the payment card brands for all entities that process, store, or transmit cardholder data. All merchants, regardless of size, that accept payment cards are required to comply with PCI Data Security Standards.

Making the Decision

Now that you're familiar with some of the terms used when thinking about e-commerce, how do you choose which products or services to use?

First, you'll need to evaluate your requirements for your e-commerce site.

Is it a simple project or a full-fledged business venture? How fast do you want to fill your orders? How will you ship your products to your customers? What resources do you have at your disposal financially and personally?

These are all questions you'll need to take into consideration when evaluating potential e-commerce packages.

It's also a good idea to ask others who are already involved in e-commerce. They will have already gone through the process of deciding which services and software to use and can tell you what works well and how easy it is to use. Researching and asking others (including our staff) will give you insight into things that you may not have even thought to consider.

Updated on August 3, 2018

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