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The 3 Things You Need to Know to Sell Online

An easy guide to setting up your online store


What are the basic things you need to know in order to build an e-commerce site and start selling?

Keywords: e-commerce, shopping cart software, online store, credit card processing online, e-commerce security, hosted e-commerce

You’ve built a web site for your small business, and you’re actively marketing your business online. But, now you’re ready to go beyond online marketing to selling via the Web. What are the basic things you need to know in order to build an e-commerce site and start selling?

STEP 1: Get the software or service you need to run an online store.

Option A: Buy a software/service (Hosted e-commerce)
Do you have the technical staff needed to keep a custom e-commerce site up and running? If not, you may want to consider a hosted e-commerce solution like the Prostores Ecommerce Solution that we offer at Register.com. A hosted e-commerce solution manages all the technical details of an online store. So, the advantage of a hosted solution is that you can customize your online store, yet all of the technical details, billing solutions, etc. are taken care of by the hosted e-commerce provider that you select.

The majority of hosted e-commerce sites charge a flat monthly fee or a percentage of each transaction.

Option B: Build your own (Shopping Cart software)
If you decide not to go with a hosted solution and to build your own e-commerce site, you’ll need to choose shopping cart software to transact purchases on your site.

As with most software, there’s a wide variety of options and shopping cart vendors. In the end, you’ll need to compare several shopping cart software packages to determine what’s right for your site. Some of the leading shopping cart software vendors include: ProductCart, ClientReady, Zen Cart, or Shopsite Pro.

STEP 2: Establish a merchant account so you can get paid

You’re building your e-commerce site so that you can sell online, but obviously the big key is getting paid. Since the vast majority of online purchases are made via credit cards, you’ll need a merchant account to process credit card purchases for your online store.

The shopping cart software that you choose will often provide you with the basic tools to establish and manage a merchant account. However, there are many financial technology companies that can open a merchant account for you and enable you to start selling – and getting paid. Some of the leading merchant account companies include: Chase Paymentech, DirectPay, Wells Fargo, and PayByWeb.

Finally, most shopping cart software will also give you the ability to accept payments via PayPal or Google Checkout. In the end, you want to offer your customers as many payments options as possible to purchase your products.

STEP 3: Protect your business and your customers

Consumers have become very comfortable buying and shopping online. The most common technologies that have led to safe online shopping are Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TSL). These technologies basically protect and encrypt the personal information that someone uses on your website to place their order – name, address, credit card number, etc.

In order to use SSL and TSL technologies, you have to purchase a certificate verifying your website. The best way to purchase a security certificate is via VeriSign.

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