Ok, you’ve made the decision to set up your own Webshop and you’ve got the products that you want to sell but how do you go about it? Where do you start? There are several different aspects that you need to consider, the main ones are –
- Domain Name
- Hosting the site
- eCommerce Webshop Software
- Site Security
- Loading Products onto the site
- Receiving Customer Payments
Domain Name To go back to basics a domain name is the name by which your site is known on the web, when you type in the www address of the website that you want to visit you are typing in that site’s domain name. To have your own Webshop you must first purchase your own domain name, then you need to associate that domain name with a physical ip address on the internet, which leads me nicely onto…
Hosting the Site The software for your Webshop needs to physically reside on a computer which can be accessed via the internet, once you’ve chosen your software it needs to be running 24 hours a day on a computer somewhere.
Here you have the choice of whether you run your Webshop on a dedicated server or you can share space on a server with other websites.
But whatever you choose you also need to be able to associate your domain name with the physical (ip address) of your server i.e. the dns settings, this would normally be managed by whoever registered the domain name for you but you do need to be careful with this as it could badly affect the smooth running of your Webshop, its really important that whenever somebody types in your domain name (url) that your website is ALWAYS available.
You also have the choice of whether to run on a Linux Server or a Windows Server, in general there are more options available for Linux and as another generalisation software for Linux is available at a lower cost than Windows software, but as in all things though there are exceptions and there is some very good windows software available at competitive prices.
You also need to make sure that things like database backups are taken care of and that you can load site certificates etc. (more about that later)
eCommerce Software Now that you have your domain name and you have your server (or hosting service) and the two work correctly together you need to consider which eCommerce webshop software to run, as mentioned previously there are two main directions to go in i.e. you could either decide on Windows or Linux. Once you’ve made the decision of the operating system then you have a huge choice of the different Webshop software and these can range from free software (with limited support) through to software which costs thousands of pounds per year.
There are some very good free applications available such as Magento and OsCommerce but generally with these you’ll be on your own when it comes to installing and running the software. You’ll then need to install and configure your software to get it looking exactly the way that you want it to. As well as the layout you will probably also need to do things like setup your payment methods, delivery options, countries that you want to deal with and tax codes.
Site Security There are two aspects to this –
You need to prevent your site from being hacked and your customer’s details from being stolen.
In the UK generally you need to be registered under the data protection act which sets certain standards on how the data is protected.
You also need to make sure that whenever your customers type in sensitive data such as passwords or credit card numbers that there is a layer of encryption between your customer’s PC and your web server, so that nobody can be watching the data which is being routed to your server to capture the credit card numbers etc.
To make this happen you need to make sure that your server can support an SSL connection and you need to purchase and install a certificate onto the server which will re-assure your customers that this secure connection is happening.
Loading Products Onto the Site So now you’ve got your server and it works with your domain name and you’ve loaded your software what’s next? You’ve probably got a few hundred (or thousand) products to load up onto the site.
Firstly you’ll need a digital camera, because you’ll need to take pictures of all of your products that is unless you’re very lucky and the product’s manufacturer can supply you with these.
First you should try to work out a category hierarchy, usually the Webshop software will allow an unlimited number of categories for you to group your products under.
Don’t forget that your customers will use these categories to navigate your website so it’s a good idea to spend some time on planning this properly, then for each product you’ll need to come up with a description that you need to type in using the software you’ve purchased and you need to upload the picture that you’ve taken. Once that’s done your newly added products will be on your website
Receiving Customer Payments Obviously you’ll need some way of getting the customers payments into your bank account.
Paypal is very good for this as they accept most of the major credit cards and bank cards and it’s usually quite straightforward to set up in most Webshop software applications. For the customers its not quite so simple and I find that a lot of customers don’t have a Paypal account and really cant be bothered with the validation that they need to go through to set one up i.e. they are just looking for the box where they enter their credit card number.
There are many other very good Credit Card payment providers around who offer payment methods and generally it just a case of finding a payment provider who can process payments to your bank account AND work with your software, as the communications between the Webshop software and the payment provider can be quite complex.
So that’s it, you’re ready to go, simple really
?? 2010 by Ed Mandell
About The Author: Select Development design and develop software for ecommerce webshops, they have a unique approach and provide the complete service for online ecommerce websites Ed Mandell Founder and Director of Select Development has been developing software for ecommerce webshops for over 5 years. Learn more by visiting http://www.selectdevelopment.co.uk