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Thread: E-Commerce 101?

  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard Another Designer's Avatar
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    May 2005
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    E-Commerce 101?

    Okay, I'm a newcomer to this e-commerce forum. I need to start making more money. I am new to e-commerce. What are the ins and outs to making an e-commerce website?

    I notice there are some websites that have nothing but links to other websites on them. Is that a form of e-commerce? Do the companies pay you to link to them?

    As you can see, I have a whole lot to learn about making money on the web. I will be going through the posts here, tooth and nail. But if there is any e-commerce refresher's course anyone wanted to start, by all means start it here.


  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
    beley's Avatar
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    Well, it's not something we can answer in a simple post, or even an article. There are dozens of good books on e-commerce and there should probably be volumes more. E-commerce encompasses so many different aspects of the web... Shopping carts, payment processors and merchant accounts, security and SSL, marketing and promotion, SEO and PPC, copywriting, photography, design, layout, etc.

    Each is very important part. In short, e-commerce means electronic commerce. People buying things online. That can be through affiliate sites (links to amazon or ebay on your site) but typically doesn't include content sites with ads. Those sites generate money from ad revenue, which I wouldn't classify as e-commerce.

    So with e-commerce you're mainly talking about either selling products yourself, or using affiliate links to sell someone else's products. Of course, using affiliate links is easier - because you don't have to worry about customer service, fulfillment, inventory, etc. You just put up a website and market it, and when people click through your links and buy items, you get a commission. Amazon has a very popular affiliate program, and there's even an open source PHP script for creating e-commerce websites using it.

    On the flip side, you can make a much higher margin selling your own products. By finding good products and selling them through your own site, you can make 100+% margins (sometimes much higher). However, it also comes with drawbacks. You have all the customer service issues, you have to either inventory or drop ship the products, find suppliers, handle returns, and then all the website issues I mentioned above like security and shopping cart programs.

    Since you're just starting out, you might want to try to design an affiliate website just to get your feet wet. Then move on to a site using a free shoppign cart like OSCommerce just for experience. There are a lot of good articles and books that will help you.

    Best of luck...


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