My boss wants me to setup an e-commerce site for our baseball equipment store. Im good at web design but have NO idea how to setup an e-commerce site. What is the best way to do it? What options are available to me? And better yet what do you think I should actually do? What host should I use and the like... I really do need help.
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You'll have lots to learn. How close are you with your boss? Could you just tell him/her that you can't do it?
Your store definately needs to be selling online, but if your boss is dumping this on you, then they really are sort of short-sighted.
Anyways, you need to evaluate everything that needs to be included on the site. This includes any product options like size & color.
Review some of the more popular storefront/shopping carts available to see if they can do what you need them to do. Get some recommendations (I can't recommend one, since I don't have enough info on what you need).
The cheapest and easiest thing you can do is set up a storefront with Bigstep.com or Freemerchant.com. These are limiting and freemerchant's server has a spotty record of being online.
You can purchase a storefront/shopping cart solution or install a free one. Scripts are available all over.
Do you have a database that you want to use?
If so, the shopping cart will have to integrate with it.
How will you accept payment. Your store's merchant account will need to be upgraded to mail order/telephone status.
Next you must decide if you are going to process orders manually or use an automated payment processor like CyberCash or Authorize.net
These need to be compatable with the shopping cart as well.
Last, your webhost must be able to handle the shopping cart. Many even have a cart you can use (sometimes at an outrageous monthly fee).
I hear Yahoo store is a good alternative. It's price isn't too bad and it's supposed to be pretty flexible.
I'm just skimming the surface here. I hope this helps.
I'll come up with some more info, reviews, etc. if you would like.
WebRunner has some solid advice. You need to first get a grip on what you have at hand right now. Then, determin if your needs require more. Planning is everything! Sign nothing untill A-Z is perfectly clear.
I was looking for a good and SECURE shopping cart system for last couple of month and I can say that I finally found it. Probably the best thing on the net.
Go to http://www.LeCart.com and take a look.
It's just simply great.
Your client needs either a virtual terminal (real time processing) or needs a mail order/telephone order account (MOTO). If they have the regular swipe" terminal, then they need to upgrade.
All the "off the shelf shopping carts" are different. Many require that you purchase the hosting right from them. Most are compatable with some type of real time processor, you'll have to make sure before you buy any.
Plus, it's a good idea to find out just how difficult it is to install. Give the company a call, or check out their website for FAQ's
I'm not sure about Cybercash. I recommed a few different places to my customers, but the average charge for real-time processing is aroung $15/mo.(gateway fee), but this is when it is set-up through the merchant account.
Be careful with those off-the-shelf storefronts. Visit the websites and if no demo is available that you can download and try yourself, then stay away.
It's true that you have to be selective when looking for a merchant account.
I don't know many places where you don't have to pay for the software. If there isn't a fee for the software, then they make their fee somewhere else, like an application fee or set-up fee.
In any case, to set-up a new Internet merchant account from scratch including real-time processing will be as low as US $250 to a high of over $1500.
Selecting the right shopping cart needs even more scrutiny. I see comments like this all the time "I love this cart, it's so easy to set-up - you should try it"
The problem is no one cart is the solution for everybody. the all have their strengths and weaknesses (mostly weaknesses).
Try the demo's and download a trial version of the software. Install a few items and see if it suits your purposes. It's amazingthat some carts that are under a hundred dollars are better than some that are in the thousands.