eCommerce (simply) Explained

If you want to SELL on the Internet you have to have what is referred to as a shopping cart. There are really only TWO types of shopping carts even though there are literally hundreds of  brand names.
  • Shopping Carts that operate 100% on your website, also known as SELF HOSTED
  • Shopping carts that operate on someone else's website, also known as REMOTELY HOSTED shopping carts.

What's the difference?

Obviously a shopping cart on your own website gives you total control of what the shopping cart looks like. Your own shopping cart also gives your site more of a professional look. All the pages will look exactly the same. You pretty much control everything, even though shopping carts on your website do have some limitations because they are structured to do things a certain way.

There are MANY shopping carts and several programming language choices when it comes to self hosted shopping carts. One important advantage is that your buyer never leaves your website to check out. Prices run from FREE (open source) to a lot of money.

Shopping carts that operate on someone else's website are, of course, more restrictive when it comes to layout. Since these hosted shopping carts are serving many people they have to have some kind of consistent structure. Usually you can do some customizing but the cart will rarely look exactly like the rest of your website pages. Again, there are MANY choices when it comes to HOSTED shopping carts. PayPal offers a system, Mal's Ecommerce is another. Many are FREE (with limitations). These carts ALL work. The big difference is that your customer has to leave your website to actually make a purchase.

You can research this further by doing a simple search on GOOGLE or any other search engine.

What do we use?

A lot depends on what kind of site you are building. A very simple site with a few items that rarely change might work out using a FREE HOSTED CART. They are, generally, simple to set upand maintain. It's also up to you. Perhaps you'll have some ideas of your own. There are many options available.

When it comes to larger multi-category shopping carts operated on your own website, although hundreds of choices are available,  we favor Ecommerce Templates, which is a very economical and excellent PHP/My SQL based shopping cart.

Ecommerce Templates Shopping Carts

  • are pre-integrated with virtually all major Payment Providers
  • offers pre-integrated real time shipping calculations using UPS, FEDEX & USPS
  • provides on site order tracking for UPS & FEDEX
  • allows for CMS sections (areas you can easily edit) anywhere on the website.
  • can be made VERY search engine friendly
  • can be extensively customized.

Here's a working demo! It's not AT ALL customized. It is presented only to give you some idea of the functionality. There is also a link on the demo to the back end administration of the shopping cart.

What do you need to do to sell on line?

  • First you need to hire us! Sorry, we could not help that one.
  • Second, you simply have to make arrangements to get paid. In other words you need a "merchant account". Like everything else, there are many options to choose from. If you're just starting out and looking for the simplest and probably the least expensive option, consider PayPal.
  • Consider PayPal Payments Pro if you want the most professional option possible. By that we mean, people PAY without leaving your website and, unless they WANT to use PayPal, no one can tell that PayPal is even involved. The cost is nominal compared to most payment processors. There's a base charge of $30.00 per month and you pay approximately 3% on each transaction. That $30.00 fee also buys you an online processor (virtual terminal) for credit cards transactions that you can process yourself. There's a button on the right for PayPal.
  • GOOGLE checkout is another economical option. This can offered in addition to or in place of PayPal to provide your customers with choices. Here's a link to GOOGLE'S fees.