Build An Online Store
How to build an online store
To build an online store you need a number of basic building blocks. First off is your shopping cart software, and a developer to programme it, if you don't have the necessary programming skills.
If you decide to build and online store yourself, you'll find it is a useful learning curve for your own web knowledge - and an advantage to have technical e-commerce expertise in house. For this purpose you'll need web authoring software, catalogue software and artwork and animation software to build your brochure pages. To display your product or service you should also consider buying a 'digital wrapper' - software that has certain functions that can show off your product or service to best effect. For a hardware product this might include the ability to zoom in and out of the product, to change the aspect of it, or change its color. For a software product or service, you might want to include a downloadable trial (if you are dealing in software), include a breakdown or sample report/analysis which reflects the type of service you offer, or include staff resumés detailing their expertise.
Next up you need a web server on which to host your shopping cart (your own, or it can be done remotely for a small fee).
You then need to put the appropriate security measures in place: a Secure Server Certificate - a certificate that states that your company is what it says it is - is vital, and can be obtained from the Thawte (www.thawte.com) upon proof of your company's identity. Payment processors Paypal (www.paypal.com) and Verisign (www.verisign.com) can also provide Secure Server Certificates. Your other security necessity is a Secure Socket Layer, which encrypts personal information with a 128-bit encryption code as soon as your customer enters their details on to your web site.
When you build an online store you also require a merchant account (so that you can make financial transactions) that is compatible with your shopping cart software package (check this before you buy you cart software), and a payment gateway to handle and verify payments. Payment gateways also encrypt credit card and personal information before it leaves the customer's computer so that it cannot be seen in transit. You'll also need to budget for financial tracking tools (to manage orders and monitor payments and stock levels), and a secure database that allows you to access information about your customers and their orders without anyone else being able to see it. Many of these programs come as set features within a shopping cart package, but check before you buy.