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ECommerce is the future of business!
Consumers are increasingly moving to online shopping because of the many conveniences it offers. If you are not online, these consumers will be buying from someone else who IS providing them these shopping conveniences.

Never before has an industry grown to such a global economic stature in such a short time! Online revenues are sky-rocketing as internet commerce booms. Your online store will be accessible around the world, without the overhead of a traditional store. It all starts with an idea! Rev up your ideas and take advantage of the opportunity this new global economy affords!

Checklist for Getting Started:
Decide on
Domain
Name(s)
 

The first step is to secure a domain name, or several, if there are multiple available names that particularly suit your business. This should be done through an authorized domain name reseller or registrar.

DOMAIN NAME REGISTRATION


Arrange for
Hosting
 

There are numerous hosting options available. You will consider factors such as included disk space, email accounts, and available bandwidth, but the host you choose must support the applications that you are developing.

If you are going to build an e-commerce site, you will want to be sure that your host supports Active Server Pages (ASP), and if you have more than a hundred or so items, you will want to have SQL Server Database support. SQL Server adds to your hosting bill, but is well worth the extra expense for speed and reliability. If you are planning to have real-time automatic credit card processing, you will need to set up your merchant account separately with a processing service like AuthorizeNet. Your web developer should be able to assist with this as well.

Almost any Web host will tell you that they are able to handle e-commerce. However, hosting E-commerce sites is a specialty skillset and requires particular attention to smooth processing and security. As mistakes or problems can upset your customers and hurt your business, this is a choice that should be considered seriously.

Web servers encrypt credit card numbers and other personal information when customers submit them, protecting them from eavesdroppers. A qualified Web host knows what kinds of Web servers to use and how to configure them to protect your customers. Online security is a difficult and complex job, and your Web host should bring a lot of skill and attention to the task.

HOSTING INFORMATION


 

Choose
Ecommerce
Software

&

Hire a
Website
Developer

 

Today one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is how to choose from so many e-commerce packages, which range from free do-it-yourself solutions to custom storefronts costing thousands of dollars. An increased range of options means an increased range of choices, which can be frustrating and confusing.

Fortunately, it's possible to narrow your choices and figure out what works best for your business by considering a few key issues. Unless you're a technical whiz, it's better to start with a simple and inexpensive online store that can grow with your business.

Although some businesses operate and maintain their own Web sites, this can be an expensive and difficult process. You'll need to invest in hardware, a dedicated Internet connection, and software, along with a Webmaster and programmers to maintain your site. This is an expensive process, and you can't cut corners — customers won't tolerate a buggy, unreliable online store.

There are two alternatives: hire a Web developer to build and host your site, or use an online hosting service that provides everything you need to build and maintain your own store.

A Web developer can build and maintain a deluxe, fully customized online store, but you'll pay dearly for the service. Do-it-yourself services, on the other hand, usually offer everything you need to launch a basic online store, and most charge either a small monthly fee or nothing at all. Many of these services are quite reputable, and they're a great way to get started in e-commerce without investing a huge amount of money up front.

Even a simple online store relies on complex, behind-the-scenes technology. You can choose from a variety of "storefront" software to maintain your product catalog, track inventory, calculate sales tax and shipping charges, and perform other vital tasks. This software often costs thousands of dollars, however, and requires a great deal of technical expertise to operate and maintain.

In most cases you're much better off using a service that operates and hosts your e-commerce software, usually for a small monthly fee. Even if you operate your own Web site, you can build a storefront by linking to the service's e-commerce software. And as far as your customers are concerned, they're still dealing only with your business.

AWCS.net is a premier partner of AbleCommerce Software, an industrial-strength ecommerce application package.

AWCS.net has been building ecommerce websites since 1997. We have added shopping cart technology to sites as small as one product or to sites with over 50,000. AWCS.net works with small to medium size businesses to help them create a successful online shopping experience for their customers.

The ecommerce websites we build are constructed on the award winning AbleCommerce Software platform. AbleCommerce gives us the ability to quickly setup a very simple store or the open flexibility to construct a highly customized shopping experience for your customers.

At AWCS.net we offer design, development, hosting and support services. All of these services together give you a one company solution that can take your idea from inception to completion. We can add the AbleCommerce shopping cart technology to an existing website or build you a highly integrated successful ecommerce site from beginning to end.

WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT


Plan the Structure
of your site

 

You will need to break your products into categories. Each category or department may have multiple sub-departments. This map is essential to being able to build your site in an organized manner. You need to think about things like which types of items go with which others to allow promotional campaigns and suggestive selling.

WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT


Gather
Content
for your site

 

You will need to gather item numbers, short and long descriptions, prices, shipping weights, and digital images of every item that you want to sell on your website. You will need to process each image into several different sizes and name them by the item number. If you have a database that contains this data, you can save a considerable amount of time by converting the database into the format that you need for your commerce package rather than entering the data by hand. Sometimes your vendor will have digital photographs available that you can use, if not, you will have to have digital pictures taken or have them scanned and processed.

WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT


Set up a
Merchant
Account

 

The most commonly used online payment method is a credit card. This is the easiest for customers and the quickest way to transfer funds to your account. For online businesses, credit card payments have become the default standard. To process credit card transactions, you will need to set up a merchant account.

If you don't already have a merchant account, you can go to a bank, or check with your website host or internet service provider (ISP) for help setting this up. Banks usually charge a monthly fee as well as a per-transaction fee for merchant accounts. Do some comparison shopping at different financial institutions to find the best deal. You might also consider using a third-party merchant account such as PayPal.

Be sure you understand all of the terms, restrictions, and charges, whether you set up a merchant account through your bank, through your ISP/web host, or through a third party.

MERCHANT ACCOUNTS


Set up
Encryption
Technology
SSL
Secure
Socket
Layers

 

The encryption technology supported by most web browsers is that of Secure Socket Layers (SSL). This method protects private information from being unscrupulously gathered by creating an encrypted link between a web server and a web browser. The link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browser remains private and secure and is recognized by millions of consumers by a secure padlock which appears in their browser.

Your ISP/web host should be able to provide you with an SSL connection for your site.

SECURE CERTIFICATES


Secure a
Digital
Certificate

 

A digital certificate, another security requirement, establishes your online identity when you do business on the web, so that customers can have confidence that your business will not abuse their private information.

You can obtain a digital certificate from a certificate-issuing authority.

SECURE CERTIFICATES


Begin
Marketing
Your Site

 

Once the structure of your site is in place, you will want to begin marketing your site. The first step is to include your website address in everything that you do. It should be on your business cards, letterhead, e-mail, and all marketing and advertising materials. After your signature on a letter should be, "visit our website at www.yourdomain.com. The best place to start is your current and past customers. Develop systems that make it easier for them to do more business with you. Build in referral programs to entice your customers to send their friends to the site.

Arrange reciprocal links to and from related sites
A good way to get this started is to create a links page on your site and offer to put links to other sites in return for them placing links back to yours. Other businesses with related lines of products or services that are not in direct competition with you are normally happy to enter into this type of an arrangement as it increases traffic to all sites involved.


Search
Engine
Optimization

 

Optimizing for the search engines is something best left to the experts. The most dynamic and fastest changing part of the website building industry over the last 10 years has been the search engines. The search engine marketing field has become extremely complex. Keeping up on all of the various search engine algorithms and techniques for satisfying them is a full time job.

A company that says they can both build your website and do your search engine marketing may do both OK, but they will not do both well. In my opinion, it’s very hard to be best of the best in both areas, jack-of-all-trades and masters of none, as they say. It is our belief that you need to be working with a company that specializes and spends full time working in this field.

SEARCH ENGINE EXPERTS

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