Let me first of all welcome you to the world of Online Shopping or
ecommerce as it is commonly referred to as. A random search on this
topic is likely to given millions of results in search engine results:
that itself speaks of the popularity and growing demand of ecommerce.
I see that I have a long task at hand, since I feel that you are new
to ecommerce, I am interested in answering this question since this is
one topic of my personal and professional interest.
To know some basics about online shopping and making shopping carts, I
highly recommend you to go through three websites
1) Shopping carts & ecommerce software solutions guide
2) http://www.ecommerce-resources.com/node/8 (This site has a simple
diagram which illustrates the working of ecommerce)
3) How Ecommerce Works
(http://computer.howstuffworks.com/ecommerce.htm). This is a very good
information resource if you are looking at absolute basics of
ecommerce with easy and neat diagrams that will make your learning
I understand that when a beginner to any technology encounters
millions of pages of information in search results, he/she is puzzled
as to where the correct information would be, however, an experienced
person can guide you to relevant resources which do not waste your
time and energy.
To begin with, I am providing a brief step-by-step guide to creating
an online shopping website. After that I am listing the software and
services that you will need to complete those steps. I have divided
the list in two categories: 1. Storefront Creation Services/Template
Based/Hosted solutions and 2. Separate ecommerce software and services
which you can choose.
In order to create a shopping website, you need to have a domain name
(for example, myNewShop.com) registered and the website hosted on a
server. Please let me know if you need information about How to
register and host a website.
For Web-Hosting I have recently answered a question ?Need help and
Direction on Domain name registration and Web hosting?. See
http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=554690 for my answer
After you have your website hosted, you need to have some ecommerce
software on the server.
You can either develop your own shopping cart or use any of the
following ready-made shopping carts available. Please note that making
a fully-functional shopping cart required extensive knowledge of
programming and can take long time if you start from scratch. It is
therefore advisable, for small to medium-scale businesses, to get any
ready made cart and concentrate on business rather than coding. These
carts also allow a great deal of customization and you can make any
change that you want in design, layout, etc.
What these ecommerce software basically do is:
a) Provide you a section of the website where you can add or modify
product information, check orders, make changes in the appearance of
the website etc.
These software require only basic information of a programming
language in which they are written in. Generally, ecommerce websites
use PHP, ASP, JSP, PERL, CGI) I also want to point out that if you are
looking to go for a particular ready-made ecommerce solution, you
should check the requirements of the software particularly the type of
Operation system, Web Server Software (IIS, Apache) version these
Depending on your server operating system and software, you can use
any of the following software:
* Cart32 - http://www.cart32.com
* CartIt - http://www.cartit.com
* EasyCart - http://www.easycart.com
* PDG Shopping Cart - http://www.pdgsoft.com
* QuikStore - http://www.quikstore.com
* smc WebStore - http://www.smctechnologies.com
* Midi Cart - http://www.midicart.com
* Dansie Shopping Cart - http://www.dansie.net/cart.html
* Power Basket - http://www.powerbasket.com
* Sales Cart - http://www.salescart.com
* Retail Cart - http://www.retailcart.com
* X-Cart - http://www.x-cart.com
* FCart - http://www.fcart.com
* EDatCat - http://www.edatcat.com
* VP*ASP - http://www.vpasp.com
* Bazaar Builder = http://www.bazaarbuilder.com
* XMart eCommerce = http://www.digitalplacebo.com
* Ecommerce Templates - http://www.ecommercetemplates.com
* ZenCart (My Favorite and the one I use) http://www.zencart.com
* Commersus ? http://www.commersus.com
* PHPCart - http://www.phpcart.com
* OS Commerce - http://www.oscommerce.com
* PHP Shop - http://www.phpshop.org
* RedHat Interchange - http://interchange.redhat.com/ic
* Agora Cart - http://www.agoracart.com
If you are looking for simpler solution to creating a website, you can
try online storefront creation services like Ebay, Yahoo Stores. In
most of these software you don?t have to host a website, you can
create an account ,add your products and start selling them. Following
is the list of such software:
* Nascent Commerce - http://www.nascentcommerce.com
* Yahoo! Stores - http://www.yahoo.com
* PayPal - http://www.paypal.com
* BizLand - http://www.bizland.com
* FedEx eCommerce Builder - http://www.fedex.com
* IBM HomePage Creator - http://www.ibm.com/hpc
* iCommerce ShopZone - http://www.btsw.com
* Mercantec SoftCart - http://www.mercantec.com
* MerchandiZer (HipHip Software) - http://www.merchandizer.com
* ShopSite - http://www.shopsite.com
* Prodigy Biz E-Commerce - http://www.prodigybiz.com
* Yahoo! Store - http://www.store.yahoo.com
* Big Step.com - http://www.bigstep.com
* HyperMart - http://www.hypermart.com
* Miva Merchant - http://www.miva.com
* Monster Commerce - http://www.monstercommerce.com
* Shopping Q - http://www.shoppingq.com
* Actinic - http://www.actinic.com
* Mals E-Commerce - http://www.mals-e.com
* ClickCartPro - http://www.clickcartpro.com
* FlashECom Cart (hosted solution) - http://www.flashecom.com
* SWREG - http://www.swreg.com
Please go through the following definitions before reading further,
since you will encounter these terms often if you plan to have a
Service provider handle your online transactions, making your website
able to receive credit card payments from various countries of the
A Merchant Account is a relationship between a business (i.e. a
merchant) and a merchant bank which allows the retailer or merchant to
accept credit card payments from customers. Depending on the country
involved, banks or financial institutions could have stiff
requirements and regulations regarding the issuing of a merchant
account. Many small or home based businesses report that they have
great (sometimes insurmountable) difficulties acquiring Merchant
Status. If Merchant Status is obtained, the merchant then rents or
buys special software that is used to process the transaction. In some
cases, depending on the bank and depending on the type of business
that you are operating, you will also need to purchase or rent a piece
of hardware known as a processing terminal
?A payment gateway is a separate service and acts as an intermediary
between the merchants' shopping cart and all the financial networks
involved with the transaction, including the customers' credit card
issuer and your merchant account. Think of it as a EFTPOS terminal in
cyberspace. It checks for validity, encrypts transaction details,
ensures they are sent to the correct destination and then decrypts the
responses which are sent back to the shopping cart. This is a seamless
process and your customer does not directly interact with the gateway;
as data is forwarded to the gateway via your shopping cart and a
secure (SSL) connection. The shopping cart is configured via plugins
to send information in a format that is acceptable to the particular
The proper choice of payment gateway is another vital element which
will contribute to your success or failure as an online business.?
In order to do transaction online you need to have a merchant account
with a payment gateway or an account with peer-to-peer payment
companies. If you are setting up a simple shop which deals in limited
amount of products and does not need extensive reporting, you can opt
for Paypal (www.Paypal.com). If you already have a Paypal account, you
can upgrade it to Business Account and start accepting payments for
your shopping website. Other options for simple payment options are
Ikobo Card (www.ikobo.com), & Moneybookers.com among others.
Please see ?Do you really need a merchant account?? at http://www.4mywebecash.com/
Following is a partial list of companies which provide Payment Gateway services:
PayPal - http://www.paypal.com
Authorize.net ? http://www.authorize.net
LinkPoint ? http://www.linkpoint.com
2CheckOut ? http://www.2checkout.com
CyberSource ? http://www.cybersource.com
ITransact ? http://www.itransact.com
2000Charge ? http://www.2000charge.com
Netbilling ? http://www.netbilling.com
WorldPay ? http://www.worldpay.com
CCAvenue ? http://www.ccavenue.com
Since there are so many Payment Gateways available and many costs
which are difficult to ascertain or calculate, you may need to compare
the costs of various service providers. For this the ?Accounts and
Alternatives Cost Comparison Calculator? or ?The Maculator? provides a
nice interface to compares rates across various Payment Gateways. See
http://www.mgoldmine.com/ for more information about Maculator. Once
there, click on ?The Maculator? link on the top navigation to go to
the calculations? comparison page.
Following are the costs which Payment Gateway companies usually
charge. Some payment gateway companies offer free set-up and some
offer 0 maintenance fee. This depends upon the service scheme that you
are opting for.
* Up Front Application Fees
* On Going Fixed Fee
* Discount Rate
* Fixed Transaction Fee
* Termination Fees
* Miscellaneous Fees
Up Front Application Fees
Many internet merchant accounts will require an up front application
fee. This fee, supposedly, is to cover their costs for processing your
application. In case you choose not to open an internet merchant
account, they still cover their initial costs. Although common, many
providers waive these fees and I recommend that you choose a provider
that does not require an up front fee.
On Going Fixed Fee
Most all internet merchant providers require a monthly fixed fee or
"statement fee" as it is commonly named, which is simply another way
to cover their costs and make money. You will be hard pressed to find
a provider that does not require this type of fee on a monthly basis.
However, do not choose an internet merchant account that requires more
than $10 per month. Additionally, most internet merchant providers
require a monthly minimum (usually $25). The bottom line is that you
will be paying at least $25 per month (on top of the monthly statement
fee) for your account.
Usually, the discount rate will be between 2 and 4 percent. The
discount rate is the sales commission the provider earns on each sale.
For example, if the discount rate offered is 3%, and you receive a
sale over your web site for $20, you will owe 60 cents to your
internet merchant provider.
Fixed Transaction Fee
Usually between $0.20 and $0.30, the fixed transaction fee is the
fixed fee portion of each sale. Unlike the discount rate, the fixed
transaction fee is the same for every transaction. Whether you get a
$1 sale or a $100 sale, the transaction fee will be the same.
A bit more hidden in the small print, a termination fee can apply if
you cancel your merchant account within a specified period of time
(usually within one year). But beware, some merchant providers require
a three year commitment!
If a customer requests a refund and they want their credit card
credited, an internet merchant provider will charge you a separate fee
(usually between $10 - $20). Read the contract carefully, as other
special fees may apply.
Read more about this at
?Getting Started with E-Commerce?
?Q: I'm new to e-commerce and am looking for a shopping cart program,
but I'm confused by all the available selections. There are so many
out there, and they all seem to have similar features. How do I pick
the best one??
?Payment Gateways, Internet Merchant Accounts and 3rd party credit card processors?
Some Google Answers for questions related to shopping carts
?Shopping Cart Recommended?
?Program Shoppingcart for free?
?In search of a decent shopping cart?
?Where can I buy shopping cart service for selling CDs?
?e-commerce web hosting?
?Pre-Built or Self Making E-Commerce Shopping Programs?
easy Or basic ecommerce
ecommerce guide OR basics
online payment gateways
shopping cart comparison
I hope you find the above information useful. Please feel free to let
me know if you need any clarification or more information.