More and more businesses are discovering the importance of an online presence. For some this might just mean having a simple informative website, but for others it can mean venturing into a website with full ecommerce facilities.
What is an ecommerce website? In simple terms it’s a website that allows you to sell your products on the internet. A famous example would be “amazon.com” which is one of the world’s largest online retailers.
Now that you know what an ecommerce website is, let’s take a look at the systems available for empowering an online store. Since there are too many to list in this article I’m going to stick to the two that we mainly use for our clients here at Punch Buggy.
This is an “out of the box” online shopping cart solution that has everything you need to get a basic online store up and running and best of all its free through the open software license (OSL).
If you’re looking to have more than just an online store, maybe you’d like a blog or news section. This is when we would look at building your store in a more flexible system like “ExpressionEngine” making use of the “CartThrob” ecommerce module. These are commercial products with a licensing fee.
ExpressionEngine with CartThrob
This is an “outside the box” solution that can achieve pretty much anything you would ever need it to, thanks to the highly flexible and scalable solution that it is.
You will find that each web designer has their own favourite systems to work with and usually that’s because it’s the systems they have most experience of. Whilst that obviously makes sense, we always advise the best system to suit each client’s specific requirements. Choosing a system that’s not right for the client results in the need for a lot of time and energy later. Better to get it right from the word go.
Once the right system has been selected, it’s time for us to get designing, developing and working through the usual web design process.
Another thing to think about is whether your website visitors will be entering their credit card details on your web page. Payment gateways such as PayPal commonly take the visitor offsite where you would then securely enter your payment details on the PayPal website.
If you plan to keep the customer on your website whilst you process the transactions you would need to purchase what’s called a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate. The SSL encrypts the credit card details and data between your web page and the payment gateway to securely process the transaction.
As you can see there are a lot of factors to building an online store. Here are a few other things to think about.
- Shipping – which company will you be using. Will you use the weight and dimensions of your product to calculate the price or will you use a standard flat rate.
- Products – will your product be physical or will it consist of downloadable items.
- Payments – do you need subscription payments or something more advanced like lay-bys options?
Hopefully we’ve brought some questions to mind and also taught you on some of the basic processes that go into obtaining an ecommerce website. If you would like to discuss your project or have any questions, please get in touch with us at Punch Buggy as we’d be more than happy to help.