If the past year has taught us anything, it’s the power of online selling and the need for all businesses to have a well maintained online marketing plan.
While a lot of retail businesses have had a hard time being in lockdown or having to limit customers, online selling has sky-rocketed. Not only does selling your products or online services make sense during a pandemic, it’s also necessary to future proof your business.
Getting an online store setup isn’t as hard as you may think,
What is E-commerce?
Basically it’s an online store – where consumers can purchase goods and services over the internet .
The usual form of payment is by credit card and can be processed on the website or through and external gateway such as PayPal.
How Does E-Commerce Work?:
- A consumer visits your website, selects a product or service to buy and purchases it through your Shopping Cart. The transaction is conducted over a secure connection (SSL) to your web hosting server.
- Payment Gateway handles the secure real- time processing of credit card transactions. Encrypting the information and sending it to the merchant account.
- The Merchant account then processes the movement of funds.
- Funds are debited from the consumers credit card account
- Funds are deposited into your designated bank account
So what exactly do you need to set up an e-commerce store?
Below is a summary of all necessary components of an e-commerce website:
Your website address such as www.widgets.com
There’s lots of choice these days to online shop platforms. So much so, it can be hard to know where to start. The most used shopping carts in the world are WooCommerce (a plugin for WordPress) and Shopify. There’s also Presta Shop, BigCommerce, Square and Magento (to name a few out of hundreds).
Coast Creative is a certified Shopify Partner and WooCommerce developer, but we’re also fully proficient in all other eCommerce platforms, including building from scratch with bespoke programming.
You obviously need a website which will be your online brochure/ store. The type depends on your choice of ecommerce platform, as above. To make a website have e-commerce capabilities it will need a Shopping Cart integrated into it. The Shopping Cart is basically like a digital teller- it adds up your purchases and allows you to pay at the checkout by connecting to your Payment Gateway. Shopping Carts are also connected to a database which collect customer information and transaction history so that you can fulfil the order.
Web hosting account
The hosting account stores your website on a server and keeps it online 24/7. It sends information to your Payment Gateway or 3rd party processor. Some eCommerce platforms come with hosting supplied as part of a monthly subscription. Others are stand-alone, like WooCommerce with WordPress and you’ll need your own hosting account. Having a stand-alone hosting and eCommerce platform gives you the freedom to change hosts if ever you want to. Though it just depends on what you need, both can be setup just as quickly as the other.
The SSL (Secured Socket Layer) certificate is an essential security component for processing payments. It’s job is to encrypt the information inputted by the consumer – especially their credit card details- and pass it onto the Payment Gateway. You can tell if a web site has an SSL certificate by checking for a padlock icon at the bottom left of the website screen (it may only show up on the payment page and is not necessarily through the entire site as it’s only needed to collect personal information).
Payment Gateway or 3rd party processor
A good example of a 3rd party processor is PayPal. PayPal cuts out the need for a Payment Gateway and Merchant Account. This is useful for start-up businesses or those with very small amounts of transactions. The general process is to set up a PayPal account (for transactions to be paid in to) and then connect your Shopping Cart to PayPal instead of a Payment Gateway.The Payment Gateway securely processes the transaction by checking the credit card details in real-time and sending the information to both the consumers bank account and the websites Merchant account. Other options are Stripe, Square and your financial institution.
Merchant Account (not needed if you have a 3rd party account like PayPal)
Merchant Accounts are the final link in the transaction process- they receive the information from the Payment Gateway and process the movement of funds into your bank account. There is a set up fee and annual charge with Merchant Accounts (contact your financial institution for more details), they also charge a percentage per transaction.
Coast Creative is experienced in creating online stores for all purposes and sizes. These days there are many options for an eCommerce website, from bespoke development to CMS like WooCommerce and Shopify. We can advise and guide you through the e-commerce process.
Contact us for more information.