If you intend to sell your products or services or if you intend to generate revenue in any way from your website, you are engaging in e-commerce. This area is huge and growing at a rate that far exceeds traditional commerce. There are millions of "e-commerce" sites out there but some of the best known examples are Amazon.com, eBay.com and Kijiji.com. These sites provide a mechanism for buyers and sellers to conduct their transactions. There are other ways of course that you can generate money from your website but here we are going to focus on this type of e-commerce.
The first thing you'll need to do if you decide that you want to make money directly from your website (who doesn't?) is how you are going to do it. There are a few things that you'll need to get going.
- something to sell (a product, service, information, whatever).
- what you're selling needs to be quantified and clear. (define models, sizes, colours, terms, subscription privileges, etc.)
- confusion in the details of the sales transaction is to be avoided at all costs
- a sales and return policy (what's the price, warranty, shipping terms, return arrangements, how long will it take for the customer to get the product.etc)
- a way to collect the money
- a bank account
- how will you handle credit card security (VERY IMPORTANT!)
- a way to ship the product or provide the service
There are tons of tools you can use to include e-commerce on your site. Paypal, Google, Bigcommerce, Shopify, etc, etc. all have varying features and pricing plans. All of these companies provide a "shopping cart" API that you can use to include e-commerce directly on your site. The great thing about this is that with the shopping cart, they take care of the security issues and the merchant account requirements that all credit card companies require. I have done it both ways, and believe me, the shopping cart is the way to go. If you start taking and storing credit card information on your dynamic website, you will need to pass a very stringent set of tests before the credit card companies will even let you take your first transaction. Sometimes it's necessary but in most cases you should let the shopping cart do the work.
What you will likely need is a dynamic site to either record and maintain inventory and/or to maintain a list of customers/subscribers. We at Gradpass have been building and maintaining e-commerce sites for many years.