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eCommerce: A Simple Guide to Selling Online

In today's world, where technology reigns, people have become extremely dependent on the internet. They communicate online, work online, conduct research projects online, and spend their money online. For a business that wants to succeed in the electronic age, it is often necessary to jump on the bandwagon and set up shop online. This article contains a quick overview of e-commerce and how to effectively market a business on the internet.

What is e-commerce? Simply put, it is the buying and selling of products online. There are several key elements to e-commerce that you will need to start selling online:

1. Website, Web Design and Hosting
2. Marketing
3. Online Payment Processors
4. Suppliers and Drop Shippers

Website, Web Design and Hosting

Selling online is impossible without a website. Through this website, consumers are introduced to your product, allowed to browse through what you have available, and then purchase a product and have their order delivered to their door. While all this sounds easy, there is a lot of work behind the scenes to get a website up and running.

The first thing you will need is a good computer. Although you probably won't be doing the web design yourself, you will need to have access to your website to track visitors and purchases, as well as receive orders. If you can't access your store via your computer it's a little like being locked out of your shop without the front door key. You will also need another computer to actually host the website, as well as handle financial transactions but there are 100's of hosting companies out there and you can rent a web server for as little as 20 per month for this purpose.

Your website, and the way it is designed is perhaps the number one thing that affects sales. No one wants to buy from a website that opens slowly, is not aesthetically pleasing, is difficult to browse through, and involves too many steps to purchase the product. Buyers will quickly head to another website. Start out by making sure your website presents a good face, with well-chosen colors, good graphics (although there should not be too many, as graphics slow down the opening of the webpage) and clear, easy to find categories and options. It is important to divide your products logically, creating 'shelves' or categories in your online store. Having to search too hard for a specific product is a turn-off to most customers. You will also need to include a small amount of text with each product, giving all pertinent information about it.

When it comes time to purchase, convenience is key. All websites today include a 'shopping cart', where consumers can place items they wish to order while they continue browsing. This is conducive to making more sales, as the customer can buy several items at once, instead of having to purchase one at a time. Payment options are another important aspect of your purchasing system. The most common purchase method is with credit cards, although many people now chose to pay with PayPal or other virtual wallet systems, which speed up the purchase process. More payment information will be discussed later in this article.

To get your website online, you need a host. A web host is a company that owns or leases a server on which they provide space for your website, in addition to furnishing internet connectivity. There are a wide variety of web hosts, all of whom provide different levels of benefits. For an e-commerce site, a slightly more advanced web host is necessary to allow for financial transactions, etc. There are some free web hosts, but most require a monthly or yearly payment.

Finally, make sure your website has a good domain name. Keep it short and simple, making it easy to remember. Try to tie it in with your products, keeping in mind your clientele.

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