Websites 101 – The Basics of Selling Things Online

Are you ready to sell products online?  It’s really pretty easy.  I can help you with the four basic things you need to sell things online.  You just need:

  1. A website
  2. Shopping cart software – Shopping cart software is used to handle all the details of the transaction.  It totals up the transaction amount and adds taxes and shipping.  It collects the buyer’s shipping and credit card information.  Some systems will even print out shipping labels and help you keep track of the inventory.
  3. A SSL certificate – SSL certificates make buying online safe.  They encrypt credit card data as it goes from the buyer’s computer to your website.  This is purchased from the company that hosts your website.
  4. A credit card vendor – This is the company that processes your credit card information.  If you already have a brick and mortar store (also known as a physical location) you might already have a credit card vendor. 

It’s important to know how many items you’ll be selling in your online store.  When customers only have 10 to 15 items or less I recommend a PayPal store.  PayPal acts as the shopping cart, SSL certificate AND the credit card vendor.  (How easy is that?)  There aren’t a lot of extra features but it’s a great way to start selling things online.  PayPal stores are quick and inexpensive to set up.

For stores with more items I recommend a true shopping cart system.  The software that I recommend to my clients is X-Cart.  It’s constantly updated, reasonably priced, well supported and contains so many features that you’ll never use them all.  When I’m installing X-Cart stores I work with the clients web host to set up the SSL certificate.  I also have recommended credit card vendors. 

As you can see, selling things online really isn’t that complicated.  The more difficult thing is promoting your online store.  An online store is just like a brick and mortar store in that if no one knows about it there will be no sales.  So it’s important to think about ways to promote your online store.  Some ways you might promote your online store are:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Online Advertising
  • Community Building
  • Affiliate Programs
  • Print Advertising
  • Networking
  • Trade Shows

Those are the basics.  Watch for more detailed articles later about the different types of stores and ways to promote your online store.

1 Comment

  1. It IS hard! Really. (Well, maybe it’s just me.) But this article was very helpful. Thank you.

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