Beginners' Guide to E-Commerce
Setting Up: The Technology
Wondering about what you need to do to get the whole thing set up?
Since every card processing company will have a somewhat different
system, it's not possible to give a specific answer. The following
steps are "generally" what will transpire.
1. You apply for the service. The company asks
you to sign and return contracts and provide various information.
2. If monies are going to be transferred into your
bank account, the company will make necessary arrangements with
your bank. You will supply the card processing company with banking
3. Once approved with you bank, you can begin setting
up your web pages. The card processing company will supply you with
coding that must be incorporated into a form.
4. You design a form in HTML for each product you
are selling, incorporating the company's coding that you were given.
The form will also contain information such as the name of the product,
the quantity being purchased and the selling price. Some card processing
companies supply software that generates forms for you. If not,
you will have to make your own. If you know some HTML, simple forms
are not difficult to create.
5. You upload the web page containing the form
to your web site. When a customer fills in the form and submits
it for a purchase, the request is sent to your card processor's
secure web site. There, the customer will provide confidential credit
card information. When he or she clicks the final "send"
button, the technology processes the sale in real time while the
customer waits. The transaction will be either approved or disapproved.
Both customer and
merchant will receive a message indicating the details of the sale.
6. If the sale is approved, you will then fulfil
7. The card processor will likely provide you with
a secure web page where you can go to edit your product list, check
on sales figures, generate fund reports or process refunds.
8. According to the schedule stipulated in your
sales contract, the card processor will transfer funds from sales
into your bank account or otherwise pay you the money owing, minus
fees and expenses.
Do you need shopping cart software? Strictly speaking, no. You can
process your ecommerce transactions with nothing more than the HTML
form described above. And if you have only a few products to sell
and if the budget is tight, you might want to go that route and
bypass the shopping cart until later. However, if you have many
products and complex shipping requirements, then shopping cart software
is invaluable. Good shopping cart software will collect complex
information regarding shipping methods, taxation, quantities and
concerns. Moreover, most online shoppers are accustomed to using
So where do you get shopping cart software?
• If you are using a "one stop shop" service, the
shopping cart software is likely to be included. More about one
stops shops later.
• Your web host might offer shopping cart software as part
of your ecom package, or for an additional fee.
• You can find free or low priced shopping cart scripts on
the Web. Many of these free or budget scripts are difficult to install.
Unless you are technically astute, or know someone who is, they
might not be your best choice.
• You can purchase shopping cart software from one of the
many developers that sell carts online. Prices vary considerably.
You can pay anything from $100 one time fee to several hundred dollars
a month rental. Shop around. You don't want to pay for features
that you don't need.
Note: The shopping cart software you use
must be compatible with the server that stores your web site and
with the card processor's technology. To find this information you
will quite possibly have to consult with the software developer,
your web site administrator and the credit card processor's tech