ECommerce should be a part of almost every small business. It can be as simple as becoming an affiliate of Amazon, or as full-featured as a unique online store with integrated checkout. But it can also be as simple as including a link to schedule appointments at a hair salon which also offers email marketing reminders of specials or a way of ordering personal care products online. No matter your need, these E-Commerce links should help you get started in the right direction. Don’t forget to check out the great free or low-cost training opportunities, plus free professional business counseling, from your local Small Business Development Center!
Start at the beginning with overviews and tutorials.
Online E-Commerce Training
- Technology 101: A Small Business Guide - SBA
- Building Your Website – Southwest Texas Border Region SBDC network
- Managing The Digital Enterprise - SBA
E-Commerce and Your Business Strategy
How does e-commerce fit with your business?
Build Your Web Site
Register a Domain Name
Find a Web Host
- Find a host for your web site – thelist.com Search for companies.
- Web Developers – How to find one and decide if they’re right for you
- Develop a web site that is easy to use
- Ten good deeds in web design.
- Usability checklist for site developers. If your site is easier to use, customers will stay longer.
Web Storefront Services
Get an out-of-the-box, commerce-enabled site.
Build a commerce-enabled web presence for your small business using these low-cost, out-of-the-box services. Web storefront software should allow you to maintain your product catalog as well as enable you to process credit card transactions.
Low-cost, out-of-the-box solutions to create your e-commerce web store:
E-Commerce software solutions:
- eCommerce Software Directory
- Marketplace for e-commerce software
- Guide to e-commerce software
- How to build a web store
- Storefront software reviews (low to high cost).
How will you receive payment on your web site?
You’ll need a merchant account provider (MAP) to allow you to accept credit cards over the web and a credit card clearinghouse service that supports your MAP. It is also important to note whether your web storefront software/shopping cart software is compatible with your credit card clearing service.
- Marketplace for payment management software
- Electronic payment system guide
- Adding plastic to your site
The E-Commerce Payment Process
Making the payment process easier for your customer:
A Merchant Account Provider is a bank or other institution that processes online credit card transactions, will verify the credit card, process the transaction, and deposit the results into your account.
- Don’t Fly By Night: The Inside Information on Merchant Accounts
- Finding the Best Merchant Account Provider for your Business
Credit Card Clearing Services:
A clearing service takes the credit card information from your site and transfers the information to your bank or Merchant Account Provider. Performs a similar function as a swipe terminal might in a brick-and-mortar setting.
- Other payment options:
- Electronic Checks – works similarly to paper checks.
- PayPal – a possible choice for merchants with lower-priced goods who may not be able to afford credit card capabilities.
- Micropayments – From the W3C.
Ensure that all transactions on your site are protected. Generally, security is provided by various implementations of cryptography, including encryption, digital signatures and notarization, secure protocols and digital certificates.
- Customers Fear for their Online Privacy
- Thawte – Digital Certificate Provider
- Verisign – Digital Certificate Provider
- Entrust – Security Products/Services
Taxation of E-Commerce
Sources for Marketing Your E-Commerce Web Site
Improve the chances of customers finding you online.
- WebPromote Articles on web site marketing.
- Infusionsoft Automate your marketing with software
- E-Commerce Times
- E-Commerce/Marketing Channel
- Search Engine Submission Tips
- E-Commerce Merchandising/Marketing
- Creating Effective Email Campaigns
- Beyond the Banner: New Strategies in Online Advertising ZDNet
- Advertising Age’s NetMarketing
Marketing/Statistics on E-Commerce
How will you track and fill your customers’ orders?
- Shipping Costs Bleed E-tailers Dry
- Your Fulfillment Choices
- Distribution Decisions: Drop-Shipping vs. Inventory vs. Fulfillment House
Is shopping on your site a good experience for your customer?
E-Commerce News and Information
Keep up to date.
- E-Commerce Times
- The Industry Standard – The Newsmagazine of the Internet Economy
- Internet.com – E-Commerce News
- Website Traffic – Webmasters helping webmasters develop high value relevant links. Promoting ethical web-marketing using the time trusted pillars of relevance and popularity.