Wanna Sell Stuff?!?
eCommerce is a staggeringly huge industry! Many (almost unquantifiable) online transactions take place each and every day right across the Internet and it has proved to be a lucrative business. eCommerce is convenient too; I remember the first time I bought an item from Amazon – an incredible experience: Tell Amazon what you want, pay for it and the next morning, there it is, waiting under the letterbox, held hostage under the watchful eye of a hungry cat. This, I remember thinking, was shopping for me. And it’s brilliant. Window shopping on the high-street is ineffective because once you’ve walked far enough away … there’s no going back. “Window Shopping” on the Internet has become one of all-time favorite pass-times. With this in mind, there is actually more chance of me spending money online than on the high-street.
If you are a webmaster, creating a Web store is an effective way to tap into the online market for your products. Although creating an online store may seem like a long and complicated process, there are numerous websites that offer a do-it-yourself Web store building service, offer free shopping carts or will even act as your credit card processing arm!
This article is designed to get you started with the shopping carts available to you online and will serve as an introduction to web stores and selling online. You should note, however that this article doesn’t intend to provide insight into the php coding language that makes them all work!
You, Sir, Need a Shopping Cart…
The modern process of creating a Web store with a do-it-yourself website is actually pretty straightforward and customizable. As a business owner, you genuinely have the ability to market your products or service to vast amounts of people online and because of the automated technologies that govern web stores and shopping carts, creating a web store is pretty easy. Web stores have become very popular because they are simple to set up and a retailer doesn’t need to have an expensive store, warehouse or even inventory.
The financial benefits are significant and while the work is relatively simple it’s important to understand that the nicer you want the web page store to look the more time, money and effort it will take. While almost anyone can learn how to work with the web, the more web experience you have the easier it will be to start and manage a web page store. Of course, you must also promote your online business if you expect to see significant financial results.
Before we look at adding this function, realize that there’s confusion around the term “shopping cart.” There are at least two ways the term “shopping cart” is used online:
- The term “shopping cart software” often refers to full-fledged e-commerce software — programs that are much more than just a shopping cart. Many of these online store packages are complete site building systems (the SohoLaunch website builder is one such example as are osCommerce and ZenCart). In some cases, an established site owner who doesn’t want to rebuild their site can use just the checkout function from one of these programs.
- The term “shopping cart” also refers to a hosted solution. In this scenario, a third party hosts a merchant’s checkout procedure, (such integrating PayPal’s checkout with your website for example) or may even host and maintain the software for a merchant’s entire store. With a hosted solution a merchant is not responsible for processing credit card transactions, which is a cheap and simple solution for some small site owners.
Either of these possibilities could work well for a site owner, depending on their needs and finances.
Overall, a Shopping Cart is: An automatic and interactive service that allows your visitors to order and pay for a product (actually give you money) or service via your website.
What Does a Shopping Cart Do?
Even the most basic of today’s shopping carts enable a good deal of function within you website, including:
- Item selection: First, they allow a shopper to add or remove items freely — yes, being able to remove an item is a necessary function. Many shoppers use a cart as a temporary holding pen. They only plan on buying a few of their in-cart items. A cart also allows a shopper to choose options like size, quantity and color and change these at will. A good cart displays a running price total as shoppers add and subtract items.
- Tax calculation: A cart handles the most cumbersome task: tax calculation. Of course there’s usually no sales tax for items bought over the Internet (although most states require you to pay a use or sales tax for all items purchased over the Internet and used in your home state), but shoppers buying from a store in their state must pay it, and shoppers at big chain retailers with nationwide stores must pay it. A cart generates sales tax based on a shopper’s zip code.
- Shipping fees: Your cart calculates shipping costs, which can be a complex task. When you choose a cart, it’s critical to get one with a robust shipping tool. Ideally, it will be equipped to interface with all the major shippers (UPS, FedEx, DHL) and allow you to set any number of shipping options: by weight or zone, flat-fee price and by different delivery rates (overnight, second day air, standard).
- E-mail confirmation: A good cart sends an e-mail confirmation of the shopper’s order. A really good cart will also send an e-mail when the item actually ships.
- Customer tracking: When a shopper shops on your site, hopefully she’s not all alone — many other shoppers are also using the cart on your site. So how does your cart application know which individual shopper is using each cart?In most cases this is done using cookie technology. A cookie is a tiny data file sent from your site, placed on the hard drives of your shoppers. Many e-commerce programs use this same cookie technology to offer discounts and coupons to returning customers. (Without the cookie, the software wouldn’t know that users are repeat customers.)
Common Shopping Cart Solutions
Below are a few common shopping carts that are used by many online businesses around the world. The list below consists of both kinds of shopping carts that you can use for your business: Merchant accounts with third parties that your website sends shoppers to (such as PayPal) as well as shopping cart scripts that you install to your very own website (such as osCommerce and SohoLaunch)
- PayPal: PayPal has been around for a while and is determined to be the 800-pound gorilla in the small merchant payment processing category. So it offers a shopping cart — for free — that’s as easy to implement as any solution on the market. Bundled with this is a merchant account — again, for free: No set up charge, no monthly fee. On every transaction, PayPal charges 30 cents and 2.9 percent of the total. An established merchant with healthy sales volume could negotiate a better rate than that but for a small merchant this offer is hard to beat. One possible drawback, however is that: the PayPal cart is so simple that it lacks some of the functionality of advanced carts.
- SohoLaunch: Soholaunch enables you to build a professional website with eCommerce capabilities through a user-friendly interface and gives you the power to create database-driven eCommerce systems quickly and easily, regardless of your technical experience level. Soholaunch is an alternative to the popular osCommerce shopping cart.
- ZenCart: ZenCart is a branch of osCommerce, that started working separately from 2003, and since then this shopping cart software has been developed as a separate entity with completely difference architecture from its source. This software is used by lots of people as its open source software, working under the license of GNU.
- CubeCart: Advanced users only; CubeCart is an eCommerce script written with PHP & MySQL. With CubeCart and VodaHost as your partner you can setup a very powerful online store with thousands of products. Nothing can stop you!
- osCommerce: Used by 9,000 stores, osCommerce is an open-source shopping cart solution that you host from your very own website. The good news is that it’s free and highly customizable. The downside is that you need to hire a programmer to set it up (if you do not choose to install it using Fantastico DeLuxe from your cPanel — see the procedure below!).
You can use any of the above. You ALREADY have ALL THE TOOLS available to you within your VodaHost account to get started creating a Web Store FOR FREE!!!
Follow the instructions below and you could have your web store up and running by the end of the day!
How to create a webstore with BlueVoda using PayPal
You have all the tools that you need to create a web store using the BlueVoda website builder, using the PayPal payment gateway. You will need: The BlueVoda website builder, a VodaHost web hosting account, a useful product or a few useful products to sell and a PayPal account.
- First, you should visit PayPal and create yourself an account to use to sell your products.
- Using PayYou should then upload information about and configure your products, prices, shipping costs etc.
- Once you have configured your products, PayPal will provide you the HTML code to add “Buy Now” buttons to your website
- Open BlueVoda
- Create your web store or products page using BlueVoda and add the PayPal “Buy Now” buttons using the HTML code that was given. You should add these buttons to your website using the “Add HTML” option in BlueVoda. There is a tutorial here to assist you.
- Upload your product pages to your VodaHost web hosting account to get them live on the internet.
- Any time anyone clicks on a PayPal “Buy Now” button, they will be whisked away to the PayPal payment section and will pay you money for your product via PayPal.
That’s it – you have created a simple web store. Payments will be processed via PayPal and you will receive notifications by email.
- To learn more about creating PayPal Integration in BlueVoda, please visit our PayPal Shopping Cart Creator tutorial as well as our PayPal tutorials
Fantastico DeLuxe – How to Install a Shopping Cart for your website
There are several fantastic shopping carts available to you via your VodaHost cPanel and these include, osCommerce, zenCart and CubeCart- and these are easily installable using the wonderful Fantastico DeLuxe script auto-installer that is included with your VodaHost account.
How to Install SohoLaunch with Fantastico DeLuxe
Follow the below instructions, you can install Soholanch website builder quickly and easily and best of all, for free!.
You can only have one installation of Soholaunch per account. This means, for example, that if you have installed SohoLaunch using your primary domain, you cannot also install it on to one of your add-on domains. Also, you cannot install SohoLaunch on a directory that already has a website on it. SohoLaunch requires a clean directory.
To Install Soholaunch, first…
- Login to your control panel and click on the Fantastico DeLuxe icon. Fantastico is the little blue smily face that you will find at the bottom right hand side of your control panel…
- Go down to about the middle of the page and click the link in the left-hand menu that says: “Soholaunch Pro Edition“. This will show you the SohoLaunch new installation page.
- Enter a username and password and click “Install Soholaunch Pro edition“
- Thats about it! Your done with the installation…
- Next, you should login to the Soholaunch control panel (using the username and password you created) and start building your web store.
VodaHost provides many tutorials to assist you with building your website with SohoLaunch and we highly recommend that you watch the tutorials first!
- Click the following link to visit the VodaHost’s SohoLaunch tutorials
Shopping Cart Security
There are three important ways that you should protect yourself and your customers.
- You need to keep your shopping cart secure. If you are using a service such as PayPal, they generally have their own security measures in place but if you are hosting an installation of ZenCart, you will have to keep it up to date and secure. Always keep your 3rd party scripts UP TO DATE and NEVER SHARE YOUR LOG-IN CREDENTIALS with ANYONE!
- Changing the name of your Admin folder is very good practice. The installation process that you will follow should prompt you to do this.
- You should invest in an SSL certificate for your website. Click here to purchase an SSL certificate so that your customers feel safe and secure knowing that all the details that they send to you to complete the purchase have been encrypted and are safe.