Ecommerce 101

Sell Online Now: Ecommerce Basics

Getting started in Ecommerce: What do I need?

If you’re a small business or business of any size you need to do ecommerce. Even if you run a coffee shop you need to sell online and give your customers a website to view and explore. We’re going to help you get started quickly. We’ll cut right to chase by giving you a list of things you need right here below. (Click here to learn about taking credit card payments with a payment gateway.)

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        Let’s get started with a list of what you’ll need.
      • Domain name
      • Website Builder to Make an Ecommerce Website
      • Mobile-optimized store
      • Secure shopping cart
      • Product catalog
      • Payment gateway
      • Marketing tools
      • Reporting
      • Shipping
      • Customer Care

      Domain Name

      A domain name is simply the URL where your website will appear. Generally you will want the domain name to be the name of your business. It should be easy to remember and short. A short domain name is easy to print on business cards and display in other marketing materials. Getting a domain name is simple. You will go to a domain registrar and see if your domain name is available. Here are some registrars that we recommend.

      Here is your checklist to get a domain name:

      • Think of a short name that is easy to remember. Ideally this will be your company name or product that you are selling
      • Go to a domain registrar. Here is registrar website.
      • Input the domain name you want to see if it is available.
      • Purchase your domain name.
      • You will want to get the domain for at least 2 years.
      • The cost will be $20 a year or less.

      Ecommerce Website

      You are doing ecommerce so you need a website. Building an ecommerce website from scratch is doable if you have the skills or money. Most of us do not. So we recommend going with a solution that builds the ecommerce website for you. Or better yet gives you a tool to build the website yourself. Our recommendations are Magento, Big Commerce and Shopify. All three provide you with a website. Big Commerce and Shopify will even host the website for you. Hosting is storing your website where it can be found on the internet by your customers. Another way we recommend is Magento. Magento is also an all in one solution for ecommerce. But you will have some more work as you need to find a web hoster for Magento. This is pretty easy as most web hosting companies host Magento.

      Here is your checklist to pick an ecommerce website:

      • Question: Do you want web hosting and almost eveything done for you? Answer: Big Commerce or Shopify
      • Question: Do you plan on having more than one website? Answer: Magento
      • Question: Do you have time to try more than one option? Answer: Try Big Commerce and Shopify

      Mobile Optimized Website

      It’s not enough to just have a website. You need to have a website that can easily be viewed on phone, tablets and computers. We call this mobile optimization or responsive website. A website responds to the device by automatically resizing the site for your customer. Big Commerce, Shopify and Magento are mobile ready and the website looks good on any type of mobile device.

      Shopping Cart

      A shopping cart fits into your website. It’s just like shopping cart in a grocery store. Your customer will add items to their shopping cart as they browse your site. The online shopping cart attaches to the person and time that the customer is browsing your site. When your customer is ready for checkout they click submit and the shopping cart will total their purchases, taxes and shipping. The solutions that we have recommended all provide a shopping cart.

      • Does Big Commerce have a shopping cart? Yes.
      • Does Shopify have a shopping cart? Yes.
      • Does Magento have a shopping cart? Yes.

      Payment Gateway

      A payment gateway is the gateway to the credit car network. A credit card network is a group of credit cards, banks that provide credit cards and payment gateways. The payment gateway as it name suggests is a “gateway” or door into the network. When your customer makes a purchase with a credit card the transaction for the purchase goes from your website to the payment gateway. The payment gateway reads the transaction and routes it to the appropriate card network. If the purchase is made with a Visa credit card, for example, the payment gateway will route the transaction to the Visa network. The Visa network will subsequently route the transaction to the bank who provided the credit card to your customer. We have a lot more information on payment gateways and this is located here. In the meantime, here is the short list of things to consider when selecting a payment gateway:

      • Let the ecommerce solution you chose drive your decision for a payment gateway.
      • If you have selected Shopify, for example, then go with the default payment gateways setup for you in Shopify
      • If you have selected Big Commerce then select the default payment gateways in Big Commerce.
      • If Magento is your choice for an ecommerce solution then you have a little more homework to do. Magento has many payment gateway options.

      Marketing Tools

      Marketing tools sometimes get overlooked by businesses getting started in ecommerce. That’s too bad because marketing tools are important to getting new customers. What do we mean by marketing tools? Well…in our opinion marketing tools mean email newsletters, SEO friendly websites, product reviews, and retargeting. Here is more.

      Email Newsletters: Email is old but still an effective marketing tools. You will want to collect the email addresses of your customers or shoppers so you can communicate to them. You will want to communicate special sales, send seasonal greetings and stay in communication with your customers. Magento is one ecommerce solution that gives you this type of tool.

      Product Reviews: Reviews are super important for customers when they make a purchase online. You will want this function in your website if reviews are valuable to you. Reviews can also create some headaches if the reviews are misleading.

      SEO: Search Engine Optimization is a big area for online selling. You will want your website to be found in Google, Bing and other search engines. But these are the search engines in the US. SEO is time consuming and difficult. We suggest that at least you pick an ecommerce solution that is SEO friendly. What we mean by that is that your website is easily read and understood by Google. Magento is one solution that is SEO friendly.

      There are many more marketing tools but these are the ones that you’ll want to consider when selecting an ecommerce solution.


      Data. Data. And more data. You need it to tell what you’re selling and where you have more opportunities. Also it’s big morale boost when you see your sales.
      You don’t have time to write code or run queries to get data so you’ll want a dashboard that is easy. These are the main things that you’ll need to see.

      1. Orders Placed
      2. Orders that you need to ship
      3. Refund Requests
      4. Refunds Completed
      5. Visitors to your web site or web sites (Google Analytics can handle this for you.)



      When you get an order you will ship it. You will want to do this immediately.
      In general giving free shipping is a great way to increase your sales.

      Customer Care