eCommerce: Installing and Configuring your Shopping Cart

You decided you're going to sell your products online. Or perhaps you don't want to sell them yet, only display your catalog. So how do you go ahead and implement your virtual shop? The answer is short: you need to install a shopping cart in your website. But let's go step by step and expand this simple answer to a brief explanation of the process. It will be better to know all the players involved in bringing your store up to life. There are many shopping cart solutions out there, you need to find the one that meets your needs. You will find open source solutions and paid ones. They will have different types of customer support and some of them may be ready to install in your hosting account. You need to find the right solution for you, if you're not an experienced user get one with good customer support or even hire a professional to help you in the process of setting it up.

First: you need a domain name for your store, and need to host it at a hosting company. If you already have the domain, you may skip this step. If you don't, you need to register the domain and then place it, host it, at a web server. You need to choose a hosting company which offers what you need. You will most probably need a database for your store and programming language support. Which language depends on the requirements to install the shopping cart of your choice. Some examples of programming languages are ASP, Php, Perl.

Second: if you plan to sell products, you need a payment processor, a company to process the payments you receive online, in real time. You can use a third party solution like PayPal, where you do not need to open a merchant account. Or you may choose a payment processor company to accept credit cards online, where you also open your merchant account. Examples of these are Authorize.Net, WorldPay and SECPay. All companies charge different fees for their services, it is important to go over their fee structure and find the right solution for you. Most shopping carts come with payment processing integration modules so you can seamlessly connect your cart to the payment processor of your choice. If your processor is not included, you should consider requesting the integration development, if possible, or opt for a different payment processor.

Third: you need to install the shopping cart script in your domain, and configure it using the Administrator interface. This is a private, password protected area of your site that you use for all the store maintenance and admin tasks. You need to:

- choose the layout and looks of your site. - establish your products categories or groups, so they are organized - load your products - set your payment processor information - configure shipping options - configure taxes

This is only a short list including the more essential tasks. There may be more aspects involved in your particular implementation, depending on your particular needs and on the shopping cart you chose to install. If you think all this is rather confusing, you should consider getting professional help to get your store working.

About the author:

Veronica Bendersky is a Systems Engineer who specializes in web programming and online systems. She also offers web hosting at, where you can get help in setting up your online store.

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