The following questions are important because the solution you will choose for your electronic store will be based largely on these questions. Let’s go through each of these questions one-by-one so you can better understand their
1) Realistically, what is your budget?
Well, you know what they say … “you get what you pay for.” This isn’t always entirely true as you could certainly pay a high premium, hire someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart, and end up with an ineffective and poorly designed store. On the other hand, there are some solutions that won’t break the bank and will do quite a nice
job of selling your products. However, the most important thing about setting up an e-commerce site is to get all the associated costs up front. This means design charges, Web hosting fees, transaction costs, etc. We will go into this in more detail later in the document.
2) How technically inclined are you?
If you feel you are fairly technically inclined and have some of the basic skills and tools at your disposal, you may be
able to develop the store, or parts of it yourself. With some of the browser-based solutions, i.e. IBM HomePage Creator, you can point and click and select options that will create your store. Your responsibility would be to scan images, convert them to appropriate file format (.gif, .jpg) and upload them to the Web server.
3) How many products do you plan to sell (now and in the future)?
As you will see later on in this document, charges for ecommerce solutions are often based on the number of items or products in your catalogue. Monthly fees are often based on these numbers and can rise rapidly if your catalogue begins to increase.
If you are planning to sell numerous items, you may wish to look at a more flexible type of solution that won’t become too expensive as your business grows.
4) Are you looking to integrate a storefront into an existingWeb site or are you starting the entire process fromscratch?
You may already have a basic Web site and have decided to add a store component. If this is the case, you may wantto begin by talking with your current Web host to see if it offers any e-commerce solutions. You may also have some existing database integration or technologies on your current site that need to be taken into consideration when selecting your storefront option (note: you do not have to host your site and your store in the same place, both can be just linked to each other).
After you have considered these questions, let’s get down to business.
What options are available and what are the costs involved?
To put it all together, let’s go through the components of an e-commerce site and the options available to you.