An online business is also known as ecommerce or e-commerce or etailing. It means that a company has its primary, if not its only, customer contact through the World Wide Web on a website that is capable of handling whatever goods, services, or both that the business sells. In order to start an online business, there are some basic steps that should be taken.
First, you need to know the legal ramifications of what you’re doing in the location where your online business will operate. This includes understanding matters such as registering a business name and the online business itself, collecting sales tax, legal issues regarding employees if you have any, guidelines for accepting credit cards if you plan to do so, and any issues specific to your location. In whatever way or ways you plan to communicate with customers — for example, via email, telephone, and snail mail — you need to be familiar with laws governing, limiting, and/or guiding the use of those communication methods, and the rights of consumers not to receive such communications in the locations in which your place or places of business will be set up. The services of a lawyer and an accountant may prove valuable, depending on the size and intricacy of your online business.
Second, you need to set up several accounts in the name of your online business. A bank account is generally necessary at a minimum as far as financial accounts go, but you may also need one or more credit card accounts in order to make business purchases. You certainly need an ISP (Internet Service Provider) account with enough bandwidth and data transfer for your business, a telephone account, and a webhosting account to build your ecommerce website.
Third, you need to create the online presence of your online business. This has several facets. It’s a good idea to research the competition for your business, and keep in mind their choices and features as you choose and register your domain name or domain names and begin to design or have someone design your site. Think about how your customers are going to come to know what products or services you have to offer, how they will shop for these items, what payment options you wish to offer, how you plan to deliver the products or services, and how you plan to provide customer service for ordering and technical support for any website issues that may arise. Keep in mind that ecommerce sites can be built from templates, using website building software applications, or through the use of blogging software with an ecommerce theme, and that you can have as generic or as unique an online business website as you choose, depending on the way you choose to go about it.
With your plan somewhat prepared, you will have enough information to research ecommerce webhosting options. You should comparison shop, both among and within webhosts. Many offer multiple ecommerce options, and add-ons allow fine-tuning, but prices vary widely. Before you choose, become familiar with the terms shared server, where all the resources of a single server are shared among many accounts, virtual private server, where accounts share a server but have dedicated resources, and dedicated server, on which only one account resides. You should also check the disk space, data transfer amount, maximum number of products, transaction fees, and, of course, the cost of the webhosting options you are considering.