So you wanna make an e-commerce store, huh? Are you sure about that? Setting off to do so, or rather to do so well, can be quite a challenge. The following steps will give you a general idea of what is needed to build your online store but in no way represent EVERYTHING you will have to do. Building such a store takes long hours and a tremendous amount of dedication not everyone has. After having been a part of several online stores I can tell you it’s no walk in the park. If just reading the following makes your head swim, this might not be the career choice for you but if you remain undaunted and think you can work though what may be some pretty thankless months, you just might be ready to take that leap. But first you’ll need to…
1. Decide on a Product to Sell
This is a no brainer, right? WRONG. Sure you may have something you want to sell. Maybe it’s something you make or something you can purchase on the cheap, or even something you have excess of. Maybe you wish to sell a skill or a publication. Good for you but have you done any market research? Do people even want what you’re selling? Can you make them want it? What is the market like? Highly competitive or will you have it cornered?
Believe it or not if given a choice your best bet is on a market with more competition. Why? Because at least then you know that people want what you are selling. Just because a product or service exists does not mean people want it. Do yourself a favor and do some market research before jumping in and you’ll save yourself a headache later!
2. Decide on a Shopping Cart
Different shopping cart programs offer different things. For instance, for one website I was involved in we went with a very specific shopping cart program because of its ability to bill state employees differently than “Joe consumer”. Think about how much you are willing to spend and what exactly you need your shopping cart to do before deciding on one. Remember there are lots of free options out there that are equal or in some cases better than ones you may pay for!
3. Design the Site
Unless you are a web developer you’re probably going to need some help with this part. You are going to have to design a website and integrate the shopping cart you chose into to it. This is no easy task and if you need outside help with this, chances are this will be the most expensive part of the process. Design of the site often includes branding design like logos. Remember that you can always change and better things along as you get going. When you first launch your site don’t expect more than a few people (most of them will be your friends and family) will view it in a day.
4. Write Product Descriptions
Depending on how much you are selling this can become a very long and tedious project. Remember who your audience is when you write you product descriptions and that you are making them want to buy it by fulfilling one or a few of their needs. Don’t write too elegant, flowery or above your target audiences education level if you want your descriptions to be comprehended and acted upon.
5. Take Pictures
Going hand in hand with product descriptions make sure you pictures are attractive, dynamic, and make people want what you are selling more than they want the money (that’s theirs, by the way) that it costs to have it.
So you have your product, you have a shiny new site, hopefully you didn’t follow my instructions to the T and also researched shipping and billing on your own, and you are ready to receive your first order. It’s time to advertise. The ins and outs of advertising could fill another article, three books, and tomes of biblical proportions so we’ll save it for another time but just know that you must work to get in the minds of your customers. Nothing can happen if no one knows you exist!
I hope so. Just remember that if total price of your good and operating costs are less than what you sell said goods for, and you are actually selling, as in products are going out the door, you will be alright.
This article is written by Cody. He has been doing web development and marketing for 10 years. He loves all areas of the internet market.
Choosing an eCommerce shopping cart solution may be overwhelming.
You really need to analyze the features, compare them and more. Some carts are suited for particular products and some for other business. You can download them for free. Find the right cart software package, which you believe, is good in terms of features and security.
Here I prepared a list of best and free Open Source Shopping Carts. Being Open Source is a great advantage, earlier I prepared a list of 15 Free Best Open Source Forums. And also we reviewed 3 Best Hosted Shopping Carts.
Prestashop is robust, professional grade e-Commerce shopping cart that you can download, install, and use for free. In the back end, you will use a full featured back end to manage your inventory, orders, shipping, and customers in real time. Your customer’s payments are sent directly to your commercial bank account using the latest security technology. You can even add your own modules to the shopping cart.
OpenCart is an open source PHP based online shopping cart system. OpenCart is easy to use and is SEO optimized with a very nice interface. A great feature of OpenCart is that customers can write their own reviews of the products.
Magento is a professional open-source e-Commerce solution offering unprecedented flexibility and control. Magento is awesome, I would never believe it is an open-source project. It features clean urls and SEO from the start. Everything is designed in a clean and simple way. Magento also features: Unlimited flexibility, Completely Scalable Architecture, Professional and Community Support, and Smooth Integration with 3rd party apps.
AgoraCart is another very popular online shopping cart, written in Perl/MySQL. It features a css manager so you can edit the look of your cart online. AgoraCart also features unlimited product options, up to 4 different tax zones at the same time, tons of shipping and payment gateways/options. The setup options range from a simple template based store to the integration of a complex visual design and support for program modification.
5. Zen Cart
Zen Cart is a free, user friendly, open source shopping cart. Zen Cart focuses on the merchants and shoppers instead of the developers. Zen Cart also supports multiple payment and shipping options, quantity discounts and coupons. Also Zen Cart is very easy to install.
osCommerce is an online shopping cart that offers a wide range of features that allows online stores to be setup fairly quickly. osCommerce is backed by a great and active community. It also supports multiple currencies, allows customers to print invoices from the order screen, and has an easy database backup system.
StoreSprite is a powerful, free PHP/MySQL shopping cart system that is easy to install and customize. The Cart is free but it does have copyright notices that you can pay to get rid of. StoreSprite has many features including automatic tax calculation, automatic delivery cost calculations, customer ratings and reviews and featured products.
Ubercart is an exciting open source e-commerce package that fully integrates your online store with Drupal, the leading open source content management system. This is a killer combination for anyone looking to build a community around a product, sell access to premium content, offer paid file downloads, and much much more! Ubercart leverages the advantages of Drupal’s major core and contributed systems, providing your users with shopping cart functionality that integrates with other parts of your company or community website.
The Apache Open For Business Project is an open source enterprise automation software project licensed under the Apache License Version 2.0. By open source enterprise automation we mean: Open Source ERP, Open Source CRM, Open Source E-Business / E-Commerce, Open Source SCM, Open Source MRP, Open Source CMMS/EAM, and so on. Being open source under the Apache 2.0 license and driven by a community Apache OFBiz offers both flexibility by design and by access to code, and a solution where you’re not alone but rather can work with many others to get things done.
ZenMagick is an addition to Zen Cart, one of the major Open Source e-commerce applications. It provides database access to virtually all data relevant to templates (and more) via an object oriented API. ZenMagick also includes an alternative theme/templating system which offers a superior separation of application code and custom HTML. ZenMagick layout and view files are exceptionally simple to make real customisation as easy as possible, while still supporting useful Zen Cart admin settings.
nopCommerce is a fully customizable shopping cart. It’s stable and highly usable. nopCommerce is an open source e-commerce solution that is ASP.NET 3.5 based with a MS SQL 2005 (or higher) backend database. Their easy-to-use shopping cart solution is uniquely suited for merchants that have outgrown existing systems, and may be hosted with your current web host or their hosting partners. It has everything you need to get started in selling physical and digital goods over the internet.
TomatoCart is the new generation of open source shopping cart solution developed by Elootec Technology Co., Ltd. It is branched from osCommerce 3 as a separate project. Their goal is to make TomatoCart one of the best online shopping cart slotuions. As web applications become more and more sophisticated, modern web 2.0 technologies such as Ajax and Rich Internet Applications offers significant usability improvements and makes interacting with the web interfaces faster and more efficient. We’ve compared a lot of frameworks and come to the conclusion that ExtJS is the best framework for TomatoCart.
Digistore Ecommerce 4.0 is a fully featured open source ecommerce solution based on the popular osCommerce engine. Boasting improvements both to the administration and the end user experience – Digistore has quickly become a popular choice for people wishing to market products online.
14. Spree Commerce
Based on the popular Ruby on Rails platform with support for the latest releases. Powerful extension system which allows for simple and rapid site customization. Supports customized logic for taxation, shipping, discounts and coupons. Open Source – Completely free to use.
Zeus Cart is an incredibly stable & richly-interfaced, open source shopping cart and it’s a simple E-commerce software package which allows, even a non-technical person to open an online store on the Internet, with minimal efforts. ZeusCart is a web-based PHP/My SQL shopping cart which is simple, powerful and easy to use.
JadaSite is an open sourced content management and e-commerce system. JadaSite is licensed under GNU General Public License (GPL) V3. The GPL v3 is a popular license and we believe this license will ensure greatest interoperability with other code in the open source community. Contributors and developers can includes existing code into JadaSite without fears that the new code may be incompatible with JadaSite.
17. Ecommerce Shopping Cart Software
Ecommerce Shopping Cart Software is a free shopping cart software solution enabling small businesses to sell online using a reliable, easily customizable, feature packed, high performance online shopping cart with no coding required. The Ecommerce Shopping Cart Software program is an easy to install and easy to use ecommerce solution. Ecommerce Shopping Cart Software has the following features inside the shopping cart system.
VirtueMart is an Open Source E-Commerce solution to be used together with a Content Management System (CMS) called Joomla!. Joomla! and VirtueMart are written in PHP and can be used in typical PHP/MySQL environments. With it’s a fully-featured eCommerce Engine VirtueMart is perfect to sell your Goods online and drive your Business to new Heights. Despite being Open Source Software it powers large Online Shops providing the Performance, Usability and Security you expect from professional Software.
CF Shopkart is a free e-commerce solution for Coldfusion developers and online store owners. This Coldfusion shopping cart is absolutely free. This doesn’t mean it is poorly made. In fact, I have spent more than 5 years developing it, and working to improve on it. CF Shopkart is perfect for anyone that just needs an affordable solution. You never have to pay a dime for CF Shopkart if you don’t want to.
dashCommerce is an ASP.NET Open Source e-Commerce Application. Built using some of the latest technologies, dashCommerce is focused on providing a robust e-commercce application that is stable and highly usable. In addition, the dashCommerce community is one of the most active communities in the open source / .NET space, so take a look around. PayPal & a simple weight-shipping calculation provider are integrated by default.
Idut Shop is a simple and elegant open source PHP shopping cart for Google Checkout. It can be easily customized and incorporated into an existing website. Written in PHP, you can add products from the easy to use control panel this includes adding images and setting prices. Idut Shop for Google Checkout is simple to install and uses a MySQL database. Idut is focused on creating quality websites and graphics. Idut write both commercial website software and free, open source website scripts.
If you really found this list to be useful, then don’t forget to share and retweet it. You can subscribe to HellBound BloggersRSS Feeds for daily tips.