E-Commerce Made Easy

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What does it take for small and home-based businesses to get started with e-commerce? My goal is to answer this question and to give you information that allows you to get started with selling your products and services on the Internet.

The benefits of e-commerce are plentiful; the most important ones being: increasing sales revenues while expanding a company’s customer base and offering services to allow customers to shop at their convenience around the clock and independent of location.



An e-commerce website should consist of a website with at least the following components:

– Product catalog
– Shopping cart
– Shipping and handling options
– Online payment processing

In order to obtain these basic ingredients, the following technical requirements have to be met:
– Server disk space. E-commerce software contains an online store in the format of a website. In order for this website to be available on the Internet, it has to be stored on the harddisk of a server computer that is constantly connected to the Internet.
– Registered domain name. Once the E-commerce software is stored on the server’s harddisk, it still needs to be made accessible for customers using an Internet address. For this, a domain name needs to be registered, e.g. http://www.yourname.com.
– Online database. E-commerce software stores its data in a database. For this reason, an online database has to be available on the server computer.
– PHP script preprocessor. An e-commerce website contains dynamic webpages. To make this reliable and compatible across all Internet browsers, the PHP server-side scripting language is used for making the webpages dynamic and for accessing the online database.
– FTP access. This is needed to upload and install the e-commerce software from ones local computer to the harddisk of the server computer.
– Telnet server access. Using Telnet, you can access the files on the server’s harddisk.
– SSL certificate. A Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate should be installed and configured on the server computer for securing the transfer of credit card information.

Most owners and employees in small and home-based businesses get discouraged about using e-commerce, because they don’t have sufficient knowledge regarding how to meet these technical requirements. This is not necessary. There are several Internet hosting companies available that offer e-commerce hosting packages that meet all of these technical requirements. They will configure and maintain an Internet server computer (or part of it) for you to use.

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