How to Set Up an E-Commerce Site

How to Set Up an E-Commerce Site
By Melissa Campanelli
March 27, 2006

So you want to set up an e-commerce site. While it may seem daunting at first, don't fret. The following is an overview of different ways to go about it. Simply pick the one that's right for you, and log on.

Going Solo
Many experts and entrepreneurs believe that building your own website is a no-brainer, thanks to the inexpensive, easy-to-use and sophisticated e-commerce services available.

"If you're a one- to two-person firm, [you have] someone on your staff [who] can design a website and you only sell a few products, there's no reason not to do it yourself, particularly with the out-of-the-box solutions available nowadays," says John Jantsch, a marketing coach, author and creator of the Duct Tape Marketing system for small businesses.

Jantsch, who lives in Kansas City, Missouri, built his site,, in 2001 and says you can create a robust site for less than $150 per month, plus a few hundred dollars for software. Popular tools include Microsoft's FrontPage, for $199, and Macromedia Dreamweaver 8, for $399.

After setting up your website, you'll need a shopping-cart software program or service so you can take orders, calculate shipping and sales tax, and send order notifications. This costs about $29 to $79 per month. The most popular options include, 1Shoppingcart.comand ShopSite Inc.

Your next step should be to obtain an internet merchant account from your bank, allowing you to accept credit card payments online. If your bank turns you down, try others--and consider offering to move all your accounts to that bank to up your appeal. Or you can perform an online search for "credit card processing" to find a variety of companies offering accounts to budding online businesses.

You'll also need a payment gateway account, which is an online processor that hooks into both your customer's credit card account and your internet merchant account. The gateway verifies information, transfers requests and authorizes credit cards in real time. Leading providers to smaller merchants include Authorize.Net, CyberSourceand VeriSign.

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