One you have established your website on a professional hosting platform you will sooner or later consider e-commerce functionality to increase conversions and take advantage of busy shopping periods during Christmas and Easter.
Forrester Research suggests that by the year 2015, online retail sales will reach almost $300 billion. Consumers are now purchasing products and services from a wide array of devices including desktops, laptops, tablets and Smartphones.
Source: Forrester Research
To meet this demand, leading hosting companies are putting together a plethora of e-commerce products to help streamline, automate and fast track the online buying process for small business websites.
Magento, Zen Cart, osCommerce, Cube Cart, and Agora Cart are some of the leading shopping carts that allow a SMB or SME to quickly deploy shopping solutions for their customers online.
While the products above are generally available via point-and-click interfaces within easy to use cPanels, there are three succinct areas that make up the e-commerce package.
An online shopping cart with add to cart, buy now and complete purchase buttons allow a buyer to complete a transaction without ever needing to send an email or call a sales number.
A merchant account allows you to operate as a seller when receiving credit card information. The shopping cart transmits the information to the merchant account for automated, real-time verification. The money is then transferred from the customer account into your business bank account.
The final area is SSL security or Secure Socket Layer protocols, which are essentially a digital padlock for your website on all major browsers. The user will see https instead of http signaling that the ordering process is secure and all information is protected during the transaction. You get this SSL for free when you sign up for an e-commerce hosting package.
Implementing an e-commerce solution for your website is easier than you think. The tools are all available from your hosting account and you can be up and running within 48 hours or less.