Having a good e-commerce website is now an essential prerequisite for business success.
Yet for those unfamiliar with this type of technology, the prospect of getting a website up and running can be a daunting one. The good news is that that it does not have to be unduly complicated and you are probably, in reality, facing only a relatively small number of options.
Incidentally, this discussion excludes consideration of website hosting issues.
Buying an off-the-shelf website
- Today you can buy a very sophisticated e-commerce website for a very small amount of money. The person selling it to you will usually be able to offer you fast customization so that it looks as though it belongs to your company rather than someone else to avoid plagiarism.
- In many cases this approach involves them cloning an existing web site and simply changing the branding. This is typically low-cost, fast and legal if they have title to the site concerned.
- On the downside, you will probably need to compromise a little in terms of having every single particular individual requirement of yours built in. You may have to accept parts of your website work the way somebody else originally designed them rather than necessarily the way you would have done it yourself from scratch
It is though, a route favored by many business start-ups
HOW TO GO ABOUT
- This basically involves picking up a skeleton website and making your own changes to it so it looks as good as yours. Many of these come with built-in support for electronic payments, stock control and so on.
- There are now a large number of free ‘shopping carts’ available for downloading and customization.
- They are genuinely free and surprisingly rich in functionality, given that you are not paying anything for them! They are also often accompanied by facilities that allow you to maintain your site without needing to know anything about computer programming at all.
- The main drawback is that because these proto-web sites are free, there are a lot of things that may not be quite as renovated as you might desire. Some of them may also have more ‘bugs’ than would be the case if you were using a professionally designed or cloned website.
DO IT NOW
- There are now a number of free software environments, such as JOOMLA, which provide you with friendly facilities to build your own website to however rich a functional level you desire.
- There are several options in this category and almost all of them receive very positive press.
- Some, like JOOMLA, are entirely free and come with a range of add-on options.
- The downside is that, in spite of the sophistication of the web site creation software, the chances are you’re going to spend a lot of time building your site to begin with. It’s also fair to say that some require more technical skills and familiarity with technical concepts than others.
- You can, of course, simply contact an internet building company and ask them to build a site for you entirely from scratch and to your own design.
- You will end up with a final product that exactly meets your requirements and which looks and feels completely in line with your expectations. You may also have to consider this to be a relatively expensive option overall but as long as the website is professionally done and customized as per your needs it a win-win situation and of course a one time investment
All things taken into account though, most companies should be able to achieve an online presence for e-commerce within a very short space of time and a relatively small expenditure.