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Online Web Stores

by Bruce Whitehead


Summary : If you are selling products on the web, one of the first things you will need to put into place, is a place on your website where customers can view your products and select them for purchase. In the real world, you would build a store...

If you are selling products on the web, one of the first things you will need to put into place, is a place on your website where customers can view your products and select them for purchase. In the real world, you would build a store.

You can do the same thing in the virtual world as well, without having to cover the expense of a real brick and mortar building. There are several ways to create and implement a virtual storefront:

  1. Design and program your own website, if you have the time and knowledge needed. This would require building not only the site, but the shopping cart and the backed database, payment processing system and so on.

    The benefit to this approach is that you get exactly the store that you need. The drawback, of course, is that you need to be a programmer to do it.

  2. Hire a programmer and web designer to custom write your site and shopping cart system. This is usually a very expensive undertaking since there are a lot of scripts to program and implement in even a small and basic online store. In addition to the expense, this will also take some time to complete.

    The benefit to this approach is that you can have your store customized to do exactly what you want it to do. The biggest drawback to this though, is simply the expense of hiring a staff of designers to create what you are looking for.

  3. Buy an existing script from a programmer and add it to an existing website but you would have to have some knowledge of programming or scripting to properly implement the script and properly integrate it into your existing website.

    The problem here is pre-built scripts are difficult to configure or integrate exactly the way you want them to appear or behave, since they have only the options that the programmer (who knows nothing about your business) decided to put in.

  4. Purchase a pre-built online store website, complete with shopping cart and payment processing. There are many variations of this type of service on the web. You can purchase stand alone store systems, or stores already integrated into virtual shopping malls.

    The benefit to this sort of system is that you don't need to hire designers or programmers, to write store software or system admins to maintain a store based on a pre-built script.

    Most of these types of stores have administration features you can access through your web browser, and you don't usually need any special knowledge to maintain your store look or update your online catalogs.

The drawback to this approach is a lack of flexibility. In many cases, pre-built stores provide limited customization options, require use of a specific payment processor and so on. However, if you are on a limited budget, have a small assortment of merchandise that does not have to be updated constantly, this can be an affordable way to put your business into its own virtual storefront.

Take a look at your business and budget and choose the method best suited to your needs!