Basic Guide to E-Commerce (Doing Business Over the Internet/Web)

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.

Table of Contents

Basics of E-Commerce (including assessments to see if your business is ready)

One Basic Overview of E-Commerce
Overviews About Getting Started

Getting a Computer, Connecting to the Internet, and Developing a Web Page

Getting a Computer for Your Business (learning about them, buying one, maintaining it, etc.)
Getting Connected to the Internet and Web (learning about them, get an ISP, etc.)
Building, Promoting and Managing Your Website
Computer and Network Security for Your Computer (including usage policies, etc.)

Etiquette of Communicating Online

Understanding Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Understanding Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Building and Managing a Virtual Team

Virtual Teams

Product Development

What's Involved in Designing and Managing a Product?
Product Creation and Development (ideas, market research, competitive analysis, etc.)

Developing Your Online Store, Online Transactions, etc.

Store Basics
Processing Online Credit Card Transactions With Customers

Online Marketing and Monetizing Your Website

Online Marketing, Advertising and Promotions, and Sales and Service

General Resources With More Help for You

Telecommunications Laws
General Resources

Also see
Related Library Topics

Also See The Library's Blogs Related To This Topic

In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to this topic. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section "Recent Blog Posts" in the sidebar of the blog or click on "next" near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

Library's Customer Service Blog
Library's Marketing Blog
Library's Social Enterprise Blog


Introduction and Basic Overview of E-Commerce

The Free Management Library will help you address the major considerations in setting up an e-commerce business. The considerations are as follows.

E-Commerce is Like Any Other Business, Except ...

Developing a business over the Internet requires many of the same major activities as starting any other business. You should do some basic business planning. After all, you need a product. You may need funding to get your business going. You need customers. You need to market products to your customers. You need strong customer service. You need to manage purchases by customers, finances, staff and other resources.

Not All Products Are Very Compatible to Sales Over the Internet

But there are some features unique to e-commerce. Not all products are real compatible to be sold over the Internet. For example, they may require a lot of face-to-face selling. They may cost a lot to ship (a primary practice in e-commerce is that customers buy products, and you ship the products to them). You need to make sure that, because your product may be advertised to the world, that you remain in control of your ideas, or "intellectual property".

You Need an Online "Store"

Basically, you need an "online store" to be an "e-tailer". (Don't fret. You may be able to outsource, or hire, a current store to work with you.) Your store will need a "merchant" account, or the ability to process your customers' credit card transactions over the Internet. This includes needing a "secure server", or that your online store be on a computer system that ensures that customers' credit card numbers cannot readily be read by people who are not supposed to read these numbers. You'll probably need some kind of online order form that customers can complete, in order to purchase your products. You may even want your the processing of customers' order to include processing the customers' credit card numbers right away while they're still online and connected to your Website.

Let's read on to understand the very basics of e-commerce.

Obviously, You Need a Website

You need to design and promote a Website. You'll need access to expertise that can regularly design and maintain this Website for you -- and it will require ongoing attention. Fortunately, there is a great deal of free information available to help you with this design and promotion.


Overviews About Getting Started (including assessments for your business)

Basics

7 Steps to E-Business Launch
How to Build an Online Business
Website Hosting
7 Tips for Effective E-commerce
Ecommerce Ideas For Small Business Owners
The Nuts and Bolts of Business-to-Business E-Commerce

Is E-Commerce Really Such a Breakthrough?

Myths And Realities (suggests that starting e-commerce is not as easy as it sounds)
Top Ten E-Commerce Myths
The Latest Breakthrough in Online Shopping

Assessing if Your Business is Ready for E-Commerce

E-Commerce Readiness Assessment Tool
E-Commerce Readiness Self-Assessment
E-business basics: making a risk list for your e-commerce venture

Getting Started

About.com "One-Stop Workbench"
Starting Out in E-Commerce (extensive, well organized set of useful links)
Ecommerce Guidebook
What are the Steps in Creating an Online Business?
Quick Start Guide to Online Business

Some "Advanced" Topics

Legal Issues (mostly about trademark and copyright issues, protecting yourself)
Global E-Commerce Regulation



Getting A Computer System for Your Business

You'll need a computer system to manage information for your business. The size of the system depends on how much you want to do with it. However, today's desktop personal computers (especially if they're configured as part of a client-server system) can handle many of the demands of e-commerce. (Note that you may need a different computer system to actually host your Website, conduct financial transactions with customers, etc.)
Planning and Buying a Small Computer System (including information for nonprofits)
Software for Small Computer Systems (including general and nonprofit-specific information)
Learning About Small Computer Systems
Basic, Technical Support and Maintenance of Small Computer Systems
Computer and Network Security

Getting Connected to the Internet

Internet (including information for nonprofits)
Intranets (Computer Networks Internal to the Organization)
Getting Connected to the Internet

Building, Promoting and Managing Your Website

Building, Managing and Promoting Your Website (including for disabilities & various browsers)

Computer and Network Security

Computer and Network Security (including worms, viruses, hoaxes and spam)
Polices about Using Computers and Networks

Etiquette in Online Communications

Netiquette - Techniques and styles of writing e-mail messages

Understanding Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

EDI appears to be the current standard format used by businesses to exchange documents between computers. The following links will give you a basic understanding of EDI.
What is EDI?

Developing and Managing a Virtual Team

If you are conducting business over the Internet, it's not unlikely that you'll use the Internet for most, if not all, of your communications with employees. You are also likely to use the Internet to communicate with collaborating organizations, suppliers, etc. You'll benefit from reading about virtual teams, or groups of people working together primarily by using the Internet for means of communications.
Virtual Teams

What's Involved in Designing and Managing a Product?

It will benefit the reader to have some basic sense of what's involved in developing and managing a product or service. Read the section
Product and Service Development

(Optional Reading)
It's common for businesses to develop a business plan whenever they start a major new venture, for example, a new organization, product line, etc. You might review the basics of business planning. These basics will include information needed in the following sections, including product creation, marketing, advertising and promoting, and sales and service, as well. See
Business Planning

Product Creation and Development

The Library topic Product and Service Management provides a complete overview of how to develop an idea into a product, how to build and regularly produce that product and how to advertise, promote and sell the product. See the following sections in that topic:
Product Idea
(Are You Planning a New Business Around Your New Idea?)
Product Evaluation -- Can Your Idea Become a Viable Product or Service?
Product Development -- Building Your Product or Service
Product Production -- Ongoing Building of Products or Services

Online Stores -- Basics

Now you're read to begin selling your product over the Internet. The following links will help you set up your "virtual store" to begin transactions with customers.
E-Commerce SEO Guide: Search engine accessibility challenges and solutions for online stores and database driven product catalogs
How Does Store-Building Software Work? (very good overview)
Creating the Virtual Store: Taking your Website from Browsing to Buying
Making People Want to Buy in Your Retail Webstore
Whether You Need a Shopping Cart Program (Outgrowing a Simple Order Form?)
Shopping Cart - Building an Ecommerce Plan

(There will be more about online marketing, advertising and sales, later on below.)

Online Credit Card Processing

The ability to process credit card orders over the Internet is a major convenience to customers -- if they believe their credit card numbers will remain private to the transaction.
Why You Need to Take Credit Cards on Your Website
Unraveling the Mysteries of Merchant Credit Card Accounts for Web Commerce
How to Decide Whether You Need Real-Time Credit Card Authorization for Your Site

You can learn about these services just by looking at some of the ads from businesses that offer merchant accounts.
Internet Media Solutions
1-888-MerchantAccounts.com

Online Marketing and Monetizing Your Website

There is a great deal of information in the library about marketing, advertising and promoting, and sales and service. However, when these activities are carried out over the Internet, they have unique features.
Marketing
Advertising and Promotion
Selling Online
Customer Service
Customer Satisfaction

Ultimate "Marketing" Tactics - How to Turn Online Traffic into Money #1 of 4
Ultimate "Marketing" Tactics - How to Turn Online Traffic into Money #2 of 4
Ultimate "Marketing" Tactics - How to Turn Online Traffic into Money #3 of 4
Ultimate "Marketing" Tactics - How to Turn Online Traffic into Money #4 of 4


General Resources With More Information for You

There are an increasing number of online resources about e-commerce. The following links will help to get you started in finding more resources.
About.com's Electric Commerce Workbench (many, well-organized links)
Practical E-Commerce Articles
E-Commerce Dictionary
Capterra's listing of ecommerce software
What does the future hold for E-Commerce?


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For the Category of E-commerce:

To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

Related Library Topics

Recommended Books

General Information

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Also See

Information Technology -- Recommended Books




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