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Setting up an e-commerce advice

16 September 2002
Anaheim, CA USA
I have a friend interested in setting up a small e-commerce website. She has done some research on google but wanted to get advice from those with real experience. Her goals (for now)

Establish a website (.com/.biz/.net/.us etc)
Setting up a secure transaction for credit cards
Setting up a website design...doesn't have to be too elaborate

Who did you use (amazon, godaddy etc.) and who has the best bang for the $$??

If you have a website of your own please provide the address.


I have set up many websites for different clients. I would recommend GoDaddy for the registrar (easy to use interface/ cheap) the merchant provider will depend on what you sell. PayPal is an option but I do not agree with their "use agreement" that basically says they can pull the plug for any reason they see fit. You don't want to be left high and dry for payment. You may consider using multiple payment options. Maybe Paypal and a cc processor like Nova, Chase etc. You will also need a gateway. This is the company that sends the data to the processor (not used with Paypal). For that there are a lot. I like Authorize.net.

For the site itself, I have used OSCommerce for years. It is free and very well supported. I have personally developed many modifications to this software. It is fast and has a nice user interface. You would need a host that runs Unix...

One of my biggest sites:
nutrition and performance supplements.
As far as the credit card merchant/gateway, I would stay far away from Paypal. That's who I use now, but am definitely moving asap. I've been recommended Authorize.net from a lot of different people, will probably go that route.
If you to start your e-commerce website asap, you can try yahoo store, its good and simple.
But if you want to register a domain and build up your own website, you can try bluehost, very good support and easy to use.
I have 5 websites, 3 with joomla 1.5.7 + virtuemart 1.1.2, 2 yahoo store.
I have most of my domains through Moniker or domainmonger. I don't like godaddy, they've taken people's domains away for little to no reason in the past. The also try to upsell you everything in the universe when you buy something through them, as well as telemarketing phone calls every once in a while to try to sell you more services. Moniker is targeted for people that have lots of domains and know what they're doing. They can also give you special pricing if you talk to them.

I have 2 sites that are using x-cart hosted with finestshops.com (see my sig). I don't recommend x-cart if you don't know how to write HTML/PHP. It needs a lot of help out of the box and is pretty expensive. Yahoo stores is probably much easier to get started with.

If you go with specific e-commerce web hosting they will setup a lot of the things for you such as the SSL certificate.

Merchant accounts are easy to get as long as you have a business bank account (I use wells fargo for my merchant account and corporate bank), as well as authorize.net as the payment gateway.

The total costs for just having the site running is about $100/month.
I use Ipowerweb for hosting, it's fast, reliable and pretty cheap.(approx $100/yr)

For the web name, try to get a .com and pick a SHORT, easy to remember name. That way, clients won't have to search for it, they can remember it.
Maybe Paypal and a cc processor like Nova, Chase etc. You will also need a gateway. This is the company that sends the data to the processor (not used with Paypal). For that there are a lot. I like Authorize.net.

FWIW, I did not find that there are a lot of gateway options if you ALREADY HAVE a merchant account. Most of these gateway providers require you to open a merchant account with them as well. However the reason for my post is to mention that a fellow prime member "True" (Nick) is one of the owners of a gateway provider that my company now uses and while we are just starting to ramp allowing our customers to accept CC transactions in production, his support is unparalleled and all of our testing has gone very smoothly. Our customers are established businesses, many are fortune 500 and ALL of them have pre-existing merchant accounts. Asking them to open a new one was not an option.

I suspect this is probably above and beyond what the OP is looking for here, but figured I'd take the opportunity to plug and thank a fellow prime member.
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