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You'll need some web store software to build your Internet store. There are several components and you can pick each one individually or buy a turnkey internet store. The components include shopping cart software, a merchant account and/or payment gateway, and a means of fulfilling your orders, depending on whether you are selling hard goods or e-goods, including online memberships. You also will need to decide whether your Internet store will be hosted on your own web site or as part of service elsewhere.
A turnkey Internet store gives you access to everything you need to build your Internet store. A typical turnkey solution helps you build your web store's shopping card, process payments, and fulfill orders. You will typically use the provider's web store software to update, modify, and create new product pages, manage shipping costs, and process payments. You can categorize your products, cross-sell related items, and offer coupons and specials to your customers. Different turnkey stores offer different features including varying amounts of storage, number of items that you can sell, email addresses using your store's name, and merchant accounts.
If you don't want a web site, you can use a hosted web store service. However, it is likely your web store will perform better if you have a web site that offers useful information to prospective customers and gives them the feeling that you are a "real" business, with an online presence. Your web site can help attract prospective customers by providing useful free information about something related to the products or services you are selling through your Internet store. Your web site can be something fairly simple and then you can use a hosted turnkey Internet store for the actual shopping cart and payment processing.
The answer, unfortunately, is that it depends. If you are technically capable and want to build and manage your web store yourself, you will be investing time rather than money. If you want to concentrate on running your business and use web store software or a turnkey internet store to get up and running quickly, you'll spend more money but less time building a web store. There are a few expenses that you can expect. Credit cards charge a transaction fee, so you will pay that one way or the other, either as a fixed price per transaction or as a percentage of the order.
To build your Internet store, you'll need software to build your shopping cart, process your customer's payments, a merchant account to take credit cards, and a system to track shipments and inventory. Building a web store can be as complex or easy as you want, depending on whether you want to use a turnkey Internet store or build the components individually and have them be an integral part of your web site. It's a good idea to start small when building a web store and offer more services and options after you get the basics up and running. You'll want to pay attention to your Internet store design to encourage visitors to turn into customers, just as you would pay attention to a brick and mortar store.
Running an online business requires much of the same planning as a brick-and-mortar business. You'll need to answer some questions so you can pick the right ebusiness solution to meet your needs. You'll need to know what you're selling, who you're selling to, what makes them want to buy your services or products. You'll also need to analyze your cash flow and prioritize your needs. Decide what you can build now and what you can put off until later. The type of ebusiness solution you choose will be dependent on the answers to these kinds of questions. You'll also need to decide whether you are going to try to build the ebusiness software yourself or purchase a package from a business solution provider.