Setting Up An eCommerce Site or Online Store

What is eCommerse?

eCommerse (also called eBusiness) refers to selling goods and services online via Internet, particularly via a web site. There are many types of stores and services all over the web. It also includes gathering marketing data, and even business-to-business transactions.

What is an online store?

An online store is the most common form of an eBusiness. Anyone who's been on the Internet for very long probably has seen an online store and purchased from one. Examples include, and others. Even brick-and-mortar stores (conventional stores with physical locations in the real world) have online stores as well. These include Wal-Mart and RadioShack.

In an online store, you can browse pages of items much like you would a catalog. When you find something you want to purchase, you can click a button and add it to your shopping cart. You can review your cart and make changes before you click another button to actually purchase the items you want. From there you usually make an account with the store and log in, provide your credit card or other payment information and submit it. Then you get a receipt of your purchase along with an e-mail receipt and more information. You can also track your order, shipping time, and when to expect your order to arrive.

Behind the scenes, many things take place. Your payment information is sent via a secure protocol using an https:// address. This takes a special secure server with encryption to work (which Active Web Hosting does not support at this time). The web site may host such secure transactions on the same server as the site is hosted, or may use a third party to facilitate and take care of the transaction (which is what we recommend if you want to set up your store on our servers).

How do I get started?

The best way is to check out our eBusiness Primer. When you have familiarized yourself with what you need to start an online business, you can then select the best way to put up your store.

What software package (script) should I use?

Since you will need to send your visitors to a third party payment processing site, you basically only need a shopping cart script which will send the details of what the visitor purchased, but not their personal private information. That will be handled by the processing site once they click a button on your site to check out their final shopping cart selections.

There are some shopping cart and eCommerse programs which will not work with our servers. LiteCommerse and other more involved packages are not supported. Here are the technical details so you can best choose a shopping cart that will work with the third party processing site you choose.

Our servers use PHP 5 and MySQL 5. You get one database with your CGI account. Here is how we have it set up. Note that we have these settings in effect due to our commitment to keeping our servers as secure as possible.

Item Supported/Enabled
enable_dl disabled
ini_set disabled
safe_mode disabled
file_uploads enabled
allow_url_fopen enabled
magic_quotes_sybase disabled
sql.safe_mode disabled
PHP-Curl module Yes
xml/EXPAT extension No
SimpleXml Yes
libxml2 Yes
IronCube libraries No
https:// protocol/SSL No

Third Party Online Stores

You can also use off-site external online stores. There are several affiliate and other types of stores that you can blend in and customize to fit the look of your web site. Some of these include, CafePress and Lulu (if you want to publish books).