Getting Started with eCommerce
Building an online store is one of the more complex web development projects because it requires the integration of several systems, capable of constant co-ordination with existing customer and product databases. Additionally, steps must be taken to ensure not only customer information is captured safely, but passed on to revenue receiving point securely. In this post, we discuss the technical details of setting up an online store, and the design and best practice security measures necessary which can make your store a success.
Capturing PII data
PII data is “personally identifiable information”. Any time you collect user data - such as their name, email, and street address - on a website that can be used to identify and contact a person, there are several international laws to which you must adhere. For example, the database on which you store this information must reside on a server that has been “safe harbor”-certified. Safe Harbor is a policy agreement between the U.S. and the E.U. to protect internet data, including a user’s personal information. In setting up an ecommerce site, you will likely need to capture customer information that falls within the governance of such laws.
Here are some resources for further investigation:
• EU / US Safe Harbor Compliant Hosting -
• TRUSTe Safe Harbor services -
Choosing an ecommerce system
As with a content management system (CMS) discussed in previous post, there are many licensed, do-it-yourself hosted, and open source ecommerce solutions available that can provide much of the basic functionality. By rolling up your own sleeves (or with the help of a programmer), you can customize these products to suit the needs of your store. Here are some popular ecommerce systems suitable for both small and larger-scale websites.
These solutions are powerful, flexible, and suitable for larger, complex stores. They will require programming to customize and configure.
• Magento is a popular open source PHP solution
• StoreFront is a popular Microsoft .NET solution
Do-it-yourself, hosted solutions
These solutions require no technical programming skills. They offer online templates to choose from, such as the Volusion’s example in above.
Once you use their online tools to build your store, these companies will also host it online for a monthly fee. In the case only a portion of your site is intended as an online store, you build and host your normal website in one place and build and host your store with one of the providers listed below (there are more) - your user interface simply links the two sites together seamlessly.
• Yahoo! Small Business
• Go Daddy Web Store Design Service
WordPress also offers ecommerce plugin solutions such as Shopp and OSCommerce. To use the OSCommerce plugin, you first need to download and install WP.osC. Shopp offers installation services for about US$100 to help get your store up and running.
Read Next - Introduction on eCommerce - Part 2