What you need to know to start your own e-commerce web site, selling on-line.

We specialise in using a product called Actinic, this page and pretty much this entire site is based on using this software, without using this package the information here may not be as relevant, but if you have not yet decided, we would certainly recommend trying this one out.

Actinic is an off-the-shelf product that can simply hold all your product information for you to edit and upload at the click of a button without having to pay a developer for every small change you want to apply to your site.

There are nine main points below that you will need to consider in order to get up and running with selling your products and services online. You may already know what you need to about some of them, so you can just click on the links you think you need to know more about, although you may still find some useful information in the other sections too - particularly this one. At anytime, feel free to give us a call on the above number, it is a local rate call from anywhere in the UK and there's always someone around to help.

A - Z, Checklist for new e-commerce web sites.

Frequently asked questions about web sites and e-commerce.

If you have any further questions about any of this information or want some more advise, please do not hesitate to call or contact us using this site, we will be able to help you right away. You may also want to look through our support page where you can find answers to the most common setup questions.

A product to sell.

Having the knowledge about your industry can help you get your site found in better ways than almost any web developer on their own. Search engines like lots of accurate information. All the jargon you use with your products and services is so invaluable you would not believe. If you combine as much knowledge as you can with a company like ours we can work wonders to produce a quality site with the right information to be found by the right people - new customers.

Whilst making your decisions about packages and who you decide to work with, its always worth jotting down the jargon and any phrases associated with your industry, products and services. These can then be used for page titles, descriptions and even key words for your advertising. We really cannot stress enough how much difference this can make.

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A Domain name.

Our domain name is cjsukltd.co.uk, this is simply just our company name.

In order to make any website you will need your own domain setup to work with your hosting package. Choosing the right domain name can play a vital role in the success of your site. There are two main ways to decide on your domain name. The first is, like us, to simply base it on your company name. The second is to use your product or service information, such as bestshelving.co.uk, this uses the type of product 'shelving' and a keyword 'best', a word someone is likely to search by. This is generally the better method to use as far as site optimisation goes, but is not necessary in order to create a good web site.

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Web hosting.

Web hosting is simply where your web site is stored. Your domain name points to the hosting server, so when someone types in or clicks or your domain name, the information from the hosting server gives out the web page to the visitors computer so the visitor can see your site. Our hosting includes as well as free support, your statistics, e-mails and lots of extra facilities through our control panel.

The costs involved in web hosting vary rather a lot, it is very much you get what you pay for, this should be considered when creating an e-commerce site, especially if your income does or could well depend on it in the future. We are one of the cheapest accredited developers when it comes to Actinic hosting, however, unlike above, you do actually get more than you pay for as we don't charge for calls and we are always happy to help with anything related to Actinic, hosting and any other services we can.

With us being Actinic and hosting specialists, you have an advantage when it comes to fixing problems, you should not get stuck when it comes to knowing who to call. If you are to host with a company that hasn't the experience to help if the package isn't working, you should at least have Actinic's telephone support. If you are creating your first e-commerce site, we would strongly recommend going with a company that can help you with the entire project.

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E-commerce software.

As we mentioned above we use Actinic to create e-commerce websites so you can sell on-line. You can use this software on your own or with help from a company like us. The system is designed to be off-the-shelf, this means as long as you have the other main points from this page covered, you can create everything else you need to start selling.

There are lots of advantages to using this package, such as its popularity, having a massive and very useful forum in which to ask any question you like, dedicated companies which can help deliver a single file to you that contains everything you need to start and maintain your site without having to continually pay for changes over and over again, great options to increase the abilities of your site such as secure checkouts, buy one get one free', 'also bought' and lots of other marketing options.

This is an award winning piece of software that we would recommend to any company no matter what the size, the price for the software is very acceptable and given you get 30 days free telephone support, there is little doubt you can't have a live site running very quickly.

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Web site design.

A good design should obviously keep a visitor attracted to your site, keeping them there increases your chance to get your message across and to sell your product to them.

There are three main ways to get a design for your site. The first is to use one of the in-built designs available in Actinic, the second to find a ready-made design and have it integrated into Actinic by an accredited developer like us and thirdly to have a design created to your exact requirements incorporating any existing logo's or colour schemes you already have. A good idea is to start taking notes of sites you already like the look of and listing them so as to pass on to a designer, this is a much clearer way of explaining the theme and layout you want to have from your site.

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PSP (Payment method).

One of the worst parts of selling on-line is when your new visitor goes to your site, finds the product they want, decides to purchase it, but then they get to the checkout and start worrying that their card details or even your company are not safe to buy from, then go elsewhere. This is one of the most important parts when it comes to setting up your site.

There are lots of ways to setup secure payments on your site so the above doesn't happen. The easiest way to stop loosing customers because of this is to use one or more branded PSP's (Payment Service Provider). Having several different PSP options on your site is even better, often the customer would already have an account with PayPal, Nochex or Google setup with them and will know how much time they can save by choosing that option. Most PSP's give your customers guarantees that you are a legitimate company and they are safe to buy from you. Each PSP has a different method of charging commissions and monthly fees. Something to consider here is your profit margin against the industry you are in. An example would be car stereos, these are often bought by fraudulently used cards, so we would recommend Worldpay in this instance as they provide one of the best security methods, but they also charge usually a bit more per transaction.

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Security (The Golden Padlock).

Once you have a PSP setup, there is one more option to consider, Actinic's checkout, where the customer enters their name, address, phone numbers and e-mail address, is not by default secure until you go from your site over to your PSP. To get around this you can purchase a dedicated SSL certificate and apply it to this part of the site, this would then show the golden padlock throughout the entire checkout whilst the customer enters their details.

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Advertising and SEO.

Once all the above has been setup on your site, you need to get people to visit.

There are three main ways to attract visitors, these are off-line advertising such as the local paper, on-line pay per click advertising, where you pay to have your sites details shown when someone uses a particular search term in something like Google, Yahoo or MSN. Thirdly the quality of your properly constructed, informative, error free (test 1, test 2 and test 3) site which naturally ranks high in the above mentioned search engines and doesn't cost you anything to be there! What people often don't realise when choosing a design, is this is where half of the optimisation occurs. Choosing the right design for your site is not only about how good it looks, its just as much, if not more about how it is made. A badly made design will not advertise well in search engines and will almost certainly loose you potential customers.

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Support if you get stuck.

As we mentioned above and on most pages, we would always like to hear from our sites visitors, this does not change after you have spent your money.

The web is literally like a spider web, the bigger and more connected to other parts, the stronger it is. This means that we like to setup links to our customers sites and also, when agreed, a link back to us. If we fail in any way with your site or support, the web we have made between us and our customers would fall down and we would not have people visiting our site. The point being support from us is and always will be the key to our business, we like to think you can ask any customer who we have ever worked with over the last eight years and they would agree.

We have a comments page which we invite you to look through, if you would like to use any of our customers as references to get their feedback we can arrange this for you, but we would ask if we can contact them first out of courtesy.

The below link is more about setting up your system after you have gone ahead with one of our packages, such as your e-mails, Actinic, hosting etc. We also use Skype as another method of communication, please call or e-mail and we can inform you of our details.

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