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  1. #1

    e-Commerce nubie

    At some point I want to start an online business doing auctions or selling products. I don't know what all I have to do to accomplish that...who to host with (secure, cheap, etc.). Can the host build all my infrastructure?

    I have no home page and am not a developer, so can someone suggest how to develop a decent looking site and host the site for free or low fee to test my site before doing business online. I prefer to have a domain to avoid a long path...is there a way to avoid the long path without having a domain? Once the site is up, I want to sign-up for some affiliate programs to see what kind of income it generates. Which affiliate programs are good to get and how to put on my site once that is ready. Can any number of affiliate programs be put on my site? Can this site with affiliate programs be later turned into an business site for selling products, etc.?

    Any legal and tax issues involved here? Do I need to consult a lawyer/tax-advisor? Do I need to open a company (corp. or LLC)? Benefits/Costs?



    Thank you.

  2. #2
    At Google type: "Free Shopping Cart" with the quotes.

    I doubt many free shopping carts have affiliate programs. For that go to Google and type: "Shopping Cart" Affiliate

    Affiliate programs are good, but you need advertising to make it work usually.

    This is not the forum for Legal issues. E-Commerce != Legal Issues

    You could be putting the horse before the carriage.

  3. #3
    Wow, you have a lot of questions there.

    * There are a number of great hosts that you can search for on WHT or through google.com etc. You will have trouble finding a host and designer in one, and if you find one, you should probably consider not utilizing them to begin with. It is best to get a host that is absolutely dedicated to hosting, and get a designer absolutely devoted to designing.

    * In order to develop a half way decent site, with a limited budget, try utilizing a program like Microsoft Frontpage, or Macromedia dreamweaver.

    * You don't want to have a business while utilizing another's domain name, that screams unprofessional. Just goto godaddy.com and spend a few dollars to get a decent name.

    * If you want your entire site devoted to affiliates, then this could be a good idea, but if you are doing something aside from affiating with other companies, like selling your own products or doing your own auctions, then it will look slightly unprofessional if it is obvious you are simply pushing a bunch of products.

    * You will be considered a sole-owner at this point, no reason to formalize it, just claim your income as personal income on your tax forms, until you get some employees that is.

    In the end this forum will help you get started, but you will need to do a lot of research before even considering opening this business, otherwise you will spend a lot of money on unnecessary expenses trying to figure things out. No reason to waste money on trial-and-error when you can do the research for free.

    Hope this helps.
    FrogJumper.com, Superb Cpanel Web Hosting.
    Excellent, High Paying Affiliate Program.

  4. #4
    I have been running a few eCommerce sites.
    I am no expert, but will try my best to answer your questions.

    I don't know what all I have to do to accomplish that...who to host with (secure, cheap, etc.). Can the host build all my infrastructure?
    I have no home page and am not a developer, so can someone suggest how to develop a decent looking site and host the site for free or low fee to test my site before doing business online.

    I will never use a free host to run an eCommerce site. The reason I say this is because you may need more control also if you decide to accept credit cards you will need to get and SSL cert. I am not to sure if a free host will allow you to install SSL cert, you would have to check.

    You said that you donít have any home page and youíre not a developer. You can use free carts such as Zen Cart or Cube Cart. With the help from there forums you can edit it to look decent. Once your business takes off, you can invest your money in other carts if you want to.


    You can download both carts from the developerís web site or if the host that you decide to use has Cpanel you can install it from within Cpanel. Only thing with installing the script from Cpanel is it will not be installed in the root.

    I prefer to have a domain to avoid a long path...is there a way to avoid the long path without having a domain?
    If your domain register provides it you can use Domain masking to hide the long domain name, but I would not do that only because you are building an ecommerce site, and search engine placement is key. It has been my experience that search engines donít like redirects and masking.


    Which affiliate programs are good to get and how to put on my site once that is ready. Can any number of affiliate programs be put on my site? Can this site with affiliate programs be later turned into an business site for selling products, etc.?
    I think that Zen Cart has an affiliate mod that you can install but I have not installed or try any affiliates. Sorry I cannot help you in this area.

    Any legal and tax issues involved here? Do I need to consult a lawyer/tax-advisor? Do I need to open a company (corp. or LLC)? Benefits/Costs?
    This will all depend on your state. I recommend that you check with you tax office.
    It is really good to have a Tax ID a lot of legit business/Wholesalers will not deal with you without one. The reason why I say legit is because there is a lot of sites on the internet that clam to be wholesalers and would charge you a monthly subscription free, be very
    careful THESE ARE NOT REALL WHOLESALERS. Also if you are selling tangible goods online and you sell to someone that lives in the same state that your business is registered, you are required to pay tax on that sale.

    Like I said, I am not an expert but I hope this information helps.

  5. #5
    Thank you tberthel, goodydomains, and shazer7 for your replies. I appreciate your input to point me in the right direction. Please see below and comment if you agree/disagree with my understanding and if you have more suggestions.

    shazer7: "You said that you donít have any home page and youíre not a developer. You can use free carts such as Zen Cart or Cube Cart. "

    I am not sure where to use the free carts when I don't have a home page or an e-commerce site. Please clarify.

    I surely don't want to get into legal aspects involved here, just am trying to get a scope of what kind of advise to consider before doing online business. The legal questions I have are more related to what all I could have on the site - policies, security of personal info. for credit card processing, content to be displayed, delivery/shipping, agreements with hosts, etc.

    For now, I want to start solo. It seems like getting a personal site and having just a few affiliates does not need legal/tax advise or a company name, etc., however, I should get a domain name and find a way to place it in search engines. I was planning to have this test site (personal site with affiliates) on a cheap/free host but the e-commerce business on a decent and reliable host. Also, I should keep the business site free of affiliates. One option I was looking at was to have one of the affiliates create my site but not sure what all I could do on that site (like add more affiliates, etc.), definitely not do the e-commerce there.

    From what I understand so far from my research and your answers, once I move on from the affiliate only site to an e-commerce site, I should get a Tax ID, sign up with a decent e-commerce host who can get me a domain name, while the hosting site provides me with the e-commerce setup to include certs, catalogue, search capabilities, shopping carts, credit card processing, shipping costs, etc. Creating such a site is an issue with me. Thanks for the suggestion to use Frontpage or Dreamweaver. I have just started learning to use Dreamweaver (30 day trial) but there has to be a quicker way to create a site using a decent existing template. If I am able to find a decent template and build the site, how would I upload the files to the hosting site? Would all things on the template need to be compatible with the hosting site if I use Dreamweaver? Suggestion to not use the host that can also design my site confuses me and so I have started learning Dreamweaver, but that just slows thing down until I learn Dreamweaver well enough to be able to create, maintain, update site with new options, adding links, troubleshoot page errors, etc. And so the reasons to have the hosting site design my page and integrate with the e-commerce features for me.

    Again, thanks for the great suggestions and I look forward to many more.
    Last edited by nu-ecom; 10-26-2005 at 03:20 PM.

  6. #6
    shazer7: "You said that you donít have any home page and youíre not a developer. You can use free carts such as Zen Cart or Cube Cart. "
    What I was trying to say is since you donít have home page (website) or donít have the development skills, you can use an out of the box solution. The install for both carts are automated and you should have no problems. All you would have to do is customize the look of the cart. If you need any help let me know.

  7. #7
    Thanks again shazer7. Yes, if you don't mind, please elaborate more.

    So, if I don't currently have a site and a host and skills to create a professional looking site for e-commmerce, do you suggest to use one of these shopping cart programs to first create my site using their templates (if this option is available), host it on their own server, and use their e-commerce software? Can you outline the cost involved to do this? How do they handle upgrades to their software or fixes?

  8. #8
    The two free shopping carts that I noted donít come with hosting you would have to obtain hosting your self.

    Just like any other software once an upgrade or fix is released it would be up to the end user to apply. There is a feature in the Zen Cart admin panel that tells you if a new upgrade is available.

    In reference to cost I would not be able to say, because I host my own sites, when it comes to designing the sites I am not the best, but with help from the forum and research I am able to get it done. I am sure you can find hosting for under $10.00 a month.

    With the money I save from that I put into advertising, because in order for your site to make it or at lease have a fighting chance you have to spend some money, I just wanted to mention this because I donít want to give the impression that you can have a successful eCommerce store without spending any thing upfront.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Las Vegas/St. Louis
    Posts
    175
    shazer7 is correct. You must spend some money in ordrer to make money. You and mentioned e-commerce and an auction site. A lot of customization has to go into an auction website, and you must make it convienent for the customer to communicate with the person posting thier product or services.

    ZenCart and OsCommerce, are free scripts that are normally sponsored via donations on their parent websites. When a new release is made, you must implement it yourself. Sometimes this requires reinstallation. You can find both of these carts in the auto installer known as FANTASTICO, which comes with a lot of cpanel/linux hosting accounts by default. You will need an SSL Cert for security if you choose this route. Or if you dont want to use something like that - there are hosted carts like 800cart where you can add links to their secure cart system, and not have to deal with SSL, because the information is stored on their site.

    You must also decide whether or not you are going to use 3rd party payment processing on your site or if you will go about using a traditional merchant account.
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