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  1. #1

    First ecommerce website - Need some advice please!

    Hello guys,
    I've followed topics here for a while and decided to register as i am a bit confused over some things!

    I'm starting an ecommerce website and know about all the things you need,

    Web domain - Web hosting - Shopping cart - Gateway/processor - ssl - merchant account.

    I've done research on companies that do these things and found a few competitive companies doing each one, but i'm unsure over the web domain and web hosting part!

    Most hosting companies seem to offer massive packages with site building tools included, shopping carts that are rubbish unless you get the most expensive package, shared ssl included, etc, and that all is useless to me because i'm proficient with dreamweaver, want a good shopping cart and want a unique ssl!

    Basically, my main question at the moment is, where can i buy my domain name at a decent price (i'm not looking for cheapest, i'm looking for quality, after all this is my business!) and where can i buy a good web hosting deal for my needs? I won't have that much traffic and transactions to start with but the plan is to eventually grow.

    And DO i HAVE to use a "e-commerce package"? for example, networksolutions offer:

    Standard E-Commerce
    Pro E-Commerce

    but do i really need something like this? Can i not get a normal website web hosting space and put my website + ssl + shopping cart, etc, and it be the same?

    Thanks in advance for any tips/info/advice anyone can give me!

  2. #2
    I am using nativespace over 4 years, and never got a problems with them.
    They are fast have all necessary tools on cPanel, good prices and really great support.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    I suggest you to buy your .COM domain directly from an ICANN accredited registrar and to use a third-party reliable DNS/monitoring/failover service as DNSMadeEasy. Also I suggest you to use Google Apps (free) for e-mail services and BQBackup for offsite backups. I recommend you to use the hosting company only to provide the Web and SQL services and keep an emergency site via a cheap VPS or shared hosting account. If your target market is the US, I suggest you locate your(s) server(s) in Dallas and rent 100Mbps dedicated servers from Softlayer or The Planet.
    Last edited by dotHostel; 06-30-2009 at 08:27 PM.

  4. #4
    Hey guys, thanks for the suggestions,
    However, i've kind of set my heart on, i just chatted to a sales person on chat and was quite impressed, they seem to have a good reputation and have been running since 1997, prices aren't cheap but that's okay with me.

    I'm thinking of starting with the shared pro for $24.99/month because my business will literally start from zero, so won't have that many visitors for the first few months, and the cheaper packages aren't static ip's. After a while, i can upgrade to a vps or dedicated server if my growth/needs increase.

    I'm also based in the uk so want to buy a domain, liquidweb do this but i'm thinking it's probably best to regist the domain directly from a seller registered with (i think this is the uk equilavent to ICANN).

    I want to register the domain this way for two reasons, and hopefully you guys can comment on my reasons:

    1- I already know the domain name i want and it's available, but want to buy it asap just so i don't lose it to someone else.
    2- I won't finish the website for another couple of months so there's no point in wasting money on webhosting yet, but i still do want to own the domain name asap. Also, I think liquidweb would own the domain name if i registered it with them?

    I want to own the domain because it will be my company name. I don't want to lose it to a web hosting company if i decide to move to another web hosting. Domains seem to be relatively cheap for a year so wasting a bit of money for a few months without using the domain but still owning it, is worth it.

    Is everything i've typed correct? any advice please?
    thanks again

  5. #5
    oh and also, forgot to mention another point,

    what's the difference of buying a domain from different sites? why are some cheaper than others on the same domain name? if i buy a domain, it's MINE for the amount of years i paid for, so does it matter where i buy it from?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Liquidweb will not own the domain name but you should register directly with a registrar, and IMO never with a Web hosting company. You need to be free to move if something goes wrong. There are lots of stories here at WHT about people locked by the Web hosting company or by a domain reseller going out of business.

    Said that, a VPS from RapidSwitch may be a better deal.

    PS: I have a domain registered via and no problem at all.
    Last edited by dotHostel; 06-30-2009 at 08:59 PM.

  7. #7
    Yeah i agree, registering directly with a registrar makes perfect sense!

    Can i ask you though, what makes vps better than a shared hosting? because in vps you can still encounter crashes caused by other people right? i know you have access to the root folder aswell but i'm not sure what that means entirely? i read somewhere that with root folder access you can basically install ANY third party app, i.e shopping carts, any payment gateway, etc, is this correct? if it is, how else is vps better than shared hosting?

    thanks in advance again

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by Thatboy22 View Post
    Yeah i agree, registering directly with a registrar makes perfect sense!

    Can i ask you though, what makes vps better than a shared hosting? because in vps you can still encounter crashes caused by other people right? i know you have access to the root folder aswell but i'm not sure what that means entirely? i read somewhere that with root folder access you can basically install ANY third party app, i.e shopping carts, any payment gateway, etc, is this correct? if it is, how else is vps better than shared hosting?

    thanks in advance again
    Good VPS implementations offer guaranteed resources and process isolation. It is like you are running your own dedicated server.

  9. #9
    Interesting questions for ecommerce newbies, thank you. What about shopping carts, did you make any research on that part? What are your requirements?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Ulyanovsk, Russia
    As for VPS hosting, the main advantage is that you get some amount of resources for sure and even more if other accounts do not use them, thus resources are dynamically relocated. On a shared server resources are used by all accounts at the same time, thus some resource-intensive application may 'eat' all resources on the server.

    As for setting up the store, you need to make sure all the following points are covered:

    1. Hosting account - you have found the company already.
    2. Domain name - since you like the domain name you have chosen, it would be better to register it right now.
    3. You need to choose e-commerce script for your business together with payment processor. Do you have any requirements to the store?
    4. SSL - you will be able to obtain it later when the store is set up.

    As for development stage for the site, you could install it to your local machine and do all the settings there and move it to the live server later.

  11. #11
    My requirements are mostly the normal e-commerce ones:

    1- a nice cart that can use similar colours to my company theme, the better it fits in with my website theme, the better.

    2- the cart has to eventually have user product reviews, discount vouchers, customer accounts (and the option to purchase a product without HAVING to have an account, some times i buy things but don't feel like registering, so this is important to me), news mailing system, have the "you may also be interested in X product" feature, efficient product search feature, among other similar things.

    3- my store will be selling gifts and such, so eventually i will have (hopefully) 100+ products, all with a couple of images and good short (during searches and such) and long descriptions (product main page).

    I will definitely install my site on my local machine to do all the testing and things, once my website is fully finished and ready to sell products i will purchase webhosting and put it up.

    Once i put it up online i will also purchase the ssl certificate then as well, as it's a waste of money to buy it before i put it online.

    Considering i am a starting business, would it be wise to start with a good shared hosting package for the first few months until i start growing and then upgrade to a vps? vps is considerably more than a shared hosting so i'm not if it'd be worth the extra money in the beginning, considering i probably won't have much traffic to start with.

  12. #12
    Another advantage of VPS is that you get your own copy of a software web server and thus gain more control over its settings and components. In good hands, this turns out being a flexible tool for performance optimization, while at the same time dealing with this part requires more technical knowledge.

    As for 100+ products, you may safely start with an affordable shared hosting, however, please check if a provider will allow you to upgrade for VPS at a time it will be necessary.
    Last edited by CS-Cart; 07-01-2009 at 08:55 AM. Reason: extras

  13. #13
    I have been interested in LiquidWeb and they offer monthly contracts, so i can easily upgrade to their vps plans, I am based in the uk though, and LiquidWeb in the states, but from what i've read, they're pretty good, would the different continent be an issue in any way in the future?
    Last edited by Thatboy22; 07-01-2009 at 09:11 AM.

  14. #14
    No, it's hardly an issue. Channels nowadays are very broad and it's very unlikely that your customers can feel any differences.

  15. #15
    Excellent, i still have a few months before i need to buy webhosting though, so it's not a worry for me yet.

    I am also about to register my domain name with as they seem reputable and decent $9.99 price tag for 1 year , but with the same continent scenario, any comments on this? thanks

  16. #16
    GoDaddy is a decent registrar, you may safely go with them. By the way, do a Google search for "godaddy discount coupons", you're likely to find some

  17. #17
    Hmmm, stumbled across a few really bad stories about godaddy now, and makes quite a strong case against them! Not sure about them now, heh, any recommendations on a different registrar?

  18. #18
    NetworkSolutions is probably as safe as possible, check them out in this case. While note that each big company has its piece of bad stories, and still most customers deal with them quite easily.

  19. #19
    I've seen networksolutions before and i'm considering them for my domain registration now as the price is okay. They give you the option to make the registration public or private though. It costs an extra bit to make it private. I'm unsure what is best for my website? i'd be an e-commerce website so i'm guessing it's best to show my info so people don't get hesitant? but would any customer ever really do a whois on a website to check that info?
    I also don't want to use my homephone to be shown publicly, is putting a phone number mandatory? and i'm moving house in about 2 months, so don't know what my address will be in the future, will i be able to change this also?

    Sorry for the amount of basic questions, i want to make sure i cover and know all the bases

  20. #20
    The amount of questions is fine You may always change public information, be in address or phone, via your account at domain registrar's website. As for privacy, I'm not quite sure about possible reasons for you to hide any details (especially not knowing specifically about your business), still, as for a home phone and other public information, I'd advice to read registrar policies where they should indicate which information is mandatory.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Ulyanovsk, Russia
    Actually GoDaddy is fine as registrant and it is the largest registrant in the world I believe. Our technicians have been working with multiple customers who registered domain names via GoDaddy and there were no complaints about the service as far as I know.

    As for your requirements to the store, most e-commerce packages on the market would suit your needs, you just need to choose one. As for redesign - i believe you will be able to modify the look and feel of the script to make it look like your site. By the way, what is your current site URL address?

    Also, if you wish, i will be glad to make installation of our software trial version for you, just you will be able to evaluate it and compare to other ones.

  22. #22
    That sounds great, i am going to try out a few shopping carts and will certainly message you in the future for info/links, i still have a few weeks before i start looking for the cart though, i've just started registering the domain names, getting a graphic designer to design my logo and registering the company name.

    I am starting to design the website layout at the moment and have a question that hopefully one of you guys can shed some light on - I'm using Dreamweaver and currently learning it, i am very competent with computing and will learn quickly, but don't understand one very basic thing.

    When designing the website, should I create the website in a normal HTML page and just use css? I've looked at the source of some e-commerce websites and they seem to have php pages which has made me unsure of what to do.

    example of some code i found:
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/styles/2009_all.php" />
    <script type="text/javascript" src="/js/2009_all.php" language="JavaScript"></script>

    can someone briefly give me some tips please?

    I know some shopping carts use php so does that mean i have to create all my web pages .php?

    Slightly confused, please help

  23. #23
    Hi new member here. Im going to be in the same boat as you. Trying to design my own online shop to sell car parts imported from Japan. Will be looking at this thread with great interest.

  24. #24
    Xcapade, nice to meet you and welcome aboard .

    Thatboy22, regarding your question on design: before you've chosen a shopping cart, it's advised to concentrate solely on HTML, CSS and image design. The thing is that different carts have various template systems, therefore, their approach to design integration is different as well (although general principles are quite common).

    In the example you've mentioned, CSS is generated by a dynamic PHP script (basing on some conditions, I guess). Such an approach is quite rare, more often you simply need to include a static CSS stylesheet. Or, for example, if you need to use various stylesheets for customer and administration zone - they are usually included via different corresponding templates.

    Still, in any case, right now you may safely proceed with a static design and start working with dynamics at the stage of design integration.

    Did this clear things at least a bit?

  25. #25
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Ulyanovsk, Russia
    Yes, the common way of redesign is to create 'pure' design first and then integrate it into particular script/shopping cart system. Also if you choose some shopping script, it is a good practice if there is development/design team that would help you with the integration since they know the structure of the software the best.
    X-Cart - PHP shopping cart used by tens thousands online merchants worldwide.
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  26. #26

    Hello you Web guru`s

    Thank you for the welcome on board CS-Cart, Your advice is spot on along with XCart. (so many carts on this forum, lol)

    My advice is to design the website first. Not all your pages need to be .php format only the pages you are sending information to and from (i.e. User name, product selected for purchase, etc.) It really does not make a difference if you save your average HTML page as a .php, because the browser will look at the programming in the page to establish what it needs to do with it.

    Remember your shopping cart is in php format because it needs to recieve information from other php pages on your site for a transaction to be completed.

    to break it down alittle: HTML pages are solely for information and are static where information is never changed,

    .php pages are pages where information is changed based on user behaviour therefore dynamic.

    css is a style sheet that maintains consistency on design layout within you website.

    Hope that helps.

    (I can see myself becomming an addict to this forum)

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