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What Should I Know Before Starting My Web Store?

web store 101

When you first think about starting your own online store, you need to start by picking the right ‘engine’ to drive your shop. In picking a solution that suits your business you can pick one of three approaches –  a free mainstream e-commerce platform, purchasing a full SaaS based online shop package, or programming your own store with all the functions you’ve always dreamed of.

What should I choose?

Let’s take a look at free e-commerce platform. For example, in one of our blog posts, “First Steps In Using Magento” we wrote about making your web store work in just a few easy steps. A couple commands in the terminal and you’ve got the backbone of a store. What’s left to do is importing the products, assigning categories, searching the internet for a template that suits you, and we can begin! However, from experience I can honestly say that if something got done so easily and quickly, then you should be suspicious. If you want specific functions to be available or a custom layout – then you’re going to face problems and will need to become a Jedi master programmer… Of course with the help of a bunch of plugins and extension. Let us hope you’ll find one that will satisfy you.

You can also make you website lift off a lot easier by choosing to use an already made shop where everything comes down to just a couple clicks. For a substantially small monthly fee you can have yourself  a decent shop (For example, like, that many sellers would be more than happy to have. The only negative side to choosing a ready-made platform is that the look and functionality of the website is dependent on the good will of site creators.

If your business sector is demanding, you have a specific business model, or if your clients are expecting something more than just an ordinary website – You need more. Your business will require dedicated solutions and a staff of programmers, who will make every function that you’ve dreamed of come true. Even if you know a thing or two about programming and are eager to undertake writing your own website – I have to be frank with you, don’t do it. Leave the programming to those who are dedicated to it are have lots of experience :)

Accepting payments

Most payment providers try to supply their clients with universal solutions, this is so that every store, from those based on a free platform, all the way to SaaS based or custom made solutions, can integrate with the providers payment gateway.

E-commerce platforms offer an endless variety of plugins and extensions that integrate with payment gateways. You could be making your first transaction within seconds – all you have to do is download, install, and configure the plugin!

Online shopping platforms allow you to integrate with bigger payment institutions. In most cases everyone is able to find something that suits their business, and configuration is as simple as it gets, you just need a gateway login and password.

If you’re thinking about custom made solutions for your website, there are a number  of libraries prepared by payment provides, usually this medium is called the Developer Zone. Generally you can integrate in two ways, through API or  a ready-made Secure Form. The first, allows your webmaster to show off his skills in designing a payment form, however, the latter is a lot easier to integrate. When it comes down to it, you are the one who chooses how payments will look on your website – card payments , PayPal, maybe you can even add single-click payments or recurring payments to that?

A developer needed ASAP!

Do you need a developer to  prepare your web store? A developer can be helpful when you’re going to go for the free e-commerce platform, he will configure the environment, upload the systems source code, modify the layout template, and install all the right plugins and extensions. However, if you’re going for the totally customized solution, then you’re definitely going to need a developer because he will be the one to implement all the functions that you want!

Don’t know any developers? Worry not! Check out freelancer.

What environment should I place my shop in?

Technically speaking, if you don’t want to think about what environment will be best for your store, you should choose hosting. Why is that? Well, with hosting you have someone taking care of your mail service, server and domain configuration, all for a substantially low fee.

Do you own a large business? Are you expecting a lot of traffic and numerous orders on your website? Is your market very competitive? Then take on a customized and dedicated server, it will save you from problems with efficiency, downtime, and the availability of services. On your own servers you can have unlimited transfer and storage space! However, you have to remember that you will need your own server administrator, which in turn means more additional costs.


Is your goal is to standout in the Internet and present a shopping mechanism that will draw in customers? Your answer is probably – yes. Do you need to integrate your store with an already existent software (like ERP)? Well, you most likely need a customized solution with unique functions that are not offered by standard platforms. If you want to make sure that your website will work without a glitch and in the fastest and most efficient way possible – think about buying a dedicated server.

However, if your case is that you’re just starting out in the e-commerce world and you’re not a 100% sure what your sales and their flow will be like – think about using a free e-commerce platform or ready-made shops. Deciding on such an option will not strain you wallet, which means you will be able to focus on starting your business and becoming active in the Internet.

Photo Credit: Florian Klauer

Dawid doesn't really look like a regular programmer should. He's always smiling and eating candy, no matter whether he's coding hard, designing or supporting. One thing is for sure - if he's not by his desk, he's in the kitchen ;) But after work Dawid is sometimes a bit concious stricken, so it's quite easy to meet him jogging in the local park.

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