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E-Commerce Website Basics

E-commerce is the buying and selling of goods and services on the Internet.


Selling Products – Hard Good and E-Goods

You can sell hard goods from your business, as well as e-goods, which are down-loadable products such as e-books, software and videos.

You can stock and ship the hard goods yourself, or you can use a third party drop shipping service to handle all the order processing for you.

If your product can be sold as a physical product or also as an e-product, such as books, information or software, you should look into digital marketplaces like Clickbank. Clickbank is the leading internet retailer of E-goods. The most powerful feature of Clickbank is that people can easily find and promote your products on their websites. All they have to do is paste a special link that sends customers through the ClickBank site for payment, and then on to your site for products download.

Affiliate Marketing – Recommending the products and services of others. This little-known aspect of e-commerce involves placing specially coded links on your site that take the visitor to the online store of another company.

Example: the online store of does not actually sell any products but links to the online store of’s function as the affiliate site is to pre-sell the visitor and create demand for the affiliate partner’s products. With sections on Ireland Travel and Irish Recipes, the site creates interest and demand for Irish food.


Basic E-commerce Tools

Mailing List – It is important to collect the names and email addresses on visitors to your website so you can stay in touch with them to invite them back to the website and also market other offers to them if you want to. If your website host does not include a mailing list service, I recommend a dedicated email list service like or, or you can get a hosting service that includes a mailing list like Site Build It.

They manage the collection of names and the list, send out emails, give you the stats on how many were read, and remove any invalid addresses. They handle the whole mess for you, and you can even set up a schedule for a whole season of newsletters all at once. They also keep the list safe for you. That list is money, and you don't want the only copy just on your home computer.

To get names into the mailing list you just add the name and the email address box code to your website and visitors then add their info, which is linked to the mailing list service.

A Shopping Cart service allows visitors to select items for purchase, calculates shipping costs and any other costs and discounts, such as coupons or promotions, and then passes the total to your credit card merchant account for payment.

Google Checkout is a combination of a merchant account and a single-item shopping cart. This is the easiest way to get started with an online store by selling single items. Just sign up for Google Checkout and you can make Buy Now buttons that you can just paste into your web page. You can upgrade Google Checkout to use a shopping cart as you expand. and are digital print-on-demand services that make it really easy to offer on your website just about anything that can be printed from a digital file, such as posters, prints, t-shirts, books, cards, and lots more. You just upload your artwork or book, pick the formats you want to sell, and add images and links on your website to the store items.

Membership Websites collect monthly or yearly fees for access to special information on a web site. Part of the website is open to the public and is used to promote the membership section of the site.


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