Basic Guide to E-Commerce (Doing Business Over the Internet/Web)

Sections of this topic

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.

    Table of Contents

    Basics of E-Commerce (including assessments to see if your business is ready)

    Getting a Computer, Connecting to the Internet, and Developing a Web Page

    Understanding Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

    Understanding Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

    Building and Managing a Virtual Team

    Virtual Teams

    Product Development

    Developing Your Online Store, Online Transactions, etc.

    Online Marketing and Monetizing Your Website

    Online Marketing, Advertising and Promotions, and Sales and Service

    General Resources With More Help for You

    Also, consider
    Related Library Topics

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    Introduction and Basic Overview of E-Commerce

    The Free Management Library will help you address the major considerations in setting up an e-commerce business. The considerations are as follows.

    E-Commerce is Like Any Other Business, Except …

    Developing a business over the Internet requires many of the same major activities as starting any other business. You should do some basic business planning. After all, you need a product. You may need funding to get your business going. You need customers. You need to market products to your customers. You need strong customer service. You need to manage purchases by customers, finances, staff, and other resources.

    Not All Products Are Very Compatible to Sales Over the Internet

    However, there are some features unique to e-commerce. Not all products are real compatible to be sold over the Internet. For example, they may require a lot of face-to-face selling. They may cost a lot to ship (a primary practice in e-commerce is that customers buy products, and you ship the products to them). You need to make sure that, because your product may be advertised to the world, you remain in control of your ideas, or “intellectual property”.

    You Need an Online “Store”

    Basically, you need an “online store” to be an “e-tailer”. (Don’t fret. You may be able to outsource, or hire, a current store to work with you.) Your store will need a “merchant” account, or the ability to process your customers’ credit card transactions over the Internet. This includes needing a “secure server”, or that your online store is on a computer system that ensures that customers’ credit card numbers cannot readily be read by people who are not supposed to read these numbers. You’ll probably need some kind of online order form that customers can complete, in order to purchase your products. You may even want your the processing of customers’ orders to include processing the customers’ credit card numbers right away while they’re still online and connected to your Website.

    Let’s read on to understand the very basics of e-commerce.

    Obviously, You Need a Website

    You need to design and promote a Website. You’ll need access to expertise that can regularly design and maintain this Website for you — and it will require ongoing attention. Fortunately, there is a great deal of free information available to help you with this design and promotion.

    Overviews About Getting Started (including assessments for your business)


    Is E-Commerce Really Such a Breakthrough?

    Assessing if Your Business is Ready for E-Commerce

    Getting Started

    Some “Advanced” Topics

    Global E-Commerce Regulation

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    Getting A Computer System for Your Business

    You’ll need a computer system to manage information for your business. The size of the system depends on how much you want to do with it. However, today’s desktop personal computers (especially if they’re configured as part of a client-server system) can handle many of the demands of e-commerce. (Note that you may need a different computer system to actually host your Website, conduct financial transactions with customers, etc.)

    Getting Connected to the Internet

    Building, Promoting, and Managing Your Website

    Computer and Network Security

    Etiquette in Online Communications

    Understanding Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

    EDI appears to be the current standard format used by businesses to exchange documents between computers. The following links will give you a basic understanding of EDI.
    What is EDI?

    Developing and Managing a Virtual Team

    If you are conducting business over the Internet, it’s not unlikely that you’ll use the Internet for most, if not all, of your communications with employees. You are also likely to use the Internet to communicate with collaborating organizations, suppliers, etc. You’ll benefit from reading about virtual teams, or groups of people working together primarily by using the Internet as a means of communications.
    Virtual Teams

    What’s Involved in Designing and Managing a Product?

    It will benefit the reader to have some basic sense of what’s involved in developing and managing a product or service. Read the section
    Product and Service Development

    (Optional Reading)
    It’s common for businesses to develop a business plan whenever they start a major new venture, for example, a new organization, product line, etc. You might review the basics of business planning. These basics will include information needed in the following sections, including product creation, marketing, advertising and promoting, and sales and service, as well. See
    Business Planning

    Product Creation and Development

    The Library topic Product and Service Management provides a complete overview of how to develop an idea into a product, how to build and regularly produce that product, and how to advertise, promote, and sell the product. See the following sections on that topic:

    Online Stores — Basics

    Now you’re read to begin selling your product over the Internet. The following links will help you set up your “virtual store” to begin transactions with customers.

    (There will be more about online marketing, advertising, and sales, later on below.)

    Online Credit Card Processing

    The ability to process credit card orders over the Internet is a major convenience to customers — if they believe their credit card numbers will remain private to the transaction.

    You can learn about these services just by looking at some of the ads from businesses that offer merchant accounts.

    Online Marketing and Monetizing Your Website

    There is a great deal of information in the library about marketing, advertising and promoting, and sales and service. However, when these activities are carried out over the Internet, they have unique features.

    General Resources With More Information for You

    There are an increasing number of online resources about e-commerce. The following links will help to get you started in finding more resources.’s Electric Commerce Workbench (many, well-organized links)

    For the Category of E-commerce:

    To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

    Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.