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"E-commerce” simply means buying and selling products and services online. If you want to accept payments on your website or set up an online store to sell things, it’s time to get started with e-commerce. In this lesson, you’ll learn what e-commerce is, how to start using e-commerce, and two types of e-commerce solutions you can consider.
E-commerce is another name for “selling things online.” Different businesses may use e-commerce in different ways, ranging from accepting payments on a website to creating a full online store.
As you evaluate e-commerce options for your business, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How many items do you want to sell? If you just want to sell a few items, a simpler e-commerce approach might be good for you. If you have a large catalog of items, you may want a solution with advanced features, like inventory management.
- Where do you want to sell your products or services? You can sell your offerings in several places online, including your website or on marketplaces, like eBay or Amazon. Whatever you decide, you'll want to make sure your e-commerce solution supports the places you want to sell.
- How do you want customers to browse and discover your products? Unlike in physical stores, customers can't touch, smell, feel, or try on your items online. Can you bring your products and services to life using photos, written descriptions, and videos?
Two approaches to e-commerce
Option 1: Add simple selling functionality to your existing website
With this option, customers shop for your products or services on your website, but are directed away from your site to pay through a payment processor. After the payment is complete, your customers are taken back to your site.
With this approach, you don’t need to deal with the complexities of processing payments or setting up a full online store. This might be a good choice for you if you have a limited catalog of products or services or just want a simple way to accept payments online.
If you decide to go with this option, here are two partners that can get you started:
Offer customers multiple payment options with one integration. With PayPal Checkout, you can accept PayPal and other digital payments types, plus credit and debit cards, from a single integration.Learn more
Use Shopify’s Buy Button to showcase & sell products on any site or blog. With Buy Button, you can add a secure shopping experience to your site or blog. All the power of Shopify in a single button.Learn more
Option 2: Create a dedicated e-commerce site
With this option, customers stay on your website for the full shopping experience. They can browse, add multiple items to a cart and then purchase them all within your site.
In a more advanced setup, customers can also create accounts, save payment and address details, and use site search and coupon codes. And as the business owner, you’ll get access to a back-end system with order management and reporting.
This more complex option is good when you want to give customers a robust, customized shopping experience.
Here are a few partners who can help you build this type of shopping site experience:
Bring your business online. Shopify is an all-in-one commerce platform to start, run, and grow your business. With Shopify, your business is always open.Learn more
Build the store you want to start selling online. WooCommerce makes it simple to sell online through their customizable, open-source eCommerce platform built on Wordpress.Learn more
Get up to 15 days free to sell on BigCommerce. Build, run, and grow a better online business with all the tools you need to drive more traffic and convert more sales.Learn more
Create a free professional website from 100s of industry-specific templates. Build a custom website, set up your domain, sell online, manage social media, and get 24/7 support.Learn more
Note: If you are shipping products as part of your online store and want to learn about logistics and fulfillment, here is a helpful guide for planning your operations.
E-commerce solutions run the gamut from simply accepting payments for your site to offering a full online store with photos, videos, a shopping cart, and more. What will work for your business depends on how many products or services you’re selling and the type of shopping experience you want your customers to have. Whatever you decide to do, you won’t have to go it alone: There are many partners that make everything possible — from accepting online payments to creating a full online store.
2 ways to get started with e-commerce
If you want to accept payments on your website or set up an online store to sell things, try one of these options to get started with e-commerce.
Option 1: Add simple selling functionality to your existing website with tools from providers like Paypal or Shopify.
Option 2: Create a dedicated e-commerce site through providers like Shopify, WooCommerce, Big Commerce or GoDaddy.