The key tool for delivering e-commerce services is the business website. This must be specified, designed, hosted and maintained.
The website specification should clearly identify what the site is trying to achieve and how its various components will contribute to this. An understanding of the intended user audience is required for both technical and marketing purposes.
Domain names are an enormous help in the branding of a business. Your domain name should be easy to remember and spell, and should show what your business is all about. If not, then potential customers will surf elsewhere and possibly find your competition.
Check if the domain name you are planning to use has already been taken at the Nominet website. Website hosting
If you purchase your own domain name you can either host your own website or have an Internet service provider (ISP) host it on your behalf. If you choose to host the website yourself, you will require a fast Internet connection and a suitable PC. However, ISP hosting is relatively cheap and straightforward. See our guide on website hosting options.
The type of Internet connectivity and the available bandwidth will be an important consideration, irrespective of which hosting solution is selected. Most businesses choose some form of broadband connection.
See our guide on the options for connecting to the Internet. Software options
An important early decision to consider is whether to use a "shop" package or build the software from scratch.
Shop packages allow you to configure product information and the look and feel of the shop. However, they can provide limited opportunities for tailoring them to your back office processes.
Alternatively you can get a third party to build the software for you, or develop it yourself.