What is an e-commerce store?

With the advent of web technology and online stores, shopping is quickly shifting from physical brick-and-mortar stores to web stores. These days almost ninety percent of people shop online. Even if people don’t end up purchasing online, three out of five people actually get online, search the product before they head out to a physical store to make the real purchase. So, if you aren’t selling on the web, you are missing out on more than 2 billion customers worldwide and counting. Such is the power of web. Fortunately selling online is something that anyone can do. In this article, we will cover what goes into an online store.

An eCommerce website, also known as an online store is very much like a normal website. It is stored on powerful web hosting servers that deliver content to your computer, which then shows up on your browser. So, how is an ecommerce site different from a regular website? Lets see this below.

It relies on some sort of shopping cart software installed on the actual site. These allow you to set up check-out and payment features on your website for the products and services that you plan to sell. A shopping cart software can include a whole array of services, to list a few, it can

  1. Manage your inventory
  2. Generate your invoices
  3. Calculate your shipping costs

Another unique component of an eCommerce site is that it has a security feature such as an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate. These SSL certificates encrypt and protect any piece of information that is shared between a customer’s personal computer and the web hosting server where the actual online ecommerce store is hosted. When customers see the sign or icon of secure SSL certificate on your website, they can be sure that it is absolutely safe to use personal information such as credit card details to purchase products or services on your website. If your website is hosted on a shared server, you need to have a dedicated IP address before you can install an SSL certificate. The reason for this is explained below.

A shared hosting basically means that several websites are stored together on a single web hosting server, kind of like an apartment building instead of a house. So when people visit these websites housed on one web hosting server, they come through a common front door. But to securely transmit information to and from your website, you need a direct access to this server. A dedicated IP address can be thought of a direct front door to your website.

So, to sum it up, installing an SSL certificate (with a dedicated IP address, if using shared hosting) and a shopping cart software lets your website function as an e-Commerce store.