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Questions:

  1. "How do I set-up and maintain an on-line 'shop' to sell my products?"

  2. "Is it expensive" and

  3. "do I need any special technical skills to do it?"

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:

Today e-commerce (on-line shopping) is fast becoming the primary way that people buy and sell. If you can't advertise and sell your products on-line you will increasingly become uncompetitive.

 

Contrary to popular belief, setting up an on-line 'shop' is not expensive - with S C Cambria, it is RIDICULOUSLY CHEAP, as we use Open Source software run on Open Source Linux servers.

 

You don't need special technical skills to maintain an on-line shop. The key is to allow others with the technical skills to set it up for you, all you have to do is add your products and pricing, and customise it to suit yourself - we do all the hard technical ground work for you.

 

We can register a domain name for you (or we can use an existing domain that you own). We will install the software on our server, set-up your shop and host it for you. Thereafter you have total control of your shop via a 'back office' often called an adminstrator control panel. We will also walk you through the initial stages of customising and administering your on-line shop. All the functions and features are accessible on-line, so you have no need to download or install anything.

 

 
 
Web-based, e-commerce. Selling on-line.
 

Shopping services

Most people think of large shopping sites like Amazon or eBay when it comes to on-line shopping. Or possibly grocery shops like Asda, Tesco or Morrisons. However the Inernet's largest contingency of 'shops' are run by ordinary, sometimes very small companies or individuals.

It is no longer a 'black art' to set up an on-line web-site that offers products for sale, and a service that automatically processes payments and provides all the bells and whistles that was once the dominion of large companies that could afford to pay specialist programmers to design and operate such stores on a 'one off' basis that cost eye watering amounts of money to build.

Shopping Carts

Thanks to the Open Source Programming Community  'shopping cart software' (as it's popularly referred to) is available to everyone. Most Open Source e-commerce software is both free to download and use in most cases.

Examples of some popular and well known Open Source software products that you will be familiar with, are Mozilla Firefox, Google Chromium, Android, LibreOffice and the Apache OpenOffice Suite. Open Source software development has been a large part of the creation of the World Wide Web as we know it. And of course not forgetting the Linux Operating System, variations of which we use on all our desktops, laptops and servers for web site hosting and local area networks (LANs). Other examples of some of the best e-commerce Open Source software are - in our opinion -  Agora Cart, Zen Cart and Cube Cart. Those are the three packages that we provide for our clients.

Many clients ask us which is our favourite shopping cart software. Our three favourites are those listed above. They are much of a muchness, we believe them to be, in our experience, three of the best available. Each has it's own merits. If pushed, we would perhaps slightly favour Cube Cart, from a technical and installation viewpoint. It is also very professional looking and has a good administrator control panel. On the other hand we find many clients would most definitely prefer one or both of the other two. It's a matter of personal choice, and often depends on what you are selling  - they are all good industry leaders.

Agoracart (Perl/MySQL)

Offers a very wide range of features that allow you to setup an online store or shop front ranging from a simple template based store for novices to the integration of complex web design concepts created by designer like ourselves.

It differs slightly (from a technical point of view on our server) because unlike most shopping carts (and the other two we host) it utilises the programming language Perl, with a MySQL database.

Zen Cart (PHP/MySQL)

Zen Cart truly is the art of e-commerce; free of course, user-friendly, Open Source shopping cart software. The e-commerce web site design program is being continually developed by a group of like-minded shop owners, programmers, designers, and consultants that think e-commerce web design could be and should be done differently.

This cart utilises the PHP programme language and a MySQL database. It is a bit different in as much as it has features you may not find in other shopping cart software programmes.

CubeCart (PHP/MySQL)

CubeCart is written to run on servers that have PHP & MySQL support. With CubeCart you can quickly setup a powerful online store which can be used to sell digital or tangible products to new and existing customers all over the world.

The colours and layouts shown in the screenshots above are only for illustration purposes, they can vary greatly, depending on the choice of templates (or 'skins') and features utilised - the choice of which are extensive for each cart.

Doesn't "Open Source" just mean something is free of charge?

No. This is a common misconception about what "Open Source" implies, and the concept's implications are not only economic.

Open Source software programmers can, if they wish,  charge money for the Open Source software they create or to which they contribute. But in most cases they don't, and ALL Open Source programme licenses  require them to release their source code whether they sell or contribute freely to the software for others to use.

Whilst Open Source programme packages may be free to download and use, there is still a need for expertise, and the provision of services (like hosting) have to be paid for. We do not charge for software, but we do have to charge a minimal cost for providing the server on which to host the programme, and we have to provide database programmes etc. We also have to spend time installing the software and setting it up for our clients. This way, the software remains free of charge, and we run our business helping others install, use, and troubleshoot it.

While some Open Source software may be free of charge, skill in programming and troubleshooting Open Source software can be quite valuable. Many employers specifically seek to hire programmers with experience working on Open Source software.

 

WHAT NEXT?

Decision. Once you have made the decision to have your OWN on-line SHOP site, the next step is to get a domain name.

Domain. A domain name is the address that Internet viewers use to access your web-site (your URL). Your domain name is your identity on the Internet and is similar to having your own phone number. Essentially, domain names serve as routing addresses on the Internet. Your domain name will also form part of your e-mail address e.g. you@yourdomain.com. You can register your domain name right now with us. If you already have a domain name then you will need to change it's DNS to "point" to our servers - contact us if you need assistance - it's free! We offer fantastic rates for domain name registrations.

You can either register your own domain name through a registrar of your own choice or we can register one for you. If you register the name yourself we can still host it for you.

Our registration rates per annum are:

1 Year

yourchosenname.biz 7.50
yourchosenname.com 7.50
yourchosenname.co.uk 6.50
yourchosenname.info 7.50
yourchosenname.me.uk 6.50
yourchosenname.net 7.50
yourchosenname.org 7.50
yourchosenname.org.uk 7.50

Note that these prices can vary due to exchange rates, or variations in global regulations etc.

 

Hosting. After choosing your domain name and registering it, you will need a home for it. You can host your domain on our servers.

We offer hosting services for as little as 3.99 per month! We have the most competitive and feature-packed hosting plans available anywhere in the UK.

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Web Space. After you register your domain name and have arranged your hosting plan with us you will be allocated disk space on our servers - unlike many other hosting companies we give you unlimited web-space. That "space" is where your web-site files and associated programmes (like your Shopping Cart software package) will be stored, also graphics, scripts, e-mail accounts info. data bases etc. as a guideline the average disk space used by most of our clients is in the region of 50Mb - so with unlimited space you'll have plenty of room to expand! To upload information to your web space we will be using FTP software. We do that free of charge for you. If you haven't already got FTP software and require it for your own personal use you're welcome to download a copy for free by clicking on the FileZilla download icon on the right. We do not however allow access to our servers via FTP by our clients, as it is something that can go badly wrong if you don't know what you're doing! However all the information for your shopping cart you will be able to upload to our servers from your package's 'back office' (admin control panel).

Web-site/ Shopping Cart Installation. After we register your domain name, supply you with a hosting plan, upload & set-up a shop for you, we'll then  make sure it gets maintained on our server - so we'll look after you from "scratch to finish". If you want to do the design yourself, or wish to engage a "Webmaster" to do the work on your behalf then that's o.k. - we'll provide any technical assistance that you may require as a goodwill gesture - if you have an account with us and host your site on our servers. By now - if you've read this far - you're  wondering how much we charge.

Cost. Here's the REALLY good news! For a standard e-commerce site we charge a one off flat rate for the whole process of setting everything up on the server, that's just 30.00.  

 

So the total cost to you for a professional e-commerce site including:

  1. Domain name registration

  2. Hosting (paid annually in advance)

  3. One off set-up fee.

is initially (on average) 72.00.

 

That gives you 12 months of unlimited shopping site use - with no hassle. After that you just pay the domain name renewal fee and the annual hosting fee = approx 42.00/ annum (that works out at 11.5 PENCE per day!)The rest is FREE! If you can't make eleven and a half pence worth of profit from your shop on a daily basis, you have a problem!