Does your school store have a web presence? If you run a centralized store in a larger school district, it may be something for you to consider. Even if you aren’t in a larger district, you may also want to consider it as a way to expand your customer base. Plenty of organizations outside your school could use your school supply products and your expertise.
In the early days of the Internet an eCommerce web presence was a complicated and costly undertaking. There were few alternatives for shopping cart software and they were all commercial products. Facing very little competition in the marketplace, they could get away with charging whatever they wanted.
There were few web hosts offering their services, and the technology to do so was expensive. Bandwidth, memory, and storage capacity did not come cheap. There were even fewer web site domain name registrars – one to be exact – so even grabbing your domain name real estate cost a chunk of change.
Through the powerful market force known as competition and the natural downward spiral of technology costs, a web presence is now more doable than at any other time in history. The software involved in operating an eCommerce site has also become much more user friendly. You no longer have to be a Geek to understand the administrative functions, (the back room), of your web site.
There are three basic elements that go in to your web presence:
Domain name, hosting, and shopping cart software.
Domain name registration costs around $11 a year these days. In the beginning, this was $70 a year. Don’t you love competition? Hosting with a good, reputable company should run you less than $150 a year. But take note: Most of the hosting company reviews you see out there in web land are phony, written by affiliates. Rather than rely on this, seek recommendations from experienced eCommerce site owners.
An additional note: If your school district already has a web site, perhaps you could piggyback your school store on that site. From a technology standpoint, this is relatively easy to do and you would be eliminating the domain registration and hosting costs. It couldn’t hurt to discuss the possibility with your school administration.
The final basic element to eCommerce is the shopping cart software. The cost for a suitable solution is anywhere between free, (that’s right, I said FREE), and several thousand dollars. More about this element in an upcoming installment.
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