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Adding an e-commerce component to a traditional brick and mortar store can be revolutionary to the entire enterprise. 

This is what most people think about when they think of web business. E-commerce generally means having a listing of items for sale on the internet, taking orders and payment for them. The topic of e-commerce is a huge one and entire books are written about it. Think in terms of:

  • listing the items, generally this is called an online catalog
  • allowing users to select what they want to purchase, generally called a shopping cart
  • users then enter their billing and shipping addresses and enter credit card information in checkout
  • the goods are then delivered to the customer in what is called fulfillment

There are two general types of goods: digital and physical. Digital goods can simply be downloaded as soon as they are paid for. These include music tracks, e-books, white papers, videos, etc. Physical goods have to be shipped to the customer. These include handmade goods, books, household goods, food, etc. 

How you integrate your e-commerce into your website depends on how central it is to your web business. If all you're going to be doing on the web is selling goods, then your entire site can be a catalog. If it's just a small part of your online presence, then perhaps there's an e-commerce add-on to your website's software. Sometimes organizations have a separate website just to do e-commerce. 

You can host your own e-commerce software or you can rent space on a dedicated e-commerce site. Dedicated e-commerce sites include,,, yahoo stores, and Many retailers sell on their own site, Amazon, eBay, etsy, through affiliates, etc. There is software available that will help the retailer manage all these channels. 


What could you sell online?

How large would your potential market be online?

Who else sells products similar to your online? 


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