I want to start a business selling food items, such as green teas. How can I go about building a website for it? I have no prior experience with selling items or building a website. I am motivated for it.
I would like a website where consumers can shop for products, and accept payment using Paypal, or by having the website automatically generate the required payment information (such as bank details where the consumer can deposit money).
I would really appreciate your comments!
Assuming you're starting small and with a few dozen products at the most, I think your best bet if you're just starting is going to be shopify.
This is going to get you up and running with a great looking site really fast. The monthly fee pays will pay for itself.
In the future, your requirements might change as you get more sophisticated. For example, if you're reselling products, your drop shipper might have an API that you can use to pull products so you don't have to maintain a product database...or you might have a very large in-house database that needs to be automatically reconciled with accounting / invoicing software. In these cases, you'll need a custom solution. The former (simply pulling from an API) shouldn't set you back more than a few grand, I'd recommend hiring someone with a good reputation and some ecommerce experience from StackOverflow. If you need to integrate with any in-house systems, I'd highly recommend you find someone you can really trust to help place a decent in-house programmer.
What you need is a hosted website platform, which can give you a great website in minutes with tons of incredible features. In the future this is how everyone will get a website.
In a couple years, this type of technology will be full adopted and utilized by most small and medium sized businesses. The only companies who should hire a web developer to give them a custom eCommerce store are those who have very intense customization needs and usually this means they are bigger companies with bigger budgets. Even if you plan to be a big company one day, this is exactly how you should start. Like I said, you'll save a fortune and you can be live in minutes.
Many web hosts will facilitate this. You can install something like osCommerce which will handle the vast majority of what you are asking for, and then install a theme to customize what it looks like. GoDaddy, for example, provides one-click installations for such applications.
Alternatively, you can hire a developer/designer to do this work for you. Again, there are many standard solutions to this problem, and a competent developer/designer could provide you with several options to choose from.
besides the already mentioned OsCommerce / XtCommerce, you can try to use a "ready-to-use" solution. In all following are paypal and other payment options included. Please see the websites for details.
1) One I really enjoyed (but have not used so far) is Enstore :
http://www.enstore.com/ If you have somebody around who is good with HTML/CSS you can give it a good look. If not, you might be check out several "hire a designer" websites.
3) Very similar to Strato, but more huge is 1&1.com . They are offering a full hosted shop for up to 50 products for 11.49$. I have webspace there myself and another friend has space there too, we both are very happy with this provider.
4) If you are willing to learn HTML/CSS yourself and don't want to use the read-to-use-shops you can build your own (yes, with plain HTML). In that case the complex part of the shop is being hosted at Mals E-Commerce . You just need to add special kind of links to your HTML. Well, this might be cheapest as you need only a small webspace package (maybe 3$ a month?) and can do everything yourself.
You can decide with such kind of matrix:
If you have a bit money, check out Enstore. It is the one I like most.
Good luck with your tea shop - and don't forget to send me an e-mail when its on, as I am addicted to green tea.
osCommerce is not a good choice - it just creates more work for you in the future. You can hire a developer but that can take a few attempts (or many) to find someone good. A reliable, well-known hosted service like Shopify will make it easy to start and take away most of the technical risks.
Or you could go with a host that sets up a shopping cart (about half of all webhosts do this in one way or another) but those may not give you the features/experience you want. And if it's just a package installed on your website you still need to do some work to customize it and keep up with security upgrades etc.
Another option would be to checkout Wordpress with ecommerce plugins. Lot of webhost provide one click installation of popular open source scripts. If I were to guide someone to do it on their own then these are the steps. You need to be little tech savvy. If not hire someone on freelancer or odesk to do it for you. But having done some homework is always good.
I personally would explore wordpress but i am not sure how good the ecommerce plugins are with wordpress. Because with wordpress you can be a mix of store and articles and that is always good for business.
I think you can use several open source resources to build a website for your business :
After you choose one of above choices, then you have to rent web hosting and buy your own domain for your website.
I think the investment cost will be paid only for minimized because you only pay the web hosting and your domain once a year.
I hope this give you useful information.
I think there are some very good guides out there to get started. I try to read all the books I can about web marketing, getting started and beyond.
One of the best books I've come across about the setting up on the Web and selling is Web 360 - The Fundamentals of Web Success, by Peter Prestipino, the Editor-in-Chief of Website Magazine.
Otherwise, there are a lot of sources online for exactly what you want. Try searching Google for: building website selling