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Ecommerce, also spelled e-commerce, is an abbreviation for electronic commerce, and means buying and selling goods and services by means of the computer networks, particularly the Internet. Businesses that conduct ecommerce usually maintain a web presence by means of a company website. An ecommerce package refers to a collection of products and services offered to a business by a web hosting company to help the business sell on the web. An ecommerce package will typically contain some elements that distinguish it from the hosting that is needed for a personal site, an educational site, or a blog site, for example. It is possible for a business to design and host its own ecommerce website, rather than paying for hosting, in which case it would not be referred to as an ecommerce package.
An ecommerce package can be designed to help a business set up a website quickly, to provide substantial resources and security, or both. While some ecommerce packages are very minimalist for etailers who sell only a few items and don’t intend to develop their website extensively, other web hosting solutions for ecommerce provide a wide array of technologies. Some applications that are typically included are email, one or more choices of shopping cart, FTP capability, a payment system, live chat capability for customer assistance, and enterprise content management. Accompanying these features should be Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for security, a well-arranged control panel for site administration, and a website builder or template collection for merchants to base their sites on.
Extras that can be highly important in an ecommerce package include the disk space and disk transfer allowance. Sufficient hard drive space and bandwidth are both essential for a site to run properly. Website statistics help in analyzing which aspects of the site are working well and which might need improvement or change. Shipping and QuickBooks® integration can be key to business management.
Elements of an ecommerce package that are important to check include the type and availability of support. The best option is 24/7 phone support, backed by a good knowledge base, email, and live chat, but a web host may not offer all of these. It is common to place limitations on the maximum number of products that can be sold, maximum number of website pages, and/or maximum number of categories allowed in less expensive ecommerce packages.
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