Knowing What You Want: Features

When choosing your online store, make sure that the following three essential elements are included. Together, these functions help qualify the storefront as a true all-in-one solution:

  • Shopping cart: This back-end feature allows customers to browse for, select, and purchase products. (If you want to know more, Book IV, Chapter 5 compares specific shopping-cart features.)
  • Payment processor: This feature is a virtual cash register. Of course, customers need a way to pay you during checkout for the products they want. A storefront solution should give customers multiple options.
  • Hosting solution: You need a place to host your actual store. Your hosted shopping cart, however, doesn't have to share the service you use for your primary Web site. But one of the benefits of a storefront is that hosting is included in the deal, eliminating additional Web site hosting fees.

These bare necessities are just the tip of the iceberg when you're selecting features for your storefront. Most e-commerce solutions provide a long list of additional features and functionality. These features typically fall within three areas: performance, product merchandizing or promotion, and administration. All three are described in the following sections.


Unfortunately, performance is the area of a storefront that you don't always think about until something goes wrong or isn't what you expected, but it is truly the backbone of your operations. Paying special attention ...

Get Starting an Online Business All-in-One For Dummies®, 3rd Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.