HTML and CSS Reference
With this approach, software that provides a standardized set of e-commerce features is
purchased, installed on your Web server, and customized. Many Web host providers
offer this storefront software, which usually includes a shopping cart, order processing,
and optional credit card payment processing. Shopping cart software provides an online
catalog where your visitors can browse, add items to their virtual shopping cart, and
check out through an order form when they are ready to purchase. Popular shopping
carts offered by Web host providers are AgoraCart ( http://agoracart.com), osCommerce
( http://www.mercantec.com). Figure 12.8 shows a typical Web site shopping cart. It
provides the options to place an order, continue shopping, or cancel an order.
A typical shopping
cart showing the
Custom building a large-scale e-commerce Web site entirely from scratch usually
requires expertise, time, and a sizable budget! The advantage is that you get exactly
what you need. Software development tools for a custom-built site may include Adobe
Dreamweaver, Microsoft Visual Studio.NET, Adobe ColdFusion, IBM's WebSphere
Commerce Studio, a database management system (DBMS), and CGI or other server-
side scripting. Custom-built solutions may also require a commerce server , which is a
Web server enhanced with support for certain commerce activities. IBM's WebSphere
Commerce Suite and Microsoft's Commerce Server are two choices.
If the scope of your e-commerce endeavor is small and you want to avoid the cookie-
cutter look of an instant storefront, some other options may be worth considering. These
include getting pre-written shopping cart and order processing scripts, hiring a company
such as PayPal, and buying e-commerce add-ons to popular Web authoring tools.