To sell products or services on the Internet you need four things:

1.  Shopping cart software that handles the transaction of creating an order and transmitting the charge to a merchant account (the place that processes a credit card transaction).  There are literally hundreds of  such carts and what you select is a combination of your needs and the cost to implement one.  You can use a cart which is available for free or purchase one from a commercial vendor.  Free carts available on our server include Magento, osCommerce, OpenX, PHPCoin, SugarCRM and ZenCart but there are no limits to what you can install on our server.  We have used osCommerce extensively although it is not very state of the art at this point.  We currently use Magento which is an extremely robust and full featured program.  Due to its complexity it is probably not for small limited installations however.  Another option if your web site is built with Joomla is to use a program called VirtueMart.  It is very robust, fairly easy to use and it integrates seamlessly into your site.

2. The second piece of the eCommerce puzzel you will need is a merchant account.  As explained above, it is the mechanism through which your customer's credit card order is transmitted ultimately to your checking account.  Numerous commercial merchant accounts are available but there is usually some minimum monthly cost.  PayPal is an option for many and while we are not a great fan of them due to their excessive bureaucracy policies that sometimes border on extortion, they can be an acceptable solution for a small company situation.  If you are going to generate a significant amount of business however, don't bother with PayPal, go with a commercial vendor.

3 The last two things you will need are a fixed IP address and an SSL certificate.  In order to do business on the Internet and process financial transactions securely you must puchase an SSL certificate from a certified vendor.  All browsers are setup to recognize certified SSL certificates and seemlessly allow a secure transaction to be processed.  For the SSL certificate to work, it must be located at a unique address which is where a fixed IP address is required.  This IP address will be associated with your domain.  The SSL cert is an annual cost and the cost ranges from $79 a year to purchase on up; it is slightly less to renew.  A fixed IP address will cost you $5 a month and would be rolled into your web hosting fees.