I am in the process of launching my business on the Internet. Do I have to set up separate accounts with an ISP, Web host and payment center?
-M. Sloane, Silver Spring, Maryland
There are Internet service providers, such as Earthlink, Mindspring and AT&T Worldnet, which will provide Internet access and place your Web pages on the Net. They also offer services for e-commerce. This generally includes setting up a merchant account to handle credit card payments, building a catalog and setting up shipping, tax and shopping cart options.
The price tag is usually $100 or more for setup and a monthly fee based on the number of transactions. Then there’s the $70 every two years you have to pay to register your domain name, which is the name of your dotcom. E-commerce service providers such as iCat.com will build, manage and host your Web business for one monthly fee. Again, pricing is based on the number of products you offer-from $99.95, if you sell 100 products, to $249.95, for 1,000 items.
With Bigstep.com, there is no limit on the size of your inventory or the number of transactions you can log. You do have to pay $14.95 per month to maintain a merchant account plus 15 cents per transaction and 5 cents per address verification. Bigstep.com doesn’t offer e-mail, so you will still have to set up an account with an ISP and pay for domain name registration.
If you envision your site will grow to become the next Amazon.com, then you will at some point outgrow your ISP and have to find someone who can support and maintain a robust e-business.
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