How to Start an E-commerce Website in Malaysia ?

To answer this question, you must know WHAT you need to start an e-commerce website.

1) Product & Photos
First of all, obviously you need product(s) or service(s) to sell / offer. This can be physical goods or Soft goods (downloadable). Know your cost and set the retail price. Prepare some write-up and specifications about the product in worksheet.

Hire photographer to snap some photos for your product or you can even do it yourself with the digital camera. Put some effort on this as good images will result in good sales. Edit / touch up the photos with Photoshop software if necessary. For web use, Resize the photos to not larger than 800x600 pixels (normal computer screen size) and save those photos in JPEG or GIF format.

Note : Larger photos will not only result in long website loading time, but also will consume up your web disk space and web server bandwidth.

2) Domain Name (your identity)
Register a domain name for your website. Usually this will be done together when you buy a web hosting service (step 6) or when you hire your web designer / programmer (step 3).

Domain name is like your online shop identity (name) that is uniqued throughout the internet. After your website is ready and hosted on a web server, will then become the web address for your website.

If you prefered name is ABC Fashion, then you can either register or . Dot com (.com) and dot com dot my ( are much more popular and the most rememberable domain name extensions for commercial sites.

Note : Reserve the domain name first before your prefered names have been taken by others !

3) Website (with self edit capability)
Get a "Value for Money" website where you can integrate e-commerce / shopping cart software into it and update it whenever you want to. How to make sure ?

  • Ask if it is a CMS (Content Management System) website. CMS website will allow owner to administrate his/her own website much easier without the hassle of editing content with other software, maintaing files offline and using FTP program to transfer files to the web server.
  • Ask if you (as the web administrator) have the full power to modify existing pages, delete unwanted pages and create new information pages.
  • Ask for DEMO if possible, or at least video demonstration.
"Value For Money" does not mean it has to be expensive. Nowaday it takes less than RM1000 to start up an online e-commerce business, with so many features loaded on board.

Website is the place your future customers will be landing on to purchase your products / services. So make sure the web designer teach you how to place your nice photos, delete unwanted content, replace products, create new pages, buttons and so on...

FREE WEBSITE ? totally not advisible ! Why ? First ask this "Who will support or back me up or let me refer to when something bad happen to my website ?". Secondly, can it support e-commerce software and run PHP programs on it ?

Note : When comes to business, take it serious and avoid free stuffs as much as possible. Free with support is find though, if any.

4) E-commerce & Shopping Cart software
The shopping cart is one of the most important software to ensure a smooth e-commerce transition. Elements that are critical to a shopping cart should be the website layout, shopping features, payment options and shipping / delivery rates configuration. A truly great shopping cart is considered a good e-commerce solution. Again, ask for the DEMO of the shopping cart flow before you buy.

This shopping cart will then integrate with the Payment Gateway (step 7) so as to create a smooth shopping flow : SELECT -> BUY -> PAY.

5) Policies & Terms
You will need to write the basic "Privacy Policy", "Terms & Conditions" and "Goods Return Policy" that will protect your company and provide your customers with trust in your site. Online buying is based on trust, and customers deserve to know what you plan to do with the data you collect, and how you react when unforseen things happen to their goods during delivery and so on...

6)Web Hosting / Server
After the e-commerce website is ready, it needs to be hosted on a web server (or best known as web hosting service) in order to be operated / seen live on the World Wide Web. This is normally recommended by the web designer, or already included in the package, or you can buy one yourself from the web hosting provider.

7) Payment Gateway
Next you need some way of accepting on-line payments. This normally means credit cards. There are also other types of payments that the shopping cart should handle, offiline bank-in and online bank transfer. A customer enters credit card information to purchase your product or service. This data is passed to the merchant web server and a payment gateway through a secure socket layer (SSL)*. Once the payment gateway receives the transaction data, their software verifies all of the credit card information and then accepts or declines the credit card. The payment gateway sends an email receipt to the merchant web server and to the customer. Along with the email receipt, the payment gateway sends the order to the bank where the credit card is maintained and the money is subtracted from the purchaser's credit card account.

You don't have to understand real details of how these work. The important part is to determine and sign up a payment gateway to accept payment. In Malaysia, among the most trusted payment gateway you can sign up are Paypal, iPay88 and NBePay. Nowadays most are offering free sign up and free monthly fee. You have to pay only the "per transaction" charge (usually vary from 2.x to 4 percent of the purchased amount). Read details from their websites before you sign up.

8) Shipping / Delivery Method
Determine which Shipping / Delivery providers to engage and get a quotation of worldwide charges from them. You may refer to Post Malaysia, Kangaroo, GD Express, Skynet and many more..

Ensure that the Shopping cart you purchased can accept the delivery rates format given by the Courier Service Provider above.

9) Publish to Search engines
When everything is set, launch it to the web by submitting your web url to the world most popular search engines and directories : Google, Yahoo and MSN. Ask the web designer if he can submit for you. For starting, you can further promote your web / service on Facebook, Forums, Google or Yahoo Ads, local newspaper and so on..

10) Buy Insurance !
Last but very important thing to do : be prepared for rainy days ! What ? Buy insurance for web ?

Not really... "rainy days" can mean the days when :
  • bad things happen to your web server
  • your part time designer can no longer be contacted
  • website being hacked by crazy hacker
  • web hosting company close down
Oh no.. what to do ?
So, this is what we mean. You must insure your website & software by obtaining an Original & True copy of your website program and e-commerce source code and the full website & software emergency recovery disk, who knows... just in case, right ?

Emergency Recovery (ER) disk is used to re-install the website & e-commerce to its original status while the program source code is required in the situation where the ER failed to work for some unknown reason.

If the designer refuses to handover, better WATCH OUT !

By understanding all the above steps, you are ready to start an online e-commerce site. Good Luck and all the best ! 
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