Setting Up Shop

Choices, Choices

If you want to launch a Web site for your company, you can hire a Web site hosting company to house and maintain the server equipment, or you can start from scratch. If you choose the do-it-yourself route, there are several kinds of servers available that are geared toward small businesses. These include Microsoft's Internet Information Server 4.0, (, IBM's new Netfinity 3000 (, and Hewlett-Packard's NetServer E 50 (,). All three servers are priced between $2,000 and $3,500.

But buying the server equipment is only the beginning. You'll also need to choose a network infrastructure; the type you select will depend on the size of your business, how tech-savvy you are and how often you plan to modify your catalogs. Some good midrange packages that allow users to connect a virtual storefront to a database and generate reports are Cat@log Builder from The Vision Factory (, iCat Electronic Commerce Professional Suite 3.0 from iCat (, and Microsoft Site Server 3.0 Commerce Edition ( These packages cost between $1,495 and $9,995 and include features such as indexing, searching, and a virtual shopping cart (where your customers can drag products to a shopping cart icon before adding them up and paying for them).

If you're a beginner, some popular e-commerce software packages to check out are O'Reilly's WebSite Professional 2.0 (, Forman Interactive's Internet Creator 4.0 (, Peachtree Software's PeachLink (, Yahoo! Store (,), Virtual Spin's Cartalog (, and the newly released Online Merchant from Alpha Software ( Despite their simplistic approaches, these packages allow you to import HTML text into existing pages to customize your site as your business grows. Prices range from $0 to $799, and all programs are hosted by either the vendor or a partner ISP. While site-hosting fees are usually based on the number of items in your store, all start at less than $100 per month.

Melissa Campanelli is a technology writer in Brooklyn, New York, who has covered technology for Mobile Computing & Communications and Sales & Marketing Management magazines. You can reach her at

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This article was originally published in the August 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Setting Up Shop.

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