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The Digital Business Kit for Retailers

Learning Outcomes

Retailers will understand the different technology and strategies that can assist their retail businesses to begin or improve selling their products and/or services online. [printfriendly]

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Main elements of online sales technology explained:

The following descriptions provide an overview of the typical core components used to facilitate online sales. These are related to the mainstream online-sales model of selling products and services from the company website, with other sales channels as a compliment. There may be additional considerations for your business model.  More details for on online sales methodology, costs, implementation factors, and more are covered in the Selling Online Plan page.


A typical website has a minimum of 4-5 pages for a standard “informational” site.Pages include: Home, product page (displaying products and typically the buy-now button, check inventory), about page (what makes your company different/better), and a contact page (how customers can reach you).The website represents your company and should be attractive and easy to find. Various techniques can be used to optimise results for search engines (e.g. Google), so your brand appears on the first page when clients search for you.

Function: Your company website is the hub of the online sales machine. It is where customers will view products and should link to and/or have stores and shopping carts embedded in it.

The website can also contain many other tools and features, such as catalogues, reviews and comparison tools, etc. It is also where your brand will be typically explained most broadly online.

Other online entities may promote your brand using product videos, social media posts/shares, etc., but all of these will lead back to your main website where the customer will take action to buy a product or service.

Merchant Account

Merchant account:
A type of bank account that allows businesses to accept payments by payment cards, typically debit or credit cards. Your company will need an account to accept payments, which is typically different from the “swipe POS” account you may already have. You do NOT necessarily need to get your own account – you can use a 3rd party provider like PayPal instead.

Function: The transaction capability is programmed into the payment gateway (shopping cart) to deliver the funds from the customer account to your company account. Subscription to some merchant-account providers will allow you to place “click-to-buy” buttons on your website, beside the products. This is a simpler way to allow for purchasing if a shopping cart is not needed.

Shopping Cart

merchShopping cart:
Software that allows shoppers to indicate a purchase, add it to the cart, and continue to shop. There is a wide variety of shopping-cart features, from a basic collection of items, to allowing for quantity edits, comparisons, discount code entry and more. Shopping carts can be purchased as a software to be installed into a website, accessed using a 3rd party provider (Software-as-Service) or custom-built.

Function: The shopping cart software accepts the data from the website (such as product ID, quantity, etc.) and holds this information in a session until the customer is ready to check out, or they leave the website and abandon the cart. When the shopping cart checkout button is hit, the shopping cart will collect the customer’s billing information which is then sent via the payment-gateway merchant account to be verified. Upon verification or denial, other actions will be completed by the website.

Online Store

sellOnline store:
Software-as-Service that provides a variety of services and products for individuals or companies wanting to sell online. These are essentially turnkey sites that include everything you typically need to sell online.

Function: In subscribing to an online-store service, the store provider allows a variety of service options: such as making a website, customising a storefront with company branding, selling through this online store as an attachment to the company website as well as through partner channels, merchant accounts, shopping carts and more. Online stores are relatively new and exploding in popularity as the one-stop shop for entering online sales.