If you're thinking of setting up an Ecommerce site then here are a few facts to help bolster your enthusiasm. With 65 per cent of homes in the UK now having access to broadband, it's believed some 43 per cent of those buy goods online at least once a week. In 20010, the average UK buyer spent £71 a month online; a figure that is only set to grow as Ecommerce becomes increasingly more common.

There are two factors driving the growth of Ecommerce; the first is the ability to find the best price by shopping around and comparing prices, while the second is convenience. The first step to creating an Ecommerce site for your business is to make sure that both of these concerns are covered.

A third factor that is often easily ignored is that of recommendations. Close to 50 per cent of online shoppers tend to trust the sites they know and use on the high-street, but this is changing as larger online brands begin to dominate. The power of social networking, friends and family recommending sites and services on Facebook, Twitter and similar sites can't be over-looked.

Five steps to setting up an Ecommerce site
So, what do you need to get your Ecommerce site up and running?  Here we look at the five steps every business must take to setting up an Ecommerce site.

Website
If you're not already online then you'll need to design a website and get it hosted. This can be as simple as a page listing the services or products you sell, to something a little more elaborate to hosting your full catalogue online. Sure, you can easily build a site using online tools but if you're serious about an Ecommerce site then seek out a recommended professional.

If you're a small business testing the water then don't overlook the most obvious routes to market, such as setting up a page and trading on Ebay. The benefit of this solution is that it negates the need for many of the following steps.

Hosting  
This can be as simple as setting up a PC you currently own as a web server but this method can be slow and rather less cost-effective than it sounds. There are a whole host of online host providers and the choice comes down to whether you wish to use one of the large online providers, such as 1&1 or Affinity. Or use smaller local hosting companies.

Merchant Account
If you're looking to take credit card payments then you'll need to get a Merchant Account from your bank. There are third-party services that can also offer you this service but your first port of call should be your current bank.

Shopping Carts
To make transactions easier you'll need a dedicated shopping cart that will allows you to take orders, calculate shipping and sales tax, and send order notifications. The world's largest is 1ShoppingCart, but you should also check out companies such as Volusion or ClickCartPro.

Payment Methods
Perhaps the most vital aspect of setting up an Ecommerce site is creating a payment gateway account, which is the process where the customer's credit card account and your internet merchant account meet. This is a highly specialised and security conscious part of the whole process, as verifies information, transfers requests and authorises credit cards in real time - so the process needs to be carried out by high-end tools. The major players in this area are Authorize and Verisign.