by David Batterson
From the beginning, a small business launching an e-commerce site has to consider its options: Hire a local computer programmer, turn the project over to the ISP, or tell the MIS staff to get on it. As an alternative, Actinic Software offers a solution for the small-biz whiz who wants to design and manage an online store.
Creating a catalog of products is easy and the program comes with samples to imitate. Variations of the product — such as color, size, or volume- based pricing — may be input as well. Products can be entered manually, or an inventory of products can be imported from any database via a comma-separated file (CSV). Online help is available if you run into any snags.
The Business Settings section allows data entry to include company information, sales-tax zones/rates, and business terms such as return policies. It also covers methods of payment such as credit cards and checks, and includes pre-loaded payment-service providers.
For a professional look, the design menu features 26 design themes and 51 color schemes. The design options menu offers further refinements, such as specifying the company logo and default product images.
Once all screens are completed, uploading of the files (HTML pages, graphic files, Java/Perl scripts, etc.) requires only a mouse click, and future uploads include only edited files.
Running a profitable e-business is not a cakewalk. But Actinic Business is an efficient tool that makes the process less intimidating.