How to Build an Instant eCommerce Website with Linux for PHP Cloud Services

In this modern day, there’s a tremendous push for businesses to move some or all of their business online. The major problem facing many small business owners is that they don’t have the expertise to set up an eCommerce website, nor, in many cases, do they have the staff or budget to hire experts to do the work for them.  In this guide we show you how anybody can set up an instant eCommerce website using Linux for PHP Cloud Services, regardless of the level of computer expertise.

So Where Do I Start?

To start off, create an account on Linux for PHP Cloud Services. Go to this page: https://linuxforphp.com/signup, fill in the blanks, and click Sign Up. You will need to respond to the email in order to activate your account.  The next step is to login and choose Plans. If you hover your mouse over the plan a description pops up. After clicking Buy Now, a more detailed description appears with a server location choice. Although from a connectivity perspective it doesn’t matter where the server is located, from a legal perspective, if sensitive customer data will be stored, the physical location of the server may be important.

Prices are extremely reasonable and there are free trial offers available. Promotional codes can be applied when you go to checkout.

 

OK, Got the Plan … Now What?

Once you have the plan, from your account page ([1] on the screenshot below), select the link to your plan ([2] on the screenshot). Note that website is not yet ready for view, so if you click on the Website: View link, only an invalid response code appears in your browser.

From your plan Dashboard screen, on the left side menu, select One-click Apps.

At this point you see a list of available applications. Although it’s possible to set up an eCommerce website with any one of the CMS (content management systems) on the screen, the last two listed, Magento and PrestaShop are explicitly designed for eCommerce. Click on the Install button next to PrestaShop, which we will use for the purposes of this guide.

You will next see a message warning that the current website will be deleted. This message is designed to prevent you from accidentally overwriting an already existing cloud service you might have already installed. Because this is the first time, there is no service currently installed, so go ahead and click OK.

 

While the service is being installed, select Status to view the condition of your new cloud service.

 When the status indicator [1] turns green, you can proceed with the final website installation by selecting Website: View [2].

Viewing the website brings you to the PrestaShop web installation menu. Select your desired language and click Next.

Read through the license agreement. If you find the terms acceptable, click on I Agree [1] followed by Next [2].

The next screen in the installer consists of two sections: Information from your Store and Your Account. Looking at the first section, carefully choose a shop name and enter it here. This will appear prominently across the top of all product pages. The name should be descriptive, catchy, and of moderate length.

Most online businesses will have one to four words in their shop names. Bear in mind that eventually you need to market your business. It will be much easier to get your regular customers to repeat your shop name on social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc.) if it’s not too long and easy to remember.

Indicate the Main Activity of your shop so that PrestaShop can customize the appearance for you. This option is not super-critical, and can be changed later.

Finally, enter the country in which your business primarily operates, where it is established, or where your primary market resides. This choice will impact default shipping methods and tax rates.

 In the next section, enter account information that is kept private and is used by yourself to manage the site. Information you need to enter includes your first and last names, email address and password. The email address will then become your login name when you go to manage the site.

The password needs to be at least 8 characters. The longer the better, as it takes an attacker an exponentially longer period of time to crack with each successive character above 8. You should also include a mix of letters, lowercase and uppercase letters, and one or two special characters (e.g exclamation point, question mark, bracket symbols, etc.). You will also need to re-enter the password for confirmation.

IMPORTANT: create a “disposable” email address to enter here. PrestaShop will sell this email address to who knows who, and you’ll probably find yourself on several junk mail lists. If you create a “disposable” email address that forwards to your “real” email address, you’ll be safe from additional SPAM. They do include a link to unsubscribe from their mailing list … but we all know how that works, right?

Click Next when finished.

You are now ready to configure the database connection. Switch browser tabs back to your LfPHP Cloud Services plan Status screen. Make a note of the database user and password.

 

Linux for PHP Cloud Services auto-fills in the database name, database user and password. Click on Test your database connection now [1] to confirm. If you do not see a green bar indicating Database is connected, fill in either cmsuser or root for the database user, and paste in the database password you noticed from your plan dashboard. When ready, click Next [2].

You next see a progress bar indicating the state of the installation. When finished, you have the option to print your login information and to display the password just in case you forgot!

 

IMPORTANT: the installation folder needs to be deleted before the online store is operational. Close the browser tab for installation, and return to your LfPHP Cloud Services plan dashboard.

Make a note of the password for the file browser [1], and click on File browser: View [2].

 

From the file browser tab, click on the box to the left of the /install folder [1], and select Delete [2].

Whew! Installation is Done … Now What?

To get your shop up and running, at a minimum, you need to do the following:

  • Remove all the demo products and categories
  • Decide on a theme
  • Configure payment module
  • Configure shipping module
  • Start adding products

All of the tasks listed above require you to first log into the Back Office. Let’s have a look at that first before proceeding with the remaining steps.

Logging Into the Back Office

The “back office” is a term used by PrestaShop to indicate the administration interface. To login to administer your new eCommerce site, return to your Linux for PHP Cloud Services Status screen. Locate and click on Website: View.

Modify the URL shown in your browser by adding /admin. In this guide, the domain generated by Linux for PHP Cloud Services is dougbiereretistacom4.linuxforphp.com. The URL to access the Back Office would appear as follows: https://dougbiereretistacom4.linuxforphp.com/admin.

In order to access the Back Office, you need to supply the email address and password created during the initial setup.

Deleting the Demo Products

To delete the demo products, from the PrestaShop Dashboard, from the left side menu under SELL, select first Catalog and then Products [1]. Click on Select all [2]. Uncheck any products you have created yourself. Under Bulk Actions, slide down and select Delete selection [3].

Continue to do this until all demo products have been removed.

Decide on a Theme

From the PrestaShop Dashboard, from the left side menu under IMPROVE, select Design and then Theme & Logo. From this menu page you can also move sections around on the home page, and perform other customization as well.

Configure Payment Module

This step is extremely important. Without configuring a payment module, you will be unable to accept payments online! From the PrestaShop Dashboard, from the left side menu under IMPROVE, under Payment select Payment Methods [1]. You can then scroll down the list of payment modules. When you’ve found one that suits your needs, click Install if the module is not already installed, followed by Configure [2].

Each payment module has different requirements. As an example, here is the default PrestaShop Checkout module (uses PayPal):

Configure the Shipping Module

If you plan to ship products to customers, unless you plan to do the delivery yourself, the next step is to configure one or more shipping modules. From the PrestaShop Dashboard, under IMPROVE, select Shipping and then Carriers [1]. Scroll through the list of carriers and click on Install [2] and then Configure.

The list of carriers depends on the region you first selected when installing PrestaShop. Here is an example configuring DHL:

Adding Products

Last, but certainly not least, you need to start adding products to sell. From the PrestaShop Dashboard, under SELL, select Catalog and then Products [1]. You can then start by entering the title [2], and continuing filling in the remaining fields as appropriate to the product.

Once the fields are filled in, continue to scroll down to enter information about Price and also Categories [1]. Note that you can choose to Preview a product [2], which shows you how the display will appear on your website. Click Save when all information has been entered and you wish to start selling this product.

 

Offline is a toggle. Click once, and Online appears, meaning the product is visible on your website. Click again and Offline shows up, meaning the product is not visible on your website.

 There are many more configuration options, of course, but this guide has shown you what steps are needed at a minimum to have you up and running quickly. Happy Selling and thanks for choosing Linux for PHP Cloud Services!