The goal of this book is to portray the widest possible range of what e-commerce can be, in terms of PHP
code, SQLand MySQL, and a site’s user interface. To that end, the book is broken into four parts,
cleverly named Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and (drumroll) Part 4.
Part 1, “Fundamentals,” has just two chapters, which examine
Fundamental theories and issues surrounding an e-commerce business
Decisions you need to make up front
Critical aspects of online security
In Part 2, “Selling Virtual Products,” you develop an entire e-commerce site. This site sells virtual
products, namely access to content. With virtual products, there’s no inventory management and nothing to
ship. The business just needs to accept payment from customers and ensure that access is denied to
nonpaying customers. For this example, PayPal is used to handle customer payments. PayPal is a wise
choice for beginning e-commerce sites because it has a name that almost all customers will be familiar
with (and therefore trust), and it minimizes the security risks taken by the site itself.
Part 3, “Selling Physical Products,” creates an entire e-commerce site for the sake of selling physical
products. This involves inventory management, an online catalog, shopping carts, order history, and more.
For that example, the payment gateway is integrated directly into the website, creating a
more seamless and professional experience.
Part 4, “Extra Touches,” is entirely new in this edition of the book. Part 4 explores dozens of features,
techniques, approaches, and so forth that you can apply to the two example sites or to e-commerce in
general. One chapter makes specific recommendations regarding the virtual product example site. Another
chapter gives the same treatment to the second example site (which sells physical products). The third
new chapter singles out JavaScript and Ajax as a great way to enhance the e-commerce experience. And
the fourth new chapter explains how to use Stripe, a revolutionary way to process payments.
By using two examples with different goals and features, the book presents a smorgasbord of ideas,
database designs, HTMLtricks, and PHP code. The intention is that, after completing the book, you’ll feel

comfortable implementing any number or combination of features and approaches on your own e-
commerce sites.