You have a website, and you’re ready to accept credit cards online for the goods or services you offer. You have a lot of choices–so where do you start?
One of the most common mistakes e-commerce merchants make is choosing their shopping cart software and payment gateway before setting up a merchant account. If you want to accept credit cards online, selecting your merchant account should be your first decision–but not all merchant accounts are the same. You need an account that will allow your business to process credit cards without imposing unreasonable fees and restrictions. Here are a few things to think about when choosing a merchant account:
There’s a lot of information available online to help you find the right merchant account match for your business. You may choose to process through your local bank or to process through an Internet Payment Service Provider (IPSP).
There are thousands of shopping carts on the market for you to choose from for your website. What many business owners don’t understand is that the shopping cart and your payment processor need to be able to interact–and not all platforms are compatible. Once you have decided on your merchant account, your payment processor can help you choose a shopping cart that will integrate best for your business.
A payment gateway is an e-commerce service that authorizes payments for merchants. It is the equivalent of a physical POS (point-of-sale) terminal located in most retail outlets–the machine that scans your credit card at a store. The online payment gateway typically has two components:
As an e-commerce merchant, it’s important to provide your customers with maximum security and reliability. Any page on your website that stores, displays, or transmits customer data requires data security–and that’s where an SSL Certificate comes in. SSL (or Secure Sockets Layer) certificates enable encryption of sensitive information during online transactions. Each certificate is a unique credential identifying the certificate owner. A certificate authority authenticates the identity of the certificate owner before it is issued.
Get your merchant account, add your payment gateway, a shopping cart, and some SSL certificates and you’ve got yourself the ability to accept credit cards online.
You could shop around and select each option individually (a la carte). Or you could simplify your search and find an Internet Payment Service Provider (IPSP), like Instabill, that is a “one stop shop” to handle all four steps. The choice is yours. Setting up your merchant account should be the easiest part of getting your e-commerce website up and running.