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Accept Credit Card and Other Payments Online

The Key to a Successful Online Business

A successful online business allows prospective clients to buy your products or services and offer payment. More and more consumers are going online every day, demanding easy ordering, security of data and payment, and fast, if not instant delivery. It is essential that you can accept credit card payments automatically, from your website. Credit cards are the preferred and most convenient method of payment for many people, and gives them a month or longer to repay the credit card company.

An Integrated Solution is Best
You will need a merchant account, or third party payment processing company, a secure server with certification, an order form, gateway and a shopping cart for payment processing. Ideally, an integrated solution which provides everything you need in one place, would be the best option, rather than using different or fragmented service providers. Such a solution would also make it easy for you to add automatic responder facilities to send out thank you emails following a sale, and lay the foundations for building lifetime customer relationships through email marketing campaigns.

This article includes general information on research, types of accounts, what you will need to begin payment processing, and other ways to accept electronic payments

Research, Research, Research

Researching and deciding on the best payment processing option can be an overwhelming task, as each payment processing company, whether a High Street Bank or Third Party Company, sets their own fees and charges. The bottom line is how much profit you will receive per sale, after the costs of processing. All credit card providers charge you a percentage of each credit card payment you receive.

You need to decide which currencies you wish to accept, as again, there are limitations and restrictions with many payment processing services. Do you want your money within a few days, or are you prepared to wait for your payments on a monthly basis?

Research and review your options first, then make a decision based on what your customers
would prefer and your business can afford. Alternatively, get someone to do it for you, and
advise you of the best way forward, and even help you set everything up

Types of Accounts

The type of company you choose who can offer the best advantage to you and your customers, depends on several factors. Banks tend to be more selective when deciding for whom they will open a merchant account, and perhaps a home-based business owner or new business owner may be turned down. Merchant service providers and independent sales organizations tend to be more flexible. Choose what is important to your business. While one person may feel comfortable just dealing with the local bank, another might prefer a company that offers outstanding rates and good customer service.

Merchant Account
A merchant account is a special account that is tied to a credit card processor - where that processor works with your customer's bank to help route payments into your account. Merchant service providers or independent sales organizations specialize in offering payment processing services and many financial institutions can establish such an account for you. However, if you want to sell on the Internet, a merchant account provides a better professional look. If you get a merchant account, expect to receive those funds in less than three days from the time of the transaction, which clearly has a cash flow advantage.

More information on Online Merchant Accounts

Third Party Processors
You can accept payments online without a merchant account, by contracting with companies that will provide payment processing on your behalf but their prices are higher from taking a larger percentage of the ticket price. If you allow a third party company to process your payments, you have to put your order form on the payment processing site. You may only be able to get your funds two or three times a month, maybe over longer periods, which will affect your cash flow.

More information on Third Party Processors

Always study the terms and contractual arrangements of your chosen merchant service provider, so that you know exactly where you stand should you become dissatisfied with the pricing or service provided. Check whether the contract waives all termination/cancellation fees before they begin with the payment processing. You should be allowed to terminate a contract within 30 days without penalty.

What You Will Need to Begin Payment ProcessinProcessing:

Secure server with certification: so that when your customer enters credit card information, the data is encrypted to ensure no unauthorized individual can decode the information
Order Form: this should also be on a secure server, where your customer can input personal and banking information
Gateway: the mechanism that transfers your customer’s data to the processor for you to receive payment – this is the integration that allows for authorization, processing and management of payment processing
Shopping Cart: the ecommerce software program for your online store which calculates total costs payable by your customers
Merchant Account: provides access to a processor that can authorize, capture and settle credit card transactions

Other Ways to Accept Electronic Payments

There are other ways to accept credit card payments, rather than using real-time processing via a gateway.

• Outsourcing
One method is to outsource the payment processing to a third party as you are not required to have a merchant account. This third party collects your customers' vital information and does all the work to process payments for you.

• Deferred Payment Processing
Another way to collect credit card payments on the web is called "deferred payment processing." The customer inputs all data and you receive the data manually. With deferred processing, the data does not go through the gateway. One advantage to deferred processing is that you can inspect all orders and correct them. However, deferred payment processing may be time-consuming especially if you have hundreds of orders every day. Much depends on your business needs – what products or services you are selling.

• Online Electronic Cheques
As well as offering credit card payment to your customers, another option to consider would be to accept online electronic cheques. An online business is losing potential sales by only accepting credit card payments and in the US alone, it is estimated that only one-fourth of all consumers can buy products on the internet, using a credit card. By providing another means of secure payment, namely accepting online electronic cheques, you can cater to all prospective buyers.

Companies can now easily provide a payment gateway for new and existing Internet businesses to receive cheque payments. The system can be simply integrated into any shopping cart, and encourage potential customers to buy from you. The transactions are automatic and the transfer of funds from client to business owner takes place through the Automated Clearing House (ACH).

For those businesses already accepting cheques by mail, the transition to online electronic cheques should be simple. Instead of writing and mailing a cheque to you, and you taking the cheque to the bank, waiting for clearance perhaps, then fulfilling their order, you can accept payment via your website, have the payment processed, and fulfill their order quickly and without hassle.

We Can Do it All for You

Whatever ecommerce facilities you want, we can do it all for you. Our Services Stage 7 Ecommerce is Essential for Online Sales provides a complete index and summary of ecommerce articles, ecommerce solutions and developments, shopping carts, payment processing, secure server hosting, digital certificates, and much more.

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