E-Commerce Information & Tips

Accepting Credit Cards Online

Marketing studies show that you'll lose 60 to 80 percent of your potential orders if your Web site is not set up to accept credit cards. If you offer credit card payment, not only will you receive more orders, those orders will be substantially larger. Credit cards enable impulse buying, reassure customers of your legitimacy, and simplify your billing.

Credit cards still reign as the leading method of payment for online purchases, but other payment options are available. Your product and your customers' buying preferences will influence which payment methods you accept. Offering multiple payment options on your Web site, if you can afford it and maintain your profit margin, is a means to increase sales by increasing customer convenience and confidence. Many alternative methods are better suited to micropayments, charges under $1 (U.S.), because the processing costs are often lower and credit card merchant account fees don't apply.

Third Party Processors that Captured Funds

To capture funds via a credit card you must establish a processor such as PayPal, ProPay, Authorize.net or 2CheckOut. These processors will charge you some combination of setup fees, transaction fees, and "discount rates" (a percentage taken from each order). Some of these providers will not allow a large volume of purchases to be made when a card is not present, such as for charges made over the Internet or by phone, fax, or mail. If you have such a processor, you will need to obtain a separate merchant account to process your online transactions. This situation arises because financial institutions and the Visa/MasterCard card associations have different criteria for evaluating the potential risk involved in credit card transactions in which the card is not present.

Merchant Accounts

To accept credit cards under your own business name you will need a merchant account. A merchant account is simply a money pipeline that can put credit card funds directly into your own bank account. You can ask your bank about obtaining a merchant account - it's pretty easy, especially if you have an existing company. There are monthly fees associated with your merchant account; a monthly fee, transaction fees, and a discount rate to be a credit card merchant.

Gateway for Accepting Credit Cards

This is the layer of E-Commerce that provides merchants with the ability to add secure, real-time ordering functionality to their Web site (this is built into some of the online processors). This back-end component of your E-Commerce Web site collects the order information and runs the transaction. Once the transaction is approved, the funds are transferred to the merchant account, as an incoming deposit, usually within 24 hours (this time varies, check with your gateway). The merchant is provided with real-time reporting as sales information is passed from the merchants site to the Secure Payment Gateway (your processor). If you choose to accept credit cards online we can suggest a few different Gateways and set you up with companies already familiar KeliE design. Let us know and we'll have an account representative contact you.

What If I Don't Want to Use Credit Cards?

That is fine too! Your order information (except for credit card information, which you log in and get) can be E-mailed to you - all secure! You can then process your orders as you normally would. We also suggest posting a 1-800# and/or a fax form on your Web site to give your customer other ordering options.

A HUGE tip from Keli

If you're going to take funds online I HIGHLY suggest getting a second business banking account. Have ALL your online transactions go to this *secondary* account and transfer the funds to your main account often. Letting a third party have access to your main business account is not a very good idea in my option. I've read stories where certain vendors have taken funds mistakenly from their clients... causing major issues. I myself maintain a balance of $200 in my secondary account and I advise you to do the same! Most banks give you these accounts for free too. I know mine does.

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