If you are new to ecommerce and need a payment processing solution for your website, then this article will be of interest to you. There are several different ways to process payments for your internet business. We will outline each of the avenues available to you so you can select one that is right for your particular business.
If you own a store and are simply setting up a website to give your customers the ability to purchase your products online, then you probably already have a merchant account that you use to process credit card transactions. If this is the case, then you do not really need to process customer payments through your website; you can simply post an order form on your website for your customers to print so that they can fill it out and fax their orders into you. Then, you would just process the payments by entering the orders into your credit card terminal you use in your store. However, if you want to process payments through your website, there are a few different ways to do it.
The most common method used by internet merchants to process payments is by signing up with a third-party transaction processing service, such as Paypal. All you need to do is sign up for an account with the third-party, and then you link to their order form from your website and they process the payments for you. The processor charges a transaction fee for each transaction, ranging anywhere from 2% - 15%, depending on the company and the amount of business you transact. Most of these companies can process recurring payments as well (recurring payment processing is necessary if your site sells a membership for which you need to charge your customers on a regular basis).
Some of these third-party processors also have the ability to process your orders using an automated phone system. With this method, your customers can call a certain phone number to place an order, and are then prompted to enter a certain code. The order is charged to the telephone bill of the customer.
Also, some third-party merchants offer an online check payment option. This gives your customers the ability to pay for their order by entering the account number and routing number of their checking account on the order form, and then their checking account is automatically debited. It is good to offer this to your customers, because not everyone has a credit card. Offering online check payment processing will help you convert more sales.
If you do not want to use an outside company to process your payments for you, then you will need to open your own merchant account. This is not so simple to do. If you open a merchant account at a bank, there might be a monthly service fee of several hundred dollars per month. There are several companies, such as CardService International, that offer cheap online merchant accounts, ranging from $50 - $100 per month. After you open the merchant account, you will need to hire an experienced programmer to create an order form that can process payments and connects directly to your merchant account.
I hope this information will help you decide which payment processing solution is appropriate for your online business. If you decide to use a third-party payment processor, just make sure that they have a good service record, because if their systems are frequently down or their order forms do not work too well, then your business will suffer as a result of the lost revenue. If you are starting a multi-million dollar business, then you should probably set up your own merchant account and have a programmer create your own order forms to process your payments.
Jim Pretin is the owner of http://www.forms4free.com, a service that helps programmers make free HTML forms.