You see these websites that sell their products online all over the internet these days. It’s like there was a sudden explosion of e-commerce operations in America and across the globe. It’s fascinating to just observe the spectrum of products on sale on the web. From the mundane to the mind-blowing and everything in between, the sheer variety is just astounding. So if you are a business owner too, or if you have an idea that you want to explore with a product you think might sell well, and you’re contemplating going down the e-commerce route, but don’t know how to actually go about it, I’ve got you covered.

When you are looking into e-commerce credit card processing, one term that will pop up regularly is merchant account, so I may as well explain what it means straight off the bat. A merchant account is a service that acts as the intermediary between you and the credit card wielding customer. It bridges the gap between a credit card being swiped (or typed in this instance) and the money arriving in your bank account. It’s almost like a uni-dimensional bank account that deals solely with credit (and debit) card transactions. So how does one go about setting it all up? Well it’s easier than you think, and very straightforward.

The steps to setting up your website to accept credit card payments

  • The prep work. The first step towards getting a credit card payment set up for your website is the preparation. This is not strictly necessary, but if you prep yourself beforehand, you won’t face any issues later, and will avail of a set up that matches your requirements. So figure out your volume of payments before getting in to this is possible. It’s difficult to predict an accurate number, but you want to get a somewhat accurate approximate number at least, because how much you pay per transaction as the fee is tied up to the expected business you’ll face, and so are the discounts that the credit card processing firms are likely to provide you. If you have this approximate figure in place already while approaching credit card processing firms, you have a stronger position to bargain from.
  • Merchant account and Payment Gateway. You already know what a merchant account is, and merchant accounts provide a wide variety of credit card related services. This includes physical and virtual credit card solutions so that you can collect payments via credit card from your store as well from the web. Not just that, these days you can even attach a device to you mobile phone and accept credit card payments wirelessly and on the go. So figure out if you need just an e-commerce set up or a physical one too. For an e-commerce set up what you need is a payment gateway which a merchant account will provide. It is basically like a bouncer at the club’s entrance who doesn’t allow people in if their name isn’t on the guest list. A payment gateway is the threshold at which a card is identified, and if all the information is accurate and the card has a credit balance, the payment is processed. Acquiring a merchant account and a payment gateway is the next step of this process.
  • Identifying the merchant account provider. Once you’re prepped, it’s time to get that merchant account and set up that online payment gateway. But there are a lot of options out there so you need to pick the right one. There are certain factors that you should take into consideration while making this choice. Those factors are:

Price – how much each transaction will cost, how much setting up will cost (usually free) and what are the fees for late payment

Security Compliance. Is the firm recognized as PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant?

Availability – how quickly can the gateway be set up? For example, sets up a merchant account in just 24 hours

Customer Care. Is the firm available for help round the clock? How quick is their response? (Your livelihood may come to a standstill if the payment gateway goes down so this is a key factor).

  • Signing the agreement. The last step is to make things official with the firm you’ve chosen to be your merchant account provider. Make sure you read the contract and all the stipulations very carefully before signing. Some firms slip in clauses like a cancellation fee which is usually very steep, effectively having your business over a barrel, so keep an eye out for anything that wasn’t discussed with the merchant account service provider, and clarify every point you don’t understand.

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