Communicating creatively in print and  online
Whether it's web design, web hosting, graphic design, writing, brochures, 
            newsletters or books, we provide a variety of business services.
Information Center

Should I Offer a Credit Card
Shopping Cart on My Website?

by Peggi Ridgway, Wordpix Solutions

(Please reprint only with author attribution)

First – everything has changed. relating to (A) website functions and (B) online payments has DRASTICALLY changed since the early to mid-2000s, because of changing technology and, the evil one - Identity Theft (mostly by dishonest people stealing and using other peoples’ credit card details).

If you are considering putting a shopping system on your website so that your customers can pay by credit card while visiting your site, you should become very familiar with these things …. I’m going to give you the whole scoop – things you really need to know and absorb:

Because of this rampant fraud and theft, companies involved at every stage of website sales have developed robust measures to tighten their security – and they now have strict requirements for companies trying to do credit card sales on their websites.

In addition, your customers -- companies ORDERING through websites -- are more knowledgeable, more web savvy now. They're looking for PROOF that those e-commerce websites are (A) legitimate and trustworthy; and (B) safe and secure. The look of the site must be totally professional, and the customer must be able to see an icon of a small padlock or embedded security symbol when they visit a secure site; AND they also want to see “https” (with an “s” on the end) in the URL, which indicates there is a secure certificate that is current and the website payment system has been made secure through encryption of confidential data.

A website that only offers Paypal as a method of payment (using a PayPal account) may be acceptable to some companies and individuals, but I dare say not to nearly as many companies as it was 5 or 10 years ago. It's not that PayPal is not secure; it is. And it offers a bona fide Merchant (credit card) system in addition to the individual account. But it doesn't carry the status of a credit card shopping cart system.

Today, these Eight Things are required in order for you to transact business through your website by taking people’s credit cards (It's very important you are aware of these):

  1. Your credit card merchant status – set up at the bank of your choice. At this stage, you’ll also select a credit card processing company (such as Elavon, etc.), which will be responsible for sending your monthly statements.

  2. Strict evaluation of your business AND your website shopping cart by the bank where you set up your Merchant Account (for taking credit cards).

  3. Secure certificate - typically, up to $150/year – that customers can view to assure themselves that your site is secure.

  4. Payment Gateway Account (such as of which we are a reseller) (one-time application fee is around $75 to $150; then $4/month) – which will instantly approve or decline the customer’s credit card before he is taken to the checkout page on your website.

  5. Programming the website to integrate a “shopping cart” software with your Merchant Account and your Payment Gateway Account. Involves setting up a database of your products and all the web pages necessary for the step-by-step purchasing process by your customers

  6. Setting up numerous messages and web pages (examples: customer gets a message window when his payment is approved or declined; customer gets a message window when he fails to input all the required data; you get a message when an order has been entered and approved; etc., etc.)

  7. Thorough testing and repair of links and other functions before the shopping cart can be made available to customers.

(Wordpix will be happy to estimate costs for you.)

  1. Your understanding of the cost - that your Merchant Account at your bank will be charged for processing fees by your credit card processing company and American Express (separately), if you offer the Amex card along with the others, and that these fees could amount to $25 to $40 / month even when you have no sales.

Selling by credit card through your website is not a simple process nor is it inexpensive. You're a business person. This is part of doing business and succeeding and offering great customer service.

It’s possible to subscribe to third party shopping cart services (such as  , for which we are a reseller), in which case you use their shopping cart on their server (your customer clicks to buy something and is taken to the third party service’s website where your product details appear). You have various amenities (the ability to send automated email announcements, newsletters, reports, etc.) with such a service, but you pay them from $30 to $100/month, depending on the plan you choose, in addition to your normal merchant and credit card company fees.

Bottom line – Straight credit card processing is the best and most recognized and trusted method, but it does have strict requirements, it is complex and it has upfront as well as ongoing costs.

Permission to reprint this article is granted if attribution is included as follows or similar: Copyright Wordpix Solutions and author Peggi Ridgway,


©Copyright Wordpix Solutions
   02/22/2011Hit Counter