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):
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.
Strict evaluation of
your business AND your website shopping cart by the bank where you set
up your Merchant Account (for taking credit cards).
Secure certificate -
typically, up to $150/year – that customers can view to assure themselves
that your site is secure.
Payment Gateway Account
(such as www.authorize.net 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.
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
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.)
- 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.)
- 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 www.marketerschoice.com ,
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
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,