You have worked hard to sell your products. Now, it's time to collect money. But, how do you set up a shopping cart?
You need 3 components to collect money:
- Shopping Cart:
a graphical user interface that people see in a web browser,
- Payment Gateway:
a system to authenticate and process payment (like the little box you swipe a card through at brick-and-mortar stores), and
- Merchant Account:
a kind of bank account into which credit card payments are deposited.
There are 2 things look into.
Not every payment gateway and merchant account are compatible.
- Open/Close Batch:
Many merchant accounts need to open and close the batch every business day. Don't choose one where you have to open and close the batch each day. If you do, you will have to open/close the batch every day because your website will be open 7 days a week.
Fortunately, there are many online Merchant Service Providers. Their services are designed to meet the needs of e-commerce. You don't have to open and close the batch every day. Also, most of them come with a payment gateway and merchant account. This makes it so you don't have to worry about compatibility.
The gateway and merchant account don't take orders. So, you need a shopping cart to take orders, calculate the total amount due, and manage customer information. When you are selecting a shopping cart, consider the following:
- Can you customize it to fit your website?
- Does it meet your needs (i.e., is there an affiliate tracking feature)?
- Does it have an easy check out process (i.e., not too many forms to fill out)?
- Can customers easily ad/remove products?
- Does it work for most users (i.e., works on cookie disabled browser)?
If none of the off-the-shelf shopping carts suit your business, hire someone to program one. It will cost more, but remember that more than 60% of visitors abandon shopping carts. Good shopping carts will increase the sales.
Security is very serious business these days and the most important aspect of your checkout system. Surprisingly, some merchant account providers have no clue about it. So, you are the one to ensure the security. Get professional advice if needed.
© February, 2007