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There are a seemingly infinite number of choices and configurations to accepting payments online. Choices range from almost total "do it yourself" programming to turnkey packages.
You can accept online payments from an ECommerce Web site in two general ways:
1)Through your own online merchant account and/or 2)Through a third party online payment processor.
Accepting Payments Online through your own Internet Merchant Account
Accepting payments online via a merchant account puts you in control and limits your reliability on outside payment acceptance services. This approach can also seem like a jigsaw puzzle. Besides an Internet merchant account, you will need shopping cart software, a store or site host, a processor, and a secure payment gateway.
You may fit these pieces together in several different ways. On one end of the spectrum, you can choose the provider for each piece individually. On the other end, you may choose a turnkey solution, where a single provider has completed the puzzle for you.
There is no single best solution. Your choice will depend on your particular needs and experience. Among other considerations, you should factor in your own comfort with the technologies, customer convenience, providers' service levels, available technical support, reliability, costs, and time commitment involved.
There are a myriad of potential costs and fees involved in accepting payments online, making it difficult to compare different options.
Potentially, you could be charged fees by each provider involved in helping you accept payments online - application fees, set-up fees, yearly memberships, monthly statement charges, monthly minimums, gateway access fees, statement fees, fixed transaction fees, variable transaction discount rates (processing fee for each transaction), and cancellation penalties are all common.
Often, it is easy to misinterpret the fees you will owe. Rarely are all costs revealed in one place. If you are reading about a merchant account, for example, the quoted costs may not include gateway access, hosting, and/or shopping cart. Because you may be comparing "apples to oranges", options that at first appear low-cost can - upon implementation - turn out to be pricey. Similarly, expensive-sounding solutions may actually be reasonably priced.
Accepting Payments Online through a Third Party Online Payment Processor
If you are not ready to set up your own online merchant account and/or you want to offer additional online payment options, you can turn to a variety of third party online payment processors.
Third party online payment processors provide a way to accept payments online without the extra cost and obligation of a merchant account. To compensate, transaction fees and/or discount rates are significantly higher than for merchant accounts.
Each program is a little different and no single third party payment processor is right for all situations. Clickbank, for example, helps you sell digital products online. At last check, CCNow processes payment for tangible items only.
Deciding What's Best for You
Whether you accept payments online through an Internet merchant account, through a third party payment processor, or both, read all agreements carefully before committing. Do not hesitate to ask the providers questions if information is unclear or incomplete.
There is more information about accepting payments online - including explanations of merchant account fees, finding the right ecommerce providers, and third party payment processor overview - on the ecommerce information site Take-Payments- Online.com, http://www.Take-Payments-Online.com .
Put together the "puzzle pieces" for accepting payments online and your ecommerce Web sales will flourish!
Bobette Kyle is publisher of the ecommerce information site http://www.Take-Payments-Online.com . She is also proprietor of The WebSiteMarketingPlan.com Network, subject-specific Web sites designed to help you find the right information for writing and implementing your marketing plan. Visit here: http://www.WebSiteMarketingPlan.com Copyright 2004 Bobette Kyle. All rights reserved.