If you are building an online shop, you will need to address the question of taking payments for orders. You can, of course, request that a check payment be sent to you in the mail. Most shopping basket software allows you to select this option when you are setting it up. If you already have an offline, bricks and mortar business, you may simply wish to accept credit card payments over the phone.
However, there are some basic problems with these solutions and it all comes down to the way people shop on the Internet. Customers expect to be able to add items to their basket and proceed to the checkout to pay. If they then find they must telephone you or print out and send their order, they may simply abandon their order and hop over to another website. Shopping online is all about convenience and if you are unable to provide this, you may be losing customers without even being aware of it.
So, what are your options and what is it all going to cost? Well, the good news is you can do it all very simply and cheaply. Paypal does not have a set-up charge and is a large and trusted online payment processor servicing 78 million accounts worldwide in 56 countries. Your only cost is a small percentage on each sale, a transaction charge. Payments from your website go straight into your Paypal account from where you can transfer amounts to your bank account with the click of a button.
Once you sign up with a payment processor, you can either link to their secure server from your shopping basket facility or build 'add to basket' buttons via a simple web query form. The html generated is then pasted next to items on your web page and your customers will be transferred to a secure server when they go to checkout.
Traditional merchant accounts are normally set up through your own bank and will become integral to your business account. Having your own merchant account gives you the choice of many different online payment gateways. Most, however, do charge a set-up fee, monthly fee and a transaction charge. Just as you would offline, do make sure you research any company you sign up with on the Internet. Print out and read their terms and conditions. Take particular notice of where they are operating from, their fees, when and how you will receive your money into your account.
Another point to consider is the question of chargebacks. This happens when a buyer requests a refund of an amount already paid to you. Reasons include not receiving goods ordered or items arriving faulty, damaged or not as described. Sometimes requests are made if the buyer's card was used fraudulently.
If the chargeback request is successful, your merchant payment processor will charge you a processing fee. However, some companies will now provide you with insurance against chargebacks inclusive in your monthly fee. It's certainly worth shopping around for the right solution for you but knowing you have done your research will give you some peace of mind.