Are you considering an online shopping cart? There are so many different puzzle pieces you need, it can seem confusing. Our clients are often overwhelmed at first, but don’t let that hold you back from a great e-commerce business opportunity. Once you get the basics, you’ll be ready to go.
If you don’t have a website yet, you’ll need to build that along with your new shopping cart. Read more on website basics here. Then come back and check out this quick guide to getting started in e-commerce:
- E-commerce Enabled Merchant Account – you may already have a merchant account that allows you to accept credit cards. For e-commerce, you typically need to contact your bank to expand your account setup. Rates are often higher due to increased returns for online purchases.
- Internet Gateway – your bank will often recommend an internet gateway. This is the piece that connects your merchant account to your website’s shopping cart. It takes the credit card and processes the payment. Think of it as the electronic equivalent of a card swiper. There is usually a setup fee and a monthly fee although sometimes you can get this combined with an e-commerce merchant account.
- Shopping Cart – there are many shopping cart products available that can be installed on your website. With so many options–and security of paramount concern–it rarely makes sense to custom-code a cart. Be sure to use a cart that is compatible with the internet gateway you select.
- SSL Certificate – your SSL certificate allows you to encrypt all the shopping cart transactions, to ensure credit card data is safe. You can choose brand-names such as Verisign, Thawte, or GeoTrust, or you can obtain a generic certificate from a variety of sources. Brand names often create a greater sense of trust so the extra cost can be worthwhile.
No matter what you choose, make sure you are up on the latest PCI Compliance requirements. These impact even the smallest online merchants.