Ecommerce is big business these days – in fact it’s estimated that the global online retail industry will turn over almost 2 trillion dollars this year. With all that money floating about, you might be hankering for a piece of the action. To get some skin in the game , you’ll need to have an online store.
The best way to set up an online store in terms of website integration is to turn the job over to technical people who understand the details of installing and configuring the necessary software. The business owners most important function in establishing an online retail presence comes long before that stage of the game. The crucial first step lies in selecting a merchant services account with the right combination of features to blend security with customer satisfaction and cost-effective payment processing.
Payment Processing is Key
Even an online store will need to have the ability to accept all forms of payment, especially credit and debit cards as well as both electronic and traditional checks. In the real world consumers opt to use credit cards because they perceive them to be more secure and to offer greater control over returned purchases and refunds. This perception is so strong, that statistics show customers will spend 2.5 times more money when shopping with a card over using physical money or a check.
In the payment processing world, however, a return or refund involves a process called a chargeback, which increases fees to the merchant. Its important in choosing a payment solution for your store to be able to illustrate the security of the transaction to the customer, and to make the buying process sufficiently transparent and efficient as to minimize chargebacks.
Good Technical and Customer Support
When the bulk of your business is going to be conducted online, any down time with the payment gateway represents a potential loss of profits. If your customer has an issue, they will contact you. If you have an issue, who will you contact? Dont go with any merchant services account that does not offer 24-hour customer service on a seven-day basis. The Internet never shuts down, therefore neither does your store.
Integrated Shopping Cart Packages
Many merchant services accounts that are designed especially for online businesses will offer integrated shopping cart solutions to pair with their payment gateway, or will have a list of recommended software packages. Its always best to go with those options, even if you have to hire a consultant to get everything configured and running.
The upside is that these software solutions will also assist you with real world record keeping, inventory control, and increasingly with mobile payment processing via smartphones and connected tablets. If you go with a shopping cart and backend management tools that are not recommended by a merchant services provider, you run the risk of not being able to get the customer support you need.
Look for PCI Compliance
The most important standard you want your online payment solution to meet is PCI compliance, which stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. This will ensure that your payment solution has the necessary protocols in place to protect your customers from fraud and identity theft.
Even with these measures in place, truly secure online stores are as well monitored as their real world counterparts. Be vigilant for unusual transactions, for instance a series of orders from the same IP address placed on different cards. Often thieves will test a batch of stolen cards by making a series of small orders to see which purchases clear.
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