One of the first things to consider when you plan to sell your products or services online is the type of payment methods to offer your customers. For increased sales and to attract a larger section of the market it makes common sense to accept credit card payments. Gone are the days of writing cheques or sending postal orders, most shopper’s now possess credit cards for their convenience. People with credit cards are more liable to buy on impulse if they like what they see and also accepting credit cards will attract international customers for its easy payment process and no need to convert currency.
To enable your website to accept credit cards you first need to set up a merchant account. You can either open up your own merchant account through a bank or other financial institution, or use a third party merchant account payment processing service. Below are some basic guidelines on both methods to help decide on the best option for your online business.
Setting up your own Merchant Account
To open your own merchant account you need to apply at a bank or other financial institution that operates these types of accounts. Setting up your own account is more advisable if your business is already established and you want to expand into the online world. For this method you will need to know about online shopping carts and check-out payment processing as these will also have to be integrated into your website. You will have more control over your payments and it will give the business more of a professional look. Other advantages of having your own account are, after the initial set up costs, then the transaction costs generally work out lower than a third party account.
For new and small companies, the procedures, costs and technical knowledge needed to set up and maintain a merchant account and payment processing system can be difficult. Add to this the time needed to promote and advertise and maintain your client list and many businesses opt to use a third party payment processing service.
Third Party Merchant Accounts
To accept credit cards through a third party merchant you will need an understanding of what each offers and fees applied. These accounts can be preferable for smaller and newly set up companies who generate a small profit or don’t know yet how much profit they will make and they tend to be easier to set up.
Transaction fees are percentage-based and generally set at a slightly higher percentage with these types of accounts as the merchant is responsible for performing many of the business transactions, leaving you time to concentrate on selling your merchandise.
Realistically, unless your business generates a large number of sales transactions, a third-party payment processing service will work out more cost effective than attempting to set up and retain your own web-based payment system. Also, many third-party merchant account services will offer some level of customer service, such as credit card chargeback complaints. There are numerous third party merchants available. Look for a reliable and well known company, check out their websites and weigh up the services each has to offer and their reputation before making your decision.
Credit card fraud online is prevalent and criminals make use of clever techniques in their fraudulent transactions. Which ever merchant account you decide upon ensure your website employs a high level of security with a good anti-fraud system that will help minimize fraudulent transactions.