There is a great business opportunity to be utilised once you have learned how to accept credit card payments from your customers online.
This allows you to be able to receive payment from customers for a variety of transactions, such as ordering goods and services, creating subscriptions to services, purchasing tickets or making reservations, and a host of other opportunities.
Contrary to popular belief, accepting credit card payments does not need to be technically challenging or confusing, even for those who are relatively new to using the Internet as a business tool. In fact, once you know how to accept credit card payments on the Internet, it can become one of the easiest elements of your business to manage, in part because it requires so little of your time for processing and management.
Different options for receiving internet orders for your business
Some smaller businesses will require their customers to send their orders and credit card numbers to them through email in order to conduct the business transaction by hand. However, this lower-tech option is generally not popular with customers because it offers them almost no security for their private credit card information. While it is possible to take orders through email messages and then contact the consumer by telephone for the credit card details, this is not a smooth, one-step process and it also usually does not seem to resonate well with a business' customer base.
Another option is to create a link that guides Internet customers to a third-party website that specialises in credit card processing for payments. One very popular example of this is www.paypal.com. The seller is able to register on this kind of site as a recipient of funds, and the credit card payments are processed by the third-party for a nominal fee charged to the seller. This kind of arrangement can work very well as long as the number of orders to be managed is not exceptionally high. For a larger tally of more complicated transactions, however, it may not be as smooth or reliable.
For more involved payments and registrations, it may be wise to look for specific software that will program how to accept credit card details through a secure web page found directly on the site. These programs offer the ease of automated payments because they can automatically clear all credit card purchases, as well as directing the proceeds into your account at the bank. These types of plans offer the highest levels of security and top-notch Internet applications, but they are also significantly more expensive. In addition to the one-time costs of installation, there are merchant fees each month, as well as transaction fees on each purchase charged by the bank. However, the safety of the transactions is unparalleled and customers definitely appreciate the convenience and security.
The most widely used technology for maintaining the security of online information and credit card transactions over the Internet is known as SSL (or Secure-Sockets- Layer). The SSL technology is so popular because it can be utilised in nearly every browser that people use to search the Internet and make purchases. The most effective way to tell whether a website transaction is being protected through SSL is to check out the lower right portion of the web page, and look for the image of a tiny padlock. This image simply ascertains to the customer that there is a reliable security transmission for the site, meaning that confidential personal and financial information will not be vulnerable during the completion of the transaction.
Aside from the small image of the padlock, there is virtually nothing else to indicate that the security element of SSL is in place, except for the prefix of the website starting with the letters https://, instead of the standard http://.
Remember that the initial installation of SSL to a website should not be attempted by novices. It is the type of computer task that will require a web professional who has extensive background in dealing with Internet business as well as SSL in particular.
There is also an element known as a "digital certificate" which will be required in order for your website to use SSL optimally. These certificates come from a reliable outside entity known as a "Certificate Authority." They are responsible for verifying that your website is actually what it purports to be, before you can do business with it. One such company that is very well known is called VeriSign. This special kind of certificate will need to be added to your website in order to be able to create interactions with SSL, and offer the encryption that will protect your customers' computers and information.
Once you have created a safe pathway for payment with your online business presence, you will be able to work seamlessly third party payment companies and the banking institutions for complete protection of your financial data, from the time that your customer makes a purchase with valid credit card details, to the management of this information on your business computer, right through to the interaction with your bank's merchant business entity. Security is a wonderful feeling in the world of Internet business, and it makes all the difference to clients, as well.
In addition, clarify your policy on the return of purchased goods, the steps for customers to take if they wish to return a purchase, and any specific costs that are related to returns. Finally, describe in detail your policies regarding shipping and freight for customers. Do not forget that some customers may be located overseas with additional freight, importation, and other costs, so specify these details in advance. This is vital, unless you decide not to sell your items to people in foreign locations. If this is the case, be sure that you clarify this limitation on the website.
As you tackle the challenge of creating the online element of your business, you will need to make some very important choices. Each of these decisions will have far-reaching effects on how your business runs, how it interacts with your online customer base, and ultimately how profitable your enterprise will be. Making just a few wrong steps in this venue can lead to headaches and lost money, while making wise choices can free up your personal time and allow you to increase your earnings dramatically.
Seven important decisions you must make before starting an online business
- Decide what sorts of goods or services you wish to sell - Remember that there are products, services, memberships, publications, and all sorts of other items. However, be certain that what you are selling is a good fit for the Internet business world. Not all things are, you know!
- Decide on the presentation of your business and product - In the online format, you can present your goods and services in a wide variety of ways, including using photos, videos, drawings or other types of descriptions. You will also want to determine how you will present the pricing structure. Many websites make use of a digital shopping cart to allow customers to select their desired items and make purchasing decisions before paying. You will also want to decide whether your line of products is large enough to warrant having a catalogue or other format for the presentation of your goods.
- Decide on your greatest options for providing reliable and secure online service - Consider the Internet safety precautions that are most sensible for your type of enterprise. Determine to what degree your business will be depending on the security choices that you make, and how much money you will be investing in your online business presence. The more money you plan on putting into the website, and the more frequently it will be utilised, the more attention must be focused on this element of your online business.
- Decide on how you will approach the filling of orders and inventory - Make note of whether you will keep the items or services that you sell on hand, or whether you will rely on another business entity to fill the orders for you. This is a very important decision, because unfilled orders - especially when they have been paid for by the customer - can undermine the reputation of your business and create an angry clientele.
- Decide how much you will charge, and why - Note that the prices may be flexible, based on whether you are selling something in person, or online. It does usually cost less to sell an item over the Internet, so there can often be room for some sort of discounted price for Internet customers. Be sure to calculate your figures correctly on freight and any charges for handling as well. Remember to pay attention to any GST charges.
- Decide on your method for payment - Business owners may elect to receive payment with credit cards, money orders, cheques, and cash. Some will prefer to receive the payment immediately when the order is places, whereas others are willing and able to send an invoice when the sale is completed and the items are delivered. Credit cards are usually the most popular choice for online business, because payment is immediate. However, each business will have its own needs.Decide on freight and delivery options for products and services - Delivery may take place immediately online, in the case of files and data, but other parcels must be delivered through the postal service, a courier, or other arrangements made directly with the purchaser. Specific details relating to the business will be important in selecting from among delivery options.
Looking to third-party providers of online business services
Unless you have extensive personal experience with online business and Internet sales, it is probably beyond the scope of your technical abilities to create a complete and functional website solutions on your own. Because of this, it is both possible and advisable to seek out qualified and knowledgeable assistance through online companies, website development specialists, and other third-party organisations with qualifications in these technical areas. Once you have made the hard decisions about what programs to implement for your business management, security, and certification needs, you will be able to work with the group(s) that have the technical abilities to make each element of your business work seamlessly with the next.
In making your selection of a third party implementation company, or a package that is designed to offer all of the important bits together, just be sure that your banking institution is able to work with them so that there are no difficulties in getting paid for all of your hard work!
Finding additional information for starting an online business presence
Getting started with a business website can be a complicated affair, at most, so there may be additional questions and challenges that you are unable to answer all on your own. Thankfully, there are professionals who are extremely well-versed in all of the parts of online business, and who are familiar with all of the details. In addition to contacting these individuals, it is also a good idea to get feedback from your colleagues and clientele on what works (and what does not) with your new online endeavour. You may also be interested in a business credit card to help finance your online business.Back to top