When setting up an eCommerce site for your business, security is the most critical component. It’s well documented that selling products and service online can increase revenue. It’s also becoming imperative to have an ecommerce presence if you want to stay competitive. That being the case, how do you set it up to protect your customers and your business?
Customer credit card security is important if you want to retain customers and protect your business. The first major vulnerability for an ecommerce site is the checkout page where the customer’s credit card information is collection and transmitted. At an absolute minimum you need to have your checkout page hosted on a secure server.A secure server is evidenced with a URL that starts with HTTPS:// and not the traditional HTTP://.
Secondarily, it’s a good idea to invest in an SSL or certified secure server page. Both the secured server and certified SSL will be offered by your hosting company and can easily be set up. A certified SSL comes with a certificate that customers can validate the encryption services and security of your website. Securing your checkout page limits the risk of your customer’s credit card information being stolen by identity thieves and therefor limits your liabilty.
A second and an increasingly apparent vulnerability for ecommerce sites are credit card validation procedures. It is a good idea to validate customer credit card information on as many fields as possible. Now there is certainly a balance here as you don’t want to force your customers to enter too much data at checkout, however to few and you open yourself up to fraud. Here are the minimums suggested.
- Billing Address
- Billing Zip
- Credit Card Number
- Expiration Date
- CVV Code
If you do not capture the CVV code at the time of checkout you waive your rights to fight charge backs initiated by the customer. Additionally, if you do not validate the credit card credentials you open your business up to liability from credit card testing programs. A credit card testing program is a computer generated attack on your website in which credit card numbers are tested to see if an authorization can be acheived. It is not uncommon for credit card testing programs to run 100,000 credit cards on your website overnight. The unsettling part, your business is liable for the transaction charges for the attempted authorizations. 100,000 attempted authorizations at $0.08 per transaction comes out to be $8,000 in transaction charges, over night.
Next, it is a good idea to choose a trusted merchant service provider that has tools to help limit your exposure to cyber-attacks. Let’s face it, more online business means more online criminals. The most common cyber-criminals are those attempting to steal credit card numbers to then purchase items with the stolen card numbers. How can you protect against these types of attacks?
Choose a merchant service provider that offers fraud protection tools
Fraud protection tools are cheap insurance against cyber criminals. The right tools can make the difference between a successful online presence and being put out of business. Fraud attempts can be eliminated with a rules based fraud detection application that examines each transaction before it is processed. Here are some examples of the rules that can be set up.
- If a daily, weekly or monthly number of transactions or total dollar amount is exceeded. Flag transaction for review or auto decline
- If a user tries a credit card X number of times, flag or decline
- If the first XXX digits of a credit card are attempted, flag or decline
- If daily, weekly or monthly number of transactions or total dollar amount attempted from a single IP address or block of IP addresses, flag or decline
- Ban a single IP address or blocks of IP addresses
- Ban specific credit cards
- Ban geographic areas
Last, make sure your customers know the effort you have made to protect them and their credit card information. By taking the appropriate steps to protect your customers you are laying the foundation for a very successful online presence.
Throughout the world, more and more people are turning to buying online instead of in the store, making a business's website credit card processing system one of the most important elements of their online presence. Not only will a credit card system encourage buyers to make an easy purchase, but it opens the business's website up to an international market.
The two main ways to accept credit card payments online are:
A merchant account is set up via a bank or ISO, and is essentially an account controlled by the business, which enables it to process credit card payments. A third-party merchant takes credit card payments on behalf of the business, usually in exchange for certain fees or a percentage of the profits.
Choosing a Merchant Account or a Third-Party
Merchant accounts are subject to requirements that vary between countries and between banks and between ISO (Independent Sales Organization). Many banks charge a set-up fee in order to open the account, but their individual transaction fees will likely be lower than a third-party merchant's. Choosing an option will be dependent on the business's needs, predicted growth, and ability to sell enough products to cover all fees and associated costs. Due to the variation between companies, it would be best to get multiple quotes from different banks/ISO’s and different third-party merchants that offer website credit card processing.
Setting Up a Merchant Account
A web developer can help a business set up the credit card processing system on the business's website, but it isn't always necessary. Both merchant accounts and third-party merchants have customer service representatives and instructions to allow the site owner to set up the processing system on the site. With a lot of third-party merchants this is as simple as copying the embed code from the third-party site and placing it into the HTML of the business's website. More complex website credit card processing systems may require more time or expert help, but the result is a professional, streamlined way for customers to pay for their purchases online.
Things to Keep in Mind
All small businesses should be able to make informed decisions on what website credit card processing system works best for them. Keep in mind the following:
- Fees, including start-up fees and the cost of each transaction
- Length of time for approval when applying for a merchant account
- Length of time for setup on the site, especially in more complex systems
- Quick, efficient, and knowledgeable customer support for the business
- Length of contract and terms of cancellation
- Security and fraud protection
- Ease of use for both the business and customers
- Ability to generate reports
- Virtual terminals, shopping carts, and complete integration with e-commerce
With online credit card processing, businesses are able to increase their sales and not only attract more customers, but keep them as regular shoppers. Setting up a credit card processing system may take research in the beginning, but it provides additional benefits in sales and customer service, as well as reaching an international market.
Let’s face it, the Internet is as big as the industrial revolution in how it is reshaping the landscape for commerce. That being the case your business’s website is a giant extension of your brand and ability to deliver goods and services. So, are you making it easy for your customers to buy from you on your ecommerce site? We have put together a list of things you should try to avoid in the hopes of stream lining your online offerings.
1. Your website is slow
Speed is everything in this instant gratification society. If your customers have to wait around for your site to load you are going to lose them. It’s that simple.
However, site speed can be a tricky. You want to make sure you have a good hosting company that understands your business type. You also want to make sure the shopping cart you select is optimized for your site. Little site improvements can speed up the load time and will result in more conversions.
2. Your website is cumbersome
It is very important that your customers be able to buy from your site in less than 5 clicks. Research shows that conversions rates drop considerably once the 5 click threshold is breached. The lesson, condense the site and improve the flow. Customers want a clean, easy and quick check out.
3. Your credit card capture page is not intuitive
There is an industry standard for the order in which credit card information is to be entered. Do not waiver from this standard. Statics show that customers have become trained in how they enter credit card information. If the order is altered the customer is likely to make a mistake and their experience is degraded.
4. Overcharging for shipping
Some sites see shipping as a revenue generator. Others try to lower prices below the competition and make it up in shipping. Savvy consumers are factoring shipping as part of the total cost to purchase. The best thing you can do is reduce your shipping cost to as low as possible and pass those savings on to you customer.
5. Poor browser optimization
If your website is not optimized for all the different browsers that your customers are using, you are losing sales. Have you ever been to a site that was missing information or formatted incorrectly? What did you do? Did you stick around to try to navigate through to find what you were looking for? My guess is no, you simply hit the back button and when to another site. That is what you customers are doing if you’re not browser optimized.
What is an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate and will you need one if you are selling online? These two questions are explored in this post.
First let’s discuss the SSL certificate. You will only need an SSL certificate if you are setting up and ecommerce website or a website you intend to sell products and services with. When you set up your ecommerce website you will select a company to host your website so that it is accessible from the internet. Once hosted, all of your individual webpages are then accessible to your visitors via a non-secure connection to the webserver where your website is hosted. Presumably your visitors will shop your site and place the items they wish to purchase into your site’s shopping cart. Once the visitor decides to checkout this is where the SSL certificate comes into play. The checkout page asks the customer to provide their credit card information to complete the purchase. This information must be encrypted before it is sent to the merchant account for processing. The ecommerce SSL certificate is the encryption service that makes sure the information collected from your customer is secure while it is communicated to and from your merchant account.
The SSL certificate is set up by your hosting company and is a requirement if you intend on processing your customer’s payments on your website. You do have the option to process the payment on your merchant service provider’s website. In this scenario the customer is redirected to your processor’s website (secure website) when they decide to checkout. The credit card payment information is gathered on the secure site and transmitted to your business’s merchant account for processing. Upon completion the customer is redirected back to your company site.
Both of these processes ensure your business is PCI DSS compliant. The decision is whether you want to provide a seamless checkout process for your customersor not.
If you are interested in selling your products and services online, check out our helpful guide - Sell your products online – A guide to ecommerce.
5 Credit Card Processing Pitfalls Merchants Should Look For
For a merchant, Internet credit card processing is a viable way to grow your business. However, there are certain areas where you can run into trouble, causing a loss of money or business down the road. Here are five key ways a merchant can avoid these pitfalls:
- Look out for quoted low rates from companies offering to process credit card transactions. Always scrutinize each quote received to view all of the cost factors involved in signing up; this will ensure the best deal is acquired for the business.
- Do a comprehensive search to ensure the cheapest processing equipment is used for the business. Avoid leasing equipment, as it can drain financial resources quickly while hooking the business in for a long-term contract you may not want.
- Negotiate your contract term, many business fail to ask if the contract term can be shortened. In many cases it can so be sure to ask.
- Watch out for termination fees; they can be a sign that a company is not invested in helping the business grow, and would rather see a customer terminate his/her agreement early so that it can collect the pricey termination cost.. Also keep an eye out for reprogramming fees, as although a company may try to convince your business that it must lease or buy equipment in order to avoid having to re-configure the devices, this typically is not the case; in generally the virtual terminal used for Internet credit card processing is easy to set up or re-configure.
- Pick out the proper merchant account for the business. Ensure the strengths and weaknesses of each account are known before entering into any agreements with companies to use their equipment. By choosing the account that best suits the business' cost and service needs, the business ensures it will remain profitable once the equipment is deployed.
Internet credit card processing can be a straightforward and profitable way to get a business going online, and by exercising caution before entering into any agreements, a business has the best chance to grow in a market beyond a retail store or warehouse.
For more information on Internet credit card processing please give us a call at (800)917-8026.
WordPress shopping cart, ecommerce made easy
Do you have a WordPress website for your business and are you looking to add a shopping cart to facilitate online sales or ecommerce? Adding a WordPress shopping cart has never been easier thanks to the Shopp plugin for WordPress.
Shopp lets you add a full blown shopping experience to your website with the simple installation of their plugin. Shopp installs just like any other plugin and once installed the application walks you through your product catalog set up. Setup has been simplified and streamlined to get your products configured with ease.
Shopp has been developed with ease-of-use as the primary objective. It is ready to go out-of-the-box and enables you to get your online store up and running in very short time.
The Shopp WordPress shopping cart is available at their website http://shopplugin.net/store/. When you make the purchase you must also select a payment gateway to accompany the plugin. The payment gateway is the software that encrypts your customer’s credit card information and sends it to your merchant account. The merchant account then performs the authorization of the sale at the customer’s bank. The authorization is a reserve of funds to then be deposited into your bank account as payment for the products purchased.
If you are unsure which payment gateway to select I recommend Authorize.net. They have reasonable pricing and easy integration options to get your store connected with a merchant account.
Once you have made a gateway decision and completed the purchase of the plugins, simply install the plugin through your WordPress administration dashboard. Once installed follow the easy set up instructions to add your products to the shopping cart. You are able to test the layout and organization of the products as you go. Once you are satisfied with the operation you will need to configure your gateway and merchant account.
I would suggest contacting a merchant service provider to help you set up you gateway and merchant account. Once the gateway and merchant account have been integrated you are ready to sell you products on-line 24 hours a day, 7 day a week.
Here at Maxx Merchants we are WordPress specialists and can help with all aspects of getting your WordPress shopping cart up and running. For additional help and pricing please provide us with your Name and Email and an account specialist with get in-touch immediately.
Sell your products online – A guide to ecommerce
Are you looking to set up an online store? Are you confused with all the moving parts and how they work together? If the answer is yes, then look no further as our guide is intended to explain what you need and how to set it up.
This guide is broken down into 3 sections, each intends to explain how an ecommerce site works and what’s involved.
- Starting an Ecommerce Website
- Shopping Cart Compatibility
- Merchant Account Rates and Fees Explained
Starting and ecommerce website. Starting with the basics, what is involved? We begin by discussing each individual piece of the solution. We start with the website itself, next we talk about the shopping cart and hosting, last we discuss the payment gateway and merchant account. Don’t get discouraged as it seems like a lot in the beginning but once you understand how each piece works it becomes much simpler.
Shopping cart compatibility. In this section we discuss the shopping cart and payment gateway in detail. We offer a workflow on how the shopping cart and payment gateway work together with the merchant account to accept payments via the internet. We also have a shopping cart compatibility worksheet to help focus the information you need based on your set up.
Merchant account rates and fees explained. In this section we break down all the rates and fees associated with a merchant account so that you know what to expect. We offer a detailed explanation of each, as well as a guide to pricing.
The internet is a powerful vehicle for expanding your business reach. By opening an ecommerce store you are able to reach customers that you previously could not. You also allow your customers to purchase your goods and services 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Additionally, you are creating a stronger brand as exposure on the internet increases brand awareness, brand availibility and loyalty.
Would you like to accept payments from your website? If so please click the image below.
Shopping cart compatibility, will any Internet merchant account work?
The short answer is no. For an Internet merchant account to be compatible with a specific shopping cart, the merchant account must utilize a compatible payment gateway. So, to simplify this, the shopping cart must be compatible with the payment gateway and the payment gateway must be compatible with the merchant account.
The job of the payment gateway is to form a bridge between the website’s shopping cart and the merchant account. The payment gateway will encrypt and transmit the customer’s credit card information securely to and from the merchant account.
Shopping Cart Compatibility Worksheet – Tips for getting a shopping cart set up.
My business already has a merchant account. You already have a merchant account and are looking to enable a web based shopping experience.
- First, you will need to determine if your merchant account supports internet based transactions. If you have a retail store and have a merchant account set up, you will need to apply for another account that will allow internet transactions. If your current account is a MOTO (mail order, telephone order) account, you can typically turn on internet transactions without setting up a new account.
- Next you will need to ask your processor “What payment gateways are compatible with my account?”
- There are fees associated with the payment gateway so if you have multiple options you will want to investigate the cost and functionality associated with each one. Payment gateway functionality.
- Once you have selected the appropriate payment gateway, you will want to determine the shopping carts that are compatible with that gateway.
- Last, you will want to select the shopping cart that has the features you are looking for.
My business has a website and shopping cart and we’re looking for an Internet merchant account. You have already built your website and have selected a shopping cart or have built a custom shopping cart.
- The first question is, what kind on shopping cart do you have? A commercially available pre-built shopping cart or a custom shopping cart?
- If you have a commercially available pre-built cart you will need to investigate merchant service providers (processors) that offer a payment gateway that is compatible with the shopping cart. If the processor has a compatible payment gateway available it will also be compatible with the merchant account.
- If your shopping cart is custom built you will need to investigate merchant service providers (processors) that have a payment gateway with an open and fully documented API (application programmer’s interface) available.
My business has neither a shopping cart nor an Internet merchant account. You are at the beginning phase of establishing an eCommerce site.
- You will want to select a merchant service provider (processor) that offers a payment gateway that is compatible with multiple pre-built shopping carts and offers a open and fully documented API (application programmer’s interface). More information on starting an ecommerce website
What kinds of credit card processing solutions are available?
Determining the right credit card processing solution is easier than you might think. There are quite a few credit card processing solutions available and selecting the right one depends upon how your business is set up to accept payments.
Credit card processing solutions can usually be grouped into one of 4 solution categories.
- Retail Account
- MOTO Account
- Internet Account
- POS Account
A retail account
is reserved for any business that has a physical location at which the customer visits to purchase good and services. This is traditionally thought of as a brick and mortar establishment. The important factor that drives qualification for a retail account is 80%, or more, of the payments accepted by the business need to be swiped through a credit card terminal. The rates for a retail location are the lowest of all the solutions.
A MOTO account (mail order, telephone order) is reserved for businesses that conduct the majority (21% or greater) of the payment processing via the telephone or mail. The rates for a MOTO account will be slightly higher than a retail account. For more information please see - Why are rates higher for Internet, Mail and Telephone order charges?
An internet account is selected for businesses that conduct sales over the internet. An internet credit card processing solution processes payments from the businesses website in real time. An internet account typically comes with a virtual terminal that allow for one-off payments to be transacted from a web-based terminal. There are also a number of other features available through the virtual terminal. The rates for an internet account are usually the same as a MOTO account.
A POS account
(point of sale account) is a credit card processing solution
that works with a POS hardware solution. A POS hardware solution includes a cash drawer, scanner, receipt printer, credit card swipe device and many other options that manage sales and inventory at the business location. A retail merchant account
is typically integrated into the POS system via a middleware solution such as IC Verify or PC Charge (to name a few).
Automated Payment Processing
Are you looking for and automated payment processing account for your business? The addition of an automated payment processing solution is an easy way to enable your customers to purchase products without direct assistance. Automation allows you to focus on other areas of your business rather than order placement.
Here are the areas of automated payment processing that we can help with:
With any business the first step is determining the area of the business that would benefit most from an automated payment processing solution. Once a need is determined the next step to consult with a payment processing provider to determine the very best solution available. Once a solution is identified the next step is to determine the costs. Please refer to affordable credit card processing for a detailed explanation of the cost associated with an automated payment processing system.
Once you understand the costs you are now in a position to make the best decision for your business.
As always please contact us if you would like assistance determining the best solution for your business. (800)917.8026