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Payment Processing Basics
By: John Calder
© 2004, John Calder
If you want to sell your own products online, you will need to choose a means for your customers to pay you. Otherwise, you won`t be in business very long! If you have regular office hours and employees, or want to hire a service, you can offer to let your customers phone in their orders and/or credit card number.
But most marketers want total automation of their ordering and payment process. They understand that without automation, they can`t have the time freedom that the Internet marketing lifestyle can bring. And many of today`s Internet shoppers are used to ordering online, without having to phone anyone. They expect to be able to add their items to a shopping cart, then complete the checkout process smoothly. If you don`t offer that to them, they may choose to shop at another site that does.
For automated payment systems, there are just two basic choices. You can either get your own merchant account and do all the payment processing from your site, or you can choose a third-party processing service. It really is that simple - everything else is detail. Of course, the devil`s in the details, so let`s take a look at each.
For high volume or high dollar sales, having a merchant account is almost always the best option. There`s a certain break even cost point where it makes sense to pay the monthly fees and processing charges of a standard merchant account. Not so long ago, it was difficult for online merchants to even get an account, because of the extra risk associated with Internet payment processing. And when you could find a bank willing to offer you an Internet merchant account, the monthly fees were much higher than for standard accounts, enough to make them out of the financial reach of many small businesses.
Today, it`s ....[MORE]