The merchant account:
Merchant accounts are the basic essential for the ability of an entity to collect credit card orders for goods and services. This may be for a “brick & mortar” store or E-Commerce store but this is needed to process credit card orders. The best place to look for a merchant account is your bank – you know them – they know you. Often this may not be the best “deal” but it can give you a baseline of where to start. The big factors in choosing a merchant account are: cost (annual fees, flat fees, per transaction fees, etc.), what processors the account works with (a processor facilitates interaction between your E-Commerce software and your merchant account), are “terminals” available (your own terminal for you to run individual orders through etc – many now offer web based virtual terminals).
A “Processor” is the bridge between your merchant account and your E-Commerce software. Not all E-Commerce software supports all processors and to make it even easier; not all merchant accounts support all processors. An example of a widely supported processor is Authorize.Net (http://www.authorize.net ). The processor takes a fee to link your E-Commerce items and your merchant account. These fees vary by processor but are often in addition to any other fees the credit card companies charge.
Manual vs. “Real-Time” order processing:
Some stores only need a merchant account and local terminal (or virtual terminal) to get their store rolling. Merchants with sales that are “ramping up” or have slower volume can collect the orders from their website and process them manually at first. He or she will save by processing orders this way and not utilizing a payment processor. When sales are high volume and manual processing is no longer practical – a payment processor linked to the shopping cart for “Real-Time” processing should be used. With “Real-Time” processing the funds are automatically paid or withheld as each transaction is made on the web in real time.
SSL is the industry encryption standard to transfer information securely across the Internet. SSL will enable your customer’s browser to connect to your web site and transparently negotiate a secure communication channel. Once this connection has been made, information like personal information and credit card numbers, can be exchanged with no chance of a third party intercepting the data. SSL is required for an E-Commerce scenario, both for your protection and that of your customers. SSL certs can be acquired and installed for you by E Street technicians – contact support: http://supportportal.estreet.com