Making money from a web site
is one of the major concerns for most people who are establishing or
considering the establishment of a web site for a company or for their
own home business. Whether the business is large or small, the end result
is often stated in terms of the bottom line. For some, this means enhanced
customer service or corporate identification is paramount, but in most
cases, sales of a product or products directly to customers who visit
the site is a prime consideration. In either case, the common term for
doing business on the internet is e-commerce. In most cases, that involves
sale and delivery of a product or products along with the ability to
There are two basic things
that EVERY site that is involved with on-line transactions must have.
One is a way to display products and take orders, and the second is
a way for the customer to pay for them.
Carts or Product Information pages
Simply put, either a shopping
cart or simple product information pages can both work. The sole question
is how many products are involved and whether it's cost effective to
have a shopping cart display products from a database rather than have
static (individual) pages. If only a few products are involved and/or
they aren't subject to frequent changes, static pages can work very
well. If there are many items, or the items change often, a shopping
cart is well worth the expense.
Static pages display the
products in set pages, and that means to change a product, the page
must be edited or updated by either someone in-house or by an outside
agency. The cost for this is usually by the hour, so frequent price
changes, and or product changes can be expensive. Also, a secure order
form that allows the customer to enter order, payment, and shipping
information needs to be set up for static page sites. Payment can be
handled through Paypal and "Buy Buttons" for ease of payment if that's
Most shopping carts generate
pages "on the fly" from a database of products. That means that simply
uploading an updated database will change the product offerings quickly
and easily. Many also provide user interfaces to handle this if only
a few product changes are necessary. We use MIVA
Merchant for many of our sites. This is a very complete program
that can offer several different options for shipping and payment. It
also can handle thousands of items with ease. A smaller version that
will handle up to a hundred items is also available. This program can
either be purchased or leased depending on which option the client prefers.
If a client prefers another shopping cart program, we can install and
configure those as well, or even have a custom program written particularly
for the client.
In all cases, the important
thing is that the order is taken and the information is sent to the
merchant for processing quickly and seamlessly. A shopping cart usually
will take the payment information, whether credit card or other means
of payment and transmit it to the merchant or through a payment gateway.
On-line processing requires a payment gateway or processor to handle
payments. These are usually set up through one of the companies devoted
to that form of payment processing, such as Verisign. If the client
prefers, though, the information can be sent directly to the client
for processing in-house.
and Payment Processors
For most, the ease with which
a customer or potential customer can pay for the product or products
offered is the difference between making a sale or losing the customer
to another vendor. Security of the transaction, the discount rate charged
by the commerce server involved, and ease of getting started are prime
considerations for new and home businesses. Large and established merchants
usually already have merchant accounts, but many, if not most, new business
ventures find the process daunting. There are two parts to taking payments
on-line, a payment processor and a merchant account.
A payment processor, such
as Verisign, provides instant processing of credit card payments on-line.
They charge a handling fee for each transaction which can vary widely
depending on how long the merchant has been in business and the type(s)
of products being sold. Payment processors can take a credit card on-line,
approve it, and deposit the payment in the merchant account.
A merchant account is simply
an account with a bank that allows the merchant to process credit card
payments. Often, a person who is just starting out can get a merchant
account through their bank. This is preferable if it's available since
the bank knows the individual. If their bank does not handle
these, there are several available on-line. In all cases, there is a
handling fee or discount rate that will be charged. Payment processors
can also assist in setting up a merchant account. If the merchant takes
the credit card information, that information simply needs to be given
to the bank providing the merchant account.
Other ways of taking payment
on-line include services like Paypal, which can handle transfer of funds
from one person to another. These can be for goods, services, or just
about anything else. The only requirement is that both parties have
to have an account. Paypal offers accounts for individuals and businesses.
For more information on how
we can help you set up merchant accounts, shopping carts, or other e-commerce