About 15 years ago, options for taking credit card payments were limited. A business would need to apply for a merchant account from a bank, wait for approval, buy Point-of-Sale hardware, setup the system, find a payment gateway for online transactions, and hire a developer to implement the payment gateway into the website. It was a long and expensive process. But now, with all the advancements in technology, e-commerce and online payment solutions have become easier and less risky than ever before.
An online store can be developed in many ways. When determining how to choose or develop the online store, several things need to be considered:
- What features do you want (e.g. gift certificates, sales, inventory tracking, BOGO)?
- What shipping options do you need (e.g. domestic shipping, international shipping, shipping based on weight, bundle shipping, etc)?
- Will you store the customer’s credit card information for future purchases?
- Do you mind if the customer goes to a 3rd party site to process the transaction?
I can make e-commerce extremely simple and very affordable, but if you have many requirements of your store, costs will rise.
Here are some of the e-commerce systems I am familiar with:
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Paypal and Other Merchant Account Alternatives
No longer do you have to send in an application to a bank with a business plan and years worth of financial statements for a merchant account! Transaction processing companies like Paypal and Square have made taking credit card payments easier, faster, and more affordable than ever for small-to-medium businesses.
If you find yourself doing a lot of in-person transactions, we can also integrate a Point-of-Sale (POS) system into your business, with relatively low equipment costs, automated email receipts to both you and your customers, and easy, monthly reports. For larger organizations, training can also be provided for everyone who will be administering the POS system.
We can setup a generic point-of-sale or we can go with a niche system. For example, if you own a bar, we would use a bar POS, which would offer specialized features, such as creating bar tabs, alcohol inventory, or split check functions. Or if you own a food truck, we would again use a specialized POS which could include real-time ingredient inventory management and manage employee time cards.[/ezcol_2third]
As your business or organization expands, every new piece of hardware or technology is slowly and painfully adopted, because so many people need to acquaint themselves with the new hardware or technology. As a former accountant, I like to create flowcharts. In accounting, these are often used for purposes of internal control. For organizations in general however, flowcharts are a wonderful tool to help map out the entire transaction process when it comes to your business activity.
Security and Encryption
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
— Uncle Ben
It is a great luxury to be able to sell online and process credit cards. However, we also need to be mindful of security and encryption of data. This includes understanding and respecting PCI compliance when setting up an online store and providing proper encryption of data through the use of Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificates.