Sizing up your ecommerce options

The internet is still in it’s early days for online transactions. Business is striving to draw customers online, who still prefer to conduct their transaction using traditional methods.

Why is this?

Trust. It is difficult for web users to gauge the credibility of a web site. Instead the people need to compare prices, research products and read about other people experiences before handing over the dollars.

Here are some of te questions to have to ask when considering ecommerce on your site.

  • Does your current hosting service provider offer SSL as part of your package?
  • Do you want to process credit cards on-line or off-line?
  • If you have an existing credit merchant facility with your bank then you can process credit cards off-line.
  • Which bank are you with?
  • Do you want to offer the documents for immediate download upon a successful transaction?
  • Are you aware of the on-going costs such as transaction fees?
  • Do you know how many transactions you will process in one year?

Some products on offer require an additional payment gateway to process on-line transactions.
A payment gateway is provided by an organisation that should support your bank.
Some banks can be very strict in regards to providers and ecommerce systems.
In a recent case, the clients bank refused to provide the service on a US based site because
the hosting company failed to sign a declaration in regards to the recording of credit card details.

The best value option is to develop an interface in your website and provide access to a range of pre-paid charging options to lower your costs.

Here are a few features to look for an ecommerce provider:

  • Secure API or hosted payment page.
  • Online payments by staff.
  • Recurring payments  – API or batch.
  • Online batching  –  Secure file upload.
  • Transaction file in various formats  – Transaction details for the previous 24 hrs.
  • Cardless refunds and pre-authorisationss – no requirements for merchants to store or access card information.
  • Easy to integrated with a variety of open source applications such as VirtueMart, Cube Cart and Zen Cart.
  • Reference number, a mechanism for tracking orders and will save you lots of time and money.

Look for pre-paid blocks where there are no other fees or charges of any kind. If the transaction block is exceeded within 12 months there should be no penalties or service interruptions. Many merchants begin on the pay-as-you-go plan and upgrade to a pre-paid plan in the second year as their transaction volume establishes.

Payment Recording:
All payments should be accessible by a web based merchant facility to track, record and refund when necessary.

Merchant support is very important. The provider should be able to provide both technical or development background.

Other key benefits to look for in a provider:

  • One consolidated transaction file and report for all payments, accessible by web based merchant facilities with user permissions for access and refunds with transaction source recognisable by separate source codes.
  • One contact for all transactions queries.(IVR, Online, Mobile, Wireless, Batch, Periodic, etc).
  • Very low initial expenditure and good value as all required products are “folded – in” or can be “balanced” to suit requirements.
  • Potential to reduce administration resources and processing time owing to easier reconciliation.
  • An established upgrade path should you wish to access additional SecurePay products. (Online, IVR, Recurring, Direct Debit, Multi – Currency, Anti – Fraud).
  • Verified uptime and network redundancy to ensure full-time payment availability for merchants.

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