From finding the perfect merchant account, to learning how to prevent chargebacks, running a startup e-commerce company can have many roadblocks. How do you build trust with customers you’ll never meet? What do you do when you want to accept credit cards online? How can you protect your business from fraudulent customers? When and how should you choose a shopping cart? Follow these eight basic tips and you’ll soon find your way to e-commerce success.
1. To accept credit card payments online, apply for a merchant account. A merchant account is a special type of account provided by acquiring banks that allow you to process payments. When applying for a merchant account, be sure to submit the completed application with all relevant documents. Time is money, and doing exactly as your payment processor requests will speed up the approval process. Documents you may have to provide for the underwriting process include:
2. Once an acquiring bank approves you for a merchant account, read the contract, terms, and conditions carefully before signing. Make sure you understand all of the service fees and ask questions regarding fees you do not see included in your contract. Common fees and costs associated with merchant accounts include:
Hidden fees may include:
3. Install your shopping cart to your web server after you setup your merchant account.Picture this: You download a shopping cart and pay a developer hundreds of dollars to build you a plug-in. Next, you send applications to a dozen payment processors for a merchant account. Out of these processors, only one approves you for a merchant account. You quickly learn that your shopping cart isn’t compatible with your payment gateway, and you’ve wasted a good chunk of change on a plug-in that you can’t use.
Your merchant account setup should always come first. Then install your shopping cart. The best thing to do is ask your payment processor what shopping carts are compatible with their payment gateway. Most will even have already-made plug-ins ready for you to use, so be sure to ask about those, too.
4. Save money whenever possible by using free, open source solutions. From file sharing, to web development, to shopping carts, there are tons of open source software solutions available at your disposal – for free! Why should you consider open source solutions?
Open source software includes:
5. Protect your customers’ payment information from theft and fraud. Protecting your customers is just as important as protecting yourself. Here are a few techniques to keep your customers’ private payment information from falling into the wrong hands.
6. Build trust with your online customers. As an e-commerce business owner, you aren’t there to shake your customers’ hands and earn their trust. If people don’t feel confident in buying from your website, then your business is in danger of failing. You can build trust with your customers by:
7. Prevent and dispute chargebacks to keep your chargeback rate low. Running a business in an e-commerce industry, you’re bound to run into a customer who feels you’ve wrongly charged them for a product or service. Preventing chargebacks is simple if you:
If your payment processor contacts you with a chargeback, you should always fight it when possible. Why should you fight chargebacks? Your cardholder’s issuing bank charges you a fee for every chargeback, and too many may result in losing your merchant account. However, fighting chargebacks is just as simple as preventing them, if you have all of the necessary information.
8. Use social media to help market your e-commerce company. Social media is an excellent tool to expand your customer base, if you know how to use it. Websites such as Twitter and Facebook allow you to join in on larger conversations, provide free advertising for your business, and connect with people all over the world. You can also create a blog to share your wealth of knowledge. Social media will help build your credibility, and boost your SEO ratings.
About the Author: Meghan Faye Wolff is a copywriter for Instabill Corporation. They offer online payment processing solutions for offshore and high risk merchants around the world. She blogs about the leading e-commerce and payment industry news.