Accept and Manage All Kinds of Payments
With an SSL-secured site, your customers will have the confidence to purchase your goods and services. But enabling customers to pay you online takes more than just collecting their credit card numbers or other payment information. What will you do with customer payment information once it's sent to you? How can you verify that customer's credit card information is valid? How will you go about processing and managing those payments with a complex network of financial institutions?
You could simply set up a credit card terminal and process orders manually. But why invest the time and effort to build an e-commerce site without taking advantage of the efficiency of online payment processing? To offer a complete e-commerce experience, you need to implement an "Internet payment gateway" that provides Internet connectivity between buyers, sellers, and the financial networks that move money between them.
The Internet Payment Processing System
Participants in a typical online payment transaction include the:
Payment Authorization and Settlement
Payment processing can be divided into to major phases or steps: authorization and settlement. During the authorization phase, verification is made that the credit card is active and the customer has sufficient credit available to make the purchase. The steps in the authorization process are:
The second phase is the settlement process during which money is transferred from the customer's account to the merchant's account. During this process the following takes place:
What You Should Know About Fraud
Just because you have secured your site with an SSL certificate doesn't mean that you don't need to worry about your online business being affected by credit card fraud. Fraud can be a significant problem for customers, merchants, and credit card issuers and is something you should be aware of when you take your business online. In the offline world, liability for fraudulent transactions belongs to the credit card issuer but shifts to the merchant for "card not present" transactions, including transactions conducted online. This means that you will not receive payment for fraudulent transactions. Fortunately, there are things you can do to significantly limit your risk as an online merchant.
You may be eager to launch your e-commerce storefront, but take time to review and test your site thoroughly before going live. You will only have one chance to make a first impression on each new visiting customer, and broken links, incorrect phone numbers, and grammatical or spelling errors diminish the professional polish you're striving for.
Have objective testers walk through the entire ordering process to test its usability. Is it clear exactly what customers need to do to purchase? Test buying a product: is the page on which you supply payment information secure? Is the payment processed correctly through your payment gateway? Make sure you use both Macintosh and PCs for testing, and different browsers and modem speeds.
Also, never neglect good customer support: it's the key to creating loyal customers. Are you prepared to confirm that a customer's order has been received? Are you ready to follow up with an e-mail message for good measure? A personalized message from a real customer service representative is best, but sending an automatic reply works as well. Set minimum response times and standards for replying to customer questions and concerns, and ensure that your customer support staff is fully knowledgeable about all your products and services, their features and benefits, pricing, and availability.
With an online identity, a Web host, an eye-catching, professional-looking Web storefront, rock-solid security, easy-to-use payment management, and the right promotions, your e-commerce business is ready to succeed in the competitive world of the Web.