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What Is an Online Merchant Account for?

Posted Wed, November 19, 2014 by Julie Short

If you have an online store – or are considering adding e-commerce functionality to your business website – there’s a good chance you’ve been hearing about online merchant accounts. But, if you haven’t used them in the past, you might be wondering what they actually are, and what they’re good for.

In this quick post we’re going to answer that for you, along with providing you with a few quick tips for choosing the right one for your business.

First things first: A merchant account is simply a different type of bank account that allows you to receive and deposit lots of different kinds of payments, such as credit cards and ACH bank transfers. Any retailer or business that accepts plastic, online or off, has a merchant account.

Another related term you might hear often is a payment processor (or payment gateway). While this is often packaged along with an online merchant account, they’re technically separate things. The payment processor is just a piece of software that works with your merchant account and allows you to accept credit cards and other payments over the web.

You can think of a payment gateway as the virtual version of that credit card machine that retailers swipe your card with at an actual store. Instead of being a physical piece of hardware, it’s just located online.

So, now that you know a merchant account is what you need to accept credit cards, let’s get to a few quick points about choosing the right one for your business. Although there are lots and lots of different vendors and choices to consider, your selection should probably come down to a handful of critical details:

Processing fees and transfer policies. Although the percentage rates for credit card processing are fairly uniform, fees for certain services (like foreign transactions, for example) can vary quite a bit. Also, you want to choose a vendor that will give you access to your money quickly.

Versatility. It’s always annoying for customers when you don’t accept their favorite credit card or payment type, so choose a merchant account that’s flexible.

Convenience. Some combination merchant accounts and payment processors have very extensive technical and programming requirements you should be aware of, since the extra work could mean more billable hours from your web development team.

Safety and security. Good security should be a top concern since it protects your business and your customers. Plus, having bank-level encryption for your transactions makes it easier for new buyers to trust you.

Good reporting. As with anything to do with e-commerce, good reporting is essential to maximizing conversions and profits, so make sure your credit card processor has tools to help you take a detailed look at sales and trends.

Choosing the right merchant account can be very important to your e-commerce success, especially if you’re launching an Internet store for the first time. Why not let the experienced team at WebRevelation help you choose the right options and get your business up and running quickly?

Posted in : Websites , e-commerce | 
Tags : merchant account , ecommerce


4 Things to Know Before You Launch an Online Store

Posted Wed, July 9, 2014 by Julie Short

Even the prospect of launching your first e-commerce site can be exciting. There are so many choices and opportunities in front of you, not to mention the possibility of finding a new revenue stream that can continue for years without forcing you to spend long hours at the desk.

There is more to building a profitable online store, though, than simply choosing an e-commerce template and watching the profits roll in. To help you get a sense of what the most successful Internet entrepreneurs know, here are four things to keep in mind before you launch your first (or next) online store:

1. Most products really don’t sell themselves. Occasionally, we meet with would-be entrepreneurs and e-commerce site owners who think they’ve stumbled upon the one product that's virtually guaranteed to go viral and bring them huge profits in a short amount of time. Even if that were possible, it's likely you'd be facing some pretty stiff competition in no time at all. The reality is that it is relatively easy to spread the word about great products and services online, but you still need a strong Internet marketing plan to get the ball rolling.

2. Trust matters. Trust is incredibly important to e-commerce for a couple of reasons. First, if searchers and shoppers don't trust you or your site, they aren't going to enter in their credit card information and complete a purchase. And second, if you don't build trust over time by following through on your promises and guarantees, then no one is going to trust you going forward.

With that in mind, it's important to build trust by putting visible reminders of your business associations, e-commerce verifications, and other credentials on your e-commerce site. Then, make service and transparency a top priority to get the reviews and reputation you need.

3. You’ll have to work to get (and keep) customers. One of the reasons that e-commerce is getting tougher is that search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising are more competitive than ever. That means you're going to have to work hard or spend money (and possibly both) to win your first few customers. After that, you'll have to keep them coming for great products, top service, fast shipping, or low prices… and possibly a combination of a few of those factors.

4. E-commerce is all about efficiency. The most successful online stores aren't always the flashiest or most popular. Instead, they are the ones that continually refine their marketing and budgeting approaches, working one percentage at a time, slowly but gradually improving their financial picture. Whether your store is a hit from the day it launches or takes a while to gain momentum, never fall into the trap of being satisfied with what you have.

Make no mistake: You can grow a popular and profitable online store, often in less time than you would think. But, it's going to take a little bit of imagination, a lot of hard work, and the right e-commerce design team on your side.

Posted in : Business Strategy , e-commerce , SEO/SMO/SMM | 
Tags : ecommerce , marketing , tips


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