Archive for August, 2010

Using Internet Merchant Accounts for your Home Business

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

If you want to be able to take payment by credit card for your home business, just like the “big boys” do in the traditional business world, you will need to access the services of Internet merchant accounts.  These services will not only allow you to accept credit card payment online, an essential part of any successful Internet business, they can offer you a number of other benefits as well.

Did You Know?

In the regular retail market, approximately 75% of all transactions are now plastic based – credit, debit, and gift cards.  Online, that number is nearly 100%.  While it is true that a decent number of businesses also make use of third party payment systems, most simply take plastic.

How Does it Work?

When you sign up with a merchant account provider, make sure they have extensive experience with online accounts.  You don’t want to be the guinea pig for a company just taking their services online.

Security is the buzzword.  By its very nature, Internet sales are potentially less secure than traditional retail sales.  This is because all of your customer’s information must travel through the Internet for payment to be completed, and that means it is possible for a hacker to interrupt the stream of data.

The way merchant account firms prevent this from happening is through encryption.  All the data your customer sends when they pay for a product is encrypted both on its way to the payment gateway and back.  A great deal actually happens when someone clicks “pay now,” but the details aren’t important as long as good security protocols are in place.

No One Knows Your Size

In some ways, setting up your Internet merchant accounts provides you with a certain degree of anonymity.  Your company can be a one-person show, but online you appear identical to all of the other companies.  This allows you to compete with larger businesses on equal footing – after all, you are offering the same services.  Additionally, because your company is small, you won’t have as much overhead, potentially allowing you to offer the same products for less.

What to Look For

Aside from choosing a credit card processing provider with a great deal of familiarity with Internet based businesses, you want to make sure that the fees are comparable to those charged by other providers.  You also need to make sure that customer service is available at all hours of the day and night.  Since the Internet is open for business 24 hours a day, your site has to be open then too.  If your customers can’t pay for their products, they will just move on.  Finally, ask about other benefits the company offers.

Do they help you to build a website?  Connect you with reliable drop shippers?  Offer small business loans to help you expand and upgrade?  All of these may help you at some time or another.

For a home based business, setting up Internet merchant accounts makes good sense and helps the company grow.

Merchant Credit Card Processing – It Pays to Take Plastic

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

For all of the encouragement offered by the government to stay out of debt and put more money into savings, consumers continue to use their credit cards to pay for everything from luxuries to basics.  Merchant credit card processing is essential to any business that wants to tap into this market.  Let’s look at some of the numbers.

Who has Credit Cards?

Nearly 200 million Americans currently hold over 600 million credit cards.  That is a lot of buying power.  While there has been a 10% decline in the number of people who actually have a credit card, those that do carry them use them routinely, although slightly less than before the current recession.  In fact, there are nearly 1 billion – that’s right, billion – VISA cards issued world wide.  Can you afford to ignore that market share?

What about Debit Cards?

Surveys show that more consumers have debit cards than credit cards and are more likely to use them.  In fact, the use of debit cards has nearly doubled in the last few years, and approximately 75% of the population, across the board, uses them regularly.  With over 500 million cards in use in the US alone, that is a huge number of potential customers.

What Does it Cost?

Fees for merchant credit card processing are simply too disparate to give accurate figures.  The amount you will be asked to pay monthly, per transaction, as the discount rate are all negotiated based upon what kind of business you do, your risk factors and so forth.  You should, of course, compare offers to ensure that you get the deal that is best suited to your business and practices.

Cash and Carry no More

There will always be a portion of the population that will want to pay in cash, and in a retail environment that can be easily accommodated.  If you intend to have an online business, it is no longer a viable method of payment.  Merchant accounts that are specifically designed for online business allow you to take credit, debit, and gift cards, and some will take a payment directly from a bank account.  It all adds up to increased sales and improved convenience for all.