E-Commerce websites can be one of the most effective ways to generate real revenue online. While not every website will have the opportunities to sell products online or take payments online, those that need it will need the added function of online credit card payments.
To take credit card payments online, there’s a couple boxes that your e-commerce store needs to check before processing live payments. The first and most important one is an effective merchant processor. Merchant processors are the middleman between your website and the credit card companies that are authorized to take credit card information into an account, and then submit that money into your bank account. You’ve probably heard of companies like PayPal, Square, and maybe even Braintree, but there’s thousands of different options out there for you with different costs and benefits.
Whether you’re using a form system like Gravity Forms, or an E-commerce platform like WooCommerce, you’ll need to set up a merchant processor to get the payments from a website to your bank account.
So, what do you do?
The Nitty Gritty
Here’s an in-depth analysis of how credit card processing works. It’s long, but informative!
Select a Merchant Processor that fits your needs. You’ll get pricing anywhere from 2.2% to 3.2% +$0.30 processing fee per transaction, and some with a monthly account cost of around $30/mo. Typically the trade off is based around how high the monthly cost is, if one exists. If you expect a lot of transactions, or high dollar transactions, then you’ll want to make sure your percentage is as low as possible. On the other hand, if you are using your merchant processor for the every now and again convenience payment, maybe it’s not a bad idea for a higher percentage but no monthly cost.
After you’ve created your merchant processor account, it will need to be tied into your website via an API or some sort of call/response method from the website. If you’re using WordPress/WooCommerce, and most CMS and E-commerce platforms, you’ll have a couple different options on how to integrate into your payment gateway. Once you’ve got all of that set up, and your checkout/payment pages ready to go, there’s only a couple items left to take care of.
Security is a must for credit card transactions. Your users need to make sure you’re securing their data, preventing any fraudulent transactions, and not letting their data out into the web. This is accomplished through a Secure-Socket-Layer (SSL). You’ll need to have an SSL set up on your website to encrypt the information being sent back and forth from your website to your processor. As a website is sending the credit card information, hackers/bots will attempt to sit in the middle of that data transfer and watch for card numbers to be sent back and forth. The SSL turns that credit card number into an indecipherable string of numbers that only your merchant processor can unlock.
Once you’r ready to take payments with your merchant processor, and you’ve got your SSL set up, all that’s left is a sandbox transaction to ensure your transactions make it into your payment processor account. Most processors have a sandbox/testing environment for you to put dummy transactions through. If it works, you’re golden.
If you want to take payments online, you’re going to have to have a 3rd party processor. Set up an account, secure your website with an SSL, and then test the transactions to make sure they make it to your account. If you’re able to check all of those boxes, you should be ready to go!