Having a merchant account can provide an expanded customer
base for small business owners. A merchant account allows business owners to
accept credit cards. For small business owners who operate websites for the businesses,
a merchant account is almost a necessity to ensure customer activity. Small
business owners can set up a merchant account with their bank in only a few
steps. Once the account is set up, the small business owner has a few more
steps to complete in order to be able to use the account and ensure that all
customer transactions are safe.
Step 1: Select the credit cards that you will accept with
your merchant account. Bear in mind that the credit card company takes a
percentage of each transaction, so read the fine print carefully before
agreeing to accept a type of credit card. Some merchants choose to accept only
the types of credit cards that patrons use most often (i.e., Visa and
MasterCard) to avoid excess fees from cards used less frequently.
Step 2: Add Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to your website, for
completing online transactions with your merchant account. SSL provides
encryption to websites so that the customers credit card information is protected during the transaction. When you sign onto a website and notice that the URL changes from http to https, you are seeing a website with SSL encryption for transaction safety. To add SSL, contact your website provider, your Internet Service Provider (ISP), or VeriSign.
Step 3: Add an order form to your website. Once you have
your website secured with SSL, you will need to add the order form that will enable customers to complete their transactions. Your hosting service should provide you with a form template, or you can make a simple one for free (see resources).
Step 4: Purchase access to payment processing software that links the completed transactions to your bank account, via your merchant
account. Companies like VeriSign, Monetra, and VeriFone offer payment
Step 5: Add a feature to authorize payments. Authorizing payments protects you, the merchant, from accepting credit card purchases from bad credit card accounts. Your merchant account provider should be able to
include an authorization service to your account. If you prefer to look
elsewhere, Authorize.net provides a credit card authorization service.
Tips and Warnings:
In addition to adding SSL, you will need to obtain an SSL
Certificate that shows your website and the transactions that are completed on your website are safe. You can obtain an SSL certificate from VeriSign (even if you don’t acquire the SSL from that service).
About the Author
and marketing consultant, Kristie Lorette, is passionate about helping
entrepreneurs and businesses create copy and marketing pieces that sizzle,
motivate, and sell. She
is also the author of Action Marketing: A
Step-by-step Guide to Launch Your Business Marketing Plan. For more information,
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