Small Business: Payment Processors and Shopping Carts
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Smart Phones for Savvy Business Owners - By Charly Leetham
I'm often asked to provide advice on what type of shopping cart / payment processor a business should implement. The answer is not quite so simple and in this article, I've tried to outline the processes and technologies that go together to deliver a payment and affiliate solution and offer some choices. Let's look at some terminology, first....
A payment processor is ‘the thing' that sits between your website (typically a shopping cart) and your banks internet gateway into your account. It's the bit that does the ‘heavy lifiting' for credit card processing.
Payment processors include, but aren't limited to: Authorize.net, 2CO, Securepay, EWay, Paypal and myriad of others.
Paypal does fall into this group, although it works a bit differently to the others.
Most of these processors offer an interface that we can code directly to and hook websites up to. This will eliminate the need for a shopping cart but, in my opinion, you are seriously better off considering a shopping cart to make your life easier.
This is the piece of software that controls your products, how much you charge for them, the description of the products, any sales discounts, postage / freight, coupon codes etc.
There are lots of shopping carts around, some are good, some are mediocre and others are just awful to use. Not all shopping carts support all payment processors nor do they interface with all software that will run on your site. Point in case, the integration with Wishlist Member between Shopping Carts can be limited.
Typically, there are two styles of shopping cart - hosted and self hosted.
1SC (autoweb business) and WAHM Cart are hosted shopping carts - someone else hosts the software, does all the system admin etc. You get an account on it and list your products.
Self hosted solutions include OS-ECommerce, Zen Cart, WP-E-Shop and WP-E-Commerce. I've been testing WP-E-Shop and WP-E-Commerce on some wordpress websites and I quite like them.
The beauty of having a shopping cart is that you can generally have a couple of payment processors and offer more choice to your customers and it is much, much easier managing a catalogue of products rather than individual payment buttons for products.
Most of us start off this way - we log into paypal, generate the payment button, paste it into our site and away we go. It's a good way to start. I'm now running into issues with multiple membership levels, multiple products etc trying to keep it all straight.
Paypal will do recurring and one off payments, put the money into your paypal account and you can transfer it to your bank account.
What should you choose?
I think the question is - what do you need / want and what can you support yourself?
Hosted shopping cart solutions will generally cost you a monthly fee - there is a cost to maintaining the service. For that monthly fee, most of the headaches disappear. The downside - a prime part of your business is in someone elses hands - be very, very certain that your dealing with someone reputable.
Self Hosted shopping cart solutions will have a higher start up cost - you have to install and customize the solution however, ongoing costs are typcially much, much lower. Most of the solutions I've seen just seem to run once they're installed and may, or may not, require software updates or upgrades. I strongly suggest you have a techie type on your team that you can call on when issues arise.
A word of warning: 1SC and Recurring Payments
1SC doesn't support recurring PAYPAL payments. If you are considering setting up a system that requires recurring payments (and that includes payment plans) and want to use Paypal to process payments exclusively, then 1SC is not the solution for you.
To be absolutely clear, 1SC DOES support recurring payments - with credit card payment processors.
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Smart Phones for Savvy Business Owners - By Charly Leetham
About the Author: Charly Leetham
RSS for Charly's articles - Visit Charly's website
Charly Leetham is a Business Implementation expert and she works directly with businesses to translate their unique business requirements into a technical specification. Charly then surveys (reviews) what is currently available that will meet her clients needs and presents options for a best fit solution within the clients budget.
Charly's expertise has been developed throughout her career that exceeds 24 years. Initially as a hands on 'tech' in the Electronics and Communications Industry (before the IT Industry even existed) and later as a Sales Person, Client Relationship Manager and Contract Manager managing business for employers. In 2004, Charly left her steady, 6 figure a year job to follow her dream of becoming a small business entrepreneur. Her journey has taken her from Retail Store Franchisee, through financial turbulence to a steady and comfortable Home Based Business.
Charly shares the experience, the challenges, the realisations and the lessons that she has learnt during her journey to Home Business Entrepreneur.In addition, Charly is Wishlist Member Certified and is one of a few online business professionals who are recommended by the creators of the Wordpress Wishlist Membership Plugin to consult, install and configure Wordpress based Membership and Community Sites.
Click here to visit Charly's website.
More from Charly Leetham
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