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What do you need to have an online store?

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This is a summary of basic components you need to run an online store.

1. Credit Card Processing – You will find a lot of companies offering you a Merchant Account (a type of bank account that allows businesses to accept payments by payment cards). Because it is sometimes necessary to refund amounts charged to credit cards, the seller could end up owing more than is available in the bank, so the bank has credit risk for these accounts. Your bank may not want to carry this risk, and you may end up with an unexpectedly high processing fee from the bank that will accept you. Many Merchant Service banks will use a Payment Gateway as the interface between themselves and the credit card issuing bank, others may have this service in-house.

We started our e-commerce site eight years ago using two different companies for merchant account and gateway. Each of them took a fee at every opportunity. Then we moved our credit card acceptance too PayPal Payment Pro and gained a lot. All of our authorization fees, transaction fees, monthly fees, batch fees, chargeback fees and so forth, totaled about half as much as with the previous method. Plus, we have all our credit card paperwork in one place and PayPal has a great report system that helps a lot when you are doing your month and year end processing.

2. Payment and shipping options – These depend on the type of services you are offering. Our own online store offers PayPal payment, credit card payment, and Google Wallet payment. Some companies are using 3rd party "shopping cart" software suits that allow you to add, remove, and modify products, and accept payments. We are running our own implementation because it gives us more flexibility.

3. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate – SSL is a cryptographic protocol that provides communication security over the Internet .It is a “must be” condition and assures your customers that they are safe to buy and they can give their credit card information without fear. It doesn’t cost a lot, possibly $25 to $350 per year depending on the level of security offered.

4. Procedures to protect your business from fraud – Of course, gateway services will offer you different fraud protection filters, but if transactions have been processed by the gateway as successful, don’t be surprised to receive a “chargeback” letter from your merchant account a month later. You need to be ready to fight the fraud on your end as well. That is why it is important to know a little bit more about your visitors.

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"Form follows function — that has been misunderstood.
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joined in a spiritual union."
Frank Lloyd Wright
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