Sunday, October 7, 2007

What are the options for receiving online payment through my ecommerce web site?

by Ralph Ramah

Buyers and selling online is increasingly popular and more and more organisations are looking for simple ecommerce web design solutions to sell their products and services and receive payment securely online. For many the whole web design and payment process remains a mystery and therefore a hindrance to them setting up an ecommerce web design solution. Here are a few simple facts and options to hopefully help you get started with an ecommerce web site. Assuming your web design is taken care of and your web designers are using a reliable shopping cart software that both intuitive, user friendly and secure, you need to know a Payment Service Provider (PSP) who will handle the payment process when your online buyers purchase from your web site and how the money will reach your bank. After all, no sales is actually a sale until you receive payment for the purchase.


Paypal is by far the quickest and simplest PSP to set up. All you need to do is sign up for a Paypal account online. You can sign up for free with an email address and a password of your choice. The email account is also your username which you will need to use every time you want to log in to your Paypal account. All you then need to do is give the email address to your web design company and they will link your ecommerce web site to your Paypal account. There is no need to provide your Paypal account password as this is not needed for the Paypal integration into your web design system. There are a number of simple security measures your web design company needs to put in place to ensure the integrity of the payment system. This information is readily available in Paypal's online resources for web design companies. You will not have to worry about this, assuming you are using a competent and reliable web design company. Every time a buyers makes a purchase on your web site and select to pay, he or she is redirected to Paypal's web site for secure payment. Paypal's web site already has a secure certificate and payment is made on ths secure web site and not on your own web site, so security is taken care of by Paypal. Once the system is set up and running, you will receive an email notification from Paypal every time a payment is successful on your ecommerce web site.

Other Payment Service Providers

Setting up a payment method with most other PSPs is slightly more involved and can be more costly than with Paypal. As a first step, you will most probably require to obtain a merchant account from your bank or any other bank that process merchant accounts. This merchant account will be used by the PSP to credit any payment received online from your web site to your bank account. The process of obtaining a merchant account can be a straight forward form filling exercise or, with some banks, quite a lengthy process. Some banks will even ask for your audited accounts and a business plan. Do not be discouraged though, shop around and you will find a reputable bank that will provide you with a merchant account. There are a number of PSPs that will accept online payment through integration with your web site. You will need to consider which one offers the best package for your online business. Cost is certainly a factor to consider. Some PSPs require a minimum contract and a set up fee while others like Protx charge no set up fee but only a monthly fee provided the account does not exceeding a certain number of transactions per quarter.

Integration of a PSP other than Paypal is a bit more involved, both technically from a web design point of view and also on the admin side. However, if your web site is a more established online business and you require a seamless payment system integrated into your web design solution, then it is worth the trouble and your online buyers experience should be more pleasant and fluid thus improving your conversion rates i.e. sales.

About the Author

Ralph Ramah is the webmaster of Discount Web Design, one of the leading web design company in the UK offering quality web site design and SEO services