Step Brightly is going to share the terms you need to be familiar with to need to get your online store running in a legitimate and professional way. All of these items; Merchant Account, Payment Gateway, API integration and an SSL certificate are additional fees, which are often not included in the package price you see on shopping cart websites, and are all of which you will need to set up your online store.
Every payment made online with a credit card involves the transfer of funds to a merchant account, which a merchant (you) holds directly with a bank. To accept card payments directly, rather than through services like PayPal, you will need an Internet Merchant Account. This enables you to take credit card payments and process the money to your bank account. The merchant has full responsibility for the transactions that occur with their account, and each bank has its own terms of service to which account-holders must follow. If you want to accept credit card payments through your online store, you will need either a merchant account of your own or the services of a third-party payment processor like PayPal.
3dcart does a good job explaining their merchant transaction process here.
A payment gateway is a service that authorizes and processes credit card payments with a Merchant Account. The purpose of the payment gateway is to take the customer’s payment type, validate the card number and amount and then pass the payment to your bank securely. You can interact with a payment gateway in
- Via a Pay Page: The user moves from your website to a secure page on the payment gateway server (which means they are taken away from your website) to enter their details.
- Via API integration: The user enters their card details on your website (on a page with a secure certificate installed, running SSL (which many programs offer for free, sometimes you need to purchase an SSL certificate), and those details are then passed to the gateway. Your website acts as the intermediary; the user is not aware of the bank transaction happening, having seen it only via your website. This is the most effective method not to lose customers at the most crucial point in the shopping cart process.
An SSL Certificate keeps your customers safe by protecting their information that’s flowing to and from your site. It encrypts names, addresses, passwords, account and credit card numbers so hackers can’t read them. You can tell that a site is secure when the prefix of your site changes to: https://. The SSL Certificate establishes the website’s credibility and enables the browser and server to build a secure connection.
I hope sharing with you, however brief, some of the basic terms will help you make a better educated decision when picking a shopping cart to support your online store. We have worked with many of the carts we are going to feature in the series and can absolutely help you pick the best match for your type of online business. Shoot us an email, we’d love to learn more about your business and how we can help!
Cheers, Step Brightly
- Part 3: Know what to look for in a shopping cart solution | Boutique Graphic Design, Web Design, Ecommerce web design for Baby, Children and Gift Industries