Gateway compatibility

If you have already purchased a shopping cart package, ensure that the payment gateway service is compatible. If a service is not listed, contact the shopping cart vendor for clarification. Many shopping cart software companies are happy to support other payment gateway services if there is a demand for it, and usually at no extra cost. If you haven't yet selected a shopping cart, get a list of supported applications from the payment gateway service provider. A payment gateway may offer great pricing, but if the range of shopping carts or storefront software it supports is limited, the whole process of setting up for taking online payments may cost a lot more than you think. I've noticed some gateways only support horribly expensive and restrictive shopping cart software packages and services.

AVS protection

Ensure the gateway at least offers AVS protection. The Address Verification System (AVS) AVS decreases the incidence of accepting fraudulent transactions by verifying the cardholder's billing address with the card issuer. Using AVS on your transactions may also benefit you by a reduction in fees charged by your Merchant Bank.

Check to see what other types of transaction protection are offered to you as a merchant. These will probably be 'premium' services, the charges added to the basic servicing fees, but dependent on your products may be absolutely necessary. If you are engaged in the sale of anything that is youth or technology oriented, it's probably a wise move to pay for the extra service as chargeback rates on fraudulent transactions can cost you around US$30 per incident!

Internet merchant accounts and third party credit card processors

Some type of Internet merchant account is necessary in order to have a place to receive funds from credit card sales. Internet merchant accounts can be gained from most major banks. A word of warning - your bank will more than likely charge like a wounded bull for such an account because of the risk involved. You're probably better off utilizing the services of companies such as Durango Merchant Services or Merchant Express who specialize in ecommerce and can tailor a merchant account/payment gateway solution to suit your needs. Another option may be to use a third party processing service such as Paypal or 2Checkout, which are both basically a payment gateway and merchant account rolled into one and operated by the same company.

Selecting an Internet merchant account provider or third party processor

Shop around and then shop around some more - this is a very confusing section of ecommerce. If you make enquiries with a company and they don't respond within 24 hours, or are somewhat vague in their responses - run like hell away from them. Banks are notorious for utilizing poorly trained salespeople rather than those with hands-on product knowledge or an understanding the complexities of ecommerce. Ensure they explain all charges to you thoroughly by enquiring about the following rates:

Statement - the charge each month for issuing you statements on all transactions

Application fee - some institutions will charge you for the privilege of applying for an account, regardless of whether your application is successful or not.

Setup fee - once your application has been approved, there may be other fees associated with establishing the account.

Discount Rate - a percentage deducted for each product sold

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