Merchant services and credit card processing - Providing the merchant account and payment gateway rolled into one

Business help and support for online merchants

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'Mr Merchant' has a dream...

Do you want to start selling online but not sure what's what and how it all works? Well Mr W Merchant is in the same predicament. Here we will explain what it is you need to do, explain what everything means and finally explain how it all works to come together to create the ability to sell online.

Right, what's first? - Company type and bank account

If you are not set-up in business yet you will first need to decide what type of company you will be. Either Limited etc. or sole trader. The main reason for this is because it is dependent on what type of bank account you can use to accept payments. If Limited, PLC etc. you will need to have a business bank account set-up. If on the other hand you are a sole trader you can use a personal bank account. The bank accounts are where you want the money to be paid into from each transaction. You can use your current bank account or you can simply set one up when you are ready to start trading online.

If, for whatever reason, you are wanting to channel your online transactions into say two different bank accounts, you would need to set-up a different merchant account for each and use the relevant account depending on where you wanted the money to go. Say for example you want the money taken from your TV sales to go into your NatWest bank account and the money taken for DVD sales into another NatWest account or even a totally different bank such as Lloyds TSB - you will need to set-up a different merchant account for each bank.

Please note that if you decide to go down the sole trader route and then become Limited at a later date, you will have to re-apply for this service as you would have become a new legal entity.

Secondly you need the ability to get paid

You need the ability for visitors to your website to actually pay you. To be able to actually accept credit and debit card payments online you need what is called a 'Merchant Account' - A Merchant Account is an account opened through a bank that is a member of the Visa, MasterCard, or other credit card network which allows merchants to accept credit cards - and a 'payment gateway' - A payment gateway relays card and card holder information to the merchant account. Without one you could not process payments.

Remember we supply both the merchant account and the payment gateway as part of our online payment solution.

So, which of the four accounts you provide should I use?

This depends largely on how you operate your business and what your priorities are i.e. cash flow, when you want to get paid, type of business etc.

Our Merchant Account and Gateway Solution 1 Account offers a 1.7% transaction charge with a £25 monthly fee and no set-up and you are paid (settled) daily.

Our Merchant Account and Gateway Solution 2 Account has costs from just 1.5%, £20 a month and a £50 set-up fee. You are paid the full amount when you get settled, however it is 14 days in arrears.

Our third account, the High-Risk Merchant Account + Gateway, is mainly for high risk businesses. This has a transaction charge from 3.5% (subject to application), monthly fee of £25 and a set-up of £200.

Finally our Adult Merchant Account and Gateway is, as you can guess, for Adult related businesses. We don't mean adult toys etc. (you can use our Solution 1 Account for this) we mean pornography, escort agencies etc. As you can imagine this is a very high-risk industry so therefore the transaction charges are higher than any other account. These start from 5% and go up to 8% per transaction.

Right, all that's done. What now?

You've set-up your business, arranged a bank account and worked out which account is best... what now? Ifd you are wanting to sell via a website you now need to set-up your website and shopping cart and get your products out there to sell. If, on the other hand, you will be taking payment over the phone instead (or as well as) then you can start to use the Virtual Terminal or VPOS system straight away.

What is a shopping cart?

A shopping cart is a piece of software that produces a product inventory and shopping mechanism for your shoppers to view and buy your products online. It works on the principle of placing products from a catalogue into a basket, then going to a checkout to pay for the goods. (Similar model to a supermarket).

Do I need an ecommerce shopping cart?

This is dependent on the number of products that you are intending to sell. If you have just 1 or 2 products with fixed prices, and standard shipping rates you could design your site so you only use our payment secure process to take the orders online. If on the other hand, you are selling multiple products with complex pricing and shipping costs we strongly recommend the use of a shopping cart. This will enable you create a structured product inventory which looks professional and is fully integrated with our payment process.

My website is built and integrated. Is there anything else I need?

What about marketing your website and search engine optimisation?

Many companies go online and think by doing so they will make money over night and their business will become successful. Well unfortunately this just isn't true and many simply get lost in cyberspace! Just like a normal high street business you need to market your site and work hard at turning your online venture into a successful enterprise making thousands rather than hundreds of pounds per month. Because of this we have put together a rough guide to marketing your web site.

What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

At present statistics show that 85 percent of all user traffic comes from the main search engines this means 85 percent of 1 billion Internet users worldwide (including more than 35 million in the UK). A user base that is growing all the time. There are over 6 billion websites competing for top spots on the search engines, for this search engine optimisation is needed.

SEO (search engine optimisation) is one of the most essential factors in your websites' success. Search engine optimisation is the procedure of selecting and positioning your website's targeted 'keywords' and 'key phrases' which are used as part of a web search by your potential customers to ensure that your site is placed high on the search engine results.

Is that it?

One more word of warning...

When you first get a website you will probably spend time working out what kind to get. Should it be perfectly designed and aesthetically appealing or functional and attention grabbing? You will spend hours poring over the words for the home page, deciding exactly what shade of blue to use and working out the finer details of navigation. Probably for the first few months you will eagerly post new client stories and special offers but, as the novelty wears off, so will your enthusiasm.

If you don't continue to update your website then the message you give out to prospective and existing customers may no longer be the one you want to give out.

In a few months take a good hard look at your site. Are there news stories that are out of date? Are your company contact details up to date and correct? Does your website really reflect who you are today?

If any of these ring a bell then it really is time you revisited your website. A few years ago it was fine to not have a website, now it's the first port of call for most business customers to check on information about your company. Poor design or inaccurate information can mean the difference between a new client or no client.

If you decide to sell online, we wish you every success!

Call us today on 0845 475 3540 to discuss your payment solution needs

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