When first getting started with eCommerce, it’s quite common to turn to a hosted shopping cart provider like Shoppify or Instant e-store. You might also try using PayPal and/or Google Checkout to accept payments for products or sercices. The main advantage of these options is that most of the setup is done for you, so it’s quick and easy to get started.
Eventually, however, many businesses will want to have a standalone shopping cart on their own domain. This can be more seemlessly integrated with the rest of your website, and the cost per transaction should be less than with a hosted solution. You also have a great deal more control over your storefront.
Some quality shopping cart applications you can install on your own domain include:
There are also several excellent eCommerce plugins for WordPress that perform the same function. If you already have, or are planning to get a WordPress site, these shopping cart plugins integrate seemlessly with the rest of your site:
Merchant Account & Payment Gateway
To simplify your accounting, it’s sometimes possible to get a merchant account and payment gateway service from the same vendor. You can often bundle the services together for better rates. Some services offer a free payment gateway if you get a merchant account with them.
The Interzone usually uses the Authorize.net payment gateway, which can be purchased from a huge variety of resellers. The prices for Authorize.net payment gateway services vary quite a bit from one reseller to another. Some resellers offer lower monthly fees with higher per-transaction fees, while others offer the reverse. You can base your choice on the regular volume of business you expect to do.
If you expect a large number of transactions (i.e. 1,000 or more per month), you probably want to look for lower transaction fees. If you expect fewer monthly transactions, you probably want to find a reseller with lower monthly fees, and pay a little more per transaction.
You can apply this same principle when selecting your merchant account. If you already have a merchant account, you should ask if your bank resells Authorize.net and if they can bundle it together with your existing account.
An average price for the Authorize.net payment gateway service by itself is probably roughly:
- setup fee = $99
- monthly fee = $17
- transaction fee = $0.10
You can buy payment gateway services directly from Authorize.net also. Here are their prices.
These are a few leading vendors for internet merchant accounts plus Authorize.net payment gateway services:
Here are a few more Authorize.net resellers if you want only the payment gateway service:
There are many more reseller options in the Authorize.net official reseller directory also.
In order to host your own shopping cart, you also need to secure the transmission of financial data over the internet. This requires getting a unique IP address and an SSL Certificate for your domain.
You will have to get a fixed IP address for your domain from your hosting provider. They should be able to help you set it up, or set it up for you. Chances are also, your hosting provider will also have an easy way to purchase and install an SSL Certificate.
Some leading providers of SSL Certificates include:
Comodo also offers a completely free SSL Certificate for 90 days, so you can test out your new eCommerce site before buying a longer term certificate.
Usually, you just need to fill out a Certificate Signing Request (CSR), a simple form requiring your business contact information and domain name, and within 24 hours, you will receive your SSL Certificate. Ask your hosting provider how to install the SSL Certificate. It generally just consists of pasting the certificate code into the right form.
Once you’ve secured your server, you can start securely testing your payment gateway. Enter your Authorize.net account information into the settings in your shopping cart application, and you should have the essential pieces in place to start selling online!