Requirements for Hosting an Online Store
Prior to getting started a number of requirements must first be achieved to allow for a successful online transaction. Ecommerce web sites include basic building blocks such as an SSL Certificate, ecommerce software, and a means for taking real-time payment authorizations. A SSL Certificate provides protection for a web site and its customers by encrypting the web site session. This encryption prevents the data from being intercepted by unauthorized trespassers.
Once a SSL Certificate is in place, it is necessary to have software to provide a process for customers to select, order, and provide payment. This software can be custom developed or can be based upon one of the many open source or commercial ecommerce software products available. Many options exist for receiving payment online. Most frequently a web payment gateway is utilized to allow the web site to interact with the major credit card companies (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover) clearing house in order to receive real-time authorizations of credit card payments. Web Payment gateways interact with traditional merchant accounts for payment card support. This configuration provides for the name of your organization to appear on your customer’s credit card statement. This feature provides branding as well as prevents unwanted returns due to confusion. This configuration does include monthly recurring fees.
Other payment services such as PayPal do exist as alternative to a merchant account/web gateway combination. These services typically do not include monthly recurring fees but traditional offer higher per transaction fees. These services do not provide the ability to have the name of your organization to appear on your customer’s credit card statement.