Setting up your eCommerce Business
Are you gearing up to sell your products online? Starting up an ecommerce venture is an incredibly exciting time for any business owner, however you want to make sure you get it right. With very few touch points and just a single checkout method, it’s important to get all the fundamentals right in order to encourage your customers to complete a purchase.
If you’re new to ecommerce or just want a refresh on the fundamentals of starting an ecommerce website, check out our key points for launching your store including a detailed explanation of the most important step – payment processing.
Setting up the basics – Hosting & Domain
When setting up an eCommerce store, one of the very first things you’ll need to do is organise hosting for your website. There are a large number of companies around that offer this service, however some of our favourites are:
After this is complete, you’ll also need to purchase a domain name. This is generally some variation of your business name (if this is still available) including acronyms. Make sure it’s easy to read and easy to type; you don’t want potential customers getting lost on their way to find you.
After you’re happy with the design, it’s now time to upload your products. The process of uploading your items will depend on the CMS you have chosen, however, there are a few fundamental things you should keep in mind when doing so. For example, categorisation of your products is essential to allowing your products to be easily found. If a customer lands on your page and can’t find what they’re looking for in a few simple clicks, you’ve likely lost out on a sale.
Integrating a shopping cart
In order for your customers to be able to shop on your website, you’ll need shopping cart functionality. A shopping cart is essentially a piece of software that users can add their desired purchases to in order to facilitate a purchase. Shopping carts may be self-hosted and integrated into your website with a plugin or downloadable software or hosted by a third-party. With a hosted shopping cart, all you need to do is sign up with the chosen company and you’ll be on your way to start processing payments. There are many hosted shopping carts available, but some of our favourites would have to be:
Processing customer transactions
Undoubtedly the most important aspect of setting up your ecommerce website is having the ability to complete transactions. Regardless of the payment options you’re intending to offer, you’ll need to implement payment processing, including the following:
As the name suggests, a payment gateway is the entry point for taking customer payments online. It’s like a cash register at the store, allowing you to accept payments for your goods or services. For security reasons, ecommerce stores cannot process payments directly through their site and thus, the payment gateway acts as a middle man between the customer and the payment processor.
So how does it work?
A payment gateway secures the payment process, meaning customers will be more comfortable spending their money with you. It does this by encrypting data through your secure sockets layer (SSL) and sending it through to the bank to regulate whether or not it’s a valid payment.
A payment processor is the financial entity that processes payments behind the scenes, providing a link between the payment gateway and merchant account. It sends information rapidly to and from these links in the chain to provide a speedy service for the customer. In general, your payment processor will have an agreement with either the acquiring bank or the payment gateway, allowing them to offer a dual service to the merchant.
A merchant account, also known as a merchant ID (MID), is a bank account designed specifically for accepting payment via debit and credit cards online. Your Merchant Service Provider (MSP) will generally be able to provide this account through either affiliation with one of the big banks or as part of their internal services. While there are many merchant accounts available to businesses looking to sell online, they can vary significantly in monthly fees so it’s beneficial to do some research before locking yourself in.
The payment process in action
To help you understand how these processes work, let’s take a look at them in action.
Mel is browsing her favourite shoe store online and decides to buy a new pair of sneakers for herself. She adds the item to her shopping cart, heads to the checkout and enters her credit card information.
As the purchase is processing on her laptop, within a couple of seconds the payment process occurs:
- Mel’s transaction information is passed from the payment gateway through the payment processor and on to the merchant account
- The payment processor connects with the Credit Card Network to locate Mel’s bank and then verifies her credit card to ensure the payment is valid
- Mel’s bank accepts the transaction as she is using a valid card that hasn’t gone over the credit limit
- The payment processor then responds to the payment gateway with the information that the payment is approved, allowing the merchant website to complete the purchase
- The merchant is then notified of the transaction and processes Mel’s order
- Mel’s bank transfers the required money across to the merchant’s bank
- Once the settlement period has expired, the money is then deposited into the merchant account
Ecommerce and Latpay
Latpay offer a range of merchant services to help get your ecommerce store up and running in no time. With innovative technology and endless integrations, we can help you elevate your shopping experience to help you convert more customers. With options to set up your merchant account and integrate our payment gateway into your shopping cart, our robust payment platforms offer the most effective way for processing transactions online.
For more info on our comprehensive merchant facilities, follow the link or get in touch with our team on 07 5515 0402