When you start to put together your business, you may make the decision to have an online storefront. If you decide to set this up and to do eCommerce, you need a way to accept your customers’ credit cards on your website. Doing this allows you to reach a bigger scale of customers, including an international base of customers.

The first step of accepting credit cards on your website is setting up an internet merchant account, which can oftentimes be set up through your own bank. This is done so that you can have a place to deposit payments that are made to your business by customers when they make their purchases through you.

Another step that you need to take is setting up a payment gateway. This works in essentially the same way that a payment processor would for an in-person storefront, meaning that it is used to run a credit card transaction through the approval and authentication process. This is done by your bank contacting the customer’s credit card network, which asks the customer’s bank if the customer has sufficient funds available to make the purchase being requested, and if the credit card information and data being provided by the customer is correct. The customer’s bank responds by either approving or declining the request to charge the credit card, and that decision will be relayed back to both you and the customer. This is done in the time between when the customer clicks on the “submit” or “make purchase” button and when they receive their oder confirmation details through the webpage that loads.

Some providers, such as PayPal, Due, Flint, or Authorize.Net, allow you to set up a merchant account and a payment gateway service in a package deal. However, processing credit cards is not free. You as a business will be charged a monthly fee for utilizing their services, as well as a fee per transaction, which can be up to about 5 percent. When you utilize PayPal specifically, a customer also has the option to pay for their purchase using their PayPal account instead of their credit card, which may attract an even wide range of customers than before.

Many of these services also provide clean, professional looking checkout screens, invoices, and invoice emails to both you and to your customer. This helps to enhance how professional and credible your business comes across to the customer and may compel them to return to you and make further purchases, which helps to build customer loyalty.

Even though setting up your business online can be overwhelming at first, and you may not know where to begin, many of the services and third-party companies that provide internet merchant accounts and payment gateways will take care of making sure that you are able to accept credit cards and debit cards through your website, making your business run more smoothly and making the purchasing process that much easier.