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Pay Up!

payupOnce you’ve decided on which platform to build your e-commerce venture on, you’ll also need to decide how you’ll accept payments for your stuff. The obvious answer is by credit card, but there are a few other possibilities to be aware of as well.

Check/Money Order

Some customers don’t like using their credit cards for any transaction online, whatsoever. Those folks might prefer to send in a check or money order for their product. Just about any shopping cart platform offers this as a payment option, so it doesn’t hurt to offer it as a choice. Just be sure not to ship the product until you’ve received payment in the mail.

Also be sure not to offer that as the ONLY option. Remember those old TV commercials where they urged you to mail in your check for $19.95 plus $3.95 shipping and handling, to get a 2-CD set of Conway Twitty’s greatest hits? You don’t want to come off looking like your company is stuck in the 80s, and today’s instant gratification consumers don’t want to wait for their check to get to you in the mail before their product ships.


Many shopping carts offer the option of an e-check, where the customer makes a payment directly from their bank account to yours (securely). This is very similar to a credit card payment, but the fees are usually less (think debit card as opposed to credit card).

Manual Entry

This is a credit card option, but instead of being processed in real time online, the customer’s credit card information gets stored in the site’s database. You, the shop owner, then input the card number and address into your POS (point of sale) terminal.

DO NOT under any circumstances use this option. This is a major security risk; if your site should ever get hacked, your customers’ saved credit card information will be stolen, and you’ll be held liable. We only mention it here so that, just in case you ever come across this option, you know to avoid it like the plague.

Credit Card

Credit card transactions are the default payment method most shop owners will offer. Accepting credit cards means signing up for service from a payment gateway.¬†Some of the bigger names in this space are PayPal,, and FirstData. Each of these has its own strengths and weaknesses; PayPal, for example, may include a lot of PayPal branding, which can detract from your brand (or inspire confidence from your customers – it’s always a trade-off!). and FirstData can provide a more seamless experience, but the costs can be higher.

As ever, it’s a judgment call on your part, weighing the costs and benefits of each. Your Web professional can help you evaluate these options.

Next week, we’ll peek at the security requirements for accepting your payments online.

Photo Credit: wwarby via Compfight cc