If you wish to trade from your website you
will need a virtual shop which should be just like any other
part of your website in its general theme and appearance.
Usually, there is a catalogue which allows customers to
browse through your products and their details, such as
description, weight, colours availability, price, whatever
would appear in a hardcopy catalogue, usually with a picture
of the product, if relevant.
The advantages an online shop has over a bricks and mortar
shop is that there is no need to rent a building to conduct
your trading from, staff are not required for customers
to make purchases and your customers can order goods from
the comfort of their own home or office.
E-commerce solutions and packages come in many variations
depending on your requirements and budget. There is some
thing to suit most business small and large.
So first of all you need to decide do you want to give your
customers the choice of paying by credit card? The answer,
usually, Yes! Credit cards allow spontaneous purchasing,
whilst cheques give the customer time to change their mind
about a purchase.
Credit Card system
This allows your customers to browse your catalogue of goods
adding items they wish to buy to a virtual shopping trolley
(or shopping cart). At any time they may add or remove items
from their shopping trolley. Then the customer proceeds
to the checkout and enters their credit card details, delivery
address etc. confirms the order with the knowledge that
their credit card details are safe and secure. They then
await delivery. This is typical of most e-commerce systems.
However its a bit more complicated than that.
Customer browse your catalog
of products and add / removes products to and from
their shopping cart.
The customer proceeds to the
checkout and confirm they wish to purchase the products
in their shopping cart.
The customer provides their credit
card details and they are sent to the payment gateway
for authorisation. Communications between your website
and the payment gateway are secured using SSL technology.
If authorised funds are reserved
in the customers account.
Funds are transferred from the
customers account to your merchant account.
Funds are transferred from your
merchant account to your business account.
When they have finished shopping purchases
can be processed by the virtual check-out where the customer
confirms the goods that they have in their shopping trolley
and that they wish to purchase them. They are then asked
for their credit card details, home address and address
to which the goods are to be shipped. If the customer
is a returning customer and has bought from your website
before, some of there details may be entered automatically
such as addresses and names.
- All communications between the customer and website are
secure and encrypted using industry standard 128-bit SSL
(Secure Socket Layer) technology. SSL certificates must
be renewed every year. Once the credit card has been validated,
the details are forwarded to the Credit Card Association
(e.g. Visa or Mastercard) via a Payment gateway (payment
processing network). The transaction is either authorised
or declined depending on the customer's credit limit.
If authorised, the funds are reserved
to cover the transaction. The customer is then notified
and an email sent to the customer to confirm the order
and an email sent to your shipping department with details
of the goods to ship, quantity of each, and the name and
address of the recipient.
Once the goods have been shipped, a
capture request is made for the reserved sum of money
to be transferred from the customer's bank account, to
your internet merchant account.
Depending on your arrangements with
your merchant account provider, your money will be transferred
from your internet merchant account to your regular business
account, usually once a month.
In order to receive creditcard payments
via the internet, you need to set up an internet merchant
account. You may already have a merchant account if you
take credit card orders already. Banks and other financial
institutions are often very selective about who they issue
internet merchant accounts too, so if you are interested
in a fully automatic creditcard ordering system, you would
be wise to research your position before going any further.