Accepting credit cards is essential for any e-commerce website. If you are ready to start processing credit card transactions yourself, you will need the right infrastructure. Before you select an e-commerce Web host and a merchant account provider, make sure they can provide you with the features you need.
Secure payment area. This protects credit card data and other sensitive information from hackers during the transaction process. Identity theft and credit card fraud are running rampant on the Internet, and you need to ensure that your customers are protected. Many consumers will not buy from a site that does not provide secure transactions. Read more about How to Accept Credit Cards Online.
You can help secure your site by having a secure socket layer certificate, or SSL. SSL encrypts information being entered on your site as it is sent across the Internet. You can purchase this certificate yourself, or your Web host may let you use theirs as a part of its service.
A compatible shopping cart application. Make sure your shopping cart application can “talk to” your payment-processing gateway. There are hundreds of different payment gateways, and each one has a specific set of standards. Many free shopping carts do not support all of the available payment gateways. Check with your merchant account provider or consult your shopping cart documentation to make sure that all the elements will work together. Learn more about Choosing a Shopping Cart Program.
PGP encryption. If you plan on accepting orders and sending or receiving credit card information via email, you will need to encrypt the information that is sent. PGP, which stands for “pretty good privacy,” is the most common form of email encryption. PGP encrypts emails when they are sent and decrypts when the information has reached its intended recipient.
If you do plan to use PGP, you will also need to make sure that your email client supports it. You will also need to keep your security key in a location where it cannot be accessed by anyone else. You can learn more about PGP encryption by visiting PGP’s Web site.
A firewall. If you store your customer’s data or credit card numbers on your server, it is vital to have a sitewide firewall to protect this information. Many companies have exposed their customers to hackers by neglecting to implement a proper firewall. If you are not certain how to install a firewall on your site, check with your Web hosting company for more information.
After you have taken care of these technology requirements, you are ready to offer your customers an easy way to purchase your items. You can also give them the peace of mind in knowing that you are looking out for their best interests by providing a safe and secure payment processing solution.