Set Up Your Website to Take Payments Online
UK shoppers spent £91 billion online in 2013 and that figure is forecast to grow a further 17% this year, according to the industry association for online retail Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG).
The big beneficiaries have been dedicated e-commerce sites like Amazon and stores with established online services like Tesco and Argos. Any small business can get a bite of the cherry however.
Most businesses these days have a company website but in order to conduct sales and accept payments online you will have to take certain steps to ensure the security of both yourself and your customers.
Internet merchant account
The first thing you should do is obtain an internet merchant account (IMA), which can be used to receive funds for goods or serviced purchased over the net. Many banks offer internet merchant accounts and you can apply for one even if you are not an existing customer.
If you can already take card payments via a physical PDQ machine you will have a merchant account but will still need a separate internet merchant account.
You can also use a third-party merchant account provider. These essentially act as a go-between, sending your customers’ transactions to the bank to be processed.
Make your server secure
You will also need to set up a secure server. This uses encryption designed to prevent cybercriminals from intercepting confidential information. Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology such as Apache SSL provides that essential security for online communications. Once you have obtained an SSL certificate your data will be secured and SSL with an Extended Validation (EV) certificate can also help verify your security status and engender trust with your customers.
An SSL certificate with EV will turn the address bar green in high-security browsers and display your verified organisation name, making it easy for users to trust your site.
Install shopping systems
Your customers will need a simple and self-explanatory system to actually make their purchases. This usually takes the form of a catalogue of products and an online ‘basket’.
Customers add the things they want to buy to this virtual basket. When they have finished they proceed to ‘checkout’ and can enter their payment information via your newly secured server.