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Hi there! I am thinking of setting up a small web business, and wsa wondering how I can enable clients to pay by their credit card - I know there is PayPal, but this doesnt seem very professional on a site, and not all clients would be signed up - how do I set up another system, like there are on a lot of websites (eg Amazon)? Is there any special software that can do it for me, are there any legal issues i should know about? Any information or links to other helpful sources much appreciated, thanks a lot
I would also be very grateful for any tips in general on setting up a small web business, cheers
to accept online credit card payments. Go to your bank and discuss it with them, we did and decided that we just couldn't afford it. You will need a business account with your bank and a merchant account. As well as the extra banking costs involved you would also need to use a secure server and get the appropriate certification (which costs yet more).
These days PayPal and NoChex are accepted forms of online payment. In fact one site that I know of, who already accepted credit card payments, made a big announcement of the fact that they had added PayPal as a payment method.
Another popular payment method is WorldPay
which is part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group but it costs £100 to set up and an annual fee of £160 so if you are a very small business (as we are) it just isn't cost effective.
Do a search for e-commerce packages, the are hundreds of them out there ranging from Open Source (free) OsCommerce which requires work from you
to packages that do everything - we found several for around £300 plus annual fee. There was an evaluation copy of one on the PCA cover disc a couple of months ago.
We use a cheap and cheerful bolt-on package called Online Store, only £60 and no annual fee.
THGanks a lot for your helpful replays, I will have a look at all those sites soon. Looking at the WQorldPay website I didnt realise just how much it would cost, even Starter Offer is £310 plus £20 per month. Perhaps I will end up using payPal until we are making enough money to be confident in setting up that sytem. Again thanks for you hel, I will now go and read the other sites in more detail, cheers
Oh and PurplePenny ,please could you give me a link to your site so I can se what sort of sytem you have running? Thanks again,
Oh and another question, what about payments by cheaque - does this also need any expensive system or any oegal issues around it? Thanks once more
You can use an online form that emails you the order to be manually processed.
It's slower and not as convenient, but it works.
Your form has a section for goods ordered and a section for who is placing the order. The order enquiry is emailed to you, you then get in touch with the customer to confirm the order and arrange suitable payment (or they can print off the completed form and write their cheque for the displayed amount and mail it to you) and the goods are delivered.
The advantages are as obvious as the disadvantages, but it can be a quick and easy system to set up, as long as you understand forms and how to handle them.
You can either write your own form handler (PHP or CGI/Perl) on the account type that you've mentioned or use an existing one and customise it to suit.
Matt's Script Archive has an excellent PHP form handler, if you can get your head around it. Just run a search in Google for:
Payment by cheque will be made by mail, so in essence it is an old fashioned bu secure system run off a modern website.
Thanks a lot for your reply. I have realised how little i have actually thought about this, as it is only really in the 'ive got an idea!' stages! What I have realised is that my site (it will be a small online advertising site hopefully), will only have a max. 30ish customers, and payments will be onve a month, so it shouldnt be too much hassle to pay by cheaque (as I am still at school and therofre have losts of free time). I may then set up a PayPal system if there seems to be a demand, but what I haver realised is tha the majority of clients will be businesses, who (I think) prefer to pay by cheaque any way? So thanks again for your help, I will continue looking into this and let you know about my progress!
Thanks again, Gavin
Most small businesses will want to pay on a standard 30 day account basis (they're always a month behind) but it will help you a lot of you have an accounts system set up.
If client X has an account set up with you and they order A, B, C goods, you can arrange several payment options (cheque, direct debit if they are willing and so on) and process their order with little fuss.
New accounts can be set up either by telephone or by using an online form to initially collect client data.
Much depends on what it is you are going to sell, how much it is going to cost people and whether there is a common model you can apply to most clients.
You should also be aware that you'll have to get up to speed with the Data Protection Act and general business accounting with your bank.
You mention that you are still at school, so it may well be necessary for your parents to deal with the financial side of things on your behalf.
You need to sit down and have a very thorough think about what it is you want to do then bounce around ideas about how to get there.
We've all had a good idea, but once you sit down and get to planning things out you often realise that a good idea can become more work than it is worth. On the other hand, a really good idea can be a lucrative and enjoyable future as well, but ony if you plan and implement it properly.
Good luck with it no matter what it is.
if you are just dipping a toe into the online trading business, is to register with PayPal.
There are many pitfalls associated with being an online card processing merchant, and it's far from simple. PurplePenny has highlighted some of the problems, and if you want to handle CHNP (CardHolder not Present) transactions you'll find the credit card providers will want to know a lot about your status before they'll accept you. As a card payment processor you'll also be liable for any losses resulting from the fraudulent use of cards - the card companies will charge you.
PayPal will require a bank account that has the same name as the business that you register with them - they won't pay any money to an account in another name. Apart from that, the system works very well, and millions of payments are handled by PayPal every day - they've won many awards for the quality of their service.
my apologies for that.
If you take cheques you MUST hold the goods until the cheque has cleared. If you send goods before that, and the cheque bounces you'll have next to no way of recovering either the goods or the money.
Online trading means that your shop window is visible all over the planet, and people will want to pay in all kinds of currencies - this is a major problem with cheque payments. Each time you present a cheque to your bank that's drawn on a foreign bank in a foreign currency you'll be charged a conversion and clearance fee, and the funds will take longer (sometimes a lot longer) to appear in your account. My advice is that you do NOT accept cheques from anywhere outside the UK.
Ideally you shouldn't handle cheques at all - online buyers want immediate gratification, and a person in Tokyo will not take kindly to waiting three weeks or more for their package to arrive. Use Paypal - it works beautifully, and you're safe. They'll process the payments into any currency of your choosing.
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