Five Internet Merchant Account Tips for the First Time Business Owner

Operating a business online is a great way to earn extra income, or to earn a living without the need for a “regular” job. But knowing how to effectively compete with more established businesses can spell the difference between being a success and being a failure.


One of the keys to running a competitive, profitable business online today is to accept credit cards as a form of payment from your customers. Consumer spending studies show that more than 90 percent of online shoppers use credit cards to make their Internet purchases.


If you are not accepting credit cards at your online store, you are cutting yourself out of some serious profits – and hindering the growth of your customer base. Thanks to the wide availability of low-cost, easy-to-use merchant accounts, there is no reason not to open an internet merchant account for your online business.


As online businesses have grown over the past decade, the number of businesses applying for accounts has increased exponentially. The following tips will help you maintain an edge over your competitors when you decide it’s time to begin accepting credit cards for your online business.


Choose the account that’s right for you and your business needs.


Today’s merchant accounts offer a broad range of options, and many providers offer services that allow you to sell your goods and services online as well as in retail establishments or on the road at trade shows and other events.


Using laptops and cell phones or other mobile devices as their terminals, these mobile accounts can take your business to new limits, and are an essential tool if you plan to attend trade shows to promote your business.


Even if you intend only to sell online today, consider carefully if your eventual business model may include plans to expand into other sales venues. If future expansion is a possibility, consider choosing an account that offers all of these account options to allow for the growth of your business. Many merchant account providers also offer “package” deals, providing multiple types of accounts at a discount.


Choose the Internet model that’s right for you.


Internet merchant accounts are offered in two basic types: real-time processing and delayed processing. In a real-time account, credit card transactions are processed automatically as they are received, and require no intervention by the business owner.


These accounts use a secondary service called a gateway provider which aids in processing and provides additional security against fraud and chargebacks. These accounts cost more than delayed processing accounts, but are ideal from the business owner’s standpoint, since no interaction is involved in accepting and processing transactions.


As a result, daily sales are virtually unlimited. In a delayed processing system, the customer enters his or her information into your web store shopping cart, but instead of transmitting that information immediately to the card issuer, the data is store until later in the day, when it is retrieved by the business owner or other staff member.


Then, the information is re-entered into a computer or other terminal and sent to the card issuer for processing. These accounts are less expensive than real-time accounts, but are limited by the number of account entries that can be made each day by the business representative. For this reason, they are a good option only for businesses expecting a low number of daily sales.


Choose an account provider with experience in Internet business accounts.


It’s also advantageous to choose an account provider that has experience dealing in your type of business. Your merchant account provider will become a vital partner in the success of your business, so do your homework and find an account provider that has a proven track record and experience in handling businesses that are similar to yours. These account providers will be better equipped to handle questions, concerns, or errors that can keep you from operating at peak performance.


Just do it!


It may be an overused phrase, thanks to its use in shoe advertising, but there is truly no better time than today to apply for a merchant account for your online business. As noted, many fees are lower or have been eliminated, and the application process is simpler than ever. By following these tips and with a little time and effort to find the account that’s right for you, your business can be accepting credit cards in no time.