What is an Internet Merchant Account?

Searching for your an Internet internet merchant account provider isn’t a task to be rushed. Because merchant services can vary by account provider, you want to be sure you take your time to select the one that’s the best choice for your business.

There are many elements to consider when choosing a merchant account services provider. Comparing fees and costs is one part of the selection process. But other factors, like experience and customer service levels, are also important. The following guidelines offer suggestions for you to consider as you begin your search for the merchant account provider that’s ideal for your business needs. A merchant account allows businesses to accept credit cards for payment of products and services. An Internet merchant account allows websites to accept credit cards from customers and process them through a secure Internet connection.

The Basics of an Internet Merchant Account
Accepting credit cards requires the merchant to have a checking account at a bank, a third party online payment processor, and a processing bank (which may or may not be the same bank which provides the checking account) that approves and regulates the merchant account.

The customer inputs their credit card number into a secure web based form, or through shopping cart software. The information is encrypted by the third party processor who sends the information to the customer's account at their bank and to the merchant account's bank. If the payment is approved the customer's account shows the charge and the money is deposited to the business's bank account.

Types of Businesses That Benefit from an Internet Merchant Account
Credit card purchases are the most common way for customers to purchase products and services from businesses on the Internet. After cash (which includes checks) credit cards are the most used method of payment period.

Offering credit cards purchases through an online merchant account demonstrates that the business has the security and privacy of its customers first and foremost. Most shoppers recognize the https in the URL of a secure site and the padlock as signs of security.

Brick and Mortar Stores
Even businesses that generate the majority of their sales from a smaller geographic area, such as a local pet supply shop, see their business increase when they also have an online presence. Customers look for hours of operation, address and phone number of businesses they know as well as to get an idea of what the store offers. Many people use the Internet as a substitute for the old fashioned yellow page telephone book. An online merchant account is a convenience for the customer and can mean extra revenues for the store.

Online Stores
Many stores are online only and do not have a physical presence. The products are ordered through the store and shipped by the owner or drop shipped directly from the manufacturer. Without an Internet merchant account online store fronts would see the majority of the sales dry up.

Some websites offer digital products that can be downloaded immediately after payment. Offering credit card payment as an option enables customers to get the product quickly.

Professionals, Consultants, and Service Providers
Many times small businesses require the services of a professional, consultant, expert or other service provider for special projects but do not have the cash on hand, or prefer not to use cash, to pay for the services. They would rather use their business or personal credit card.

In most cases, the service provider will not provide the service until they have the initial payment and a check takes too long to be processed. An Internet merchant account allows the service provider to get paid immediately and the business to conserve their cash.

Mobile Businesses
Arts and craft fairs, food fairs, book fairs, trade shows, garden shows, consumer electronic shows all depend on sales for their income. Attendees to these events typically do not bring a lot of cash because they know that most vendors will accept credit cards. Even with the prevalence of onsite ATMs, the preference from the customer's point of view is to use their credit card.

Seasonal Businesses
Christmas decorations/trees, swimming lessons, ice skating rinks, landscaping, snow plowing, etc., are all businesses that are seasonal. These types of businesses can benefit greatly from accepting credit cards but may think that they have to pay fees for the entire year when they are open for just a few months. There are merchant accounts which allow the business to accept credit cards for a predetermined time period during each year.

Contractors providing services such as house cleaning, window washing, landscaping maintenance, plumbing, and more, usually send a bill after the work is done or require a check immediately upon completion of the job.

A wireless merchant account allows them to accept a credit card as soon as the work is finished. Or in the case of monthly services for a set amount such as bug extermination, the companies can bill the credit card on a regular basis. Most customers prefer the convenience of using their credit card for unexpected repairs.

Accepting credit cards through an Internet merchant account can lead to higher sales and more profits. And, most importantly, can provide a higher level of customer service as well.