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    1. My2cents is offline

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      #1

      Long-time physical business seeks input on best online transactions

      We have been doing great business out of our brick-and-mortar store, and have an online catalogue. But we have only offered phone- or fax-in orders with credit cards for orders from the Internet. I need some input on using PayPal, Google Checkout, or options if I just keep using Visa.
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      #2
      To be perfectly frank, you’ll likely want to offer all three. That said, I’ll give you the benefits/problems with each option as best I can.

      Visa eCommerce Solutions

      ● Major point to consider here, also, is that you’ll have to have some kind of shopping cart solution in order to accept any credit cards online. Go Daddy! and ZenCart are popular solutions, as is Google Checkout (which I will cover below).

      ○ Check out these threads on the forum-- https://www.wholesaleforum.com/discu...ne-store-4184/ and https://www.wholesaleforum.com/discu...rce-site-1845/

      ● Most people with a bank account have a debit card. If they bank with major corporations like Bank of America or Wells Fargo, they have a Visa Debit Card. Since Visa is virtually universally accepted, most folks use it.

      ● A huge chunk of your customer base will already have a Visa card of one kind or another.

      ● As you already have a merchant account, it should be a simple matter to accept Visa payments online; however, in order to more fully realize your customer base, it’s good to look into supporting not only Visa, but also other major credit cards.

      ● Visa itself, along with MasterCard, has the lowest per-transaction fees on the market as of Jan. 2011 -- floating around 2%. Discover hits 6%, AmEx 8%, but you probably already know that.

      ● That said, Discover and American Express’ reward programs tend to be more attractive, and those customers who have them like to use them a lot. This is a consideration for further down the road, though, as users with AmEx or Discover will likely have a Visa or MasterCard to use if you don’t accept their preferred plastic.

      ● Visa and MasterCard deposit your net money from transactions into the account you’ve designated. AmEx, Discover, and even PayPal have delays on when you can access the money and/or transfer procedures/fees.

      ● Most folks are a lot more comfortable working directly with plastic, and already have the account they need in order to buy with their preferred card simply through having the card in the first place.

      ● An occasional major downside-- your customer must have a bank account in order to have plastic, and there are people-- especially in today’s post-Bailout economy-- who don’t trust banks. Many of these people still use the Internet to shop, and for them you’ll have to offer...

      PayPal

      ● There are people who don’t have a credit card or debit card, but still shop online. Those folks are able to use PayPal via a MoneyPak.

      ○ A MoneyPak is a card purchased at retailers like Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, or Kroger for less than $5 that is loaded with cash (up to $1,001, depending on the supplying retailer) that is then usable to deposit into a PayPal account.

      ● The fully-realized PayPal account is a self-contained tool. That is, you can pay from and get paid via your PayPal account, and if you have a bank account associated with your PayPal, and you verify the account, transaction and transfer limits are lifted. Essentially, you have a pay account independent from your bank/credit union.

      ● When using PayPal, the user doesn’t disclose any financial information. No account numbers, card IDs, or even institution names are used.

      ● A few downsides--

      ○ There are still a lot of people without PayPal accounts, and a chunk of potential customers who’ve been banned from PayPal use for various reasons.
      ○ Despite the inherent security in using PayPal, quite a few people distrust it because of the amount of press that PayPal scams and fraud garner.
      ○ PayPal’s market is almost exclusively in the US, Canada, and UK. Its popularity fades quickly as one moves “east” across Europe, so offering an alternate pay method is absolutely necessary if your customer base isn’t exclusively US/Canada/UK. To that end, you’ll want to consider a relative newcomer...


      Google Checkout (et cetera)

      ● Lower overall commissions than PayPal, and they will decrease further as your sales per month (via Google Checkout, of course) increase.

      ● Easy site integration, especially if you’re making use of Google’s Webmaster Tools

      ○ Head here https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home?hl=en for Google’s Webmaster Tools.

      ● Much of your online customer base will have some kind of Google account (probably a gmail address), and so essentially already have a Google Checkout account (everything in Google is accessible from a single username; gmail, Google Checkout, iGoogle, etc.). For those who don’t, Google Checkout accounts are created with Google’s characteristically painless account process, and so isn’t too much of a hassle anyway.

      ● If you make use of Google AdWords for marketing and promotion, then the amount you spend on transaction commissions and fees can be used toward your AdWords cost. Essentially, do enough business on Google Checkout, and your Google AdWords costs can be dropped to zero.

      ○ AdWords is Google’s targeted ads project. It’s a way for e-merchants to get cheap advertising, and a way for webmasters to make money by hosting ads. Checkout AdWords here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home?hl=en

      ● Some downsides--

      ○ The relative extreme youth of Google Checkout means people are, by default, skeptical of it, but Google’s strong brand offsets this skepticism. Rightfully so, too. Google Checkout is a great cart software as long as you’re not venturing into an international market.
      ○ If you’re not using Google for your store site, you have to install Google Checkout into your site.
      ○ Whereas PayPal is limited to US/Canada and UK because of its weak brand elsewhere, Google Checkout is literally limited to US and UK merchants ONLY.
      ○ Note—Google Checkout is not the only shopping cart solution out there. As I mentioned above, the other heavy player is ZenCart, and is the dominant option at the moment. As always, do some research, but most carts offer the same functions. Google is just more beginner-friendly and requires very little actual webmastering ability.

      Each shopping cart option has its pluses and minuses, but these issues are often counteracted by the other available options. PayPal and Google Checkout’s limited market are offset by the universality of the Visa card. Visa and Google Checkout’s dependence on outside institutions is offset by PayPal’s self-containment. Some folks are banned from PayPal, but are still perfectly able to use Visa or Google Checkout.

      You’ll also want to keep your phone/fax pay option available. Obviously you don’t want to alienate those customers who like your online trade format just the way it is, but there’s also hardcore Luddites out there who have a fundamental mistrust of anything electronic handling their money, and will insist on having a person take their order.

      The name of the game is Variety. Very few merchants outside of auction sites accept only one form of payment, and you’ll get a lot of mileage toward being taken seriously as an online merchant if you give your customer base several options to process their orders. Offering all three of the major cart options will release any artificial limits on your market that a narrower focus would create.
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    3. Sammie is offline

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      #3
      Money Bookers is an option if you’re dealing with a lot of customers from Eastern Europe, as it’s very popular over there. Be advised, though: Their verification, transfer, and conflict resolution procedures are convoluted and lengthy. Also, online support is questionable, and you’ll most likely have to use the telephone. That said, they’re a PayPal-like service for if you have customers in Eastern Europe.

    4. merchantcool is offline

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      #4
      As we know your main business is in USA. Our suggesiton is that you set up your own gateway. It may be much easier for your control your business and you can pay much lower transaction fees than others. You may also think about authorize.net.

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