Q. I would like to accept credit cards on my website for the products or services I provide. What is involved and what are my options?
A. Here is how we answered this for one particular client.
This will require creating a form at the minimum (if there are multiple items or complicated checkout then it will require a shopping cart). Form design ranges from $100 to $500 or higher. Along with that, you will require an SSL certificate and a static IP address (our cheapest SSL is the Rapidssl for $95/year and the static IP is $25 per year).
Here is how the process works. A customer/shopper/donor fills out the form securely then a copy of same is emailed to a designated contact who then submits it for processing with the merchant service company of choice. Note that there are several manual steps here and the pricing does not include any setup fees or monthly transaction fees by the card settlement company (in Canada, Moneris is one of the larger ones and last time we set up with them it was around $400 for setup fees and then approx 2% discount rate on the transaction along with monthly service fees(under $50).
A shopping cart will handle things differently. Under a shopping cart scenario the customer selects a product (which can be a hard good or service or download or donation), this is then processed through a checkout system (which can be automated into one of the card settlement firms ie Moneris or PSIgate to mention two) the transaction gets stored into a database and the administrator of the site is notified by email that a transaction has occurred (note this is safer than the form scenario where credit card details are sent via email). So costs on something like this setup are as follows:
purchase of shopping cart software: this ranges from free to $1500 (there are more expensive ones), we find that the ones priced around the $800-$1000 mark generally provide all the functionality you might need (note shopping cart selection is a bit more difficult for Canadian transactions since not all software supports Canadian credit card gateways)
Store setup & design: (shopping cart software) this is $??/hr and a typical charge runs about $600 to $???.
Additionally, you will still incur the same fees for credit card settlement as I described for the form method and the same fees for an SSL certificate and a static IP. In addition, most of the higher end carts require at a minimum an MS SQL database (our pricing is $17 per month for the base MS SQL option).
Another option for you to consider if you are on a tight budget, is the PayPal approach (there are more firms than PayPal doing this these days), where basically your site stays the same but you provide a hyperlink into a PayPal setup, which then processes the transaction (note this would be a USA based transaction).
Your customers will "accept" your solution and follow through at different rates for each of the solutions. Generally, we believe the shopping cart solution has the highest acceptance followed by the form and then by the Paypal type of solution. (The PayPal solution has suffered on its reputation over the years due to the high number of scams that pretended to be PayPal). There are some other processors out there that have not suffered the same reputation. If you chose to go this way and required us to research & setup on your behalf then time charges ($??/hr) would be applicable.
For example (Companies that can handle the e-commerce component on your behalf include:
This company focuses on software publishers, consumer electronics manufacturers and Game Developers/Publishers)