E-commerce - Options for Online Selling
Yes, it is that time of year again and Christmas is just around the corner. It’s a time when the stores are stacked with Christmas decorations and gifts – the commercialization of such a spiritual time is everywhere. Where do you look for the magic of Christmas? Can the magic of Christmas be found online?
One of my clients, Soul*ar Energy Enterprises, has done just that! Their website reflects this magic in the colours they have used, in the information they provide and the photos of their products – incorporating all the ingredients of a magical site.
They have an e-commerce site that sells gifts with meaning. Their main product line consists of light catchers and jewelry, made of semi-precious stones and crystals. Their products glisten in the sunlight, reflecting rainbows around a room. The gemstones used are chosen with purpose, intention and love – resonating with the qualities of the gemstone – whether it is love, peace, harmony, abundance, clarity – the list goes on. The products integrate colour and symbology, creating a powerful synergistic vibration, which can be used to support personal growth, harmonize personal space and generally emit positive and protective energies.
If you are considering bringing the magic of Christmas to the internet by adding e-commerce to your website, then below is valuable information to get you on your way.
As e-commerce continues to grow, so do the number of options you have available to set up the process. The options you use will be determined in part by how you will process credit cards. Besides a website, a web hosting company and a shopping cart (or system) on your website, you may need an online merchant account and payment processor (gateway company) to make it all work together.
Online Payment Processing
Brick & mortar companies usually have a Card Present Merchant Account. You may NOT use this account to do internet sales. You will need a Card-Not-Present Merchant Account for internet credit card sales. It is not a business checking account but a special account specifically for online transactions. It is really an arrangement with a credit card clearing bank that allows you to process card transactions through their facilities.
When you have chosen a bank, you will find that they usually "contract out" processing the credit card transactions to a Clearinghouse (Payment Gateway). When your website finalizes the credit card payment process in your shopping cart or online store, the Clearinghouse authorizes and validates the card. Some examples are InternetSecure and E-xact Transactions.
Third Party Payment Processing
If you don't have a merchant account or don’t want to get one, you can try Paypal. The only requirement is that you open a business account with them. A downside to Paypal is that the customer also has to open an account with them before the first purchase takes place, although this is done within the course of the transaction. Paypal imposes their brand on the transaction and it’s their name on your customer's card statement. There is a Canadian company, called Hyperwallet Systems that operates similar to Paypal.
Offline Payment Processing
If you wish to process the credit cards manually, you will still need a company that can capture the credit card information securely for you. One such company is Mal’s e-commerce. To your customer, the transaction appears “live”, capturing their order and credit card information. Once the order is placed, you are notified immediately by email. You log onto the secure server to get the details and then complete the transaction offline.
Soul*ar Energy uses Mal’s e-commerce to combine modern technology with the magic and spirituality they have woven with their products.