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What You Need to Know to Add E-commerce

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Image by Fosforix on Flickr

What’s it take to get e-commerce on my site? For those wanting to maximize their internet presence, offering items/services online is just one more way to increase sale.

There are a variety of online e-commerce options available that handle all the necessary details in setting up an e-commerce system. Some of them only have transaction fees ( you don’t have to pay them anything till there is a sale), others charge monthly fees, some do both. A few of the popular options include:

  • PayPal
  • Big Commerce
  • Shopify

See eCommerce Top Ten Reviews

If you choose not to go with one of the above options and choose instead to do the set up yourself, there are three items you’ll need in place.

Payment Gateway

A payment gateway lets internet merchants (you) accept online payments vai credit card and electronic check. It’s the interface between the banks or financial institutions of the shopper and the merchant (you). It’s similar to the point of sale terminal (the check out person) in a retail store. That is where the transaction of funds occurs.

A payment gateway

  • authenticates credit card or electronic check transactions
  • processes secured encrypted transactions

Common gateways include, PSIGte, iTransact FirstData.


Gateways vary in fees, but often there is a set up fee along with monthly fees and transaction fees.

Merchant Account

Depending on which gateway you use, you will also need a Merchant Account A merchant account is an account that lets businesses accept credit card payments. Specifically, you need an internet merchant account – an account that lets you accept credit card payments online.


Merchant accounts charge a percentage per transaction. (~2.5%). It may also incluce a transaction fee (~.10).

Shopping Cart

The last item you need is a shopping cart on your website. There are shopping carts ranging from simple to complex. Some carts are designed to handle a few items, others that handle 100s of items. Shopping carts let your visitors add items to their cart as they continue to shop/browse your site. Once they are done shipping, they check out to pay for the items in their shopping cart. Shopping carts take care of calculating sales tax, shipping, and other miscellaneous items. Many shopping carts also track the history of orders, give you the option to review past orders, track inventory, show sales for the past month, etc.


Shopping carts range from free to thousands of dollars. Much of it depends on the complexity of your products and ordering/shipping process.

Once you’re set up with a payment gateway, a merchant account, and a shopping cart – you can sell your goods and services online.


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