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If you would like to know how to connect your shopping cart to the gateway. please see the related questions below.
There are basically a few steps involved in accepting credit cards online. Here is a flowchart of how the pieces all connect:
Website/Shopping Cart Software --> Gateway -->Merchant Account -->Your Bank Account.
Since most people already have a bank account, and the shopping cart. all they really need is the merchant account and gateway, which are sometimes bundled together. If you are an established business that accepts credit cards, then you already have a merchant account; so chances are, you only need a gateway. The shopping cart connects with the gateway.
A detailed explanation of how everything is connected and how online credit card processing works.
What is most import ant here is to understand how each piece connects to each other. The shopping cart software connects with the gateway to accept credit cards. The gateway is essentially the online equivalent of those credit card swipe terminals you see in retail store s. It is the connection between the store and the credit card company (e.g. Visa). Many of the most popular gateways that are available are already integrated with our shopping cart (e.g. Authorize.net. Verisign, iTransact, ViaKlikz, Intellipay, etc…). If you go to SETTINGS > Payment Methods; you will see a list of gateways you can use with our cart.
You will always want to check with us to see our great rates and service on our merchant account and gateway. We recommend Authorize.net as the gateway simply because our shopping cart supports the most features with that gateway. It also happens to be the most widely used gateway today because they are affordable and effective for small to mid-sized companies.
Now that you understand what the gateway is, you should also know that the gateway connects to your merchant account. In almost every case, you won’t need to worry about this, but if you would like to know more, you can call your gateway provider to help you with this further. When signing up with a gateway,
they usually ask you for your merchant account info and they connect it up for you. As for the merchant account, you probably already have one for your brick-and-mortar. or physical, store. If not, give us a call.
It is usually not important in the order in which you set these pieces up. After they are setup, the shopping cart can then process cards in real-time. The shopper will be able to checkout and see that their card was charged immediately (unless you choose to do some other sort of advanced setup such as "capture only").
There are other benefits to running an online store with real-time credit card processing. If the shopper enters an invalid credit card, a card with insufficient funds, or even an incorrect address registered with the credit card, then the shopping cart can let them know instantly. When needed, it will also prevent them from completing their order until they have the corrected the mistake; fraud protection is vital when processing credit cards. The amount of time saved from processing card manually can be significant as well. You also won't need to store credit cards, giving you extra security.
After a card is charged, there is usually a period of a few days for the funds (actual money) to settle (end up in your bank account).
A little note about demystifying merchant accounts: Basically, Visa and Mastercard operate through a reseller network. So, whenever you are shopping for "merchant accounts" be aware that this is basically only for Visa and Mastercard (they always come together). In order to get this "merchant account," you will be choosing from one of the many thousands of resellers out there today, each of which is adding a mark-up price. This is why rates and service varies between them. Discover and American Express do not work through resellers. Instead, if you want to be able to accept those credit cards, then you can usually apply directly with them very affordably ($5 a month in some cases). Sometimes, your "merchant account" provider will even help you do this. Rates from these latte two credit card companies are much more standardized, so you don't need to shop around.