E-commerce and FAQ

Understanding E-commerce

E-commerce is the term used to describe the selling of goods and services over the Internet. In the most general sense, simply creating a Web site that advertises and promotes your products can be considered "E-commerce." In recent years, however, E-commerce has become much more sophisticated. E-commerce businesses now offer elaborate online stores where customers can browse thousands of products, place an order, select the desired shipping method and pay for their purchases using their credit cards.

What you need to start your own online store depends upon a number of factors, such as how you want to handle transactions and what types of security you want to provide. For example, if you don't need to accept credit cards or process transactions online, all you need is a website that lists your products, provides some sort of order form and lists the address where your customers should send their payments.

However, if you want a full-featured online store that can process credit card transactions in "real time" in a secure environment you will need:

Our E-commerce plans provide you with shopping cart software and a secure server with a shared SSL certificate for your secure transactions.

 


Applying for Merchant Accounts and Payment Gateways

A merchant account and payment gateway enable you to accept credit cards as payment for the purchase of goods and services. There are different types of merchant accounts. For example, if you have a traditional "brick and mortar" store, you can get a retail merchant account. If you want to accept credit cards on your Web site, however, you need a specialized type of merchant account known as an "Internet-ready" merchant account.

Internet-ready merchant accounts enable you to handle Internet transactions in "real time" without any human intervention. Because the risk of credit card fraud is greater when you are accepting credit cards over the Internet, these specialized merchant accounts also provide additional checks that can significantly reduce the chance of credit card fraud. Once the transactions are processed, the merchant account provider transfers the funds received from the credit card transactions from your merchant account to your bank account.

Payment Gateways
A payment gateway is a service that connects your online store with your merchant account provider. This service reads the information from the order forms and translates that information for the merchant account. The payment gateway also verifies that the customer's credit card account has the necessary credit available for the purchase. You can obtain a payment gateway separately from your merchant account. However, you may find it simpler to choose a merchant account provider that also offers a payment gateway.

Applying for a Merchant Account
A number of companies offer Internet-ready merchant accounts including First Data Merchant Services and PayPal Merchant Accounts. When you sign up for an E-commerce plan with us, you can open an account with First Data at the same time in SiteControl. Of course, you are free to choose another merchant account provider.

To open a First Data account:

  1. Sign in to SiteControl.
  2. Go to Manage Services tab.
  3. Go to Website section.
  4. Scroll down, find and click the Merchant Accounts & Payment Gateways link. You can also click Merchant Accounts & Payment Gateways in the left navigation panel in SiteControl.
    ecommerce-115000441284-1.PNG

  5. Click the First Data logo or the Learn more about First Data link.
    ecommerce-115000441284-2.PNG
    Learn more about First Data

  6. At the First Data web site, click Apply Now and follow their instructions.

Note: For questions or assistance with the First Data account, please contact First Data directly.


E-commerce FAQ


What is "E-commerce"

E-commerce is the term used to describe the selling of goods and services over the Internet. In the most general sense, simply creating a Web site that advertises and promotes your products can be considered “E-commerce.” In recent years, however, E-commerce has become much more sophisticated.

E-commerce businesses now offer elaborate online stores where customers can browse thousands of products, place an order, select the desired shipping method and pay for their purchases using their credit cards.

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How many products can I sell in my online store?

There is no limit to the number of products you can sell.

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Can I sell products that can be downloaded, such as music or software?

Our shared Web hosting accounts are not configured for the purposes of distributing software and/or multimedia products. If you wish to distribute software and/or multimedia files, please contact our Support team at support@hostway.com to make special arrangements.

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What do I need to set up an E-commerce Web site?

What you need depends upon a number of factors, such as how you want to handle transactions and what type of security you want to provide.

For example, if you don’t need to accept credit cards or process transactions online, all you need is a Web site that lists your products, provides some sort of order form and lists the address where your customers should send their payments.

However, if you want a full-featured online store that can process credit card transactions in “real time” in a secure environment you will need a shopping cart, an Internet-ready merchant account, a payment gateway service and an SSL certificate.

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I already have a Web site. Can I integrate an online store into it?

Yes. We make it easy for you to add E-commerce to your site. First, verify that your hosting plan includes a shopping cart (or upgrade to one that does include one).

Once you have built your online store, you can easily integrate it into your existing site by either providing a link to your new store front or incorporating your products into your existing site’s pages.

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What is Merchant Manager?

Merchant Manager is our Web-based online store creation and management tool. With Merchant Manager, you can quickly and easily create an online catalog and get your store operational. Merchant Manager is available for both Windows and Linux hosting plans and supports a number of the most popular payment gateways.

If your plan comes with Merchant Manager, you simply need to activate it for your account in SiteControl. You can then use the Web-based interface to design and maintain your store.

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Will I be able to customize the "look and feel" of my online store?

Yes. Merchant Manager enables you to quickly and easily customize the appearance of your store. You design the layout of your pages, select the colors and fonts you want to use and add graphics and text as you like. Plus, you can use HTML to enhance the text on any of your Web pages. 

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What are my options for handling transactions?

You have a number of options for handling transactions. The most basic approach is to handle all of your transactions offline. For example, you could publish your address and have your customers send their orders along with a check or money order directly to you. You could also collect your customers’ credit card information via email or phone and then process the credit card transactions offline using your retail merchant account.
These are probably not the best approaches, though, because one the main reasons customers shop at an online store is for the speed and convenience it provides.
To increase the chances that customers will want to shop at your online store, it should be able to accept and process credit card transactions online and in “real time.” You can handle your own online transactions or outsource them to a third-party credit card processor.

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What are third-party online credit card processors?

If you want to be able to accept credit cards but do not want to handle these yourself, you can use a third-party online credit card processor. When your customers want to purchase a product, they click a link that takes them to the third-party’s Web site. There, they will submit their order and credit card information, which is then processed by the third-party processor. Essentially, these processors act as re-sellers. They may charge you a variety of fees for this service, including an initial set up fee, monthly fees and/or per-transaction fees.
While outsourcing your online transactions may seem appealing, you should consider the fact that it will be obvious to your customers that their transactions are being handled not by your company but by a third-party.

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What do I need to handle "real time" online credit card transactions myself?

If you want to handle online credit card transactions yourself, you will need an Internet-ready merchant account, a payment gateway service and an SSL certificate.

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What is a merchant account? How do I get one?

A merchant account enables you to accept credit cards as payment for the purchase of goods and services. There are different types of merchant accounts. For example, if you have a traditional “brick and mortar” store, you can get a retail merchant account. If you want to accept credit cards on your Web site, however, you need a specialized type of merchant account known as an “Internet-ready” merchant account.
Internet-ready merchant accounts enable you to handle Internet transactions in "real time" without any human intervention. Because the risk of credit card fraud is greater when you are accepting credit cards over the Internet, these specialized merchant accounts also provide additional checks that can significantly reduce the chance of credit card fraud. Once the transactions are processed, the merchant account provider transfers the funds received from the credit card transactions from your merchant account to your bank account.
A number of companies offer Internet-ready merchant accounts. Of course, you are free to choose any merchant account provider, as long as they support one of the following payment methods: 

  • CyberSource
  • Authorize.Net
  • LinkPoint/Cardservice
  • VeriSign (PaymentNet)

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Can I use the merchant account I already have for online processing?

Yes. If you already have an Internet-ready merchant account you can use it as long as it supports one of the following payment methods:

  • CyberSource
  • Authorize.Net
  • LinkPoint/Cardservice
  • VeriSign (PaymentNet)

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What is a payment gateway? How do I find one?

A payment gateway is a service that connects your online store with your merchant account provider. This service reads the information from the order forms and translates that information for the merchant account. The payment gateway also verifies that the customer’s credit card account has the necessary credit available for the purchase.

You can obtain a payment gateway separately from your merchant account, however you may find it simpler to choose a merchant account provider that also offers a payment gateway.

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How can I assure my customers that their transactions are secure?

Obviously, if your customers will be submitting their credit card information to you online they will want to know that this information is safe. If they are not comfortable with the security your site offers, they will probably not buy products from you.
The best way to alleviate your customers’ concerns is to secure your site using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). When a site is secured with SSL—the standard form of encryption currently used on the Web—visitors will see a special symbol in their browser window that indicates the site is secure. Visitors can also tell that a page is secured by looking at the URL. A secure page’s URL begins with the letters “HTTPS” instead of the standard “HTTP.”

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What is SSL?

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a method of ensuring that information submitted through your Web site is secure and cannot be accessed by unauthorized users. When a site offers an SSL-secured form, the information submitted via that form (typically credit card information) is encrypted using a special “certificate key” and then decrypted with another key after it has been transmitted.

When users access a site secured with SSL using either Netscape or Internet Explorer, a symbol displays in their browser windows indicating that the site is secure.

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What is an SSL Certificate? How do I get one?

An SSL Certificate, or a digital certificate, is an electronic document that contains the information necessary to establish a secure SSL connection. When used in credit card transactions, the Web site collecting the credit card information and the site to which the information is being transmitted must both have an SSL Certificate.
Our customers are provided both the secure server and secure server certificate needed to support SSL for free.

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