Take your business to the next level with an online merchant account
Looking to grow your brick-and-mortar business? Taking your sales online is a great way to expand your audience and customer base, as well as boost your sales. Here are some things you’ll need to consider to get started selling your goods or services online.
Set up a merchant account or use a payment gateway
Maybe you’ve been accepting credit card payments in-store for years. If so, you’re probably familiar with the term “merchant account.” A merchant account is basically a special type of bank account that enables a company to accept card payments. When you decide to take the leap to selling online, you can choose to set up your own merchant account or use a payment gateway, such as PayPal. Some providers also can connect you to the online world through so-called payment facilitators, where your online store's processing becomes part of a larger provider's account.
Here are some things to know about setting up a merchant account:
- Setup time will generally be longer – You’ll need to apply for and be accepted for a merchant account just like any other type of bank account. Understand that your business could potentially be denied for a merchant account depending on the type of business you have, how long you’ve been in business and numerous other factors.
- Your processing fees will likely be lower – Since you’re handling more of the burden of payments processing on your own systems, you’ll likely pay less in fees in the long term.
Here are some things to know if you’re considering using a payment gateway:
- Setup time will generally be quicker – You won’t need to go through the same rigorous application process for a payment gateway, and the processing system is likely to be “plug and play” from your perspective.
- Your processing fees will likely be higher – Since you’re relying on the payment gateway to process and handle sensitive payments data on your behalf, you’ll likely pay more in processing over time.
Build your own website or use an online marketplace
Perhaps you already have an online presence—or maybe you’ll be building one from scratch just to host your online store. Either way, you’ll need to consider if it makes the best business sense for you to build your own website and to create your store on an online marketplace, such as Etsy.
Here are some things to know about building your own website:
- Setup time will generally be longer – Plan on taking the time to professionally design your website (or hiring someone to do so) so that it’s user-friendly and easy for users to navigate and shop.
- Setup costs will probably be higher – Especially if you hire a professional web developer to create your website, your costs will likely be higher than using an online marketplace. You’ll also need to consider who will regularly update and maintain your site in the long term.
Here are some things to know about using an online marketplace:
- Setup time will be quicker – Today’s online marketplaces are designed for the budding entrepreneur with little business or digital experience. Armed with your product names, descriptions, photos and prices, you may be up and running with an online marketplace within a few hours.
- You won’t have as much flexibility – Compared with building your own website from scratch, you won’t have near as much flexibility and customization options.