There are a few questions you should ask your shopping cart vendor about PCI compliance. PCI compliance is a hot topic today and has been for several years now. Most shopping carts must be PA-DSS certified. Unless your cart is not storing or passing payment information, then it needs to be in compliance. The mandated deadline for banks to ensure all vendors, merchants and agents are in compliance is July 2010. Merchant merchants with a shopping cart will also need to use an Internet gateway service with built-in . That should also be PCI compliant. How do you know if your cart is in compliance? Ask the vendor for this information. What should you do it your cart is not PCI compliant? Ask them if they have applied for certification and are waiting. If nothing has been submitted or done about it, I would consider using another cart that is. Merchants are responsible for everything they do and use, including vendor’s products & services.
A website called eMompreneurs.com has been recently launched to help moms launch their own at home business. Many moms struggle with the decision of going back to work or staying at home and taking care of the kids. And for that reason, this site was created. It is a site that will provide training, marketing tools a community and network opportunities for moms looking to start an online business while they raise the children at home. They cover topics such as SEO, CPC, blogging, shopping carts, and much more. They have committed to donate 10% of all proceeds to the charities that empower local women. The creates of the site said they formed the site after having their own successful business and felt they should spread their knowledge to others so they can do the same thing. They are expected to open the site around the first of December.
Do you currently use QuickBooks to run and manage your business while also using it to handle your? I have great news. You have options besides using the company Intuit purchased for integrated credit card processing. There are thousands of merchants using Intuit directly for integrated processing, but you do have options that you may not be aware of. For example, we have a Quickbooks plugin that allows you to process the transactions in the same manner as if you were processing them with Inuit. There is a simple software program that you install on your computer that runs in the background. Nothing else changes. You still have the same screens, same steps, etc. The only thing that would be different, is you can use someone else as your merchant provider, such as our company. You can then receive the best pricing possible as there will be competition in the market. The best news is if you use us for your merchant account, we will provide this software plugin for FREE!
Dr. Wilson wrote an interesting article on how to shop for a merchant account. There are a few points he mentioned that I would like to discuss as some I do not agree with. He does a good job with the definition clarifications. I do not agree with his comment about a merchant may not be able to save money on Interchange plus pricing unless they have a lot of mid/nonqual. You really can’t compare the two pricing models, but Interchange plus is always the way to go. As he stated, it is more transparent and you know the exact profit you are dealing with. Why would you go for the other when you have no idea if you are wasting your time on a possible few dollar savings? I also disagree with his comment on the early termination fees. I think it is critical to have some kind of agreement in place. credit card processing companies invest a lot of money, resources and time boarding a single merchant. To have them cancel in 3 months because their business didn’t pan out, is a solid way for them to lose a lot of money. He also recommends contacting your bank first, which I would not for various reasons. Many smaller banks simply outsource the service to companies such as ourselves. Second, I have found many banks, especially the bigger ones to take advantage of that relationship and not offer the most competitive pricing. Lastly, he does mention look online for complaints about the company, which is a great idea!
Every business should be offering gift cards, even if you are an ecommerce store. Take Zappos.com for example, they are offering gift cards. Gift cards is big business today. About 70% of consumers purchase gift cards. It allows them to give money to the recipient in a way that is perceived better by society, in the form of gift cards. Also, consumers seem to really like to give and receive gift cards. What would you rather receive, cold hard cash or a gift card to your favorite retailer? Ecommerce merchants shouldn’t over look this opportunity. Just because you do not have a store to walk into, doesn’t mean you can’t offer gift cards.
Your customer base is a great place to start to market the product. This includes all current and previous customers that have ordered from you. Most consumers like to spread the word about companies they really like and enjoy their products. Gift cards is one way to do that. If you are an ecommerce merchant, then you can get setup with gift card processing generally through yourcompany as many also provide this service to their merchants as they have partnered with a gift card company. It may be too late to consider this for this holiday season, but definitely look into it for next year.
Some of the Salvation Army donation locations have gone electronic and added capabilities to their offerings. Consumers can now donate with their credit card. I’m not sure if I agree with this logic. I think many consumers would give more than they can really afford as they can simply charge it. I understand many consumers do not carry around a lot of cash these days, but I know many consumers do not have self control when it comes to plastic as it can feel like a magic card at times. Also, your money will simply not go as far as the Salvation Army has to pay to process the credit cards. So instead of giving around 97% of your money to the organization, why not give cash and be able to give 100%? You are giving a percentage or two of your money to the banks when you use a credit card. My other concern would be theft. What would stop a volunteer from setting up a merchant account and replacing the current machine with their own that would deposit the funds into their own checking account? I know this wouldn’t be very likely, but it does raise the question. Where there is a will, scamsters find a way.
There has been a recent report released that says the US government has been investigating a few ecommerce merchants and their affiliate with a few marketing companies. Companies such as Priceline, FT & Orbitz have been mentioned in the report. These companies and many others have partnered with some marketing firms that are misleading the customers according to the report. There are supposedly thousands of complaints over the years about consumers finding mysterious charges appearing on their credit card. What is happening is this. After a consumer makes a purchase and enters their information, they are taken to a page thanking them for the order. On this page, there is a button that says save $10 on this very purchase. When the customer clicks that button and fills out the appropriate forms, they are unknowingly signing up for a membership service from the marketing company. There is some information, but it is generally in fine print at the bottom.
I have personally made purchases from some online merchants that have used this very tactic. I quickly found out what it was all about by looking at the entire offer and seeing what the fine print says and that you are signing up for someone else’s services. But I can see how a lot of consumers do not read it, sign up thinking they will simply save $10 and that’s it. But then find out there are other charges on their credit card until they cancel the service. My advice: read before you sign!
If you have an ecommerce business, then the Monday following thanksgiving is your black Friday, also known as Cyber Monday. Black Friday is mostly for retail stores as consumers flock to buy exceptionally low priced deals. As the weekend dies down, many shoppers go onto the web to make purchases on company time that following Monday, which is generally the biggest day for ecommerce businesses. So what should you do? For one, make sure your web site and everything is safe! Getting hacked can place a lot of damage onto your company. Make sure your passwords to your server that hosts your website is a long, very complex password that is very difficult to breach. Next, make sure your shopping cart and system is up to date with the latest patches. Lastly, check to make sure your own personal computer is update to date. That means any software updates for your operating system, anti-virus and firewall. If you do not have either one of those, go get one now! Lastly, keep an eye on your web site during the day on Monday so you can catch any glitches relatively quickly and resolve them asap.
I see that the GAO released a report saying if congress regulated or placed a cap on Interchange fees, it would benefit consumers and urges them to act. I have a feeling we are getting very close to some type of regulation in the industry. Is anyone else worried? As long as our position in this business isn’t affected, I wouldn’t care that much really, but that is the concern. Whenever the government gets involved with anything, it never turns out for the better. Politics & business do not mix! I hope V/MC are not too cocky on this topic and consider stop raising rates for a year or two and maybe lower some to ease the whole tension among the industry and merchants.
This is the one time I hope all the lobbyist the banks have in congress come through & block any regulation…
The popular eBay site was recently found broken and not operational. Thousands of shoppers found the site down on Saturday saying the search they entered wasn’t about to run. Thankfully, weekend sales are generally relatively small compared to during the week. But there are thousands of businesses and merchants that rely on eBay to generate them their business. There are some that sale exclusively on eBay and this down time may reflect in their sales for the month. This would also mean that Paypal’s service through the site wasn’t operational either. The last update from eBay was at 6:28 PM EST saying that due to errors in some of their backend systems, members may be receiving error messages. eBay recommends using their advanced search option as a work around until the issue is resolved. This is no doubt something that will be talked about among the many merchants that sell on eBay and how much it has affected them. Hopefully, most merchants will not see much of an impact.