AbleCommerce Cart Review
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on March 10th, 2010

top_nav_logoThis time I am reviewing the AbleCommerce shopping cart.  It is a Canadian company with about 11K active users and have been around for 15 years.   It started back in 1994 under a different name, which seems like ages ago.  They were a hosting company that wanted to add value to their customers by providing a shopping cart.  It then evolved into what it is today.  They offer both hosted and licensed versions.  The price is an affordable $99 per month. If you choose to own the software and install it on your own server, that will set you back $995.  They claim to be PCI compliance, so there should be no worries there.

One of their strengths is their history and long term stability in the  shopping card industry.  Their big weakness is the lack of easy modifications without affecting the customer’s ability to upgrade to new versions.   The cart is compatible with payment gateway, which is then compatible with most credit card processing companies. They do have a toll-free number to call, so that would allow US merchants to call them if they need assistance without incurring high long distance charges. This would be a requirement in my opinion for any Canadian or International company that wants to acquire US merchants.

How to cut your expenses if your business is struggling
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on March 10th, 2010

1176251_27831922When times are not great, every business should reevaluate their overhead and cut any unnecessary expenses that do not have a big impact on the bottom line or day to day operations.  One of the most common areas business owners cut is advertising & marketing.  Granted, this may be a very big expense, but it probably should never be cut.  Instead, you may want to consider increasing this particular expense.  Without new customers, your business will not be able to thrive and make it through the tough times.  Customer service is another common area that usually finds itself cuts but probably should not.  Customer service and advertising are some of the most important areas to any business.  You must continue bringing in new customers while taking care of the ones you have.

Some possible areas you can cut could be: Technology – Most of us can live without all the latest gadgets & cool toys.   Start focusing on all the new technology purchases and eliminate anything that is not really necessary.   Telephone – because VOIP has been rapidly growing these last few years, traditional (analog) phone service companies are becoming more competitive.  Call your phone company and see if they will cut you a deal or give you a discount.  Energy – many areas have a choice in electricity companies.  If you are in one of those areas, do some shopping around.  Switching electric providers can be a very easy task.  Supplies & Inventory – consider keeping smaller quanities of your office supplies and try to keep a tighter control on inventory.  Just like what many retail merchants are doing today, keep as little quantity of a product as possible.  You want enough inventory on the shelf to sustain sales, but not anything excessive that will be collecting dust.  Lastly, credit card processing fees. We are receiving numerous calls lately on merchants wanting to switch to reduce their processing costs. Last week, we received a pricing proposal from one of the Trump International hotels, so merchants of types & sizes are looking at their processing costs.

New IRS reporting for credit card processing
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on February 22nd, 2010

1099-k-formI have been in the credit card processing business since 2003. I have always wondered why the IRS never required processors to report the processing volume of its merchants. Well,that has all changed thanks to the IRS sneaking a requirement in the housing assistance tax act that was passed in 2008.  Starting next year, your credit card processor will be required to report your gross processing volume.  The new form will be called a 1099-k.  The IRS will only see your gross volume.  Any deductions like chargebacks and refunds will need to be deducted and is your responsibility.

My question is what will the processing industry do?  Will a lot of big ISOs start charging the merchants a new fee to help cover their cost to handle this new reporting requirement?  Only time will tell, but I hope not.  I do not know the logistic of it and how easy it will be.  I am sure however if there is significant cost, many processors will create a new fee and past on the expense. So if you have been trying to get away by not reporting all of your gross sales, that day is coming to an end. receives 5 star rating from review site
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on February 10th, 2010 received a 5 star rating from a credit card processing review site called Merchant Maverick about a week ago.  I would have posted something sooner, but things have been super busy lately.  I was very excited at the time, but that hasn’t completely worn off quite yet.  I never heard of this web site until they reviewed us, so that should tell you it is completely unbiased.  I learned about it through Google Alerts as I have our company name monitored using Google Alerts.  Anytime someone posts anything new on the web using our company name, we receive a notification.  This is a great customer service tool.  It allows you to find out if anyone is posting negative comments about your company so you can address their concerns and resolve it.  Hopefully, you can convert that unsatisfied customer and protect your reputation in the mean time.


I’m surprised I haven’t found Merchant Maverick before as I consider myself very up to speed with our industry and everything that goes on. I managed to look through the web site and believe they have done a great job.  It is  a great resource for anyone wanting to find a merchant account provider.  It is jam packed full of reviews on dozens of companies.  It is also great that we received such a high rating.  There are a lot of great processing companies out there and is truly one of them that does everything possible to bend over backwards for its merchants.  No company is perfect, but we sure try our best to be one.  I’m thrilled that an outsider such as Merchant Maverick has been able to see this. We are not a huge conglomerate like FirstData or Chase Paymentech, but that allows us to focus on our merchants and their individual needs.

New feature – integrated credit card processing with QuickBooks
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on January 26th, 2010 is pleased to announce that we are now able to offer integrated credit card processing within the QuickBooks software program.  Merchants now have a choice in processing companies and not left with only one company to choose from (Intuit).  There are other solutions available that have been around for years, but you must export the data into QuickBooks.  What we have is totally different.  It is a plug-in that you download onto your computer and works the same way as if you had the processing done through Intuit.  So now you have choices in processing companies, which means you win as there is now competition.  We are providing this software FREE of charge as a courtesy when you choose to do business with  You must be running QB version 2004 and later.  2010 compatibility isn’t available yet, but should be released soon.  From the user standpoint, there is no difference if you use us to processor your cards vs Intuit.  The difference would be the level of personal service you receive and the pricing.  Please review our pricing on our web site and I’m sure you will see that we advertise much more competitive pricing than the competition.

Intuit®, the Intuit logo, and QuickBooks®, among others, are registered trademarks and/or service marks of Intuit Inc. in the United States and other countries. is in no way affiliated with nor sponsored or endorsed by Intuit.

Are you taking advantage of referral business
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on January 26th, 2010

referralAre you having a hard time taking your company to the next level?  Are you currently taking advantage of the powerful referral business? I can’t speak for most companies in the credit card processing arena, but puts 100% effort in obtaining as many referrals from current customers as possible. You can too and here are several ways of doing it. I will skip the reasons as to why you should go after referrals, but simply put, they are the best leads any business could ask for. 1. Be cautious with the timing of your referral request. You want your customers to experience your service before you ask for referrals. 2. Always remember, not all clients are referral candidates, only about 20% generally are. 3. Offer incentives for your customers to refer your products or services.  Such as, we offer our clients $50 for anyone they refer that signs up and gets approved.  4. always sends out hand written thank you cards after a customer signs up.  This may be a great time to ask for a referral. Also, be sure to ask for referrals whenever your customer needs assistance in the future and you have helped them with their problem.  People love to spread the word about a company after they have fixed their problem for them.

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Retail survival strategy tips for 2010
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on January 26th, 2010

retailcovx-largeThe recession is starting to push hard against the retail industry and is having a big impact on sales.  This usually has a trickle down affect for the credit card processing business. Many retailers are getting their chips in-line to be able to market itself efficiently during the new, tougher economy. This past holiday season was a good test for the retail industry on the new less is more buying mentality. Former JCP CEO made a statement that described this perfectly and I quote “I never saw anyone go out of business because they didn’t have enough of something.” So what are retailers suppose to do? You can only cut prices so low. Retailers should create themselves a niche or leg up over the competition. Such as JCP has created over 20 different private label brands that you will not find anywhere else. Having an exclusive brand keeps your customers coming back time and time again. Being green is another business concept that is on the rise as well. How retailers operate and the products they sell are becoming more green than ever before. Organic goods is one popular item that is increasing in demand. Many retailers like Wal-mart and Target are also  incorporating as many green products as possible in their building’s designs when creating or renovating a store.

Jelly Belly now offering online pin-debit transactions
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on January 26th, 2010

1_nodeIt appears that is now offering its customers the ability to pay with a debit card in two ways.  The first option has always been available and that is to process it  like a credit card.  The second choice has never seen the Internet era and that would be as a pin-debit transaction like you perform in a retail store.  Pin-debit transactions have always been kept in a retail environment and never introduced to the Internet world because of security concerns.  Honestly, I never thought this day would surface in the credit card processing industry. Merchants do save money by processing a debit card using one of the debit networks instead of Visa/MC, but the customers pin number is the only security the card has. For me, I don’t see how one would want to enter their pin number over the Internet to process a transaction. The transmission can be secure over the Internet, but it is the consumer’s computer where the vulnerability lies. The consumer’s computer could be compromised and anything they input with their keyboard or move with a mouse could be recorded by a hacker.  One could probably say this is no different than banking online, but I’m not sure how consumers will take to the idea, if they will feel comfortable enough to enter their pin-number online.  I suppose it is only a matter of time.

VP-ASP cart review
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on January 19th, 2010


I’m reviewing the VP-ASP shopping cart this time.  The great thing about this cart is we are their featured merchant account provider!  The cart allows for an unlimited number of users.  It is one of the oldest carts on the market.  It was developed in the 1990′s with Amazon & eBay and released in 1999.  Since then, they have been constantly updating their software to meet the ever changing demands of Internet merchants.  Even though it comes from Australia, its main customer base is the USA and UK.  It is also very scalable and can support small merchants doing $20K to businesses doing $20 million a year.  It doesn’t matter if you have 100 items or 100,000.   It comes in two flavors, licensed based and semi-hosted option.   The price starts at $295 for the basic version.  According to VP-ASP, their biggest weakness is the shopping cart is open source, which they have missed out on more fancy technologies that are starting to hit the market.  This all should change when they develop their new hosted version.   As I mentioned before, the best part about this shopping cart is they have partnered with as their preferred merchant account provider.

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