ECommerce. Getting paid, and choosing the right eCommerce Provider.

Affiliate, Reseller OR Merchant?

If you're basically working with other sites' affiliate or reseller programs your choice of Ecommerce provider is completely outside of your control. The site you're working with has already made their decision about an Ecommerce provider.

HOWEVER... if you intend to sell your own products or services online your decision about which Ecommerce provider to use can have a radical affect on your online business.

One size does not fit all.

Merchant Accounts

These are some of the crucial Ecommerce system features to consider BEFORE you sign on the dotted line.

  • Reputation
  • Set-Up Costs
  • Reserve Policy
  • Refund (Charge-back) Policy
  • Payment Policy And Percentages
  • System Security
  • System Transparency
  • System Usability
  • Customer Service
  • Internationality
  • Specialist
    Tangible/ Intangible Products
    Shopping Carts/ B2B
  • Backup sales systems


As much as Ecommerce transactions are becoming the "norm" people are still cautious about buying online.

Although Ecommerce transactions are actually more secure than offline credit card transactions people are still cautious about buying online.

You have to factor this thinking into your choice of Ecommerce provider.

Reputation matters !!

So, choose an Ecommerce provider who's been online for some time. This demonstrates that they're ...

  • Solvent
  • Likely to be more acceptable to potential customers, because people have been exposed to the Ecommerce provider more often online.

Set-up Costs and Conditions

Different Ecommerce providers have different set-up costs.

Closely examine ALL the fine print with any provider BEFORE you sign-up with them.

You'll find that Ecommerce providers that have a low entry set-up cost usually have backend fees hidden somewhere in their "deal."

Ecommerce system technology costs a lot of money to establish and maintain and Ecommerce providers are in business to make money. So, basically take a buyer beware approach here.

Reserve Policy

EVERY Ecommerce provider has a reserve policy.

This means that they keep a certain percentage of YOUR sales in reserve for a certain period of time to cover charge-backs (refunds.)

Yes, you need a percentage of money to be held in reserve to cover charge backs, but you don't want to have to much of your money tied up this way.

Usually (just like offline banks) Ecommerce providers play the money market with your money. The amount of this "Reserve" figure needs to be a fair and reasonable amount AND time. You decide.

Refund - Charge-back Policy

Reserve and charge-back policies may be one and the same OR an Ecommerce provider may have both policies.

Usually the Refund Policy is affected by the Reserve Policy.

REMEMBER... that all those sites that promise a 30 day money back guarantee actually have to do this. It's the law.

Again, examine the percentage of sales that the Ecommerce provider keeps of YOUR sales to cover potential charge-backs (refunds)

Payment Policies And Percentages

When does the Ecommerce provider PAY you your money? Again, this is determined by their Reserve and Charge-back policies.

Examine all of these policies in DETAIL. Look at the percentage and the time that YOUR money is held before it paid to you.

System Security

How secure is the Ecommerce system?

Does the Ecommerce system keep credit card transaction details?

How secure is its system from prying eyes?

ASK the Ecommerce providers clients.

ASK the Ecommerce provider.

Remember that TRUST is the main issue here. You simply must use an Ecommerce provider who has a very secure system.

System Transparency

Have you ever been in the process of buying something online and you got lost in the process?

System Transparency means that the buyer is NEVER lost in the process. They know exactly where they are all the time.... what happens next and what happens if there's a problem.

This means...

  • Immediate confirmation of the transaction both online and through email.
  • The buyer is easily able to cancel the purchase
  • Clear directions to Customer Service.
  • Good response times to customer service requests

System Usability

Is the Ecommerce system user FRIENDLY?

If a potential customer has to jump through too many hoops they'll exit the system and go elsewhere.

The process of buying has to be simple, completely transparent and secure.

Customer Service

Customer service is critical.

If your Ecommerce provider is slow in responding to buyers' problems then people will (naturally) come to you to solve their problem. They won't necessarily know that the Ecommerce provider is NOT you (especially if they're inexperienced with buying online.)

TEST an Ecommerce providers customer service BEFORE you sign up, and remember that when they're trying to get your business their customer service will usually be very good.


The web promises the opportunity to do business across the world.

Although most online purchases are transacted in USD there are some business situations that may need to be transacted in multiple or local currencies.

If this matters to your business make sure that the Ecommerce provider can handle these transactions across your market.

However, irrespective of this (above) need does your Ecommerce provider have an International attitude?


This is a specialist world.

Ecommerce providers may cater for businesses that deliver both tangible or intangible products. They can also be shopping cart system specialists, or deal exclusively with B2B payments.

However, those that specialize in one area are usually better in that field, and their systems are developed for their speciality.

It is wiser to choose a specialist provider with a system that fits the nature of your online business.

AND... depending on the nature and volume of your business it may also make sense to offer TWO providers choices for your customers. One provider to handle intangible (digital) goods and another to handle tangible (real world) goods.

Backup Sales Systems

Different providers offer different payment systems.. one time or cyclical payments.

Different providers use different payment processing criteria.

Different providers reach different world markets.

So, it may also make sense for you to actually have TWO Ecommerce providers for your online business transactions.

Use one Ecommerce provider as your main processor and have another, backup provider to handle transactions that are rejected by your main provider for differing reasons (not necessarily related to a lack of funds.)

Ecommerce Providers

There are many Ecommerce providers available on the net. Choosing the right one for you and your business is ultimately a matter of personal choice.

As always it is VERY wise to do some sound research before parting with your hard-earned cash.

Authorizenet ... Cambist ... CyberCash ... CyberSource ...

ITransact ... IBill ... MasterMerchant ... WorldPay ...

ClickBank ... Commission Junction ... PayPal

To wrap this up...

There are numerous ecommerce providers on the web. Choose wisely.

If you're interested in running a business on the web, then subscribe to The e*Analyst ezine, where this topic is discussed in greater detail.

The e*Analyst

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