Becoming an Online Merchant With Credit Card Processing

By Steve Hane

  • Overview

    Becoming an online merchant with credit card processing can range from the simple (selling on eBay) to the complicated (creating a custom storefront). It all depends on what you have to sell, your experience level and the time you have to get started. Here is a brief overview of the steps needed to start selling online by accepting credit cards.
    • Step 1

      Determine what you have to sell. You can sell anything you can ship as well as all kinds of services online. Used items, new items and items you make are all things you can sell online. What you have to sell can help determine how you build your site and accept payment.
    • Step 2

      Choose where to sell. You can create your own online storefront and handle everything yourself from designing and marketing your site to collecting payment and shipping the items. Sites like offer an array of options such as website templates, web hosting, virtual carts and merchant accounts to allow you to create a complete storefront and accept credit cards. However, if you don't have that kind of time or money, you can also sell on a site like eBay or Auction sites like eBay offer the ability to sell your item to the highest bidder giving you a greater chance of selling an item sooner. You can also set a fixed price for your items on these sites, and the major benefit is they provide you with an easy- to-use template and a ready audience.

    • Step 3

      Start accepting credit cards. The cheapest way to start accepting credit cards is through PayPal. Like with most credit card processing services, there are no monthly fees for using PayPal. However, the per transaction fees are generally higher for PayPal than with a more traditional credit card processing service. For instance, PayPal charges 2.9% and 30 cents per transaction for monthly sales under $3,000 USD while a traditional credit card processing service offered through offers 2.5% and 20 cents per transaction. Fees vary greatly between processors, so it is good to shop around for the best deal that meets your individual needs.
    • Step 4

      Market you site. Now that you have an online storefront you need to get customers. If you set up shop on eBay or, you already have access to a ready marketplace of shoppers. If you built your own storefront, you need to drive your own traffic to your site. You can accomplish this by spreading the word to your friends, family, past customers and colleagues. Emails work great and cost you nothing. Flyers and business cards can also be a great and inexpensive way to spread the word. Increasing your search engine optimization (SEO) by using clear and concise text about your products and business on your website will best open up doors by increasing your page rank in search engines like Google and Yahoo.
    • Skill: Moderate
    • Ingredients:
    • Computer with Internet connection

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