If you're starting an online store, the most important thing you will need to secure before your store goes live is a way to get paid. This may seem obvious, but it is something many first-time online store owners overlook. Once this step is completed, you can add products, set the store live, and start selling right away.
Some online store owners start off by signing up for a PayPal account and only offering PayPal, but the majority of online store owners sign up for something called a merchant account. A merchant account is a way for online stores to accept credit cards. While solely using PayPal is an option, conversion rates tend to be higher when using a merchant account.
A merchant account requires a payment gateway and payment processor. The payment gateway encrypts customer data to send it securely from the online store to the payment processor. The payment processor then moves the money from the buyer's account to the seller's account.
Most online merchant account providers only provide the credit card processing, and then you have to find your own compatible gateway to encrypt the data being sent. One of the biggest benefits of using the Volusion merchant account is the efficiency of having your gateway and processor with one company.
Just know that no matter which merchant account provider you choose, a valid SSL certificate will need to be installed on your site before you run any transactions, or you will find yourself non-compliant with credit card industry regulations. This can result in steep fines and even your online store being shut down.
-Kate Pierce, Ecommerce Specialist