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E-Commerce Faq
E-Commerce Faq

Frequently Asked Questions About E-Commerce

What is E-Commerce?
How does an On-line Store work?
What Do I need to start an E-Commerce site?
How does Off-line Credit Card Processing work?
How does "Real-time" Credit Card processing work?
What is a Merchant Account?
What is a secure server or SSL?
What are secure forms?
What is PGP (Pretty Good Privacy)?

What is E-Commerce?
E-Commerce can simply be defined as buying and selling goods and services across the Internet. An e-commerce site can be as simple as a catalog page with a phone number, or it can range all the way to a real-time credit card processing site where customers can purchase goods and have them shipped on the spot. E-Commerce merchants can range from a small business with a few items for sale all the way to a large online retailer.

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How does an On-Line Store work?
Your customer arrives at the entrance to your store and is assigned an order number to track their purchases while they are shopping. Once inside, customers can search for products typically by category, description or other parameters defined in the search criteria. After the search is conducted, a list of products matching the search criteria is displayed to the customer. At this point, the customer can enter a quantity to order or may select an item and click on a link for detailed information and photos of the product if made available. The customer enters the quantity they wish to purchase and clicks on a button to add the items to their order. The current order status is displayed allowing customers to change the quantities or delete items that they may not want to purchase. When the customer has completed shopping, they will "checkout" of the store. They will be required to enter shipping information and then will connect to a Secure Server (SSL) to submit credit card data in a secure, encrypted manner. Also, applicable tax and shipping charges can be calculated here.

Once the order is finalized, the customer clicks on a submit button, and receives an order confirmation via e-mail summarizing their purchase, with a copy sent to the store owner as notification of a sale.

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What Do I need to start an E-Commerce site?
  1. Order or upgrade to an E-commerce plan like SmallBiz or BigBiz.
  2. Create Your Web Site and Online Store.
  3. Choose Your Payment Processing Method
  4. Offline - Open Merchant Account Real-time

Open Merchant Account and select Online Real-time Payment Processor

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How does Off-line Credit Card Processing work?
The most affordable way of processing credit cards is an off-line authorization and settlement process. This means that your customers' credit card information is captured and stored on our server for later authorization and transaction processing through a traditional card swipe terminal or through a computer

IMPORTANT: If you already have a merchant account number from your existing business, you should be aware of the following. Depending on the type of merchant account you have, Internet transactions may not be acceptable to your merchant account bank. Internet transactions are considered "card-not-present" and you may need to obtain a merchant account specifically designed for such transactions.

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How does "Real-time" Credit Card processing work?
A customer Purchases your product from your online store. He/she enters the credit card information. The customer's credit card information is encrypted and sent from our secure server to the processor's secure server. The transaction is processed and an authorization is sent back to your customer in a matter of seconds! The credit card information is sent over the Internet (securely) to your online payment processor. Your online payment processor in turn contacts the card's issuing bank over the private financial network. Your online payment processor returns approved/declined notice to your customer who is still at your online store. You and your customer receive e-mail notifications of the transaction with tracking numbers.


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What is a Merchant Account?
If you want to accept credit cards, you need a Merchant Account. If you already have a Merchant Account, you can use your existing account to accept credit cards for Internet transactions. This will work fine if you wish to do off-line payment processing as described above. If you wish to add real-time payment processing or you are a new merchant, you need to apply for an "Internet enabled" Merchant Account. Each Merchant Account provider has different rates and different solutions. You should shop around for the best solution.

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What is a secure server or SSL?
Secure Socket Layer or SSL is an encryption technology on the server that scrambles important data such as credit card numbers and order information when it is being stored or passed from one computer to another. Transferring information securely over the Internet is the key to the e-commerce revolution. We enable you to have a secure server using SSL to allow your clients safe and secure transaction processing while doing business with you. They will visit your site as https with no change from your www.yourname.com.

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What are secure forms?
The purpose of a secure server is to encrypt the information clients enter in forms on their browser before it is sent to the server. Our servers use 128-bit encryption, which is the highest security available for civilian purposes. It will keep your customer's information as private as technology will allow.

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What is PGP (Pretty Good Privacy)?
This is a program for encrypting your e-mail. We also provide a PGPmail script as part of the control center. Typically, a secure SL connection is made between the client and the server using the SSL protocol (https://). The form is submitted and the encrypted data is sent to our server and decrypted. Next, a programmer or the PGPmail program takes the plain text and encrypts it with your PGP public key and sends it off to you. So the text is encrypted, sent to the server, encrypted and then re-encrypted. This allows for secure e-mail transmission.

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