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It may be easier than you thought to sell products online. You probably realize that you can add PayPal buttons to your site with a bit of HTML magic, but that may not be the best approach. Our quick installers include a number of free online store programs, and there are other options worth entertaining:
A PayPal or Google Checkout button is best if you only have one thing for sale, or want to ask for donations.
Free online store software like Magento, osCommerce, and PrestaShop take a little learning to get used to, but they allow you to manage the products you sell and the orders you get through your web browser.
If your site is based on a content management system, you may be able to add a store by installing a plugin.
If you’re reselling Elirion services, Installatron now offers WHMCS, a leading (but not free) web hosting billing system.
Apache OFBiz offers a storefront that’s integrated with an ERP system that provides accounting and customer management.
Interchange and Miva offer powerful frameworks for creating custom stores.
Aside from something to sell, you’ll need:
Online store software
A payment service such as PayPal, Google Checkout, or 2CheckOut, or:
Both a real-time gateway service and a merchant credit card account
If you already have a merchant credit card account for phone orders, ask your provider about accepting online orders. Since the discount rate is different, most providers will require you to open a second account for online orders.
A real-time gateway allows your store to charge credit cards at the time of purchase, instead of making you charge the cards later through a virtual terminal.
The merchant account provider assumes the risk of letting you charge customer credit cards, although they pass most of that risk back to you in chargebacks and other fees.
The Payment Card Industry (PCI) has been requiring merchants to meet stricter and stricter standards to limit credit card fraud. There are several levels depending on your sales volume and the structure of your business operations. Since compliance takes some time and effort, it’s a good idea to plan your online operations to place you in a level that has achievable goals.
PayPal and similar payment methods take care of PCI compliance internally.
Some gateway providers offer “touchless” charging methods where the customer’s credit card data never passes through your web site or store, making PCI compliance simple.
Retaining credit card details in your system for recurring billing increases your responsibilities under PCI.
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