E-Commerce - Show Me The Money!
So you have your web site, your little space on the web. But is it making money? Well, you may be receiving e-mail or 'feedback form' requests but are you actually taking hard cash?
E-commerce (Electric Commerce) is not just about getting responses to your web presence but actually taking payment transactions from within your web site.
Most transactions when we talk about e-commerce relate to credit card transactions and they are really very easy to implement. So whether you are taking hotel bookings or retailing goods, here are your basic requirements to start processing credit cards online.
Firstly you will need a merchant account which, if you haven't already got, your bank will be able to advise you about. If you are currently taking credit card transactions off-line you must inform whoever you have your merchant account with that you will be taking online transactions. These are treated the same way as telephone transactions 'Card holder not present'
Next you will need some way of getting the credit card details from the customer this is done using a submission form - a simple web-form to-email, the type you will often see on the internet when completing details about yourself. This is simply configured to your own requirements adding the additional required fields like card number, expiry date etc….
If you do not know how to set up a web-form to-email get your web site designer to design one for you. A word of warning here, you must use a form that is served on your own server. NEVER use a remotely hosted server. Some sites offer to host your forms remotely but this also means that the credit card details you take pass through their server first and the more servers they pass through the more chances they have of been intercepted.
Thirdly, you will require a secure environment in which to take the credit card details. The recognised industry standard (and your merchant account manager will insist on it) is an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) server using encryption technology. Your web-form to-email page is accessed through this certificated server which encrypts the contents of the page.
SSL server access usually comes with full service hosting accounts and prices usually start at around £85 GBP, ask your web host about these.
Your page will then appear with an 's' after the http like this: https://www.yourdomain.co.uk and will also be denoted by the locked padlock in your browser window reassuring the user that they have entered a secure environment.
And that's about it, you have a secure environment. A form for users to give you their credit card details and a merchant account to process the order.
Now wasn't that easy, all you need now are the customers 😉
Another word of warning here, as already stated you do not want to use a remotely hosted form processing service, but also you need to limit the number of servers the credit card details pass through as this is an ideal place to intercept them. So preferably you want to also use a POP3 e-mail account as opposed to an e-mail forwarding account also NEVER, NEVER have your forms sent to a web based e-mail account for obvious reasons.
The best solution is to use your hosting providers web space for the web-form to-email, a POP3 account supplied by them and then the details don't go very far except straight to your system on the next 'send and receive'.
Also check that you have not opted to leave a copy of the e-mail on the server. Also think about what you are going to do with those details once you have them. The best option and the most secure is to print one copy off for your records and delete the e-mail. A little over cautious but your customers will be reassured by your diligence.
NOW SHOW ME THE MONEY!
About the teacher: