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E-Commerce And Payment Options

lists the various e-commerce payment options available with Site Wizard

Rather than locking you into predefined catalog pages or one-size-fits-all solutions, Site Wizard can be customized to meet your unique selling and order fulfillment needs. Site Builder can easily handle complex ordering requirements like multiple exclusive options, complex cost calculations, and on-demand report creation order fulfillment.

Of course, none of this may matter if you cannot accept on-line payments from your customers. Site Builder provides for a number of payment options from PayPal and Authorize.net to meet your requirements and budget.

PayPal Website Payments Standard

While not recommended, PayPal's Website Payments Standard is a low-cost way to start taking orders with a minimum of fuss. The downside is that your customers are redirected to PayPal branded pages with a large emphases on getting them to sign up for PayPal rather the focusing them on your company and their order.

Here's an example of a Website Payments Standard page displayed when the client click's the "Ready To Buy" option.

an example PayPal Website Payments Standard page showing both PayPal and credit card checkout options

Website Payments Standard is a good option only if...

PayPal Website Payments Pro

On the other hand, PayPal's Website Payments Pro might be a solution for you if you currently do not have a merchant account (i.e., the ability to accept credit cards) and do not have the volume and/or track record to qualify. PayPal requires that you accept both credit cards and PayPal as payment options.

Those paying with credit cards can remain on your site, with PayPal processing the transaction behind-the-scenes. Those paying with PayPal are sent to PayPal pages to authorize the transaction.

Here are some options you can use to meet the PayPal payment and logo requirements without having to "push" PayPal on your site...

an example of how PayPal and credit card logos can be displayed without pushing PayPal

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an example of allowing customers to pay with credit cards or PayPal using a tab type interface

The requirement to include PayPal when displaying credit card images can also be accomplished without pushing PayPal by using a graphic like this...

graphic showing how the credit card and PayPal logos can be displayed

Using these smaller graphics, PayPal Website Payments Pro can be an option for sites selling high-value items or catering to clients who are normally put off by PayPal.

PayPal charges a monthly fee for the option of using Website Payments Pro. As of November, 2008, the fee was $30.00 per month. Check out the Data Security Standards section below for additional requirements and costs.

Authorize.net Server Integration Method

Authorize.net's Server Integration Method (SIM) is similar to PayPal's Website Payments Standard, but without most of the branding and cross selling. While the customer is redirected to Authorize.net to collect the payment and credit card information, the page can be customized to better blend in with the rest of your web site and will not have the cross sell links like PayPal.

Here's an example we put together for one of our clients...

example Authorize.net Server Integration Method checkout page customized for a client

While Authorize.net requires that you set up a Merchant Account thru your bank or a third party (vs. PayPal's one-stop-shopping), the resulting checkout page will blend in better with the rest of your site. And the implementation costs are less than the more advanced PayPal Website Payments Pro or the other Authorize.net options.

A good solution when...

Authorize.net Advanced Integration Method

Authorize.net's Advanced Integration Method (AIM) is similar to PayPal's Website Payments Pro, but without any branding and cross selling. Customers remain on your site for the entire transaction, with Authorize.net handling the processing behind-the-scenes.

When combined with Authorize.net's Customer Information Manager (CIM), you can provide a "one click" shopping experience for recurring customers while staying with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard guidelines.

Using Authorize.net's AIM and/or CIM, you can create customer checkout screens to meet your specific requirements. Check out the Data Security Standards section below for additional requirements and costs.

Processing Subscriptions

Both PayPal and Authorize.net provide recurring fixed price subscription billing options that can be integrated into your site.

Authorize.net, using CIM, provides the additional option of variable recurring billing. This can be used when billing based on actual usage (vs. a flat rate per month), with variable time frames (e.g., billing every 100 accesses), or based on some other variable factor(s).

Meeting Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards

Visa, Master Card, and probably your bank or third party Merchant Account provider require that all companies dealing with credit card transactions meet the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard requirements.

These requirements include not storing any credit card data on computers or web servers unless you meet very stringent data security requirements -- requirements that cannot be met economically by small and medium sized businesses. The PCI Compliance Guide site provides more information on the Data Security Standard requirements.

Using an option like PayPal's Website Payments Standard or Authorize.net's Server Integration Method moves the entire burden of maintaining PCI compliant systems onto PayPal or Authorize.net. You never touch or see the customer's credit card information, so there's little problem meeting the Payment Card Industry requirements. A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate is not required.

When using PayPal's Website Payments Pro or Authorize.net's Advanced Integration Method or Customer Information Manager, your web site is responsible for capturing credit card information and immediately passing it on to PayPal or Authorize.net. To meet PCI requirements, your web site...

Obviously, these more advanced solutions -- while allowing the client to remain on your site for the entire transaction and/or giving clients a richer user experience -- carry additional setup and ongoing maintenance costs.

The option to save credit card information in-house and remaining PCI compliant requires...

These requirements are way beyond the means of any normal small or medium sized business, and are not supported by any Lodestone Systems solution.

We Can Help

Lodestone Systems can help you...

Our web server is PCI compliance when used with the PayPal or Authorize.net solutions outlined here. We can also assist you in meeting PCI requirements when hosting your site using your own server or a third party hosting company.