If you’re ready to sell stuff online you need to be ready to take money. That’s not quite as easy as it sounds on the Internet. There are all kinds of payment processing hoops and lingo to sort out.
Ecommerce isn’t as straight forward as you might hope. You need a couple different layers. First you need an ecommerce website—the software that’s going to run everything. We hope you’re using our free WordPress ecommerce plugin, Exchange.
Understanding Merchant Accounts and Payment Gateways
After you have an ecommerce website and an ecommerce plugin, you’re also going to need what’s called a payment gateway and a merchant account to get paid.
A merchant account is what allows you to accept credit cards and get the money. A customer buys something, the money goes into your merchant account and from there can be transferred to your business bank account (cha-ching!).
A payment gateway is what enables the credit card transactions to take place. It’s a layer of processing that interfaces with your ecommerce site and your merchant account. This is where security, encryption and all that important stuff come into play.
While you need both a payment gateway and a merchant account, they often come bundled together. Many of the simpler services today bundle the payment gateway and merchant account, which makes things easier for you but also limits some of your options. Setting up your own merchant account is also a lot more involved, so sometimes it’s faster to go with a bundled service.
Check out the Payment Gateway Comparison Chart
In this Payment Gateway Comparison Chart, we compare some of the more popular payment gateway services. We tried to do a lot of the research for you, but double-check things yourself. A lot of this information can change quickly (in fact, one company opened up in a whole new country while we were creating the chart).