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Alternative E-Commerce Solutions
Over the past several years, the Internet has emerged as a breakthrough technology that has and will continue to transform the way we live and communicate, and especially the way we do business.
No matter if you are selling a product or a service, the Internet is a means of reaching markets that had otherwise been unreachable in the past. And, it also provides ease of purchasing and selling almost anything online…also known as E-Commerce.
But, for many businesses, especially start up and small to mid size businesses, having a website that includes the usual E-commerce capabilities is just not in their budgets. Setting up merchant accounts and secure servers can get quite costly.
So, if you are really wanting or needing to have e-commerce capabilities on your website to sell your products, but your budget just won’t allow it, there are a variety of alternatives to the expensive online route that you can consider.
Your first choice allows you to accept credit card payments but without a secure server. Some financial institutions, which offer credit cards, also offer Traditional Merchant Accounts. This allows you to manually verify credit card information from those that want to purchase from you. But, you should be aware, if you ask for credit card information from your website without the guarantee of a secure server, you may run into hesitation from potential customers.
Another alternative to the expensive merchant account is to accept cheque payments online. For this you will need to acquire software or a program that will allow you to print MicroPrint (the small numbers and characters at the bottom of a cheque… ie. routing #, account #, etc.). There are several cheque writing programs available, including those found at Checker.net and Checkman.com.
The procedures involved to use this payment method are to first set up a form on your website. You then send an invoice to your customer with direction to the cheque-form page, which they must fill out and submit, via your cgi program. You then verify the funds and information and then the software prints the cheque on special cheque paper, which you can purchase at most business supply stores.
You can also have the above type service online, via such sites as Paybycheck.com.
Another alternative, which is rapidly becoming the choice of many online product and service providers, is Online Payment Systems. There are several of these systems available but I have only found one that has features available to Canadians. Called PayPal.com, this service allows you to set up an account with them and they verify the credit information of those buying from you. Now, many features that this system has to offer are still limited for Canadian retailers but you are still able to set up an account, bill your clients, and receive payments into your Canadian bank account or credit card account with only minor service charges being applied.
Taking advantage of the expansive market of the World Wide Web does not mean that you have to go bankrupt. You can still get on the E-Commerce bandwagon and accept payments with the above listed services and other alternative payment systems that may be available. Actually, most of these services are all that the average small business, especially those in the service industry, really need. And they don’t cost a fortune.
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