E-commerce can be extremely complicated and expensive. There are countless decisions to make, and each one seems to add expense. In general you need three separate services; the merchant account, the gateway, and the shopping cart.
The merchant account allows you to process credit cards.
For the gateway, you’d want to use Authorize (click here for details). Authorize works with virtually all shopping carts and merchant accounts. The gateway connects your merchant account to your shopping cart securely.
The shopping cart is your tool for displaying, categorizing, pricing, and selling your products. It’s the database driven dynamic website for handling online orders. It is a, generally, a fully functioning stand alone website.
Cost Saving Options
Embedded Shopping Cart:
Most of these shopping carts are similar in that you are creating a site for selling your products. There’s another solution that I prefer for small carts, it’s called Wazala (click here for details). The way it works is your cart opens in a new shadow box (where the content is in the middle and the background is grayed out). This eliminates the need to create a whole new site for your shopping cart. It’s closer to having your shopping cart embedded in your current site.
Sage Payment Solutions
Depending on the size and scope of the shopping cart, sometimes Sage (click here for details) can work as the merchant account, gateway and shopping cart. Sometimes (depending on the cart) it can also just work as the merchant account and gateway.
PayPal and/or Google Wallet
These act as both a gateway and merchant account, although they’re not true merchant accounts. They charge the customer (the customers bill says PayPal or Google Checkout) and then pass the money on to you. This can add a level of complication for those who don’t use PayPal or Google Wallet. Generally the fees are a little steeper, however you don’t have the monthly costs, so it depends on your sales volume.
Example: If you have a gateway and a merchant account it wouldn’t be unusual to pay $40/mo for those two services. If you are only doing $1000 in sales that represents 4% of your sales, so paying 2.9 instead of 1.9 on a given transaction, may not be your biggest concern. In fact, in this example, your break even would be $4,000.
The drawbacks to PayPal and Google Wallet, is they don’t make your company look very big. Anyone can get a PayPal account. Additionally, it will take a couple days longer to get your money through these services.