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E-Commerce FAQ

  • What is e-commerce?
  • What do I need in order to conduct e-commerce?
  • What is the difference between a form and a shopping cart?
  • What is a credit card merchant account?
  • What is an online payment gateway?
  • Do I need a separate merchant account for e-commerce?
  • Do I still need a payment gateway if I already have a merchant account?
  • Why do I need SSL in order to accept credit cards?
  • Which shopping carts can I use at HostIndy.com?


    What is e-commerce?
    In general, the term e-commerce refers to selling merchandise and services via the Web. Some websites will choose to do this in the form of a full-fledged shopping cart, while others will sell their products with just a simple order form. Whichever way you choose to engage in e-commerce, HostIndy.com has made it Impossibly Easy™!

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    What do I need in order to conduct e-commerce?
    Numbers 1-3 below are the components that you will need to conduct e-commerce, and numbers 4-6 are optional depending on how you intend to accept payment.

    1. You need a website. We can assume that since you are reading this, you probably already host a website with HostIndy.com! So far, so good.

    2. You need products or services that you plan to sell through your website.

    3. You need a shopping cart system or an order form that your customers can use to shop for and purchase what you are selling.

    4. If you plan to accept credit cards as payment, you will need a credit card merchant account.

    5. If you plan to process credit cards in real time over the Web, you will need an online payment gateway.

    6. If you plan to process credit cards in real time over the Web, you will need a secure socket layer (SSL) for secure transmissions.

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    What is the difference between a form and a shopping cart?
    A form can only advertise a few items for sale at one time, and a form cannot total the shopping order automatically with tax, shipping and handling, etc., unless it is specially programmed to do so. Also, most form information is submitted to you via e-mail, which is an insecure method if you plan to gather credit card information.

    A shopping cart allows your site visitors to browse your online "store" and view any or all of your products, from 20 to an unlimited number, at their leisure. As they find things they need, they can add those items to their "cart" similar to the way you would shop in a physical store. Shopping carts are normally much more flexible than forms, can handle many different products, can total the cost of purchases while shopping is still in progress, can display product pictures or options, and can manipulate the data in a much more usable format for your records.

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    What is a credit card merchant account?
    A credit card merchant account is a special bank account that allows you to accept credit cards as a form of payment for your goods and services.

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    What is an online payment gateway?
    An online payment gateway is what allows for "real time credit card processing." It is a tool that takes credit card information submitted from an online form or shopping cart and then checks the validity of the information and availability of funds on the card. If the information is valid and the card has enough credit available, the gateway will charge the card immediately and forward the funds to your merchant account.

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    Do I need a separate merchant account for e-commerce?
    Not always. As e-commerce becomes more and more popular, standard merchant account providers are upgrading their services to allow for online purchases. Check with your current merchant account provider to see if they offer online merchant solutions.

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    Do I still need a payment gateway if I already have a merchant account?
    In most cases, you will still need a payment gateway. While some merchant account providers are now offering online payment gateways as part of their service package, many don't offer payment gateways at all. If you are not sure, it is always best to talk to your current merchant account provider and find out if they can offer you a gateway, or if they can recommend a gateway that is compatible with their services. Be sure to ask these questions, and be sure to find out about the associated costs and contract terms.

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    Why do I need SSL in order to accept credit cards?
    SSL stands for "secure sockets layer", a protocol that encrypts credit card numbers to transmit them safely over the Internet. Most credit card companies will not honor orders placed in an unsecure online environment.

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    Which shopping carts can I use at HostIndy.com?

    • If you have a shared or FreeBSD (UNIX) dedicated server use a proprietary HostIndy.com shopping cart that is easily integrated with almost every hosting option.
    • HostIndy.com-commerce is included with 2 of the Windows® options, and you have the option to pay for it on the third option.
    • Finally, you may install any other shopping cart on your server, as long as it does not require root access (if you have a shared server), and as long as the cart does not take up more space and resources than you are allotted in your server package. However, please understand that HostIndy.com will be unable to install, configure, or troubleshoot a non-HostIndy.com shopping cart for you.

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