One of the things you will need if you plan to engage in ecommerce is a payment gateway. A payment gateway is an application that allows you to process transactions over the Internet. If you want to sell products and services from a Web site, you need a payment gateway to help facilitate communication between you, your customer and the financial institutions you both belong to. The payment gateway acts as a liaison between your business Web site and the broader Internet.
If you already have a Web site, but you haven’t been using it to automatically process payments from customers, you will need to integrate a payment gateway if you are planning to take your Web site to the next level and reach more customers. If you have an ecommerce Web host, you might already have access to a payment gateway. Otherwise, you may need to take to your Web host about payment gateways, or find some other way of integrating a payment gateway into your Web site.
What you need for payment gateway integration
Payment gateway integration requires a little bit of work. It is a software application that needs to be stored on your server. This means that you may need a little more bandwidth and/or disk space. Check the requirements of the payment gateway to make sure that your current hosting package will be able to handle the increase in technical requirements.
Another thing you will need to do is make sure that the payment gateway is compatible with the programming language used on your ecommerce Web site. Check to find out whether you are using one of the following:
- ASP or ASP.NET
- PHP (rather popular)
- Visual Basic .NET
Make sure that your payment gateway uses the same language as the rest of your Web site, so that they fit together well. Additionally, you will need to find out what sort of fees and costs are associated with payment gateway integration and service.
Finding a programmer to help with your payment gateway integration
It is usually a good idea – if you are not particularly savvy yourself – to have help integrating a payment gateway. There are many payment gateway services that can help you set things up and get started, but if you want something that is a little more customizable, it is a good idea to get professional programming help. When looking for a programmer, here are some things to look for:
- Professionalism: Make sure that the programmer does professional work, and that he or she takes you through the process and clearly explains what is needed.
- Honesty: Get a price quote in writing, and ask for a list of what is needed. Shop around and compare different offers.
- Price: You want to shop around, but be wary of lowball offers. Make sure you are getting quality. Sometimes, you get what you pay for and that can be a bad thing if you haven’t paid very much.
- Quality: Ask for references and ask for Web addresses of sites the programmer has worked for. You can also Google the programmer or check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any serious complaints. You want to make sure you are getting the best quality you can afford.
- Service: Find out what sort of service is offered. Do you get upgrades with a monthly services and maintenance fee? Also, note whether or not the programmer is helpful and timely in answering questions.
In many cases, it can be easiest to have your payment gateway integrated by your ecommerce Web host. This way, you know that the gateway is compatible with your site, and your payment gateway costs can be rolled into your hosting service fee. Just make sure you understand whether or not a service upgrade is required when you add a payment gateway to your ecommerce Web site.
Popular payment gateway providers
If you are looking for a good payment gateway, there are some payment providers that are more popular than others. These include:
- Google Checkout
- Cyber Source
What you decide on depends on your needs, as well as what you can afford. You might find that simply integrating PayPal or Google Checkout does the trick, even though it may not be customizable. In some cases, it is worth your while to choose a more expensive company and a programmer that can help you integrate your payment gateway in a more personal manner.