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This brief article is designed to give you a quick overview of how e-commerce works
  1. Website
    Your online connection to your prospects and customers. There are a number of places on the web to get "free" websites - although you may be required to display an advertisement. The design of your site is critical to the success of your business! If it does not look like a professional, legitimate business - NO ONE WILL ORDER ANYTHING - no matter how great the products you have. If you are serious about doing business on the web, either go back to school and learn html, java, cgi, etc., or hire a professional to design your site.

  2. Merchant account
    Bank authorized account which allows you to accept major credit cards, electronic checks, etc. Many banks will not give you a merchant account if you do business on the internet because they may classify it as high risk. Be careful when looking for a merchant account provider! Watch out for hidden fees, high setup fees, and other unscrupulous business practices.

  3. Payment Transaction Software
    Software which actually processes customer order information, address, credit card number, etc. The data is sent to a credit card authorization network which verifies that the credit card is valid and verifies that the shipping address matches the billing address. A possible warning sign that the card has been stolen is that the billing and shipping addresses do not match.

  4. Secure Server Connection - https://
    Link to a special computer which encrypts confidential ordering data for customer protection. You know you are on a secure server when the URL in your browser says "https://". The "s" stands for "secure." If ordering information is not sent via a secure server it can be intercepted by computer hackers.

  5. Shopping Cart
    Software which allows you to accept product orders for multiple products from your website. This software automatically calculates and totals orders for your customers. Some setup must be done in the html code of your website, and the shopping cart software must be installed on the server which hosts your site or on the secure server which accepts sensitive ordering information.
That's it!
To understand how the money actually flows from a customer to a merchant's bank account, read on.

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