Facilitate e-transaction with Internet Merchant Accounts

Facilitate e-transaction with Internet Merchant Accounts

Anybody familiar with electronic transaction or e-commerce over the internet like purchasing products by paying through credit cards will be familiar with the term Internet Merchant Account.

It is mandatory for every organization to have an Internet Merchant Account to accept payment online. Various companies, MNCs, offer the required software to run and maintain such accounts.

Every organization should have a checking account with any bank in the US to maintain an Internet Merchant Account. If the organization has not obtained a checking account, there are institutions that will help in obtaining an account from the bank. Some local banks do not offer Internet Merchant Account service.

Many banks offer the entire product, Internet Merchant Account, right from receiving the payment online to crediting it to the organization’s official account. The Internet Merchant Account is also useful to individuals engaged in web-based business activities.

The Internet Merchant Account is the second of the three layers that exist between a customer and the organization. The first and last layers are the payment gateway and the website respectively.

The Payment Gateway completes the initial process like screening the credit card, registering its details, the product ordered, accepting the customer billing information and the necessary validation. This Payment Gateway subsequently transfers all these details to the Merchant Bank Account along with the payment downloaded in an electronic format from the credit card.

To enable this transaction, the website selling the product or engaged in web-based business, should be integrated with the Payment Gateway and the Merchant Bank Account. Without integration, an electronic transaction is not possible.

The Internet Merchant Accounts come at a cost. Usually, there are three price ranges for upfront application fee, ongoing fixed rate, discount rate, fixed transaction fee, termination fee and miscellaneous fee. The range depends on the volume of the business the organization or the website can generate. To begin with, start from a low volume generating business as the prescribed fee is lower. There is scope for scaling up the business and changing the range of the account.

It is advisable to visit banks to evaluate the offers for Internet Merchant Account. Banks are flexible when they offer the package for Internet Merchant Account provided the applicants convince them on the volume of business generation.

Information about Internet Merchant Accounts can be obtained from the internet as well as the banks offering such services. These banks also advertise this particular service on the internet since it is one of the most popular e-transactions adopted by various individuals and organizations engaged in e-commerce.

Ecommerce Websites – Howto Take Your Business Online

Ecommerce Websites – Howto Take Your Business Online

In the technological world full of changes from time to time, everything seems to undergo a transformation. For being a part of the web world, it is vital to keep pace with the varying trends and advancements. Information is required at every point and needs to be available at a click.

Gone are the days of dependence. With independence ushering in the workspace, it is necessary to have full control of the website too. Set the business free with an ecommerce website fully customized to the business needs and update whatever is required and desired as and when it happens.

For promoting the online sale of any product, it is essential to have a fully functional ecommerce website. An e-commerce website would provide the platform to sell and take payments online. It thus provides an opportunity to operate and grow any business online using internet.

Business organizations have now started establishing their own websites which enable them to come into direct contact with the customers easily. They can keep an established association with their clientele and prompt the sales of the product or service in a healthier manner. Any customer can visit or find his way to a website easily and in less time by just one click. A customized website will act as a bridge between the customers and the organization’s objectives.

To reap the benefits of these features, it is must to have a perfect ecommerce design and content. Let us have an idea of what is required. Ecommerce web site is the concluding goal which leads the customers to buy products from the right place. Hence, the website design should be artistic and should not take the customer away from the central purpose of purchasing. All that needs to be done is to take care and devote appropriate time in applying these tips. Following are the points that should be considered while having a custom e-commerce website: Domain names and hosting The domain name is the actual website address and it should have hosting where the website is placed so that it becomes easily accessible to the customers. A well structured Buy path. The website should have a structured and definite path to persuade the customer to buy the product. Different web pages should be showcased along with the path direction. This content will make the website easily accessible for the customers.

Important product button The product button must be displayed on the home page. This will help target customer to buy products through the product page. The payment option should be displayed. It should help the customers to make payment for the product through their debit or credit card which makes their shopping easy.

Product information The product must be displayed properly with correct information about the customized website. The information must be enough to influence the thinking, choice and decision of the target audience in less amount of time. Product categories can be displayed along with its features and picture of the product. Business image defines the success of any image. A custom-made website provides an edge and the tool to refine and define the business and its key strengths amidst the target audience. It helps a business become exclusive and develop flexibility. The user friendliness and competitiveness offered by such a website calls for its need. For the diversity and a more refined personalized website, services of an expert can definitely make a difference. Custom e-commerce service providers ensure that a business reaches its peak through uniquely developed sophisticated website catering to specific client requirements.

A Short Guide to Affordable Web Hosting

A Short Guide to Affordable Web Hosting

For individuals & businesses, choosing an affordable web hosting plan on a limited budget is a challenge.

The main reason for this is that most companies offering ecommerce hosting solutions focus on the higher-end corporate market and often overlook the small business web hosting segment.

However, finding reliable web hosting isn’t exactly a cakewalk, but it can be relatively easy if you follow these simple steps: define your requirements; user review survey; create a short list of potential ecommerce web hosting as well as email hosting services and ask questions.

Define your requirements:
• How much disk space and bandwidth is necessary?
• Type of hosting – dedicated / private or shared web hosting?
• Will you require CGI or database capacities?
• What type of hosting plan will you need – Windows hosting plans or Linux hosting plans.
• Will your website have any streaming media requirements?
• Will your site change substantially in the future?
• Affordable web hosting only for your purposes or for clients – shared web hosting.

User Review Survey:
• Always take testimonials at face value. User forums are the best place to find the truth. Also mail webmasters to get a reality checks.
• Be wary of Web hosting directories and mailing lists, many are owned & operated by Web hosts.
• Read the declarations regarding service uptime, downtime, backup, security etc.

Create a shortlist:
• Make a list of potential ecommerce web hosting and email hosting services that you see are recommended the most and complained about the least.
• Determine which hosts offer specific services that you need, with scalability for future changes.
• Determine which host fits your price range.

Ask questions:
• Ask mundane questions to check the quality, speed & efficacy of their response.
• Ask the service providers technical questions to gauge their acumen, knowledge and accuracy.
• Ask a lot of question to determine the host’s commitment to customers.
• Subject host to an honesty test: offer them the opportunity to up sell you needlessly. (simple yet effective)

The Tricks of the Trade
SOHO consumers can find the most effective hosting services for their business if they follow and understand the following recommendations:
• Make sure the hosting company offers 24/7/365 technical support by phone, email and chat whether you have opted for windows hosting plans or Linux hosting plans.
• Do not be seduced by hosts offering cheap shared hosting services or extra services than you need. Most of them skimp on security & support.
• Choose a host who is flexible, scalable, and who can grow with your business.
• Ensure that you can add domains to a core plan and resell services.
• Ensure that the host offers a knowledge base of scripts, online marketing effective coding. (A surefire way to check their scale of operations)
• Check to ensure that the host offers some level of interaction.
• Watch for signs of rudeness, impatience and unresponsiveness.
• Do not sign a long-term contact for hosting services right away.
• If you have more than one site, consider spreading them among several hosts.

For a small web business start-up, choosing the right ecommerce hosting at the right time can be the best strategic move. It can enable your business to grow fast and offer you a high ROI. Reliable and affordable web hosting can be the crucial factor between failure & success.

Summary – For a small web business start-up, choosing the right ecommerce hosting at the right time can be the best strategic move. It can enable your business to grow fast and offer you a high ROI. Reliable and affordable web hosting can be the crucial factor between your failure & success.

Retailers Are Becoming E-tailers

Retailers Are Becoming E-tailers

E-tailers are simply retailers who use the internet to sell their goods/services to their customers, rather than actual stores. There are two types of e-tailer, one category whereby e-commerce is the only operation undertaken by the company; examples of such organisations include E-Bay, Amazon, and Dell. The other type includes e-commerce as part of their overall marketing strategy, whilst still having a physical, ‘bricks and mortar’ tore, whereby customers can still go in and purchase the good/service. Examples of this type of e-tailer are Dixons, Tesco and WH Smith.

Those companies who operate purely as ecommerce stores are able to achieve greater profit margins, due to their set up and operational costs being much lower than that of a traditional store. They do not have to pay any rent on a building – whilst they still often have to pay for their Web Hosting, the cost is much less, there are no added rates for such overheads as water, electricity, gas, etc. Labour costs are significantly less, where one person could realistically run a website, package goods and answer enquiries via email; this is unlikely to be the case where a full time store is involved. On top of these price differences, an online store can be viewed/accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from only one location. Shoppers in China, for example, can purchase goods at the touch of a button from a UK based e-tailer, but would struggle to make the 10,000 mile round trip to go to the actual store!

It is becoming essential for retailers to have at least some form of internet based access, whether this is a site whereby goods/services can actually be purchased, or purely informational, so customers can preview products and gather information on the store in general (for example, their nearest retailer or company phone number/contact details) before they visit.

E-tailers must realize that it is not enough to simply have an aesthetically pleasing web site, which is full of product information alongside great photos and detailed product reviews; this is all well and good, but useless without sufficient knowledge of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in order to target the necessary traffic towards the site. Even something as simple as an appropriate domain name can have a big difference on the number of people visiting your site – they should be kept small and concise, preferably without a hyphen, as people tend to forget these and this could lead to them being sent directly to your competitor! Word of mouth advertising is priceless, so by using an address that sounds exactly how it is spelt can work wonders for spreading positive information.

SEO and SEM practices change regularly, and there is no guarantee that any particular methods will work. The best way to ensure a good ranking on the search engines is to employ an ‘expert’ to work full time at increasing the chances of traffic being directed to your website. Whilst many web designers may claim to be adept at SEO, there a relatively few personnel currently in the UK with any real in depth knowledge of the subject, so it is worthwhile spending the extra time/money on making sure your company is well represented within the search engine rankings, and chasing that all important #1 spot.

fastcgi acceleration for your web hosting

fastcgi acceleration for your web hosting

FastCGI was come to my attention since two months ago, when my web hosting company is offering this fastcgi features in its cpanel control panel. And I am allow to enabled or disabled it easily. Furthermore, the fastcgi had been upgraded again and with much more cache control options. All these are designed to boost your websites proformance.

If your shared hosting websites is getting 10,000-300,000 pageview each days, its time to consider enabling the fastcgi. Or you are running script that require fastcgi instead of cgi, eg. RoR. You will need to enable fastcgi. It utilized the server cache to store the php executable, and storing them them at memory even after your page is finish loaded. When second visitor request the same page, the cache is called and page is show to user. The server will not need to reprocess all php executable and regenerate the page, it will call the page from cache system. The idea of fastcgi is quit simple, buffering the page and act like a proxy server.

There is disadvantage of the use of cache. As the page content is not regenerated, the old content will be show to user. If your website is running dynamic content, fastcgi might not suitable for you. It work the best for static content, that is not changing from time to time.

Second issue is that not all script is supported in fastcgi. For example, I faced some error 500 (server side error) when enable fastcgi for my wordpress blog. You have to try fastcgi on your script. If it doesn’t work, you have to disabled it.

If you look for hosting with fastcgi, there is few hosting provider like bluehost and hostmonster hosting are currently offering fastcgi feature.

PHP, Internet Business Marketing, & Good Web Content Go Hand In Hand

PHP, Internet Business Marketing, & Good Web Content Go Hand In Hand

Everyone has heard that content is king when it comes to search engine optimization and just good old plain web site marketing smarts. But how you present that content on your site can also make a world of difference.
PHP is a server-side, cross-platform, HTML embedded scripting language that lets you create dynamic web pages. PHP-enabled web pages are treated just like regular HTML pages and you can create and edit them the same way you normally create regular HTML pages.
Now here is were it gets interesting. Search engines like Google Yahoo and MSN love fresh new content that is changing on a daily basis. But if you are using a java script snippet the search engines will not be able to read the content. If however you are using a PHP type script the content will automatically be transformed into HTML and the search engines will be able to pick it up and read it.
The first thing you will need to do before you jump onto the PHP bandwagon is to make sure your web host provider has PHP support. Most do but if you are only paying for basic services or using a free host you may have to pay for an upgrade. It’s well worth it trust me.
One of the best PHP based scripts you can add to any web site is the forum or bulletin board. Forums will take on a life of their own after several 100 members have joined and are posting threads on a daily basis. If 100 members seems like a lot think again. I have one work from home internet business forum and after just 2 month I already have over 70 members. Each time someone posts to the forum the HTML changes and the search engines treat it as new content.
Another great PHP script you can add is the link directory. You can actually set up a categorized reciprocal link directory with 20 links on each page and the process is completely automated. I have mine set up so that I have to approve each link first but if you want you could by pass this so that once your script is set up the directory will just start to grow all on its own with no additional work on your part. Again each time someone adds a new link you HTML page is changing. Make sure you add categories that are relative to your main theme. My directory for example has categories for work from home , internet business and business opportunities because that’s what my web site is all about. Also make sure you have added instructions on how they can link back to you. This is the reason why I like to approve all my liks first. No reciprocal link back to my site NO directory listing.
PHP can also be used for blogging. WordPress is one of the most popular PHP script based blogging tools. I have not used WordPress but I do use blogger for all my blogging. A weblog (usually shortened to blog, but occasionally spelled web log) is a web-based publication consisting primarily of periodic articles (normally in reverse chronological order). Although most early weblogs were manually updated, tools to automate the maintenance of such sites made them accessible to a much larger population, and the use of some sort of browser-based software is now a typical aspect of “blogging”. With a blog or web log you can make daily posts on almost any subject matter creating new content for the search engines to crawl. To date Yahoo seems to be giving a bit of an edge to all my blogs incuding my work form home internet business news site. Ironically most of the post on that blog come from yahoo and or Google news. This is a great way to get free content on a daily basis for your blog. Just go to Google news or yahoo news and type in the keywords you are using for your blog. Each day there will be a new news article that you can legally use on your blog.
There are many more PHP scripts that you can use on your website to automatically create fresh new content with. The ones listed above are the ones I have downloaded for free and installed to my web host. If you are not using PHP now is a good time to get started.

Are You A Marketing Octopus or A Marketing Worm?

Are You A Marketing Octopus or A Marketing Worm?

One of the greatest challenges to effectively marketing a business is determining which marketing method is best suited for your business.
Most people look at what their competitors are doing to market their businesses and then simply imitate that, whether good or bad.
The best marketing strategy does not involve selecting only one or two marketing approaches that we see others using.
The best marketing approach resembles an octopus.
An octopus is very effective at catching food with eight limbs. If the octopus loses one limb it may momentarily lose some of its strength and agility, but it adapts and continues on as an effective hunter and predator.
It’s the same with marketing your business. The more marketing approaches you use simultaneously the more successful you can become and the easier it is to continue growing your company.
You will continue to thrive despite the challenges that your competitors may face. No setback in any one marketing approach will ever devastate you or pose major problems.
Despite the many options available most companies use no more than two or three marketing methods at best to grow their company.
Few realize that there are over 100 methods for bringing in new business, for increasing web traffic, for selling more to existing clients, and for increasing repeat sales that their competitors are not using.
They basically imitate worms in their marketing attempts. A worm’s approach to life is singular. It does not use multiple limbs because it has none. Its existence is slow and labor-intensive. Very unlike an octopus.
The great thing about this is that most competitors are making this same mistake. They may be too busy, too shorthanded, or too myopic to do much more than hand out boxes of business cards and sit around talking ‘fish stories’ of the one that got away.
That is a marketing approach to avoid.
Don’t just settle for an ad in the yellow pages, your local newspaper, or on the radio.
Use as many marketing methods as make sense for your industry, your market, and your company. Then you will become a marketing octopus while your competitors remain marketing worms.

Ecommerce – The Stats Tell A Story

Ecommerce – The Stats Tell A Story

According to U.S. Government reports ecommerce continues to improve dramatically, “Total e-commerce sales for 2006 were estimated at $108.7 billion, an increase of 23.5 percent (±3.3%) from 2005.”

This is not surprising when you consider that 60% of all new small businesses have an online presence. This is further enhanced when you take into account the meteoric rise of online users. In 2001 there were approximately 142 million online users. By 2006 there were approximately 211 million online users (many of whom enjoy not fighting traffic to find the products they want).

Online spending increased among all user groups from 2001-2005. It is anticipated that an online consumer will spend in excess of $800 with an ecommerce business this year.

What makes this statistic all the more remarkable is that if you have an online business presence you gain access to a marketplace with 211 million potential customers who may be willing to spend money with your online business.

It may be that you are looking at $800 per online consumer and thinking, “That’s not nearly as much as I thought.” It is true that at the present time individuals will spend more in traditional brick and mortar stores than they will online, but the bigger picture has to do with a potential customer base that is global in scale. Each individual customer may spend less with you than they might in a traditional store environment, but you have so many more potential customers to market to.

Long story short, you have the capability of tapping into a revenue stream that is unavailable in more brick and mortar stores.

Why do you think some of the largest box stores develop an online presence? It is a cost effective way to manage a global customer base. It allows these large retailers to fill in the gaps where their retail presence is not available.

In essence these larger stores are finding their online stores to function as a high tech catalogue. Where once catalogues were rushed to homes throughout the US, now they are often sent only on request with a large portion of their customers perusing their online offerings for the most recent offerings, size and price.

It’s clear to see the growth of online sales can level the playing field for ecommerce stores. Your location on the web is only limited to your willingness to work at Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies and other marketing efforts.

In the end, the use of an online store is an effective way to manage business in a competitive and global environment.

Online Marketing Dont’s

Online Marketing Dont’s

There are over 200 million people worldwide connected to the Internet, with over 64 million regular users in America. It’s no wonder that such a vast audience has made online marketing one of the fastest growing industries in the world. However, half the trick of conducing successful ecommerce is finding a way to get people to your site in the first place—hence online advertising.
Internet advertising generated an astounding $1.92 billion in 1999, double from the amount generated in the previous year.
According to the Association of National Advertisers, nearly half of all American companies are selling online. The American City Business Journal reports that businesses that use the Internet grow 46% faster than those that don’t.
Online advertisers beware; marketing trends in this industry often become outdated faster than you can say “pop-up”. Here are some of the most common outdated online marketing techniques that should be avoided:
Pop Ups Ads- Pop-ups ads are like the billboards of the information superhighway—you can’t go anywhere without seeing at least one. The Internet has become so saturated with pop-ups that overall web traffic times are slowing down. Most web users are downloading software that eliminates them from their system, so they are not the best way to reach prospective consumers.
E-commerce sites- Internet stores have become way too abundant, especially when likely 99% of what you’re looking for can be found at Amazon.com, the site that boasts “Earth’s Biggest Selection”. Unless your product is so extremely unique that it can’t be purchased elsewhere on the Web, an e-commerce site may just be a waste of time and money.
Re-selling E-books- E-books seem like a great idea. However, most of the sites that sell them offer the seller the right to resell the book to others. Therefore, the market has become saturated with books that are often available for free from some sites. And why would someone want to buy an e-book from you that they can get for free elsewhere?
Safelist Advertising- Like e-books, this is theoretically a good idea. Safelists are groups of members who have opted to receive ads from fellow safelist members. This form of marketing loses its effectiveness due to the fact that most members just mass-delete their bulk emails without reading them. Everyone wants others to read their ads, yet no one will stop to read other people’s ads.
‘Free For All’ pages- FFAs will post your ad in one of seven categories on their page. Like safelist advertising, the idea is that the thousands of others that post ads will see your ad and click to your website. Again though, everyone goes to FFAs to post, and not to access ads. On top of this waste of time and Internet space, your email account will get flooded with massive amounts of spam if you sign up with one of these sites.

How to Exploit Profitable Niche Markets

How to Exploit Profitable Niche Markets

What does niche marketing mean? Niche marketing is about finding small opportunities on the web, small areas in which people might be interested and for which they might be searching. Big companies and experienced webmasters are not interested in these areas because they are not important enough. But a small business could be something in which you might be interested.

Perhaps a small mini website will not generate thousands of dollars every month; it might generate 100 bucks, for example. That is ok, if the effort involved in terms of creating this mini website is not too high; in this way, you could repeat the same business model again and again. Taking into consideration that every small business could generate around $100 every month, with ten niches, you could earn $1.000 monthly. Does this sound better? And what if you could create 50 websites?

The first step in this kind of business is always keyword research. You need to find small markets which do not have competition. Wordtrack is a very good tool to use for finding niche opportunities. For every keyword, it tells you the number of searches and how many results are found on each search engine. You need to pay special attention to the KEI column. KEI is the index that balances the number of searches and the number of competitors. The more searches and the fewer the competitors, the better for you. A KEI higher than 10 is good, but you should, ideally, look at keywords with a KEI over 100. More than 400 is a gift.

Once you have identified your niche, you need to find content for it. Don`t worry about which product you are going to sell; this will come later. The “fuel” of any Internet business is content. So where can you find content? Well, if you are an expert in an area, you could write your own articles, but if you are not, you have to look for content somewhere else.

There are many article directories that offer a lot of content that you can use. You can also find much content just by searching the web. Use search engines, find blogs, forums, websites, etc. Last, but not least, you can always find information as in “the old times,” go to the library or buy one or two books.

After you have found enough content, it is time to register a domain name. You should choose a name that has something to do with your target market, but if your intention is to create multiple mini websites, you don’t need to register a different domain name every time. You can save money by having one global domain name, and create sub domains for each business.

The question now is, “Since everything looks good, how do I make money with these sites?” You need to follow this 3 step formula (CTM):

– Create Content
– Generate Traffic
– Monetize your website

You can build traffic by optimizing the webpage content for the search engines and by analyzing your competitors in order to build a better SEO strategy (but this is another chapter). Blogging and pinging is a way to make sure that your site will be spidered by the search engines. WordPress is a very good option for creating your blog, as it allows you to post, not only articles, but pages. You can easily build miniwebsites with WordPress. Finally, there are three easy ways to earn money with your site.

1. Sell some product that you can create yourself. If you have this ability and you want to allow people to buy your products with a credit card, the easiest way is to create a Paypal account. If you don’t have one, visit www.paypal.com and create one.

2. Join affiliate programs. Find people who sell products related to your market niche and who have affiliate programs already set up. You will earn commissions just by selling other people’s items. A good place to find affiliate programs on products is www.clickbank.com.

3. Google Adsense. Create an account at Google Adsense and include Google ads on your site. Every time someone visits your site and clicks one of those ads, Google will share its profit with you.

Creating small businesses is like a game. They do not require high investment, but they will not make you rich either. However, if you start playing many of those games, it can become a serious business.