More and more transactions are made each day via credit and debit cards. Credit cards bill the amount of the purchase to your account. Debit cards, are used to withdraw the money from your checking account.
For the merchant, the important aspects of credit card sales can involve the processing method and merchant accounts.
A business may want to accept credit cards, but has to understand how the cost of merchandise charged to Credit Card XYZ eventually ends up in the bank account and how quickly the payment will arrive.
The typical merchant has two ways of handling credit card processing and debit card transactions.
The two methods include:
1. Merchants can swipe the card through a terminal that is attached to a cash register.
2. The system can take payments through credit card processing software.
The decision regarding which method to use will be determined by the type of the business and how payments are already accepted.
The next step decision is based on whether the business is operating from a fixed location, such as a store in a shopping mall, or does most of its business over the Internet.
For a business or company that is already taking payments with a cash register or point-of-sale computer, it may be easier just to add a terminal that is dedicated to credit card processing and debit cards. Both can be swiped through the system. This will get the transaction to the right company for processing.
Adding point-of-sale software in this situation will necessitate the need for a separate computer terminal to take care of the credit transactions. This will be an extra expenditure, sometimes major, and is usually unnecessary. Additional steps will be involved throughout the transaction process that both the staff and customer will find irritating.
Now, if the business is completely based online, a virtual terminal is needed, which is software that provides the functions of a point-of-sale computer. This type of software can come with a shopping cart and checkout options that are easily integrated into the ordering process.
The only other options would be to accept orders by telephone or mail. These methods had merchant accounts. Both processes are subject to errors being made. Verifying credit card numbers and tracking shipments will become more difficult if not impossible.
With the merchant account system, customers only have to press a button to add their items to the virtual shopping cart. They then enter their shipping and credit card information. The transaction is processed in a matter of seconds.
The owner of merchant accounts then has to acquire the product from his warehouse or supplier and ship the order to the customer. The software will track the purchases, inventory, and the profits.
There are other variations for companies having online and physical store locations. For example, some store locations may offer big-ticket items, but do not have them on-site. In these cases, the store will act as a merchant account using point-of-sale software.
The store will probably have computer terminals connected to online distribution points that customers can use to place orders themselves or with the assistance of a store employee.
The most important thing to do is to make transaction as easy as possible and that all sales secured and properly handled.