The following questions address the topic of payment processing.
What is payment processing?
Payment processing is the electronic means of exchanging information in a credit card transaction between the shopper at the storefront, the merchant's payment processor and the merchant's financial institution. A payment processor, often called a payment gateway, allows for real-time transactions to be conducted online during the checkout process.
How does payment processing work?
After a shopper submits a purchase transaction online using a credit card, the data is encrypted for security purposes (SSL or Secure Socket Layers) and then sent to a payment gateway server. The payment gateway then forwards the encrypted data to a financial institution for validation of the requested transaction. The financial institution linked directly to the payment gateway sends an authorization code or a decline message back to the gateway. This information is then forwarded back to the merchant and to the shopper at the storefront. The entire process can take place in a matter of seconds. This is known as "real-time" payment processing. Captured credit card funds are then deposited into your merchant account in accordance with the terms of your payment processor and merchant account agreements.
Do I really need a payment processor account?
While not everyone needs a real-time payment processor (or gateway) account to accept credit cards, there are many benefits to having one. A payment processor will eliminate the need for you to process credit cards manually, saving you time and effort while reducing the risk of data entry errors. In many cases, a payment processor service may offer you greater protection against credit card fraud than your offline credit card processing system. Storefront can be configured to accept many other means of payment, including electronic checks, traditional paper checks and money orders. Professional Storefront even includes options for accepting COD, certified checks, department orders and purchase orders.
One can also leverage the integrated services offered by PayPal. PayPal will allow you to accept credit cards from your customers without requiring a merchant to have Internet merchant account. None of these other types of payment require credit card processor/gateway.
Can I add real-time credit card processing to my store later?
Certainly. Even if you start without a real-time processor, it's a quick and easy process to enable the service at a later date (assuming your existing merchant account provider supports one of the payment processors integrated with Storefront).
What payment gateways are integrated into Homestead Storefront?
Storefront is fully integrated with the following popular payment gateways. This means that no additional software is required for you to install. In fact, some of them incorporate online merchant account applications directly into their solution.
Payment Processors/Gateways currently integrated with Homestead Storefront:
Electronic Check/ACH Processing
Other Payment solutions
Storefront also includes integration for the payment solution services provided by:
Can I use a payment processor other than the ones listed above?
Yes. Storefront is designed to allow third-party payment processors other than those listed above to be integrated into the application. However, using a third-party payment processor may incur additional cost to you.
How do I know which payment processor is right for me?
Choosing your payment processor is the critical first step toward conducting transactions online in real time. Payment processors conduct transactions differently and are linked to different merchant account providers. If you are just getting started, it's best to choose the Storefront-integrated payment processor that meets the needs of your business, and then choose an associated merchant account provider. If you already have an Internet merchant account, check with your provider to see if any of Storefront's built-in payment processors are compatible.
How much does payment processing cost?
Payment processing fees can vary widely, depending on the provider. Charges may include application fee, setup fee, monthly fee, discount rate (percentage of the transaction value) and fee per transaction. Do your research carefully and be cautious of hidden fees.
As an international (non-US) merchant, is there anything else I should know about payment gateways?
If you are an international merchant interested in using Homestead Storefront, we recommend using WorldPay as your payment gateway, because WorldPay accommodates a particularly large group of international merchants. View the list of supported countries.