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The transactional part of online selling on the Web is actually an electronic journey. In regular business, a dollar spent or a paper check written travels from the buyer to the cash register, then to various banking institutions, hopefully back to the seller, and then to other sellers or service companies. Electronic financial activity requires an ecommerce gateway to facilitate the movement of data representing the money that’s changing hands. An ecommerce gateway is actually the “gateway” from your site to the merchant account. This is the “gate” through which processing of your payments is done, whether it is by credit card or any other form of payment. The ecommerce gateway is better known as the payment gateway, because it is closely related to payment.

Features and Factors
The ecommerce gateway will basically cover sale-facilitating features like shopping carts, merchant accounts, web hosting and so on. These are important features that will be significant in your online buyer’s experience as they consummate their purchases-the degree of ease and how smooth their transaction transpires will determine if they’ll be repeat customers or one-time buyers.

All the above important elements are a factor in your ecommerce success story; so don’t sell them short. Basic functionality has to be emphasized to have a foundation for the eternal exchange of money for goods and services. This fundamental aspect of ecommerce will never change, but more functionality will expand its scope. Other lesser known services can also be offered which depend upon the type of ecommerce web site:

1. Virtual terminal – this is the place where a customer can place an order after using the ‘help’ or ‘contact us’ button to inquire about your product. Aware online sellers know that many people dislike the fact that they need to go back to the home page and again navigate to the item they are interested to buy. They would rather place the order after their questions and/or concerns have been clarified.
2. Fraud alert – this is something that most payment gateways have buily-in, much as a bank has a burglar alarm. Sometime this alarm can give a false alert, but most of the time it is accurate. By using a good fraud prevention system you save yourself and others from a lot of problems. Many will include special features such as AVS, or Address Verification System, where the details given by a customer at registration is checked for accuracy, matching the name mentioned on the credit card with who ordered the goods, as well as the three digit verification number that credit cards have on the back side for additional safety, etc.
3. Recurring billing – this is something most gateways do for regular customers. Using this process, online shoppers will only need to key in their payment information once on the site. After that, anytime they make another purchase, the site will recover their information and before checkout, noting if the customer wants any changes, it is processed. This saves the customer time and effort.
4. Other types of payment – some gateways provide processing of e-checks, though this method is really not very popular as it is slow and difficult to process.

The rise of innovative credit financing and a growing global economy makes these aspects of online commerce critical. This phenomenon may just be the “tip of the iceberg” as the Internet payment and billing area expands to accommodate new users. Be prepared to meet the rising demand with a good understanding of ecommerce billing and payment methods.
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