Profit Minded

Broaden Your Customer Base with a Merchant Account and a Website

Internet shopping continues to grow at record levels and smartphones are ubiquitous. Whether your business is in retail or the service industry, a merchant account and website are important tools to help grow the business.

ComScore estimated that online holiday shopping in November rose 28% this year over last, and purchases on mobile devices were up 10%. Cash is out. Plastic is in. According to the Small Business Administration, credit cards are the most common method of customer payment. So if you don't have a merchant account, you could be losing revenue.

A merchant account is a special bank account that allows business owners to process e-commerce transactions. Merchant accounts are available to everyone these days, regardless of the size or type of business. Companies like Square and Intuit offer devices that are compact and that easily attach to your mobile phone. This allows you to accept credit cards on the move, anywhere there is an internet connection and a smartphone.

Location, Location, Location

Although location is still an important factor in the success of your business, these types of devices make it easy to take your business where you need to like conventions, tradeshows, flea markets, or even straight to the streets. (Be sure to have required permits or licenses as required by law).

With the popularity of internet shopping, a merchant account gives you the opportunity to take payments online and offer your products to a broader customer base. A website for your company is the perfect way to put your merchant account to use and boost sales.

Websites are not just for tech-savvy owners. Anyone can have one. You don't have to know a graphic designer or a tech geek to go global. There are many companies that offer the registry of domain names (the website name). These companies usually offer website building and other tools that can help you set up a virtual storefront for your business.

All Shapes and Sizes

Merchant accounts and websites come in different forms and have different fees, but most operate the same way. Transactions go from your website to a gateway for approval. Once approved funds go into the merchant account, they are deposited a day or two later into your linked business checking account.

Some merchant accounts charge by the transaction. Others charge monthly fees. The fees vary depending upon the items being purchased, the card being used, and/or possibly the business you are in. Domain name registry companies are competitive businesses and offer different price ranges and services. Explore the options and closely consider the contract terms for the right fit.

Michael Germanovsky is a personal finance expert with in-depth knowledge of credit cards, charge cards, and pre-paid cards. In 2011, Germanovsky created the Student Credit Card Education Initiative and sounded awareness of high interest rates. Michael is editor-in-chief at Credit-Land.com

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