By RuthAnn Hogue , Whiptail Publisher’s Syndicate, The Owner and Founder 

Collecting payment online through an eCommerce site has never been easier!

Making sales online without a way to get paid immediately is like opening a corner market and asking people to mail in a check — then waiting for it to clear before they can take home their fresh tomatoes. They want their produce now, and so do people who want to download your eBook or buy your product or service.

In short, in an era of instant gratification, businesses need to be able to serve up what’s on the menu before customers leave your store.

That’s great, you might say, but just exactly how does someone who’s just starting out take online payments? Doesn’t it require a merchant account with a major bank? Well, yes—and no.

That’s because at times a merchant account is the perfect solution. We’ll come back to it shortly. First, let’s talk about how to get paid when you’re new to the eCommerce game.

The all-in-one solution

Let’s say you sell T-shirts. They come in various styles, colors and sizes. You know you can’t just post a list of what you have on a web page and ask people to send an email outlining what they want, along with a personal check. That might work for a limited, one-time distribution for a specific event. But it would not be a practical way to run your business.

Fortunately, many ready-made online store options are available, including GoDaddy’s Online Store. In addition to providing a place to showcase your T-shirts, you are immediately able to collect payment through PayPal and all major credits cards. Funds will automatically transfer into your bank accounts.

By using this type of all-in-one eCommerce solution, you get a seamless way to collect payment.

For those entrepreneurs who prefer to let someone else get their hands dirty in site development, look for a reputable company that offers professionally built eCommerce solutions that include baked-on payment process (like GoDaddy’s Web Store Design Service).  Either way, you’ll have an automated way to collect money — so you can get paid.

The point-of-sale solution

We get it. Not all sales take place online. Whether you set up shop at ever-changing weekend festivals or showcase your T-shirts at the same mall kiosk day in and day out, you need a dependable way to accept a variety of payment types. Enter the point-of-sale (POS) solution.

From mobile credit card readers and apps like Square and PayPal to robust online bookkeeping tools with mobile payment capabilities, you’ve got plenty of POS options. Just be sure whatever point-of-sale solution you choose includes the following features:

  • Affordable. Look at costs including monthly fees and swipe rates.
  • Easy to use.
  • E-commerce integration.
  • 24/7 customer support.

As a busy business owner you’ll likely also benefit from time-saving features such as inventory management and industry-specific functionality like bill splitting for restaurants. It’s worth a bit of extra time to settle on a solution that’s the right fit for your and your business.

The CMS solution

Maybe you want to sell products from a website built on a Content Management System (CMS)  such as WordPress. In that case, you’ll need a few special parts:

  • Reliable web hosting, where you can install your CMS software. Be sure to choose a hosting provider (like GoDaddy for Managed WordPress) that guarantees uptime, keeps a close eye on security, and offers outstanding customer support.
  • The right theme. WordPress, in particular, offers myriad eCommerce themes. You want to choose a well-designed theme that features the functionality you need. Again, make sure there will be solid support available if you need it.
  • The right eCommerce plugin. Most themes don’t have baked-in eCommerce functionality; instead, they’re designed to work with an eCommerce plugin like WooCommerce for WordPress or Eshop for Joomla!.

Now, back to the business of getting paid.

In these types of cases, you’ll need to line up a merchant account or payment gateway. Stripe offers just such solutions for Joomla! and Simple Pay Lite for WordPress. Of course, there are others as well. The takeaway here is that before you can get paid, you’ll need to collect.

And with a store built using a content management system, you’ll need to integrate a way to do so.

Finally, you’ll want to secure your store with an SSL certificate to make sure your payments are accepted safely.

Before long, you just might be need to upgrade, and start the whole process over again to handle booming sales. We have a feeling you won’t mind.

About the Author: RuthAnn Hogue, GoDaddy

Based in Arizona, RuthAnn Hogue is the owner and founder of Whiptail Publisher’s Syndicate, a published nonfiction author and a contributor to the GoDaddy blog. The recovering journalist occasionally breaks out her 1979 Gibson Les Paul Custom Deluxe Silverburst rock ‘n’ roll guitar when she wants to let loose. A devoted fur mother, RuthAnn makes time to spoil all four of her Jack Russell terriers when she is not tweeting from @MyWhiptail or posting on Facebook @whiptailpublishing.