Canadian entrepreneurs involved in e-commerce think of online payment processing as cod liver oil - an unpleasant experience that may not bring the desired results. In fact, some e-commerce sites just avoid the whole issue of online payment processing entirely, asking potential customers to print out, fill in, and mail in a form, or order their products over the phone.
But if you're serious about selling your products online, you have to offer online payment processing, and that means accepting credit card payments on your e-commerce site. If you don't, you're throwing away sales. Many of the potential customers visiting your site are people who can't be bothered to print out forms, or mail in their order. Why should they when so many other e-commerce sites (your competition!) make it so much easier for them to buy online?
Online payment processing has been particularly problematic for Canadian e-merchants. Many of the reputable companies that offer these services are American and have only recently started expanding into what they call the "international" market.
While many of these companies now offer their payment processing services to Canadian clients, American e-commerce solutions are more expensive. Usually a Canadian applicant is required to have an American merchant account, which the company will set up for you for an additional fee.
And often only some of the company's services are available to international clients, so the Canadian e-merchant still has to go elsewhere to get the additional services needed. And all of these companies charge in U.S. funds, a not inconsequential difference with the current state of the Canadian dollar.
In the past, Canadian e-commerce merchants were often stuck going this route if they wanted to be able to accept credit card payments on their sites, however, because getting an Internet merchant account through the banks here in Canada was (and is) an even more grueling and time-consuming process.
Suppose that you wanted to accept Mastercard and Visa payments on your e-commerce site. You would go to your bank and open a merchant account. But, of course, your bank only offers Visa or Mastercard, not both. So you would then have to go to another bank, which dealt with the other credit card, and go through the rigmarole of opening an Internet merchant account there, too.
Because banks are generally hesitant to deal with Internet merchant accounts, they may ask for a hefty deposit up front. And getting the merchant accounts set up is only part of the process; you still need to find, install, and implement software that will allow for credit card payment processing on your e-commerce site. No wonder so many Canadian e-commerce sites don't offer credit card payment processing!
Now, however, Canada Post offers an e-commerce solution that gets around all this. Continue on to the next page to read about Canada Post's Sell Online Stores e-commerce solution.