But, for many businesses, especially start
up and small to mid size businesses, having a website that
includes the usual ecommerce capabilities is just not in their
budgets. Setting up merchant accounts and secure servers can get quite
So, if you are really wanting or
needing to have e-commerce capabilities on your website to sell your
products, but your budget just won’t allow it, there are a variety of
alternatives to the expensive online route that you can consider.
Your first choice allows you to accept
credit card payments but without a secure server. Some financial
institutions, which offer credit cards, also offer Traditional
Merchant Accounts. This allows you to manually verify credit card
information from those that want to purchase from you. But, you should
be aware, if you ask for credit card information from your website
without the guarantee of a secure server, you may run into hesitation
from potential customers.
Another alternative to the expensive
merchant account is to accept cheque payments online. For this
you will need to acquire software or a program that will allow you to
print MicroPrint (the small numbers and characters at the bottom of a
cheque… ie. routing #, account #, etc.). There are several cheque
writing programs available, including those found at Checker.net and
The procedures involved to use this
payment method are to first set up a form on your website. You then send
an invoice to your customer with direction to the cheque-form page,
which they must fill out and submit, via your cgi program. You then
verify the funds and information and then the software prints the cheque
on special cheque paper, which you can purchase at most business supply
You can also have the above type
service online, via such sites as Paybycheck.com.
Another alternative, which is rapidly
becoming the choice of many online product and service providers, is
Online Payment Systems. There are several of these systems available
but I have only found one that has features available to Canadians.
Called PayPal.com, this service allows you to set up an account with
them and they verify the credit information of those buying from you.
Now, many features that this system has to offer are still limited for
Canadian retailers but you are still able to set up an account, bill
your clients, and receive payments into your Canadian bank account or
credit card account with only minor service charges being applied.
Taking advantage of the expansive
market of the World Wide Web does not mean that you have to go bankrupt.
You can still get on the E-Commerce bandwagon and accept payments with
the above listed services and other alternative payment systems that may
be available. Actually, most of these services are all that the average
small business, especially those in the service industry, really
need. And they don’t cost a fortune.