A merchant account allows you to process credit card orders online: You collect the funds at the point of sale, and they're transferred directly into your bank account. Obtaining a merchant account also allows you to set up a credit card terminal for in-person charges. It is the ideal solution for high-volume sellers. Both individuals and businesses can have merchant accounts.
By linking a merchant account with your PhotoShelter website's shopping cart, you're offering your clients a tightly integrated checkout, which translates to the simplest, most streamlined purchasing experience.
It should be noted that there are fees involved in setting up and maintaining a merchant account:
- One-time setup fee
- $100, depending on the chosen provider
- Monthly fee
- $20-$30/month, depending on the chosen provider
- Transaction fees
Because of these fees, we normally only recommend the merchant account option over PayPal if you maintain a steady stream of sales. If you're a lower volume seller who still wishes to offer an integrated checkout solution, you may want to consider checking out Stripe.
Setting Up to Sell with a Merchant Account: The Basics
2. Obtain a merchant account that is compatible with either Netbilling or Authorize.net. If you already have a merchant account, confirm that your existing account is compatible with Netbilling or Authorize.net.
3. Configure your gateway account to work with PhotoShelter (as per the below instructions).
Note: If your gateway account is not set up to process American Express cards, you will not be able to use an American Express card for your merchant account setup within PhotoShelter.
Merchant and gateway accounts
Credit card charges are processed in several steps. When a user enters his or her credit card information, we use a "gateway" to send the transactions to a "clearinghouse." Think of a gateway as the electronic version of those card swiping machines. The clearinghouse is a company that checks to see that the credit card is valid and has enough credit for the purchase.
When a card has been approved and the charge is made, that money is sent into a merchant account (a special type of bank account), which then forwards that money to your personal or business bank account. So in order to make this all work, you need a gateway account and a merchant account. Both the gateway vendor and merchant vendor take a small percentage of your sale as their fee. These fees total about 3-5% of the total sale (the rate can fluctuate, and is usually more for American Express). Every company in the world that accepts credit cards pays these fees.
Getting an account
We have selected three vendors that we believe give competitive pricing and good service. Netbilling provides gateway accounts, TransFirst provides merchant accounts, and Authorize.net provides both types of accounts. Signing up for accounts with any of these vendors is easy and takes no more than a few minutes if you have good credit.
Already have a merchant account?
One of the reasons we chose to work with Netbilling and Authorize.net is the fact that both of their systems can handle the processing for a wide variety of merchant accounts. However, not all merchant accounts will work with the Netbilling or Authorize.net gateway software. You will want to contact whichever vendor you choose as your gateway provider and ask if their system is compatible with your existing merchant account. (Tell them you are a PhotoShelter member.)
Setting Up to Sell with a Merchant Account: Next Steps
If you would like to sell through your PhotoShelter website's shopping cart using a merchant account, follow these steps to get the ball rolling.
1. Decide whether you'd like to use Netbilling or Authorize.net as your gateway provider.
If you choose to use Netbilling, you'll need to sign up online or call Netbilling:
If you choose to use Authorize.net, you'll need to fill out the Authorize.net form found here:
2. If you do not already have your own merchant account, you should decide whether you'd like to use TransFirst or Authorize.net to secure one.
If you choose to use TransFirst, you'll need to call JP Patel, a TransFirst Agent. His number is 949.333.1581. Let him know you need a merchant account for PhotoShelter. He will take your application over the phone in about 5 minutes.
After you sign the appropriate paperwork, you'll be able to get started. If you choose to use Authorize.net, you'll need to fill out the Authorize.net form found here:
Configuring Your Netbilling Account
Ready to go with Netbilling? Follow the steps below.
1. Log in to NetBilling's Merchant account website: https://secure.netbilling.com/merchant/
2. Go to Menu Options Setup — Access Security.
3. Scroll down to Direct Mode Interfaces.
4. Native Direct Mode Interface — Enable Native Direct Mode v.3 (SAS) Channel must be selected.
5. Copy the value from the Dynamic IP Security Code field. If there is no value there, you will need to generate one using the Generate button.
6. From your PhotoShelter account, click Sell > Sales Settings.
7. Under Buyer Payment Method, select Merchant Account (NetBilling) and copy the the Dynamic IP Security Code into the Secure code/Cert ID: field.
Configuring Your Authorize.net Account
Ready to go with Authorize.net? Follow the steps below.
1. Upon signing up for an Authorize.net gateway account, you will be provided an API Login ID and Transaction Key. Copy the ID and Key.
2. From your PhotoShelter account, click Sell > Sales Settings.
3. You will need to enter both the ID and Key into the fields under Buyer Payment Method of the same name on the Sales Settings page within your PhotoShelter account. You can find your ID (and generate a new key, if necessary) in the Account — API Login ID and Transaction Key area within your Authorize.net account.