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What is E-Commerce? Good question. According to the U.S. Economic Census of 2002, E-Commerce (or electronic commerce) is defined as "any business transaction whose price or essential terms were negotiated over an online system such as an Internet, Extranet, Electronic Data Interchange network, or electronic mail system. It does not include transactions negotiated via facsimile machine or switched telephone network, or payments made online for transactions whose terms were negotiated offline".


Sign up for your Merchant Account now.  (sign up »»)
Authorize.net is one of the world's leading gateway providers for merchant accounts. With a recent installation of cutting edge technology to combat DDNOS attacks, Authorize.net is fully equipped to maintain a reliable network that is always accessible for your transactions.

directly to get your Merchant Account set up started or call us at 1-229-243-7088.

BIG ADVANTAGE: One of the biggest advantages of using Authorize.net as your gateway provider is that Online Stores designed by WebGraffix Media Solutions are easy to integrate with Authorize.net to allow for "real time" credit card payments by the public.



What is a "Gateway" and what is a "Merchant Account"? These two terms are often confused and many web sites purposely make it purposely vague. Here are the facts:

  • A "Merchant Account" can be defined as a "bank account" established with a payment processor for the settlement of credit card transactions. A merchant who wants to take credit card orders must establish a merchant account. Internet merchants need a "Card Not Present Merchant Account." Standard merchant accounts often do not allow for transactions where the credit card is not physically able to be swiped or read, thus internet transactions may not be possible on a standard merchant account without updating the account type with your merchant account provider.
  • A "Gateway" can be defined as a computer system or mechanism for exchanging information across incompatible networks by translating between two dissimilar protocol. The "Gateway" is the mechanism that translates the "order form" from your web site so that it is understood by the merchant account provider.
  • A "Gateway Provider" is a business or entity that transforms that data from your web site's order form to a format that can be understood and processed by the Merchant Account Provider. Typically, these are 2 separate entities, although in some cases the same company or entity may provide both.
  • When setting up a merchant account, be sure to specifically ask if there are separate fees for the "gateway" and ask if the Merchant Account Provider provides the gateway or if someone else will have to do that.
  • Expected Fees:
    • Merchant Account monthly fees: This fee will vary from one provider to the next, but anywhere in the $25 to $50 per month range is nominal
    • "Discount" fees per transaction: You pay a certain percent of the total transaction to the credit card provider (VISA, AMEX, etc.) when a purchase is made through your web site.
    • Gateway Provider monthly fee: This fee will vary from one provider to the next, but anywhere around $25 per month is nominal.
    • Statement fee: This fee is almost always hidden or "forgotten" when the Merchant Account Provider is going over expected fees. This is usually around $10 per month. Be sure to specifically ask if there is a monthly statement fee.
    • "Declined Transaction" fee: Some of the credit card companies have elected to charge a $0.25 fee for each transaction that a consumer attempts through your web site that is declined. It is the opinion of WebGraffix Media Solutions owners that this fee is entirely unacceptable and is thus the reason why we only accept VISA and MasterCard.
    • Total Monthly fees: In general, you can expect a total monthly fee of approximately $50 to $70 per month for an internet-enabled merchant account (plus the cost of the per transaction "discount" fees). If any company advertises costs that are significantly cheaper than this, be sure to ask LOTS OF QUESTIONS and be wary.

The Basics of E-Commerce:

(with internet access)
Digital Transmission
Web Server
(location of web site)
Payment Processing *
Secure Digital Transmission
Secure Server
(location of payment form)

* Note: The payment processing could entail you simply logging on through a password protected directory to retrieve the data so that you can process it manually or it may entail the credit card information being processed automatically through a payment gateway to your Merchant Account.

Getting Started: 
If you're thinking of developing an e-commerce web site, there are several factors that you will want to consider, each of which is critical to developing a successful e-commerce web site:

  • Some products are better suited to selling via e-commerce than others. Ask yourself if your product can be sold with minimal customer to salesperson interaction? Can shipping be calculated automatically in some way? Are there special options which would be difficult to incorporate into an automated system?
  • You will need to decide how you will process payments. You may decide to use a web-based processing system such as PayPal or WorldPay that doesn't require you to set up a Merchant Account. The disadvantage of doing this is that you usually require your customer to set up an account at the payment solution provider. Many people will not do this. If you decide to accept credit cards, then you will need to set up a Merchant Account through a Merchant Account Provider. WebGraffix Media Solutions is an Authorize.net provider and can set this up for you, eliminating the confusion and ensuring that you don't pay more than you have to pay.
    If you decide to accept credit card payments, then you need to decide whether to develop your web site to process the credit card payment automatically or to receive the payment information yourself and submit the credit card payment manually.
  • An "Online Store" is usually the best method of selling your products, especially if you have a large quantity of products to sell. It's best to ensure that your web developer can develop your Online Store to do everything you need it to do BEFORE you commit. Be sure to ask questions about how shipping is handled, how the payment information is transmitted, how you will retrieve the payment information, any special features that you may need for your Online Store, etc.
  • Security is of utmost importance and needs to be conveyed to the customer. Be sure that any confidential payment information is transmitted over a secure server. You can tell this in several ways: many browsers will display a closed lock when you are viewing a secure server while others may display it in other ways. You should always be able to see that the beginning of the URL (web address) when you are on a secure page begins with https: (notice the "s" just prior to the colon. Non-secure pages will not have the "s" present.
  • Your Online Store should be flexible enough to allow you to change your product line from time to time. This will often be directly dependent upon the programming ability of your web developer and host company.
  • Don't get conned! Be aware of the fact that there are people that will attempt to con you out of a product while paying with a stolen credit card. There are several "red flags" that are often present in cases such as this:
    • The "Shipping Address" will often be different than the "Billing Address".
    • The customer will often be from another country, making it very difficult to track down and recover. Criminals will often hide behind the laws of other countries.
    • The customer will try to get you to "rush" the item (hoping to receive it before the card is reported stolen or before the chargeback hits your merchant account).
    • Items will often be purchased in larger quantities than normal (especially diamonds and jewelry, for instance) without a seeming logical explanation from the customer.
    • You will often only be able to reach the customer via email and then it will often be a commercially available email account such as a Yahoo account.
    Note: Just because a customer exhibits some or all of these characteristics does automatically classify the transaction as illegal, but it should be a cause for closer scrutiny at the very least.