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E-Commerce

- What is E-Commerce?
- What is the difference between a web site and an e-commerce web site?
- What should I look for in an E-Commerce Plan?
- What E-Commerce Plan is right for me?
- What do I need for E-Commerce?
- What is an Electronic Shopping Cart?
- Do you provide Shopping Cart software?
- Can I take orders with Miva Merchant and not use credit cards?
- Do I still need a Merchant Account with Miva Merchant?
- Do you include Merchant Accounts with your Web Hosting Services?
- Can I get a Merchant Account with you if I reside outside the U.S.?
- Can I use Miva Merchant with my existing merchant account?
- How do I get started?
- What security options do you offer?
- What are the advantages of Online/Electronic Transactions?
- I already have an E-Commerce Store, but I want to change my Hosting Provider, what do I do?


Q: What is E-Commerce?

A: Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce) is any business transacted electronically. Electronic Commerce is the buying/selling of product and/or services over the Internet.

To conduct business on the Internet you need an e-commerce web site. An e-commerce web site can be as simple as a catalog with an order form, or it can be a complex multi-media enabled web site with real-time credit card processing capabilities. The Internet has enabled merchants to offer their goods and services to potential customers around the world 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year. E-Commerce offers customers the opportunity to browse, select and pay for goods in real time from the comfort of their own home or office.

E-Commerce supplements the traditional selling channels and attracts customers that you never knew existed. The Internet revolution is affecting every company, no matter its size. Business of all sizes can equally share in the benefits of e-commerce, but they are all equally vulnerable to being left behind if they do not adopt the new business models.

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Q: What is the difference between a web site and an e-commerce web site?

A: An ordinary web site presents prospective customers only with information and the only purchasing options available are off-line. On the other hand an e-commerce web site not only presents all the required information but also provides secure options to complete the sale right there.

An ordinary web site is like a copy of your printed catalog, only presenting information, whereas an e-commerce web site is a new business unit that complements your existing traditional selling channels and accentuates an entirely new sales/distribution channel.

An ordinary web site offers limited security options. On the other hand e-commerce web sites provide options for high levels of security by encrypting data and transferring it over secure servers.

An ordinary web site operates entirely outside your existing business system. All orders have to be manually entered into the system and processed off-line. Whereas an e-commerce web site integrates into your existing system for inventory control, order processing and order fulfillment. A fully integrated e-commerce web site automatically ties into your existing business process and acts like an extension to your existing sales force.

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Q: What should I look for in an E-Commerce Plan?

A: Examine the following key parameters before deciding on any e-commerce plan:

Functionality
Scalability
Reliability
Customization
Cost of implementation (monthly fees plus additional costs for Merchant Accounts etc.)
Cost and ease of maintenance
Security Options

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Q: What E-Commerce Plan is right for me?

A: It depends on numerous factors like

Are you a beginner? Or do you have a certain amount of experience with e-commerce?

What are your requirements?
Single category with limited products to sell (Miva Order Add On recommended) or multiple product categories with multi-user and multi-store capabilities (Miva Merchant [Lite] Add On recommended)?

Once you have decided what your marketing strategy is, go ahead and choose any plan from our array of options.

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Q: What do I need for E-Commerce?

A: 

1. Choose Payment Options

Off-line Credit Card Processing
This is a good option if you currently have a Merchant Account with a local bank. Your customers' credit card information is captured and stored on our server for later authorization and transaction processing through a traditional card swipe terminal or through a computer. If you are clearing more than 100 transactions a month, you may want to consider the real-time payment processing option.

Real-Time Payment Processing enabled by Merchant Accounts
To process credit card transactions in real time through your web site you need to
--> Open a merchant account along with a payment gateway like Card Services

Merchant Accounts give you the ability to take Credit Card information from your prospective customers over the Internet. All the Miva products (E-Commerce Software) offer seamless integration with our online payment gateways providing you with a completely integrated E-Commerce Solution.

Merchant Accounts are issued through an Authorizing Bank. A Merchant Account is like a Drivers License. Though you have a driver's license you can't move around without a vehicle. Similarly for you to use your Merchant Account you need a vehicle to move the information around. For example you could ask your web site prospects to call you on the phone to place their orders. Now the phone is your vehicle to move their Credit Card information.

2. Online Shopping Cart

Online Shopping Cart software is another example of a vehicle to move Credit Card and ordering information. Your customers can efficiently order 24 hours a day. Also a Shopping Cart eliminates some potential for error as there is only one human involved in the process rather than two.

The Shopping Cart is a vehicle that enables you to:
--> Get the ordering information from the customer
--> Verify via email to the customer that his order has been placed
--> Deliver the notification and ordering information to the seller

The more information the shopping cart can collect, the wider its application can be.

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Q: What is an Electronic Shopping Cart?

A: An Electronic Shopping Cart works the same way a shopping cart does in the physical world. As customers browse through your online store, they can place products they intend buying in their virtual shopping cart, which keeps track of the products placed in it. When they are ready to leave your store, they click a "check out" link which shows them what they've placed in their virtual shopping cart. Here they have the option to remove items they are no longer interested in purchasing. Then they enter their shipping and payment information to process the order.

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Q: Do you provide Shopping Cart software?

A: Yes we do. We offer Miva Merchant, one of the most popular, robust, scalable and easy to use browser based storefront and catalog development systems available. To help you set up shop immediately we provide you 'cut & paste' options for the necessary account configuration information. For more information on how the Miva Merchant package can enhance your business click here.

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Q: Can I take orders with Miva Merchant and not use credit cards?

A: Yes. You can have customers place orders through your web site and process them only after receiving payment by any means you desire, either by check, money order or by wire transfer.

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Q: Do I still need a Merchant Account with Miva Merchant?

A: Don't confuse the two, they are totally different. Miva Merchant gives you all the tools to easily process online orders through a number of third party vendors. If you plan on being able to accept MasterCard and Visa you will still need to establish a Merchant Account.

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Q: Do you include Merchant Accounts with your Web Hosting Services?

A: No. Our web hosting services only provide a home for your web site and online store. But if you want to process credit cards online, then you will need a merchant account.

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Q: Can I get a Merchant Account with you if I reside outside the U.S.?

A: All U.S. based Merchant Accounts require an U.S. based bank account, Federal Tax ID and postal address to process all transactions. If you can provide these, then you don't actually need to reside in the U.S.
If you can not provide these, please e-mail us. There are also other (more expensive) options available.

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Q: Can I use Miva Merchant with my existing merchant account?

A: Miva Merchant software will work in one manner or another with any Merchant Bank. The limitations that can exist are related to doing a live authorization at the time your customer places the order or actually having to manually process the order in your office at days end. Our Merchant accounts are setup with the ability for miva to communicate with the Card Processing center directly and get a credit card authorization in seconds while your client is still on your order page. This allows for immediate confirmation the order is in processing and if a problem did occur, the customer could enter another credit card or choose a different form of payment before leaving.

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Q: How do I get started?

A: Everyone is talking about the great potential of doing business over the Internet, but the biggest question for numerous individuals/businesses is "how to get started?"

The best suggestion is start with our simple entry-level plan and then grow exponentially. The advantage here is that you have time to get comfortable with this new selling channel and also test drive the chosen application model for your business.
We offer highly scalable integrated solutions for starters as well as small to medium size businesses.

To help you get your business off the ground we provide you complete solutions from web hosting, e-commerce capabilities, web site development tools, Merchant Accounts and lots more.

First things first, you will need to register your domain name.
Once you have submitted your application for a hosting account, we will provide you with an IP# so you can start uploading your files to our servers.

Uploading files..what files?
Well, first you need to upload the individual web pages (product profiles etc.) to our servers so that prospective customers can view your products/services when they access your web site. Then you need to decide how you want to accept payment for your products.
Depending on your decision; for real time credit card processing you will need to sign-up for a Merchant Account. Now that you have successfully completed all the steps you are ready to start selling.

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Q: What security options do you offer?

A: One of the biggest concerns today's consumers have is "how safe is it to shop online?" It is our goal to ensure that as a business owner we provide you with security options to make your customers feel comfortable about shopping online at your web site. SSL (secure socket layer) is the standard encryption method used on the web today. Users can see if a page is secure by looking at the bottom left side of their browser. If there is a closed lock or a solid key then the page is secure.

All our customers with the Value/Premium hosting plan have FREE access to our shared Secure Server Solution allowing them to run their web pages through a shared SSL connection. This helps them save money as well as offer customers a secure web site.

To give your web store a more professional appearance, you can obtain your own Personal SSL Certificate. Now if end-users view the certificate information, your company name will be displayed and not ours. To obtain a personal SSL certificate, you will need to sign up with an authorized certification company, such as GeoTrust or Thawte. You can also get one through Spunkyworld.com. Please contact us for a special pricing.

For a one-time $80 fee we will create the key which you will submit to the certification agency and then complete the installation for you. Once you receive the key from us, you need to submit a request to the authorized Certification Company. The domain name owner must be the one who is submitting the request. The application process may also require legal documentation regarding your business. Once your application has been processed you will receive another encrypted key from the Certification Company, we will use this key to complete the installation process.

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Q: What are the advantages of Online/Electronic Transactions?

A: Reduces Errors:
No need to enter transaction amounts at both the cash register and processing terminals.

Creates Transaction Database:
Stores transaction information in your database for as long as you want. You'll never have to search for lost transaction information.

Increases Accountability:
It is easy to confirm whether you have received the proper amount of credit for each transaction.

Minimizes Fraud:
Performs address verification (AVS), and eliminates the chance of shipping to someone using a stolen credit card, saving you from a charge back.

Quicker Transactions:
Allows you to send multiple transactions as a batch, thus reducing authorization time to as low as three seconds per transaction.

Eliminates Equipment:
Multiple registers can share a single modem, and phone line, thus saving money.

Lowers Transaction Costs:
Electronic processing is faster and less expensive than paper processing.

Faster Billing:
Makes it easy to build and process a batch of transactions as often as needed; great for recurring billing.

Recurring Billing:
Schedule transactions to be processed according to your specific billing requirements.

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Q: I already have an E-Commerce Store, but I want to change my Hosting Provider, what do I do?

A: You will need to submit a DNS modification request to the registrar you originally registered with. Within 24-48 hours your domain name will point to our servers. But in the mean time you can upload all your files to our servers using the IP# you receive once you have signed up for a hosting plan.

The best way to avoid any downtime for your store during the transfer, is to make sure that you don't cancel your account with your current hosting provider, until all your files have been uploaded to our servers and your site is live and ready to go. If you need assistance with uploading or DNS Modifications feel free to drop us an e-mail.

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