Does your business want to accept online payments from your customers? Do you need a shopping cart system? Or are you looking for a custom, end-to-end e-commerce service? Canvas Host can help. Our e-commerce services are designed for your specific needs.

As a full-service e-commerce provider, Canvas Host is well-versed at developing and implementing e-commerce services – from simple payment forms to complete shopping cart systems.

The following explains key aspects of our e-commerce development process. We invite you to contact us to learn about all our e-commerce services.

What is E-commerce?

E-commerce is a general term for any type of business transaction that takes place online.

E-commerce is usually handled through a shopping cart system in which customers select products and purchase them using a charge card. There are many variations to this model depending on how a company does business. For example, a business that only sells downloadable software can use a simple cart system. A company with an inventory and that ships physical products will need a more complicated e-commerce Web site to connect with its supply chain and shipping services.

What do I need to have e-commerce?

There are three key components to most e-commerce web sites.

1. Cart system or payment form – the application or interface on your Web site that enables your customers to purchase products or pay for services. Commercially-available opensource cart systems include osCommerce and ZenCart, which are ready-to-install and can save you thousands of dollars compared to having a system built from scratch.

2. Compatible merchant account – a bank account through a third-party service that routes payments directly into your business account. This can be as simple as a PayPal account, or it can be a professional service such as through Authorize.net. The merchant service used with your Web site will largely depend on the type of cart system you have chosen because not all services are compatible with all of the carts.

3. PCI-Compliant web hosting plan and SSL Encryption – PCI DSS compliance, enforced by most merchant gateways requires that your Web site be secured through a compliant Web hosting environment and all data transactions be encrypted with SSL to protect your customers’ credit card numbers and other personal data against identity theft or abuse. Our PCI Compliant hosting plans are designed to help you pass PCI DSS compliance, and our affordable SSL certificate options mean you can rely on us to provide you a complaint, secure hosting environment in which to operate your e-commerce business.

How much does a merchant account cost?

Depending on the type of merchant service you may need to pay the provider a modest monthly fee, a set percentage and surcharge on every transaction, or a combination of the two.

For a service like Pay Pal there is no monthly fee. You simply pay a set percentage (about 2.7%) any time someone pays for a service or sends you money. The money will sit in a separate account, and you will need to manually transfer it to your own bank account. For most companies dealing in only a handful of transactions per month, this makes the most sense as there is no overhead for simply having the account.

For complete merchant services, we recommend IonPOS Merchant Services with whom we are formally partnered. An ethical merchant service provider affiliated with Authorize.net, IonPOS offers a full range of services, such as cart integration, fraud detection, and POS swipe machines, and can automatically route funds directly into your bank account for you.

Full merchant accounts cost a monthly fee of $20-25 and a predetermined rate of 2.0-2.5% based on the number and type of transactions you process every month. For larger companies or those dealing with a high number of purchases each month, this type of merchant account can prove more beneficial because there are more services, greater fraud prevention, and automation capabilities for recurring charges.

What about using a free cart system?

There are many opensource cart systems available online. We currently offer several dozen carts via Softaculous in our shared hosting environment. You can learn more about these carts by visiting our Shopping Cart Systems page. These systems are widely-supported in the web development community, and many optional modules are available to extend and customize a system for your specific needs — without the expense of building add-ons from scratch.

It does still take time to customize the applications (branding, user interface, configuring the cart, etc.), but generally speaking you can save thousands of dollars using a pre-built system and having it customized for your specific needs.

What if I need a custom e-commerce service?

We have built many e-commerce sites over the years, including custom carts, payment forms, and other custom modules. If your business model calls for a custom e-commerce system, we will help you evaluate your options and propose an efficient, affordable application designed precisely for your business.

How long does it take to create an e-commerce web site?

The average time for development of an e-commerce site is six business weeks. This includes interactive planning sessions with you, analysis of your business requirements, selection of the appropriate system, customization and integration of that system into a new Web site, importing your products, optimizing the templates for search engine friendliness, and training you in the use of the new site.

How can I get started?

We invite you to contact us or call us at (800) 574-4299 to learn more about e-commerce, the types of services we provide, and how we can assist you with your e-commerce needs.