Shopping Cart Payment Processing

In over 80% of the cases I am setting up a shopping cart that has all of the payment processing aspects worked out in advance. Some of these “payment solutions” come packaged together. Many vendors are providing a merchant account as well as the payment gateway as part of a complete solution. The most popular payment gateways are and PayPal. Both of these vendors offer packaged solutions that do not require a separate merchant account.

Understanding the Complete Solution Option (All-in-One)

The “complete solution” packages the payment gateway and merchant account. This option does not require the client to get a separate merchant account. This is the better option for a startup shopping cart or one with a lower volume of sales. This will be the best option for the majority of clients. The “All-in-One Option” for Authorize.Net will cost $25 for the monthly gateway fee. This in addition to the Per transaction cost of 2.9% + 30¢.

Why Use a Separate Merchant Account

The main advantage of using the separate merchant account is the lower fees per transaction. Many merchant account providers charge a higher monthly fee , but a lower per transaction fee. In some cases there is no per transaction % charge; This is covered within the monthly subscription. In the case of an existing business, they may already have an established merchant account.

Providing Guidance to Your Clients

For an agency to provide the best guidance to their clients, they will need to fully understand their client’s full business model. Business type, credit history , length in business and total sales will all factor in. The answers to many of these questions can alter the available options. I have outlined what information will be needed below.

Understanding Shopping Cart Volumes

In order to make a determination what payment procession solution works best, you will need to be able to estimate the quantity of sales. It is important to consider the average monthly amount of transactions as well as the total amount of sales. A Shipping cart with less then $5000 a month in gross sales would be more suited an All-in-One Option.

What Products / Services Are Being Sold

Products and services that are being offered should be determined in advance. A “business type” determined to be of a “high risk” nature will alter the available options. Many of the traditional merchant account providers do not support higher risk business transactions. I have outlined some of the high risk business considerations below.

Understanding High Risk Businesses

If the business nature of the client falls in a higher risk category it will take more effort to get your client’s merchant account approved. Here is a sample list of business that fall into the “high risk” category:

All adult oriented related transactions
Tobacco/ pipes / eCigarettes
Gambling / Online Casinos
Financial services
Legal services
Travel / airlines tickets
Software / computer hardware

Merchant Maverick has a more comprehensive list of high risk businesses.

Any client flagged as a higher risk business will need a merchant account provider that specializes in merchant services to higher risk businesses / individuals. A good one to start with is EMB (eMerchantBroker).

Client’s Personal / Business Credit Score

Another consideration for determining the best solution will be to understand your client’s financial history. If your client has a poor credit history , that can change the available options for merchant account approval. A poor credit score will normally require seeking out a merchant provider that specializes in higher risk clients / businesses. The rates and transaction fees will be higher when forced to use these types of vendors.

Business History

The potential merchant account provider will want a full report on the history of the business. This will include length in business, bankruptcies , previous merchant accounts and any liens or judgements. Business history will be a determining factor on eligibility. In many cases is is to the business owners advantage to start at the bank they have their business account.


Shopping cart payment processing can be the most difficult part of a shopping cart setup. I have outlined many of the considerations, but it is important to gather these requirements before the project starts. I provide an eCommerce survey to any potential shopping cart clients at the beginning of the project. Feel free to contact me with any questions comments and / or concerns.

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