Not sure how your original site was written - but, theres a few things you require...
As acidbase mentioned - youll need an interface with a merchant account, and actual merchant account, an SSL certificate (this is just a secure method of collecting personal - ie credit card - information)
Youll also need some sort of scripting added to your site which will give your users the ability to "shop" for various options and actually buy them...
Im not sure if this answers your questions - But have a few ecommerce developers look at your current site and see what it will take to integrate ecommerce functionality into it...
Speaking of e-commerce developers, you may want to have Andrew ("Gargyole") take a look at your site as he is very experienced in that sort of thing.
I know that he can't mention himself due to the forum TOS but he's been on this forum for a long time and helped a lot of other folks so maybe he can also assist you.
BTW - the only obstacle that you may want to be wary of on the merchant account side is the nature of your business. "Dating" sites and a lot of other sites in a similar line of business are considered high-risk by a lot of processors and/or may fall into the category requiring the high-risk registration fee from Visa.
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When you do get up & running - you might also consider applying for Verified by Visa. This will help reduce some chargebacks issues - mainly the "I didn't do its" - it costs a little more - usually about $.10 a transaction, but you also get a few basis points off your discount rate.
I believe I need to open an merchant account..what exactly is merchant account ? who do I need to contact to open merchant account?
Originally posted by isheikh I believe I need to open an merchant account..what exactly is merchant account ? who do I need to contact to open merchant account?
You have two choices
1) Either get A regular Merchant Account and a Gateway....
2) Or a Third Party Processor....
There are lots of reputed companies that offer merchant account along with gateway services....this is like an interface to a gateway who process the credit card for you...Merchants account providers are banks/financial institutions that credit you account for the amount billed to your clients credit card....they are once that give you montly statements showing about the financial transactions for you business.....They provide you with the tools to where you can refund money to your customers if you have to do that....and whatever else you do.....
Now the question is which merchant account and more important which gateway to choose....
One popular gateway is Authorize.net and here is a link to partners of authorize.net who offer merchant accounts and gateway services through authorize.net
Ofcourse there are someother gateways also but i am not familiar with all of them...and there are lot more merchant account services providers out there aswell....
You have the option of using a third party processor who have their own merchantaccount/gateway services and you can use their services....this is somewhat easier to setup atleast i think so and if you are just starting out then this might be the way to go....but again having your own merchant account seems atleast to some people more proffesional than a third party processors.... Ofcourse there is much more to said but i am kind of giving a general overview about things....
some common choices are: paypal.com, 2checkout.com, paysystems.com propay.net
NOW THAT you got more names and meanings of what they do....doing research of them and making your own decision is something you got to doooo....good luck and i am not responsible for anything ...... my disclaimer
But - Aside from having a merchant account and a way to process payments, you have to be able to actually manager and apply these payments to specific accounts, and have a means to allow/disallow access to your users, based on payments recieved.
This typically takes a fair amount of development work to build the business logic into your web application.
Keep that in mind, you need alot more than just a merchant account.