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What is E-Commerce?
Simply it's the buying and selling of goods and services across the Internet. It can be as simple as a catalog with an order form, or it can be as sophisticated as sites such as

What Do I Need for E-Commerce?
If you are a small to medium size business, here is one example of steps to e-commerce.
  1. Order or upgrade to Latin America Hosting's Professional plan.
  2. Create Your Web Site and Online Store.
  3. Choose Your Payment Processing Method
    • Offline
    • Open Merchant Account
  4. Real-time
    • Open Merchant Account
    • Select Online Real-time Payment Processor
  5. You are all ready to go!

Choosing Online Store Software
If you have surfed around the net, you will see that there are many choices available to you when it comes to online store building solutions. Upon testing various solutions out there, Latin America Hosting has decided to offer the AlaCart shopping cart tool as the online store building solution. The decision was based on the ease-of-use, robustness, and scalability. AlaCart is easy to configure, and offers a wide variety of options so that your store won't look like every other store on the web.

Once you have installed the AlaCart shopping from your Control Panel, you can begin to customize it to meet your business needs. To learn more about the features and options of AlaCart, please go to our AlaCart Support Page.

A new option for shopping carts is the Commerce.cgi open source tool. This cart takes a little more effort to configure - editing is done through SSH Telnet - but the cart has two significant virtues: it allows for complete customization, and it easily accommodates real time processing through or iTransact (account required - purchased separately). For more information look at our Commerce.cgi page.

Off-line Credit Card Processing
The easiest and the most affordable way of processing credit cards is an off-line authorization and settlement process. 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 real-time payment processing option.

If you already have a merchant account number from your existing business, you should be aware of the following. Depending on the type of merchant account you have, Internet transactions may not be acceptable to your merchant account bank. Internet transactions are considered "card-not-present" and you may need to obtain a merchant account specifically designed for such transactions.

Real-time Credit Card Processing
A customer comes to your online store. Purchases your product and enters the credit card information...What next? Here is what happens if you have real-time payment processing:
  1. Credit card information is sent over the Internet(securely) to your online payment processor.
  2. Your online payment processor in turn contact the card's issuing bank over the private financial network.
  3. Your online payment processor returns approved/declined notice to your customer who is still at your online store.
  4. Typically, both you and your customer receive email notifications of the transaction with tracking numbers.

Payment Processors There are a number of choices when it comes to real-time payment processors. Here are few examples: The world's leading payment authorization service for online businesses.
The CyberCash CashRegister provides all of the tools needed to accept secure credit card transactions over the Internet.

Merchant Account
If you want to accept credit cards, you need a Merchant Account. If you already have a Merchant Account, you can use your existing account to accept credit cards for Internet transactions. This will work fine if you wish to do off-line payment processing as described above. If you wish to add real-time payment processing or you are a new merchant, you need to apply for an "Internet enabled" Merchant Account. Each Merchant Account provider has different rates and different solutions. You should shop around for the best solution.

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