IS IT RIGHT FOR YOU?
There are three main types of e-commerce web sites that exist online and there are reasons for choosing one over the other.
The deluxe, fully automated site allows clients to process an order and have their credit card billed directly to your merchant account. This method is ultimately the most efficient especially if you expect to be receiving a large amount of orders from your web site. This method involves a secure server, an order system and a credit card authorization system. Prices for an e-commerce site of this type will be in the $1,500 range for yearly fees and depending on your programming, approximately $3,000 minimum to start up. These are the figures that you should expect to pay for a good web site with an order system.
Processing your orders offline will save you approximately $600 per year of bank fees, the down side of this is that you will have to have the user's order held until you are able to process their credit information and then the system should be desgined to let the user know that their order has actually been processed.
To make things even easier, you can completely remove the secure aspect of your site. This method of running an e-commerce site requires you to follow up your order somehow by calling or requesting a fax form for credit card information. This method isn't very convenient for the user, but it does end up cutting approximately $250 per year off of your price. This method is also very good if most of your orders are billed to the customer, because in that case they have to receive a paper copy anyway.
These are just some of the ways that an e-commerce site can operate. The site itself can be completely customized, but the order processing generally follows these rules.