If you're going to accept payments through your website (other than checks or Money Orders), you need to have a payment processor. The two most common examples are PayPal and Authorize.net.
If you've never used it, PayPal is a free online service that allows customers to set up various funding sources like bank accounts or credit cards and make payments from them. PayPal is now owned by eBay.
There are various options depending on your site requirements.
For instance, if you are selling simple, tangible products through your site, you can use Website Payments Standard. This service is provided by PayPal to its Business and Premier customers at no additional charge. There is no setup fee or monthly fee. Payments are processed on PayPal.com, so you will not need an SSL Certificate or Dedicated IP Address. There are no transaction fees, just a percentage of each transaction that will range from 2.4%-3.0% depending on your history with PayPal and your negotiated rate.
If you want to process payments directly within your site, you will need to upgrade to Website Payments Professional. There is a setup fee and monthly expense for WPP.
Customers who use PayPal to pay you can choose to log into an existing PayPal account, create a new account, or simply provide you with their credit card information. The only exception is if you're selling recurring subscriptions of any kind, which require a PayPal account for payment.
Authorize.net is the largest processor of online credit card transactions. Typically, you would apply for an Authorize.net account through your bank. It will require a contract, setup fee, and a regular monthly fee, plus a small transaction fee and a percentage of each transaction.
All payments are processed within your website so an SSL Certificate and Dedicated IP Address are required.
There are countless other payment processors available from around the world. Do not sign up for any service other than PayPal or Authorize.net without discussing it with us first to ensure that your chosen service will work with the website that we're designing.
If you would like to accept Checks, Money Orders and/or Purchase Orders, just let us know and we can allow that as an option during checkout.
Once you've decided on a payment processor, you will need to provide us with a username and password so that we can log into your new account and integrate it with your new website. For instance, Authorize.net will provide Key and API codes that need to be copied and pasted into an appropriate area of your new site.