Handling Credit-Card Orders Online:
A Paean to PayPal

October 2004
by Linda Beattie Inlow

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Many independent publishers who have Web sites sell their products online by linking to other vendors, because few of us can afford the monthly fees that banks charge for processing sporadic credit-card sales. Recently, I discovered an alternative to sending potential buyers elsewhere. PayPal now offers credit-card and electronic-check transfer to any business

I started using PayPal for myself (as opposed to my business) about three years ago and have used it in selling several nonbook items on eBay. The signup for individuals was–and still is–free and self-explanatory, and when a check to PayPal from one of my buyers bounced after I had already mailed the merchandise, PayPal covered the check.

After that, I decided to explore PayPal’s services for companies. As you will see if you go to Merchant Tools at www.paypal.com, they are free until someone actually makes a purchase, and they include a shopping cart, buttons, invoicing, automatic payment by check or credit card, and processing of recurring payments. You can import transaction history data into your money-management software or develop a sales report directly at PayPal, which also lets you make sales with multiple currencies if you have buyers spanning the globe. A PayPal link can handle shipping fees and postage, and you can even use PayPal to transfer money by email to someone else who has a PayPal account.

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