Calgary Ecommerce Services

Requirements for Establishing and Maintaining Ecommerce

1. A domain name. If you do not have an existing web site, you can register a domain name, without necessarily creating a web site at the same time, at a registrar such as GoDaddy. Domains registered in this way are referred to as "parked". Once registered, a domain name is easily transferrable to another host server in the Domain Name System. To determine if a domain name is currently in use, a "Whois" search can be done. Calgary Ecommerce Services can handle the domain name setup and / or transfer. For existing domain names, Calgary Ecommerce Services will make recommendations for rework of the site, if necessary, to accommodate ecommerce.

2. A merchant account. Internet merchant accounts differ from regular merchant accounts, because of the "card not present" factor. Financial institutions will charge a higher interest rate due to this. Businesses with a brick-and-mortar store as well as an internet storefront will generally have separate merchant accounts for these. Merchants who handle US and Canadian dollar transactions separately require an account for each of these. Canadian businesses wishing to transact in US dollars are required to have a US bank account.

The major Canadian banks have affiliated companies that handle payment processing for on-line businesses. These currently are:

Bank of Montreal / Royal Bank Moneris
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Global Payments
ScotiaBank Paymentech
TD Canada Trust Beanstream

Members of special interest groups, such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, and Retail Council of Canada can qualify for discounted rates.

3. A payment gateway. There are 5 stakeholders in a credit card transaction: the cardholder, the merchant, the acquiring bank processor, the card-issuing financial institution, and the merchant bank. The Payment Gateway is the online acquiring bank processor which is capable of hooking into credit card accounts belonging to the online shopper and the merchant's internet merchant account . The payment gateway handles the verification and transfer requests. A payment gateway is recommended for higher transaction volume sites. For businesses with lesser volumes, IVR (interactive voice response) systems are suitable, where the verification is done by phone.
Visa and Mastercard have aligned their standards into what is called PCI (Payment Card Industry) Data Security Standards. If credit card information is stored, it needs to be encrypted. Visa publishes a list of service providers who have validated their compliance with an independent assessor approved by Visa.

4. SSL (Secure Socket Layer) to encrypt transactions. Calgary Ecommerce Services uses 128-bit secure digital certificates. A secure web page is recognized by the lock symbol at the bottom of the browser window (SSL symbol), or by https:// (not http://) in the URL address line.

5. A hosting platform. Typically, web hosting companies differentiate their services between Windows based packages and Linux based packages. Some, but not all applications, exist in versions that will work on both platforms. 

6. An ecommerce application. An application should be capable of handling typical issues such as 
Calgary Ecommerce Services focuses on using two widely known open source applications, osCommerce and Interchange. With open source applications, the code is readable and modifiable, and there are no licensing fee issues as there are with commercial applications.

7. Site development and maintenance.  There are several interfaces which are required to handle item maintenance changes and other areas:
For enhancements that need to be made, Calgary Ecommerce Services can arrange a monthly maintenance agreement, or work on a per incident call basis.

8. Search engine submission and monitoring. If you build it, will they come? Probably not, unless you make the site known to search engines and work at publicizing it. The search engines use information showing in a page's meta tags, particularly title and description tags. What also plays an important role in search engine ranking is link popularity. This means how frequently other sites link to your site. There are some sites, such as, which check this against several search engines. This information can help you assess if you should be trying to link with certain sites. The major search engines use different algorithms to calculate the relevance of different factors and ranking. Microsoft is among these now, competing with Google, Yahoo and others. One thing to keep in mind, is that search engine ranking only makes sense relevant to a word or expression. There are keyword suggestion sites, such as the one for Overture , which give information on the historic frequency of searches using a given word / expression. Calgary Ecommerce Services can arrange to work on this with you.