As the state of e-commerce in the Caribbean continues to evolve into increased adoption and usage, questions are posed by merchants as to its implementation and setup. One of the more common questions I receive from current website owners is: “Would I need a whole new website in order to accept online payments?” Essentially, many see the undertaking as requiring a new website built from the ground up. It is therefore worth pointing out that implementing an e-commerce-enabled website can entail an “add-on” approach (architecturally speaking) where the features and functionality required to have one accept online payments can be built unto the current website you now have.
If we take a moment to think about it, we are now neck-deep into a computing culture where we can append, add, extend, expand and retrofit so many aspects of technology. If our laptops require memory, we add a RAM module; if our phones require a certain functionality to perform a specific new task, we download and add an app that fulfills the requirement; and if our office intranet network requires a new server for the processing of some proprietary business logic, we can easily add a new server and append this new node to the already existing network structure. In like manner, a website is no different in most cases. Yes, there are some conditions that limit the broad application of this analogy. Developers must consider hosting infrastructure, security protocols, website software, and other infrastructural elements before adding e-commerce features, but by and large, getting e-commerce enabled is within reach – far more than you may think.
For the purposes on this article and particularly for the St. Kitts Nevis location, I would once again be drawing reference to the CenPOS payment gateway and their suite of technologies that cater for a wide variety of e-commerce requirements. As gateway use often depends on your region and what is available from your local acquiring bank, always bear in mind that similar services are very likely to exist no manner where you are. A simple call to your merchant services department of your bank would be all that is needed to determine what gateway is available in your region.
In cases where a shopping cart is not necessary but you wish perhaps to simply accept some fixed amount that the end user can enter, CenPOS offers a convenient web pay facility whereby the customer can enter a desired payment amount and facilitate an online payment. Examples of this implementation may be seen on this very website by clicking the “Pay” button in the top corner of the website or on websites such as: MortonRobinson, L.P. or LiburdLaw. In all three cases, the sites were originally built without e-commerce capabilities, but were later augmented with these features.
Accepting online payments through your website provides an additional channel through which your business may receive remuneration for your products and services. Today’s reflection provides an assurance to curious merchants that for simple requirements of accepting online payments the service may be added to an already existing website without the need for a whole new site to be built from the ground up. In an subsequent article, we will look at instances where a new custom-built solution is needed and examine a case-study to see its implementation.