So you’re thinking about putting your “stuff”, i.e. courses/camps/conference/etc.” online. Or perhaps you’re planning to sell tickets online. Your hope is that it makes life easier for you and your customers. But where do you start? What do you have to consider? In the next few blog posts, I’ll discuss some things to think about before choosing which online registration software to use. There are 200 to 300 difference registration software vendors out there to choose from.
The first step is to educate yourself on what’s involved. Too many sales people out there have an understanding of a few of the pieces of the puzzle but not enough pieces to properly help you out. For example, the merchant services department at the bank, will be glad to sign you up for a merchant account (VISA/MC/AMEX), but will fail to inform you that you also need ‘online registration software’ in order to plug the new VISA/MC merchant numbers into. If you had of instead, started by choosing the ‘online registration software’, you might have been pleasantly surprised on how much easier things turn out to be.
So let’s examine some the key pieces for conducting online registration.
Let’s start off examining how to do registration management, safely and securely. Security is fairly easy to explain. In the younger days, with respect to online registration software, people’s websites were routinely hacked and credit card information stolen. As you can appreciate, this was very problematic for cardholders and for those involved in setting up online registration. Today, hacking doesn’t happen as much. The reason is because the credit card acquirers have gotten together and created the ‘PCI Security Standard’ that all online registration software must abide by. The details are at, https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/
So, if you decide to go it alone and design your own html forms and connect them to a credit card processor, be ready for an unbelievable high bar to jump over called, the PCI Audit. In fact, today, most banks and credit card companies won’t even issue you the VISA/MC merchant account unless they see that your website is already PCI compliant. You’ll need to show the bank a certificate something like this to convince them into issuing you a VISA/MC merchant account. http://www.eregisternow.com/help/PDFs/PCI_certificate.pdf
Hey, don’t be discourage, please read on. So, because of the unbelievable security required, the best plan of attack for those thinking about registration management via their website is to find a PCI compliant piece of online registration software which matches your needs. I’d advise heavily against commissioning your local web designer into making you the html forms needed to pull off your own home grown registration system. The web designer will probably charge you much more than the cost of a well chosen, ASP, (i.e. Application Service Provider). The beauty of picking a good ASP, is that you’re outsourcing your registration needs to a third-party who more than likely is very good a performing the task.
Today, the registration process has evolved to include several social media tools which can help grow your business. These tools are invaluable and are only available from some of the more sophistocated ASP vendors. There are lots of considerations regarding the choice of the right ASP vendor. Choose a vendor with an experienced team and with excellent customer service and lots of years of experience. I wrote about make a good choice in a blog about the five most important considerations about choosing an ASP.
Whether you’re selling tickets online or doing day camp registration, you’re looking for a piece of software which your customer’s will easily be able to make their purchases with. Your staff will also need some training and will have to comply with the PCI rules.
I strongly recommend asking the sales staff or any registration ASP for a personalized demonstration. Be sure you pick a software company that will answer the phone and spend the time to answer your questions or deal with your concerns.