InterCommerce SecureSystem

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Virtual Order Engine?

The VOE is a fully-automated system that allows you to take a standard web site and with just a few basic modifications to your existing html, offer secured, online ordering, and many other features that would either cost thousands of dollars to implement yourself or cannot be found elsewhere.

Why use the Engine?

There are many reasons, so if you'll indulge us, we'll explain:

How does the Engine work?

With a few minor changes to your html pages, you can integrate your site with our special ordering network. Users normally visit your web site, and when they view your products, they have the option of ordering online in a secured environment.

There are also other features included, such as the ability to have a "virtual shopping cart" of products: users can select items while they're browsing your site, and later go to the "check out" and add, remove, or change item quantities, as well as make the final purchase. The system can even "remember" what was in a user's shopping basket from previous visits.

You continue to maintain your own web site on whatever server you choose. By making some minor changes to your HTML, you set up your site to "connect" with our network when the user wishes to add items to a shopping basket or make a purchase. (99% of the time, the user is surfing your site, except when they opt to select/purchase products.)

At the point of purchase, our system automatically detects the capabilities of a user's browser and switches to the appropriate secured mode, collects the billing and shipping information, calculates totals and other charges and e-mails the user an "Order Acknowledgement" while transmitting the order (with more detailed information such as credit card data) to the merchant.

Isn't it better to have the entire site plus ordering system on one server?

No. It makes little or no difference. Your users won't notice, except possibly that, depending upon the performance of your local network, our ordering system may appear to be faster. ICorp specializes in online commerce applications - as a result, our specialized services are superior to other online ordering systems, plus the redundancy of servers means more reliable, more secure performance. Keep in mind, that if you're on a typical ISP's server, there are likely to be hundreds of other users running a wide variety of sites, servers and scripts - any of which could aversely affect performance and reliability - as well as security. It's better to have a separate, dedicated set of servers just to handle the order processing as we have.

We can setup complete, autonomous sites, but the scheme we're promoting here is ideal for ISPs and clients who are happy with their provider - we do not want to encroach into that relationship - we only want to offer additional services to enhance what can be accomplished online.

Do you process credit card orders for me?

No. While there are options to the VOE available where you can automatically authorize credit card transactions, by default, the customer's billing information is kept confidential and is between the customer and the merchant. The VOE simply automates the process of handling the customer's order, collecting appropriate billing information, and fowarding it to the merchant.

Can you set up merchant accounts for vendors?

If you do not have a merchant account (a relationship/account with a bank which allows you to accept credit cards), we can refer you to some institutions that can help you set one up. Typically, we've found it's best to discuss the matter with your current bank.

Credit cards are definitely the best method of accepting payment, although the VOE can be set up to accept other forms as well (COD, Billing, etc.). Credit cards afford the consumer maximum protection, and convenience.

Do I need to have a "merchant account" set up with a payment processor/bank or do you do that for me? (i.e. Will you process credit cards and pay me directly?)

You will need to have an account already set up. We do not establish accounts with payment processors, nor do we actually collect credit card payments. We can refer you to banks and payment processors (such as FirstUSA, Wells Fargo, CitiBank, etc.) who can help you set up an account if you do not have one already (although the standard thing to do is talk to your bank - they'll take care of you). This is a basic prerequisite for all businesses wishing to accept credit cards whether they do business on or off-line. You need to have a commercial bank accouint - and in some cases your bank will handle the CC transactions (and provide you a terminal) or refer you to a payment processor they work with.

At ICorp, we only employ technology which helps "collect" customer billing data, and we can automate financial transactions, but we do NOT collect money from the customer - such activities are between you and your customer - not us.

It is unethical and illegal in most areas for a company to process credit card transactions for a separate business venture. Be wary of any company who will use their own merchant account to accept payment for someone else's products and services - this is almost always a violation of the financial institutions' merchant agreement.

The VOE offers online credit card authorization and processing (see below), but this still requires you to have a merchant account set up for your business. The consumer expects to see your company's name on their CC billing statement.

A Word of Advice: If you are not set up to handle credit cards currently, talk to your bank. However, avoid saying your primary purpose for the account is to sell products online - banks are typically scared to death of the Internet and will either turn you down, or hike up the interest rates or force you to deal with a "high risk payment processor" that charges outrageous fees. Unless you're doing large amounts of volume, the thing to do is get a small credit card reader/terminal and manually process cards until your business grows. At the present time, because of the media hype, the banking community is very paranoid about E-Commerce. This will change in the future.

Do you offer online credit card authorization/processing?

We can offer immediate authorization as an add-on option, but this is not recommended. Instead, the system uses a number of formulas to 'pre-qualify' a user's credit card to make sure it is not bogus - this weeds out about 99% of bad orders.

In the area of automatically charging credit cards, this is a very delicate situation. In general, it is il-advised to consider immediate authorization for many reasons including:

In general, the only type of application where immediate authorization would be warranted, would be the type of transaction where the customer immediately takes possession of the product being purchased (i.e. paying for, and then downloading software online).

Are there alternatives to real-time credit card authorization? Can I automate processing online transactions within my in-house accounting system?

Due to the VOE's flexibility, there are many options here. Probably the most efficient is called "batch processing" where you take a "batch" of transactions at some interval (which can vary depending upon how busy your store is) and run them through all at once. This typically involves using some standard software like IC-Verify or something supplied by your bank. The VOE can often output online transactions into an "export file" which can be read by these programs, thereby eliminating the need to enter redundant information for back-end accounts receivable and billing services. We can also custom-design a special import/export format that will work with your proprietary account systems.

How do I get my customer orders?

Orders can be transmitted to the merchant in any number of ways: e-mail, PGP-encrypted e-mail, FAX, etc. The merchant can also opt to pick up orders from our server via an SSL-encrypted web session any time.

How do I modify my web pages to accomodate the ordering system?

We have a tutorial web site online which walks you through the steps. Even if you have little or no HTML experience, we outline everything in a simple and straightforward manner. Our site also includes a number of "sample stores" you can examine and copy HTML code from. We show you a wide variety of ways you can present products and interface with the Engine.

What about security issues? How safe is this system?

ICorp utilizes the highest grade DES encryption technology currently available. Our system supports up to 1024-bit encryption keys - most browsers can only handle 40-bit keys, and if you download the enhanced domestic-only version of Netscape/MSIE, you can go to 128-bit encryption - which while being incredibly secure, is still only a fraction of the security technology our system can support. Rest assured that whatever standard/technology is available, our system will rise to meet the challenge! There is no more secure online ordering system available in the world.

Our Engine uses the most advanced security schemes currently available inside and outside the United States. Our network is extremely secure and expressly designed for the order processing system - we do not even allow telnet access to the machines on which sensitive data resides. Of course, we also monitor the network 24 hours a day. And the beauty of our system is that we continue to enhance its abilities - when import/export restrictions on encryption schemes are relaxed, we will boost our security even more.

Please note however, that security concerns on the Internet are for the most part, overblown. Using credit cards for purchasing still affords the consumer maximum protection - and even if anyone could 'steal' credit card data, they would get caught trying to use it, and the consumer can always contest the charges. Before you think about someone stealing data from the Internet, you should be more worried about the minimum wage gas station attendants and automated machines which leave receipts laying around.

Nonetheless, we take great pains to ensure our system is extremely secure. You will not find a more powerful and safe method of conducting commerce online.

How much does the system cost?

There are a variety of options and pricing schemes depending upon the scope of your application. However, we've tried to make it as simple and economical as possible. Our system is so streamlined, we can offer our services for an incredible price. For detailed information, see our Prices and Options page.

Do you offer agency discounts/commissions?

Yes. In fact, we prefer to deal directly with ISPs, Web Presence Providers, Consultants and agencies. We can negotiate a variety of special deals for companies who wish to convert their existing clients over to our automated system. Contact Us for more information.

The Engine has been designed so that it can be easily bundled with other services you may provide - you add our technology to the array of services you market to your clients.

What if I don't have a web site but want to get one set up?

We can provide complete web hosting services, virtual domains, e-mail boxes, and everything you would need, including graphic design, marketing, HTML coding, etc. In such cases, we generally utilize the services of our associates in order to avoid any conflict of interest with our ISP clients. ICorp focuses mainly on online commerce and web services and does not endeavor to do in-house HTML work normally (there are some exceptions noted below). We can provide VERY inexpensive web site hosting for user of the Engine (provided the site isn't too large or the traffic isn't outrageous).

If you're an agent, note that we can also forward clients to you who may need graphic design and html work.

What if I have a large product inventory on a private computer system? How can I integrate this into the ordering system without having to start from scratch?

One of our specialties is database conversion. If you're in the above situation, we can save you tons of time by taking your database and generating HTML product pages or an online database. Depending upon the size and scope of your database, there would be a one-time charge for the service. In such a case, you provide us with a sample "template" of how the product data should appear, and we design a program to create the web pages. The entire process can be done very quickly.

Can your system accomodate special shipping and other functions?

Yes. Our Engine is very flexible in accomodating a variety of special calculations such as shipping based on total amount of purchase, shipping based on weight, individual product shipping charges, etc.

The Engine can also handle things like product "styles" (having one product with selectable attributes such as size or color, which don't affect the item number or price). The system is always being updated and we value feedback from our clients - so if a feature you seek isn't available, stay tuned and it likely will be! In any case, since we designed the system, we're capable of making modifications to accomodate virtually any need.

How do I get started using the Engine?

It's quite easy, simply visit our Registration Page and complete the form; this outlines some information on how we should configure the system for you, and how you want orders transmitted. From there you'll go to the Order Page and complete the process. Within 24 hours we'll get back to you with:

  • A special "Vendor ID" code that allows the Engine to recognize your site and application.
  • A password which gives you complete access to our private tutorial and resource site containing loads of invaluable info on how to set up your site, market it and become a successful online merchant.
  • Details on any other special services you require.

You can also contact us at (800) 628-1131(toll-free within the US) or (504) 780-9717 and we'll setup an account for you via telephone.

You can also send inquiries via E-Mail to: Webmaster@ICorp.Net any time.

Do you license the system for use on other networks?

Yes. This can be done. If you're an ISP or Agency and wish to control your own Virtual Ordering Engine, we can work a deal allowing you to host your own version of the system in its entirety on your own network. Our system can be ported to all popular operating systems: Unix (SCO/Unixware, BSDI/FreeBSD, AIX, SunOS, Linux, and others), Windows/95/NT, etc. We can franchaise the entire system for your use with special maintenance and support packages. Contact Us for more information.

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