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Cash, Check Or...Cash?

When credit card payments aren't an option, one thing stands between you and online sales: your credibility.

Q: I'm a business owner who doesn't accept credit cards. How can I make customers comfortable about sending their money to an online business they're not familiar with?

Charles Laboz
Via e-mail

A: Many successful Web merchants, whether they're in the start-up phase or already established, don't offer the option of paying by credit card. In fact, Lucille Birkholtz and Sandra Neuberger of Willow Lake, South Dakota, who operate Specially for You, selling custom clothing for people with physical disabilities, tell us their customers actually prefer sending checks rather than ordering with a credit card.

Credibility, of course, is key--anything that conveys the integrity of your company and product is important. Prominently including your company's name, street address, e-mail address and phone number on your site reassures visitors that you're accessible and aren't trying to hide who or where you are. Also post letters or quotes signed by real customers who include their names, locations and businesses. A satisfaction or money-back guarantee is most reassuring. And add anything to your site that conveys your reputation, background and expertise. Positive, personal and forthright communication without a lot of hype is important.

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This article was originally published in the June 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Cash, Check Or...Cash?.

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