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This story appears in the June 1998 issue of . Subscribe »

Want to sell your product on the Internet? You may need help getting set up to take credit cards. Banks consider Internet merchants to be high risks and charge them steep rates for the merchant accounts needed to accept credit cards.

Shoppers World Inc., of West Palm Beach, Florida, offers services to help Internet merchants overcome this problem. Shoppers World acts as a storefront for your Internet sales. Your Web site is hyperlinked to the storefront site. When customers want to buy something from your site, they click on the product and fill in the order information, which goes to the storefront site.

After the customer's credit-card information is verified, an e-mail order form is sent to you, and an e-mail thank-you to the client. You then ship the product; funds from your credit-card sales will be periodically deposited to your bank account by the storefront provider.

Merchants pay Shoppers World (http://www.shopkeeper.net) a setup fee of between $40 and $90, a $10 monthly statement fee, plus 12.5 percent of gross purchases.

Donna Chambers is a freelance business writer and small-business owner. She can be reached at donna94142@aol.com

Prints Charming

In the market for a new printer but not sure which type is right? The following information will help you decide.

  • Inkjet printers are quickly becoming the printer of choice for most small businesses; they're inexpensive to buy (less than $500) and fairly inexpensive to operate. They print in color and on a variety of paper types. Graphics and special fonts look good printed with an inkjet printer, although not as good as with a laser printer. The downside: Inkjet printers can be slow, especially when you're printing in color. Pages are wet when they come out of the machine and may smear. In addition, the color fades over time.

Best Uses: Inkjet printers are best for companies with moderate printing needs, although not the best choice for documents that need to be kept indefinitely. Inkjet printers are, by far, the most economical choice for color printing and are great for preparing your own marketing materials.

  • Laser printers offer the highest-quality printing. They print extremely fast and on many paper types. Because they use dry toner, pages won't smear, so you can let them stack up in the paper tray. The bad news: You can find a few laser printers in the $500-to-$600 range, but most cost upwards of $1,000 (with color laser printers costing even more).

Best Uses: Laser printers are best for companies that have heavy text-printing needs or are information-intensive businesses. They're also the best choice for documents that will be kept a long time.

Double Duty

As your business grows, your need for computer equipment does, too--but buying more can get costly. If you're looking for an inexpensive solution, Concurrent Controls in South San Francisco is giving the term "shareware" a whole new meaning with its Applica U2, which lets you turn one PC into a two-user system.

The Applica U2 takes advantage of the multitasking capabilities of Windows 95; two Applica U2 users can work simultaneously while sharing one printer. They can even surf the Internet at the same time, using the same modem and phone line.

The $249 Applica U2 consists of a hardware card that fits into an Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) slot on the original PC, a 15-foot cable (with an optional 50-foot cable available), a connector box for attaching the second user's peripherals, and software to operate it. You'll have to provide a second monitor, keyboard and mouse, costing an additional $350 to $500. That's still a lot less than buying a second computer.

The Applica U2 works with the Windows 95 operating system and requires a Pentium 100 MHz or faster processor, at least 16MB RAM and an available ISA slot. For more information, visit Concurrent Controls at http://www.applica.com

Contact Sources

Concurrent Controls, (800) 487-2243

Shoppers World Inc., (561) 835-0706

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