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Service FAQs - NetOptimal

Thank you for your interest in NetOptimal. We are eager to answer your questions about our services and look forward to hearing from you. Please choose the appropriate contact information or links listed below so we can respond to your inquiries as soon as possible.

What is "Service Commerce"? Service Commerce is defined as enabling service based business to sell their service availability online in a similar fashion to product based e-commerce. Simply creating a Web site that advertises and promotes your business is not considered service commerce, because your business requirements for when a service can be performed are not taken into account and customers who may contact you to perform your service cannot book that time with certainty that your business can deliver that service.

What do I sell in my online store? With NetOptimal you actually can sell your both appointments that are booked from your service catalog and products that may have added to your product catalog. NetOptimal shopping cart functionality can actually merge both things to a single checkout process where booked appointments and off-the-shelf products can be sold.

Can I book any kind of service? Since different industries use different type of scheduling rules not all those are currently supported by the NetOptimal scheduling engine. We currently offer support for the following scheduling models:

  • Personal Services (appointments booked within a single day)
  • Hospitality (single or multiple day bookings)
  • Rental Equipment (single or multiple day bookings)

What do I need to set up a service commerce Web site? What you need depends upon a number of factors, such as how you want to handle financial transactions and what types of security you want to provide. Basically once you sign up for a service commerce account you will be able to define if you simply want to have your customers pay at the shop (and optionally collect products bought as well) or you can also have a full-featured online store that can process credit card transactions in real time in a secure environment and calculate shipping rates from different shippers. You will need to specify in your account settings your credit card processing merchant account credentials, shipping company API account credentials and you need an SSL certificate (which can be purchased seperately at very low cost from NetOptimal as well).

How much does it cost to set up an account? Account plans may range anywhere from $25 a month to $55 a month, depending upon the amount of memroy your account consumes and optional components you will need to use and functionalities you want to provide to your customers. There are other costs associated with an online store, too. For example, you will need an SSL certificate if you want to be able to accept credit cards and process those transactions online, you will need a merchant account and a payment gateway service. Typically, there are initial setup fees as well as on-going costs for these services that will be in addition. However at NetOptimal we believe in setting up a win win pricing policy. After the first initial subscription payment, if your orders do not amount for 5x you subscription amount in any given month you do not pay your subscription for that month.

I already have a Web site. Can I integrate my account into it? Yes. NetOptimal makes it easy for you to add service commerce functionality to your separate site. Once you setup your NetOptimal account with your services and products, you can use a minimal footprint template to define your customer storefront which then can be used inside your site iframe. Another alternative would be to include links on your separate site that will direct your customers to your NetOptimal storefront to book services or buy products there. For more information, contact NetOptimal support.

Will I be able to customize the "look and feel" of my online store? Yes. Both packages (basic and advanced accounts) enable you to quickly and easily customize the appearance of your storefront. You design the layout of your pages, select the colors and fonts you want to use and add graphics and text as you like. Plus, you can use HTML to enhance the text on any of your Web pages. Internal functionality is exposed through tags that you include in your HTML page which then gets populated by the NetOptimal engine to render a fully operational customer storefront.

What are my options for handling transactions? You have a number of options for handling transactions. The most basic approach is to handle all of your transactions offline. For example, you could choose to have pay at the shop billing method and have your customers pay with a check or money order directly to you when they visit your storefront. You could also collect your customers credit card information then process the credit card transactions offline using your retail merchant account.
These are probably not the best approaches, though, because one the main reasons customers shop at an online store is for the speed and convenience it provides. To increase the chances that customers will want to shop at your storefront, it should be able to accept and process credit card transactions online and in real time. You can handle your own online transactions via Authorize.Net or Intellipay through your NetOptimal account, or outsource them to a third-party credit payment processor like PayPal or Google Checkout if you already have a merchant account setup with them.

What are third-party online credit card processors? If you want to be able to accept credit cards but do not want to handle these yourself (or through your NetOptimal account), you can use a third-party online credit card processor such as PayPal or Google Checkout. When your customers want to purchase a product, they click a link that takes them to the third-party's Web site. There, they will submit their order and credit card information, which is then processed by the third-party processor. Essentially, these processors act as resellers. They may charge you a variety of fees for this service, including an initial set up fee, monthly fees and/or per-transaction fees. (Google Checkout is a free service by Google.com) While outsourcing your online transactions may seem appealing, you should consider the fact that it will be obvious to your customers that their transactions are being handled not by your company but by a third-party.

What are the external "merchant accounts" I will need? Depending on your configuration and selections your NetOptimal account will need to interface with external merchant accounts that you will need to setup with the respective service providers:

  • If you need to get real time quotes for shipping products to your customers as they shop you will need a shipper account from USPS/FedEx/DHL-Airborne
  • If you have a third party payment processor account with PayPal or Google Checkout you will need to have those credentials setup in your NetOptimal account
  • Alternatively if you want to perform credit card transactions from your NetOptimal account you will need to setup a merchant account with either Authorize.Net or Intellipay
  • If you have your own business web site you can forward your customers from NetOptimal to it and then bring content from NetOptimal to your web site
We will update the instructions for how to implement an external merchant account links and list of external service providers as we add more capabilities.

How can I assure my customers that their transactions are secure? If your customers will be submitting their credit card information to you online they will want to know that this information is safe. If they are not comfortable with the security your site offers, they will probably not buy products from you. The best way to alleviate your customers? concerns is to secure your site using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). When a site is secured with SSL the standard form of encryption currently used on the Web visitors will see a special symbol in their browser window that indicates the site is secure. Visitors can also tell that a page is secured by looking at the URL. A secure page URL begins with the letters "HTTPS" instead of the standard "HTTP". NetOptimal offers an SSL certificate option for the basic account at a minimal monthly cost and is built in with a subscription to an advanced account.