The total amount of ecommerce retail sales in the United States was $54.8 billion in the second quarter of 2012 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Ecommerce has fundamentally changed the way business is conducted all over the globe, but many ecommerce merchants are still fumbling around with poor merchant server software.

Finding the right merchant services can be one of the most crucial parts of your business. If you conduct most of your business online, you might be wasting money on superfluous payment processing fees, annual fees, customer service charges or some combination of the three. To find the right merchant server for your business, make sure you follow these tips.

Every Business Is Like A Snowflake 

No two businesses are alike and you need to make sure that your merchant server can handle your company’s needs. Can it handle the volume of transactions that your customers make every day? Can the provider offer you a range of services (payment gateway for credit cards, PCI compliance, etc)? Package deals like that can dramatically lessen the headache of dealing with multiple vendors.

Avoid Unnecessary Fees 

You may want to file this under “duh,” but beware. There are many ways that a merchant server can bamboozle you. Look into fees related to rewards, business and international credit cards. These are often higher than normal cards but for some reason are poorly advertised (go figure!). Things like annual fees, maintenance of PCI compliance and charges every time you need to speak to a customer service representative add up and ultimately eat into your business’ bottom line.

Examine the API

You might not even know what API stands for (and if that’s the case you should outsource this job to a technologically-inclined colleague) but it can ruin a good ecommerce business faster than just about anything. A good API should offer functionality for customers, integration for developers and PCI compliance for the business. In the event that you do have a question about the API, the merchant server should have someone on hand to field those queries as they arise.