What Is A Virtual Merchant?

Virtual merchants are websites which sell products or services via credit or debit card transactions. They are best thought of as the foundation for e-commerce, because they create an online experience which allows consumers to browse for products in online stores, where they can then be purchased and shipped by mail. All this can be done by a computer or mobile phone.

Virtual Merchant Features

Virtual merchants showcase a number of features which transform websites into online stores. In order for a website to become an online store, it must have a mechanism for processing payments for products which are featured on it. Additionally, if the products being sold in the store are physical objects, they must also be shipped by mail, and a system must be setup for this. It is important to note that virtual merchants are distinct from informational websites.

The reason for this is because virtual merchants work in conjunction with merchant accounts that design online storefronts. Merchant accounts are responsible for maintaining contracts with the credit card companies and the online store. Part of this contract involves the virtual merchant paying the card vendor a percentage of every transaction that is processed through the store.

Virtual Merchant Advantages

Virtual merchants reduce the cost and complexity involved with creating an online store. This allows the merchant to focus on running their actual business. Additionally, it eliminates geographical barriers, allowing goods to be sold both nationally and internationally. Virtual merchants also seamlessly integrate online storefronts with the brand of the company.

For consumers the benefits include the ability to purchase goods which are not available locally, as well as the convenience of using their computers or smart phones to make purchases whenever they want. Because the web is an information superhighway, consumers can educate themselves about the products that interest them, which allow them to make better purchasing decisions.


Ensuring the security of an online transaction is critically important. Virtual merchants excel in this area because they utilize multiple security measures which protect the buyer’s information. SSL, or secured socket layer, is a form of encryption used to block data from being compromised when it’s transmitted during a purchase, and the data is stored at a site which is protected by multiple firewalls.

When you consider the convenience, simplicity and security of virtual merchants, it becomes easy to see why they’ve become the standard for companies that choose to have a presence online, whether they are traditional brick and mortar firms or e-commerce companies that operate completely in cyberspace.