With many businesses struggling financially at the moment, then any spending of money at all if often highly questioned. This is because the profit margins can be extremely small, if not non-existent and so cost cutting needs to take place as much as possible.
Setting up a website can be quite costly. Paying for the domain and hosting may not be that much but then you may pay someone to design it for you. You may have an eCommerce system on there which may be charged for and then there is the questions of an SSL certificate.
You may feel that this is just the last straw and you cannot afford to have one on your site. However, sometimes with business spending you need to look at the value for money rather than the actual cost. Do not consider whether it is expensive but whether it is expensive for what it is.
An SSL certificate will protect your customers when they are shopping on your website. It will encrypt their bank details so that they are sent securely and not compromised. Many eCommerce systems will insist that you have one.
If you cannot do business without one, then you will have little choice but to buy one as you will have no income source from your website anyway. Even if it is not insisted upon, you need to consider whether people will actually consider buying form you if you do not.
Some companies get around this by asking customers to post cheques to them rather than making an online payment. However, this is a bigger effort for the customer and they will have to pay postage to get the cheque to you. If they are abroad they may not be able to pay this way either. This means that it could have a big effect on how much you sell.
Using a payment processor will mean that they will need the SSL certificate and not you. This could be a way to save money but you will need to decide whether it is the right thing to do for you and your customers. Will they be happy using a third party site to make payments or not.
Most people are used to using other companies to make payments but some are more trusted than others. It is worth considering what country your customers are based in and which payment processor might be best for them. Some only deal with certain countries and the charges may vary between countries as well. Find out more about them before deciding and you may find that using a merchant account will be the way to go and paying the extra for the SSL certificate will be worthwhile.
Obviously you do not want to get your company into big financial trouble by spending too much on the website. However, if the SSL certificate is crucial then maybe you will have to cut down elsewhere. It may be that you could find someone cheaper to design it, for example or even design it yourself.