All about online payment services
It used to be that consumers living far from urban areas had to travel to get the products they needed, whether groceries or clothing. An entire day was often devoted to the task. All that changed with the internet and online shopping. Now, a consumer can find just about anything they want in the wide world of the web.
Consumers who lived in remote areas prior to the internet often missed out on trending products simply because they couldn’t access the stores where these products were sold. In a similar fashion, merchants that aren’t selling their wares online today are missing out on capturing new, potentially loyal and lucrative customers.
So where does a small business owner begin when they decide to begin accepting credit card payments online? What should a merchant look for in a solution that allows their customers to pay online? In this article, we’ll dive into the wide open world of online payment services.
First steps to accepting credit and debit card payments online
So, you want to accept payments online. Before exploring your options in online payment service providers, it’s best to evaluate your own business so you have a clear picture of where you’re starting from. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
1) Do you already have a website?
- Yes. If you already have a website, you’ll need an online payment services provider that can integrate a shopping cart solution to your website. This may take the form of a payment gateway, which connects a merchant’s website with a payment processing provider.
- No. If you don’t have a website, you will need a provider that can build out everything for you, from your business’ site to shopping cart and checkout functionality. There are many options available, from a full service provider like Shopify to an integrated online payments solution from a company like Vantiv.
2) What is your budget in terms of both time and money?
- Not that big. Many online payment solutions are designed to get merchants up and running quickly with a bundled, all-in-one solution, but merchants will have to pay a little more for the convenience. These turn-key solutions are easy to turn on, but not always easy to modify. It’s important to weight these pros and cons.
- Pretty sizeable. More established or technically savvy merchants may want to spend the extra money to implement a customized integrated online payment system. With an integrated payment solutions, the provider works closely with the merchant to develop the exact solution they are looking for.
Bundled online payment options are a particularly good option for merchants that don’t yet have a website, or want to add a shopping cart to their existing website. For many small merchants, paying a little extra to avoid time constraints and extra hassles is well worth it.
Unlike a bundled solution, an integrated solution isn’t a one-size-fits-all option. Some companies, like Vantiv for example, offer developer code that merchants with more technical expertise can download themselves to integrate eCommerce capability to an existing site.
3) Do you want to sell internationally?
- Yes. If you want to reach customers across the border there are a couple things to consider right off the bat. Do you want to present the price in a foreign currency but settle in the U.S. dollar? Or do you want to present, authorize, and settle in the foreign currency?
- No, but maybe in the future. Selling internationally opens up the possibilities for a business to expand even further, but also demands a more thought-out approach. Shipping is one consideration. For example, selling digital goods on an international basis (such as online video subscriptions, photo services, blog memberships, etc.) is much easier than selling physical products, since no shipping is required. For merchants that may want to sell internationally in the future, it’s important to find a provider that can offer the capability if and when the need arises.
The first option is the simplest way to venture into international credit card processing, so for most small merchants, it’s the best choice. It also allows merchants to test the waters to see which countries originate the most sales. This option is easier for most merchants since no extra integration and approvals are required. The only major drawback is this option costs a little more, but again, it may be worth it especially for small merchants.
The second option is more appropriate for a merchant that is targeting sales in one or two countries. It’s a bit more complicated because it requires a banking presence in those countries and compliance with additional regulations. Still, this is a viable option especially for businesses with more specialized sales and customer targets.
5 things to look for in an online payment services solution
Whether you are simply adding shopping cart functionality to an existing site, or starting from scratch in terms of building a brand new site to accept online payments, here are five things to look for in a potential provider:
- Quick and easy on boarding. As the old adage goes, time is money. The faster you can be up and running accepting online payments, the sooner you can reach your sales and customer goals.
- Wide array of security tools. Security is a big deal with online payments. Look for a solution that employs fraud screening and chargeback tools and protections, as well as security solutions like tokenization.
- Value added solutions. Gift cards and transaction reporting are just two of the many solutions available today to help merchants both extend their reach and streamline business operations.
- Breadth in payment options. In addition to accepting all the major card brands, look for a provider that can support other payment types including ACH, e-check, and who can support in-app mobile wallet experiences like ApplePay and Android Pay.
- Payment processor experience. In the world of payments, experience does matter. Larger providers like Vantiv offer the online payments tools, resources and breadth of experience that can help a small business grow.
As consumers become more attuned to shopping online for the things they want and need, offering goods and services online is a positive step for almost any type of business. To find the best provider match for your business, begin by evaluating your own business needs first. Then take a look at what the providers offer. The best option will become clear, and you can begin selling confidently online.