Internet payments systems: 9 tips for selecting the best for your business
Accepting payments online is becoming the new normal for today’s businesses. Whether you sell products or services, and do so online, in-store, or both, giving your customers easy ways to pay via the internet makes life easy for them, and for you.
If you make wise choices, your payments system can help your business grow. And isn’t that the point? Your internet payment system should help––not hinder––your business.
Although paying online is becoming more common, not every merchant has a clear understanding of how it works. So, let’s try to break this topic down into a few simple nuggets. What are the fundamental, most essential considerations when scrolling through the dozens of choices you have in internet payment systems? And how can the provider you choose help grow your business?
1) Payment security
Consider this: 43% of cyber attacks target small business. It’s a big deterrent for your customers to purchase online, especially if you’re a small-to-medium sized business (SMB). If you want to grow your customer base using eCommerce, providing safe payments transactions for your customers is priority numero uno.
Most online payments are card-not-present transactions, so it’s essential to make sure your merchant account and payment gateway––whether separate entities or an all-in-one integrated payments system––are secure. A data breach can put your business at risk financially, but even worse, it can risk your reputation well into the future. It’s critically important to ensure the payment processor and solution you choose provide the high level of security that will secure payment transactions and protect your business and your customers.
Questions you should ask your credit card processing partner include: Is the payment system PCI compliant? Does it have extra security built in? Does the system use tokenization, a fraud-fighting transaction method that disguises data and makes it unusable to cyber thieves? Does it employ encryption, which protects sensitive data while in transit?
2) Ease of integration
How easy is it to set up your internet payments system? Some systems can be implemented in minutes, while others may take days. Some require merchant accounts and added gateways, while fully integrated solutions can work seamlessly with your website and shopping cart.
Your choice may depend on how much control you have––or want to have––over your website and online payments. If you’re working on an eCommerce shopping platform such as Shopify, easy integration methods are built right in. With a few clicks and some basic information, you can get set up on some of the most common payment platforms. If you’ve hired a developer to build your site from scratch, you may select a different payment platform based on their recommendation and ease of integration with your system.
It’s also important to consider your customers’ online experience. If your payments system is a third party system, customers will be taken to another site to process a payment, and you lose control over that piece of the customer experience. An integrated payments process will feel seamless to your customer and keep your brand experience consistent.
It’s important to remember that the solution that is fastest and easiest to implement is not necessarily the best option. Think about functionality down the road. Which payments system the most secure? Which one gives you the most control over your business?
3) Transaction fees
What’s it going to cost you? As expected, there will be fees with any payment transaction. The question is, how much are the fees, and what percentage of your profit will be going toward paying those fees? But, don’t base your decision on fees alone. For example, the cost of a transaction may be worth the ease of setup and implementation, and the ability to offer your customers a fast, seamless shopping and checkout experience. Fees shouldn’t be your first consideration, but possibly your third. Most times, you get what you pay for. Before you choose a provider and solution, inquire about what the fees cover, and what they do not.
4) Give customers payments choices
The more payments types you can accept from your customers, the more professional and accommodating you’ll appear––and the fewer reasons they’ll have to say no. For instance, if you allow your customers to pay in person with a chip card, online, or using a mobile wallet, they’ll be more likely to actually make a purchase and return to your business in the future.
According to creditcard.com, between May 2016 and June 2016, the percentage of all consumers who made mobile payments increased from 30 percent to 74 percent. In-app and online purchases on mobile phones also rose- from 23 percent to 55 percent. Over the next few years, mobile payments will continue to grow, whether their in-app, on-online or through NFC payments such as Apple Pay.
In addition, if you have a brick-and-mortar store or a service-oriented on-the-go business, such as a delivery service or massage therapy business, offering your customers more ways to pay is both convenient and can help your business grow. Online payments on a laptop, tablet or other mPOS devices allow you to be more mobile while accepting payments, whether onsite or offsite.
You can also choose an online payments systems that can help you track customer purchases, so you can better understand who your customers are, and when and how they buy. These customer insights can help you better target current and new customers with your marketing efforts, and help you grow your business. When selecting from the many internet payment platforms available, be sure to inquire about data analytic capabilities. Find out how easy these functions are to access, understand and use.
6) International payments
Are you comfortable accepting global payments? Are customers from other countries comfortable buying from you? As you open your business up to the world, consider which online payment systems are trusted and reliable for global purchases in all different currencies. Choosing the right eCommerce provider for global purchases will expose your business to a whole world of commerce.
As your business grows, can your payments system handle it? Scalabilty is key if you want to grow fast. Will you need a different payment processing system if you’ve just opened another location, or a new eCommerce site? Consider your long-term plans for your business and your expected rate of growth. Look for a provider that offers a wide range of capabilities to help a small business grow into a larger one, and is able to support that progress every step of the way.
8) Real-time payments
How long does it take to process a payment and complete the transaction? After your customer submits a payment, when will it post to their account? How long does it take for your business to receive the funds? It’s important to get a clear understanding about these time frames so that you can plan accordingly, and so you can let your customers know.
9) Customer support
It’s easy to forget about customer support until you really need it. So make sure the provider you choose is going to be available to offer the support you need when you need it. If your payments system goes down, it can result in lost sales and irritated customers who may not return to your business. Find out about the type of support your provider offers. Is it 24/7, or just during business hours? Can you get help on holidays? Are there extra fees for support? What type of support options are available, i.e. phone, email, chat, customer forums?
When looking to accept online payments at your business, be sure to look for a solution that is secure, can work with your existing business systems, and offers a variety of payment choices to meet your customers’ preferences. A quality ecommerce payment solution can help your business attract and retain the loyal customers your business needs to grow.
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