What to look for in a payment gateway
A payment gateway enables you to capture more sales, attract new customers and grow your business quickly. If you aren’t familiar with the term, a “payment gateway” is a web-based service provider that authorizes credit card payments for a wide variety of businesses, including online retailers, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, and merchants who do business both on- and offline. Basically, a payment gateway enables your business to accept and process credit cards without a POS terminal. Read on for some factors you need to consider when you’re thinking about implementing a payment gateway for your business.
Compatibility with your current eCommerce platform
If you already have an eCommerce platform in place, selecting a payment gateway that is compatible with that platform will save you setup time and implementation costs. Today’s payment gateways are relatively easy to set up for anyone with a basic understanding of the internet. A variety of plug-ins and extensions are available to help you integrate your eCommerce platform with the payment gateway you choose. So, even if you aren’t a web designer, you should still be able to implement your payment gateway on your site fairly easily.
How you want your customers to enter their payment information
One major factor you’ll need to consider when you’re selecting a payment gateway is how—and where—you want your customers to enter their payment information to complete their transaction on your eCommerce site. Here are the three main ways you can handle this:
- Entered on your site, stored on your server. This is where your website captures, stores and processes all payment data. Your servers will be responsible for securing all data. Though this is often the smoothest experience for customers, it is the least secure. What’s more, if you’re a small business, capturing and storing all this sensitive data yourself will probably not be cost effective.
- iFrame or redirect. In this scenario, your customers select their payment option and are redirected to another secure page to enter their payment details. Or you may be able to include an iFrame right on your webpage, where your customers will enter their payment details, but this information is really part of another hosted server. Either way, the payment gateway is truly handling your customers’ sensitive information. So, this approach would usually be preferred to the first option. The downside to the iFrame or redirect is that the look-and-feel of the payment detail page may not match the rest of your shopping and checkout experience. However, this should be considered a second priority to data security.
- Entered on your site, immediately sent to payment gateway. This is where customers enter their payment details directly on your site and the information is immediately sent to your payment gateway’s server. Special code is embedded into that page that signals your server to not handle the information. Instead, it is passed along immediately and securely to your payment gateway. With this setup, you will have to worry less about security than with customers entering all payment information directly on your website, but your liability will be higher than with the iFrame or redirect approach.
Your payments processor can help you determine which of the above customer payment data entry experiences would be best for your business, so you can select the payment gateway that provides that experience.
Understand the fees involved
Like anything when it comes to business, you need to have a clear understanding of the fees involved before proceeding with a payment gateway agreement. Here are some of the types of fees you may be charged when it comes to using a payment gateway:
- Setup fees
- Monthly fees
- Flat-rate per-transaction fees
- Percentage-based per-transaction fees
- Chargeback fees
- International card fees
Some of these fees may be negotiable, while some may not. Especially if your business has a large processing volume, you may have more leverage when it comes to reducing certain fees such as flat-rate per-transaction or percentage-based per-transaction fees. Make sure you understand what fees your business will be charged before agreeing to a payment gateway contract, so you aren’t stuck with unpleasant surprises when it comes to invoice time.
Know if you’re locked in for the long haul
Knowing the length of your contract term—and whether you’d be able to break it early if needed—is another thing you should clearly understand before you sign on for a payment gateway agreement. Especially if you’re brand new with processing via a payment gateway, you may not want to be committed to the same provider for one year, two years or even longer. Some payment gateway providers are willing to put merchants on a month-to-month contract, so requesting this option may be a good bet for your business. Making sure that you feel comfortable with the terms of your payment gateway agreement will go a long way in your overall payments processing experience.
Research the service providers you’re considering
Once you’ve got your list of potential payment gateways down to just a handful, it’s important that you do your research. Learn more about the reputation of the providers you are considering. Are they known for frequent system outages? How’s their customer service? Are customers generally happy with the payment gateway solution they provide? Ask these questions and more to make sure you’re getting all the information you need before locking in with a payment gateway provider.
Here are some easy ways to do your due diligence to learn more about a service provider you’re considering:
- Read online reviews of the payment gateway.
- Speak with colleagues in your industry to understand which gateways they’ve tried and which ones did and did not work for them.
- Consult your professional organization to see if they have reviews available for payment gateway providers.
Vantiv has a superior reputation in the payments processing industry, and we offer payment gateways for small businesses. We pride ourselves on working closely with the customers we service to understand their needs and create custom solutions to help their grow their businesses. Contact us today to learn more about how a smarter, faster, easier payment gateway can help you attract new customers and boost your brand.