How online merchant services factor into the success of your eCommerce business
ore people are shopping online than ever before, because for some consumers, it’s much easier and more convenient than visiting a physical location. And, with a worldwide estimated annual growth rate of nearly 11% through 2020, it's time to pay closer attention to online merchant accounts. Whether you're in the market for your first online merchant account, or considering upgrading your options going forward, there are some things to consider. Here are the top three criteria to think about when considering implementing or upgrading your online merchant accounts.
Online Payments Acceptance
Even if you have an established customer base, it can be difficult to stay ahead of customer payment preferences and trends. At a minimum, your online merchant account should provide the basic versatility of credit and debit card acceptance, including popular brands such as Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. You may also want to accept ACH payments, where customers’ demand deposit accounts are the source of funding, as well as the leading alternative payment types such as PayPal. Further consideration is due if your customers demand more advanced payment offerings such as in-app payments that allow them to shop and pay for items, say, directly through smartphone devices.
After online payment acceptance, the second imperative criteria for online merchant accounts center squarely on protecting your brand, your business, and your customers. In other words, digital security. Understanding what your provider will do to protect your business and your customers from fraud, while providing you with card data security comfort are critical considerations for online payment processing and merchant accounts. You want to be sure to look for protection solutions that are integrated right into the online merchant account—whether it's integrated with the payment, or the software platform that you use to accept payments, this could come in a few different forms.
What you want is to know is that you're covered on the fraud detection and protection fronts, and that you have access to services such as tokenization, which basically render your customers' card data useless to criminals if it's tapped into while the data is being transmitted, say for authorization, or it is at rest for example, in storage for repeat use on your website. In some instances today, your online merchant account provider is a processor who offers these levels of protection and also has available services such as hosted-checkout/paypage. These services virtually remove any card-related data from ever hitting your systems for authorization or storage and put the responsibility of managing that security back on your provider.
Make sure your online merchant account or your online payments acceptance comes with at least basic fraud detection and protection tools. The more your business sells to international customers, across a wider geography etc., you may want more advanced fraud tools that help you with geographical and device identity to ensure that you are safe from fraudsters overseas.
If you plan on attracting international customers, capitalizing on the growth of international eCommerce, you need to think about online international payments acceptance. Many online merchant account or payment providers include international acceptance, some do not. It's a good rule of thumb to think about your needs here: what are the most popular currencies? Where are your customers coming from? Is your goal to accept in your customers' native currencies or is it to settle in a foreign currency? For most businesses this will be about acceptance and authorizing, while settling in U.S. dollars.
Starting with these three areas—online payments acceptance, fraud and security and international payments—can help you think more intelligently about choosing or upgrading an online merchant account for your business. Getting what's right for you, or not, in these three areas will go a long way in contributing to the success of your payments and your eCommerce business overall.