Selling things online can be complicated. There are web shops to design, product descriptions to create, and payment methods to set up. The latter is probably the single most important part of the process - for a very simple reason.
If your customers can't pay, they won't buy.
So how do you accept payments online? Let’s look at it step by step.
1. Evaluate your business
The first thing you need to do is to take a good look at your business. Here are some questions to ask:
How large is your business?
A large company may consider building its own in-house payment system. This, however, is a formidable technical challenge that requires solid IT infrastructure. If you are just starting out, you might be better off with third party payment processors.
Fortunately, the market for online payment systems is huge – and growing. There are plenty of payment platforms to choose from, and you want to find one that fits your company.
Where are you located?
Some payment processing companies may not work in your country. Even those that do might have limited experience in your market.
What are you selling?
Different payment methods are best suited for different products. In most cases, a simple credit card payment will do just fine. If your product is a bit of an impulse purchase, consider a more seamless payment solution such as mobile payment systems.
2. Identify your clients
Next, consider the people who will hit the Pay button.
How do they pay?
Online shopping is increasingly popular, and most people already have at least some experience with electronic payments. More payment methods, however, may help you reach a wider audience. Do you need to reach those who don’t have credit cards? You can do this with digital payment solutions such as paying by cheque online.
Do you have a steady customer base?
They really don’t want to punch in their credit card data every time they make a purchase. Make sure you can provide saved card payments.
Do you need recurring payments?
These allow you to charge your customers a certain sum of money every month – they are a must for subscription-based businesses.
3. Plan your growth
When it comes to online payments, one size doesn’t fit all.
How scalable is your business?
If you plan to keep it small, an off-the-shelf flat-rate solution may work. Their set-up costs are low, and their pricing structure simple. Usually, you pay a fixed rate for each payment. If you plan to grow, however, those costs will soon add up. Tailor-made solutions will provide a better rate as your volume grows.
Now, you might be thinking – all right, I’ll start small and switch later. But how easy will it be? Growing is complicated as it is. Do you need another growth problem?
4. Choose your payment service provider
Now that you have a comprehensive list of what you will need, you can start looking for a payment service provider. You already know what to look for. You need a provider who fits your size and can stay with you as you grow. You also need a provider who knows your market and can reach your clients.
Here are some other things to consider:
How good is their support?
You can be sure of one thing: problems can and will arise. You will have clients complaining they cannot pay. You will have clients claiming they have been charged for purchases they didn’t make. You will have clients demanding refunds. When they do, you really want to have your provider at your side.
What’s more, a good provider can anticipate your problems before they arise. They have seen it before, so they can help you learn from other people’s mistakes.
A tailor-made payment service provider will provide your own account manager. When you call them, they will know who you are and what are your most common issues. They will know what products may be suitable for your business, and they will provide recommendations.
How reliable are they?
What is their uptime? After all, payments are how you get your money from your customers. The rest of your business may be perfect, but any problems with payments will immediately show up in your money flow.
Shop around. Not to sound too dramatic, but it is a major business decision. A good match, made with scalability in mind, can last for years. Remember, problems are all but guaranteed to happen. Ideally, you want your provider to deal with them, so you can focus on your own business.
5. Putting it all together
Finally, it is time to put it all together and launch your payment page.
As you design your payment page, look for help from your payment provider. Most will have some ready-made webpage code you can put on your payment page. They will also provide clear instructions on how to integrate it in your own site. This means that you don’t have to get too much into technical details. Your provider will handle what happens when your customers click the Buy button.
This is something that really should be there. If it isn’t, this might be a good time to reconsider your choice of payment service provider.
As an additional bonus, your provider may have ready-made code for mobile applications, also known as mSDK. If you already have a mobile app, this is vital. If you don’t, keep scalability in mind. Mobile shopping is here to stay, and that’s an understatement. Eventually, you might need an app.
Then you have to actually set up your account with the payment provider; this is known as onboarding. With all the anti-money-laundering regulations in place, there will be a fair amount of paperwork to fill out. Again, this is a good opportunity to check how your provider handles it. If they provide clear instructions on how to do it and guide you through the entire process, it is a good sign.
Got it? Good luck!