If your business wants to accept online payments from clients or customers, there are many options to choose from, ranging from small start-ups to large, well-known corporations.
Each payment solution offers a unique set of features, and fees vary depending on the provider, the volume of payments processed every month and the level of customer support provided.
In order to select the right solution, first consider your business’s needs. Do you need to process just a few transactions each month or will you have hundreds, or even thousands? What types of payments does your business need to accept? Does your business typically need a strong level of support from vendors or are you more self-serve? Do you have international customers?
There are five main things to look for in an online payment solution:
1. Easy integration
It should be easy to incorporate the payment system into your online store or website.
2. E-commerce solution
The payments vendor should provide a shopping cart and buy buttons for use on your site, and should have the capability to build an entire e-commerce site for your business if you don’t already have one.
3. Easy for customers to use
If customers struggle to make their payments online, they may not complete the transaction, and they certainly won’t return to the site to try again. Item selection and checkout should be easy and done in as few steps as possible, even if someone checks out as a guest instead of a registered customer.
4. Offline capabilities
If you also sell goods or services in-person, the best online credit card processors offer offline sales, for instance, using a mobile credit card processing dongle.
Most online payment providers charge a monthly fee as well as a per-transaction fee, and these can differ greatly from one vendor to the next. Be sure to ask about fees and see if there are any other fees for maintenance or support.
You’ll also want to be sure that the provider you select has a proven payments track record, works well within your industry, offers a good level of customer support and runs a secure system that can detect and protect against fraud.
Types of payment solutions
As you consider those factors, keep in mind that there are three types of payment solutions: Merchant accounts with a payment gateway; all-in-one solutions; and basic credit card processors.
A merchant account is a bank account that lets you accept credit card payments. Your business must apply for it at your bank. A payment gateway is used in conjunction with a business’s merchant account, allowing for payments to be made online. This two-pronged solution is typically a better fit for a large business.
Once you’ve selected an online payment option, take the time to ask questions about fees and negotiate fees if you are able. Make sure you understand how long it takes to implement the solution and what it will take to integrate the payment system with your website or online store. Finally, be sure to ask about the level of customer support provided to ensure that you can get answers to your questions as needed and you have a resource to turn to if the system goes down.
Kelly Burkart is a freelance writer from Minneapolis, Minn. While she has spent most of her time writing about financial services the past 15 years, she has also explored and written about everything from cardiovascular health to travel, higher education and sustainable energy practices.