Any company that sells products or services enters into a give-and-take relationship with their customers: They furnish the goods, and the consumer pays for them. If either side of this equation is out of balance, someone is bound to suffer. That is one of the numerous reasons why you as a business owner should recognize the advantages of accepting payments online, and begin adopting this strategy in as many ways as possible.
Why should you accept online payments?
Considering the effects of the global pandemic that we are still experiencing, most retailers already know the answer to this question. Increasingly, consumers are relying on ecommerce to find bargains, browse for and choose products, and pay for them. The internet provides a safe, fast, and convenient way to get the job done, regardless of whether consumers are locked down at home, or so busy running around that they no longer have the time for in-person shopping.
In the end, online payments afford a degree of flexibility, and a consumer-centered focus that leads to higher levels of satisfaction. Happy customers are the ones most likely to come back and to spread the word about your company. From your perspective as a merchant, many of these payment options also enable you to receive your money faster and more reliably, making online payments a win-win all around.
If you’re a bit wary of wading into the whole ecommerce world, don’t be. There are so many options and solutions that are both affordable, and easy to incorporate into your current business model. The choices below can help to prepare your store to meet the future of ecommerce head-on.
Accept credit and debit cards online.
If you’ve already dipped your toes into accepting electronic payments, this is probably the method you have chosen since it is the most familiar and commonly used by customers. In order to accept credit cards online, you will first need to choose an ecommerce payment gateway so that you can securely accept and verify payments. In addition, you will require a dedicated or aggregate merchant account where the funds from your transactions will be deposited, after all fees have been paid to the various players in the process.
A word about protecting data security: Any business, regardless of size, that stores, manages, or transmits credit card data must comply with the digital security standards that have been agreed upon by the various payment card industry companies. Both you and any third-party vendors you work with, must make sure that your internal systems and processes are in compliance with what is known as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, and is more commonly referred to as PCI compliance.
Another popular way to pay is via electronic checks (or echecks). These payments are made via a network known as the Automated Clearing House (ACH). A consumer simply completes an online payment form or uses a software interface to input payment information, including their check routing and account numbers, name, transaction amount, and authorization. Once this is done, the payment is processed electronically without the need for a paper check, or the physical presence of the customer.
Because these types of payments are governed by the National Automated Clearing House Association and not the credit card companies, their fees are different. In many cases, retailers pay less for echeck processing. For this reason, they are one of the top choices for new or small businesses wishing to accommodate online customers.
Take mobile payments.
After recognizing that accepting credit cards or contactless payments from anywhere amounts to advantages for them and their customers, more and more merchants are transitioning to wireless point of sale systems in their physical stores. In addition to offering these upsides, having a mobile payment device and app can attract an entire new sector of buyers who may not be willing or able to enter your brick-and-mortar establishment. The fact is that cellphones have become the browsing and payment method of choice for more consumers with every passing year.
It isn’t as hard as you may think to join the mobile payments revolution, even if you choose not to develop your own native app. Your initial goal should be to optimize the website that you are already using as friendly and accessible to mobile shoppers using small screen devices as possible. This should include large buttons, fast upload times, easy navigation, and a seamless checkout process that will appeal to today’s instant gratification culture.
Add an online payment gateway.
If you want to make it fast and easy for people to give you their money, one of the best ways is to sign up for an ecommerce payment gateway. Once it’s in place, buyers can fill out an easy form to submit their payments. To make things even more worry-free, you can even outsource this service to an online payment company, which can also host the form, and provide secure PCI DSS compliant payment processing, and account storage, lessening or eliminating your compliance burden in the process.
Add email invoicing.
This feature is helpful for service-based companies. It is particularly convenient because it works seamlessly with your other business software. All you need to do is send a bill including an online payment form to your customer. In just a few clicks, they can make a payment and receive a receipt. At the same time, your integrated systems will ensure that your records are instantaneously updated, making reporting in real time possible.
Implement recurring billing.
Once used only by gyms and childcare centers, this subscription-based feature is catching on with numerous sellers. First, there is an initial setup process during which the customer inputs their account information, amount to be paid, the specific date when an account debit will occur, and whether payments will be limited to a finite number or ongoing. Subsequently, buyers can breathe easy knowing that they will never forget to make a payment or incur late fees while sellers will be better able to predict cash flow.
Create an online store.
Sellers who are not tech-savvy or don’t have time or resources have often made the choice to enter the world of ecommerce only partially by launching a display website. Using this, customers can view the products a seller offers but must go to a physical store to seal the deal. While this strategy can help with a multi-channel marketing campaign, it is limited at best.
These days, you can easily and affordably convert your display site into a fully functioning ecommerce store. Once you do, consumers can view your products, order them, and pay online using a secure gateway that safeguards sensitive cardholder data. You can even invest in automated customer service solutions that can help to answer basic questions and solve simple problems while routing more complex ones straight to you.
This feature allows you to accept one-time and recurring payments from all manner of debit or credit cards. If you choose, you can even go global and process international currencies.
As a business owner, you need to do all you can to ensure that the payment options and processes that you offer are flexible and easy for customers to use. By entering into the online marketplace, you will not only offer buyers added convenience and enhanced security, you will also be giving them faster and easier ways to pay. This is a reciprocal process that will get your products to the people who want them, while at the same time ensuring that you get paid in full and on time.