Online shopping isn’t just for large businesses anymore. There are an increasing number of affordable online payment options creating efficiencies for small businesses and providing convenience to their customers, including:
Online stores that allow customers to make purchases online.
Scheduling software that allows customers to pay for services online when they schedule appointments, such as at a doctor’s office.
Online bill pay that allows customers to click “pay now” on their invoices or purchases.
A business owner that has traditionally sold products and services face-to-face in their store can now increase the audience they are marketing to by adding an online store. In a sense, when you have an online store and accept payments online, your business is open 24 hours a day without additional overhead costs.
Your customers can shop at your store from the comfort of their own home or on their mobile phones wherever they are, at any time of day. Many stores even allow customers to make purchases online and pick their items up in the store, as an added convenience.
What to Look for in Online Payment Options
There are three components to accepting online payments.
- The front-end platform; an online store where customers shop and look through products and services.
- The payment gateway that handles the purchase and the payment details.
- The payment processor that connects to credit card networks and processes the payments.
At Northwest Bank, we work closely with Professional Solutions Financial Services to provide a secure payment gateway and direct processing for credit card purchases. Here are some factors they say small businesses should consider when selecting a platform:
- Find an online store platform that is easy to use. Some online store platforms can be very complex and allow for a lot of flexibility and creativity for web-savvy business owners, or those who are hiring web designers to create their online store. For business owners who are going to create the store themselves, an easier template-based platform option like Ecwid may be a better option. Just select a template you like and enter your business’s information.
- Find a platform that is competitively priced. A platform may offer special features for customization at a higher price. Consider the needs of your company. If you just have basic needs, look at platforms that are a more basic and easier on the wallet.
- Choose a secure, PCI compliant gateway. As a business owner, you typically don’t want to store your customers’ payment information in your own system. Payment gateways like Authorize.net and USAePay follow PCI certification guidelines to ensure secure payment and storage of payment information. You can also consider additional security enhancements to prevent fraudulent transactions, such as not allowing transactions from overseas or not allowing purchases over $500.
- Link up with a direct processor. Direct processors, like Professional Solutions Financial Services, have a direct connection to the card networks. Independent sales organizations, on the other hand, act as a middleman between the payment gateways and the processor. Doing business with a direct processor cuts out that middleman and can help keep costs lower.
Some online payment platforms and point-of-sale systems have a captive processing company. This can drive costs up because the processing company is then charging some of the costs back to the point-of-sale companies. Try to find an open-source online payment platform and payment gateway that allows you to use a direct processor of your choice.
Cost Structures for Online Payment Options
Typically, the online store platforms and point-of-sale systems will incur a monthly fee while gateways will charge a monthly fee, plus a small fee for each transaction. Card processors, on the other hand, typically only charge on a per-transaction basis, with fees ranging anywhere from 1% to just over 3% per transaction.
Connecting with Trusted Partners
Contact a Treasury Service Representative at Northwest Bank today to learn more about how you can grow your small business by accepting payments online with a direct processor like Professional Solutions Financial Services.
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