But that’s all changed. The internet allows any business to promote and sell through an e-commerce website – and to process payments seamlessly using payment gateways.
Online sales have been rising exponentially for some time now. According to the Office for National Statistics, online sales as a proportion of all retailing reached a record high of 33.4% in May 2020. Ongoing restrictions through the remainder of 2020 and into 2021 will only have helped to accelerate this upward trend, and when things do return to normal again, it’s likely the shift to online shopping will remain.
And it’s not just traditional retail businesses that are benefitting from online sales. All kinds of organisations are finding that having the facility to sell via their website opens up new opportunities.
So, if you’re not yet set up to take payment online, you could be missing out on a valuable and growing source of revenue.
Before we look at the key things to keep in mind when choosing a payment gateway for your business, let’s take a step back and consider what a payment gateway is and how it works.
An essential component of any e-commerce website, a payment gateway is a third-party solution that does the same job as a cash register in a bricks and mortar store. Sitting between the customer and the business, it facilitates the financial aspect of the transaction, allowing the business to accept payment, giving the customer a choice of digital payment options, and seamlessly and securely moving funds from the customer to the business.
When a customer confirms an order by clicking the ‘buy now’ button on a website and makes payment using their preferred method, details of the transaction are sent automatically to the payment gateway. Subject to the customer having sufficient funds available, the issuing bank will authorise the transaction and settle the amount with the payment gateway, which in turn will pay the business.
If you’re considering a payment gateway for your website, here are seven essential considerations:
- Does it integrate with your website?
When you start your search for a payment gateway, you’ll quickly find there are many to choose from. It can seem confusing, but before you start drilling down into the detail and weighing up the pros and cons of different solutions, check the options you’re interested in are compatible with the software platform on which your website is built.
- How long is the set-up process?
Your business will need to be approved as a merchant vendor. The set-up process will require you to share information about your business with the gateway provider so they can assess the level of risk your business represents.
It's important to check your business will be operating under its own merchant account. Many providers don’t give customers their own account right away, instead setting them up under an ‘umbrella’ account while they conduct checks. The authorisation process may take weeks or months, and if an issue is identified, a customer might find themselves locked out of their account indefinitely.
- Will the security of your business & your customers be assured?
It’s essential to ensure the payment gateway solution you select will provide the highest level of cybersecurity. Your customers will want to know they can trust you to keep their information secure and protect them from fraud – and you’ll want to be sure your system is not exposed to the threat of hacking or data breaches.
The PCI Security Standards Council sets compliance standards for the payment gateway sector and works to monitor threats and improve the industry’s means of dealing with them. Before you commit to a solution, check what security measures are provided and make sure your provider is fully PCI compliant.
- Does it support multiple payment methods?
Making the purchase experience as convenient as possible is key to increasing sales, and a key part of this is giving your customers a choice in how they make their payment. For this reason, it’s crucial the gateway you choose supports multiple payment methods, so your customers have the option to pay in the way that’s easiest for them.
- What fees will you have to pay?
It’s vital to stress that your decision on which gateway to use should not be based on price alone. This said, you’ll want to be sure you’re getting best value.
Because pricing structures vary between providers, comparing on a like for like basis can be confusing. Pricing will usually be based on the volume of transactions processed with different fees for local and international cards. Some gateways charge set up and annual maintenance fees, and you’ll need to be alert to extra charges and hidden costs.
- How long is the settlement period?
With any payment gateway, there is always a time lag between a customer making a purchase, and the money they pay appearing in your account. This is called the settlement period. It can vary widely from provider to provider, with some paying out the next day and others holding on to funds for as long as 30 days. Some providers will offer different fees depending on how promptly you want to receive payment.
Speed of settlement is an important consideration because it can have serious implications for cash flow.
- What level of customer support will you receive?
Any interruption to the service you receive from your provider will have a financial (and potentially a reputational) impact on your business. It’s critical then, that if there is a technical or administrative issue with taking or processing payments, you’re able to resolve it as quickly as possible.
Many providers automate their customer service function. Not being able to contact your provider immediately can be frustrating and costly, so it’s advisable to choose one that can guarantee a fast response to any issues that may arise.
Here at Wicko Design, we’ve designed and built many e-commerce websites, and we’re experienced in working with a range of payment gateway solutions.
Wicko Design helps getgofone set up with GR8PAY
One of our most recent projects was working in partnership with solutions provider Kid-A to create an online store for our client getgofone. A mobile accessories platform, getgofone provides customers with offers to complement their device and lifestyle.
getgofone needed a solution that would give their customers a fast, easy and flexible way to pay for products – one that would also have the capacity to support a high volume of customer transactions. Together with our client, we explored a number of options, and after extensive discussions with several providers, selected to use GR8PAY.
Our decision to partner with GR8PAY was based on a range of factors including:
- GR8PAY’s upfront authorisation process means customers operate under their own merchant account from the outset. Checks can take around seven working days, but it means customers can have total peace of mind.
- GR8PAY work with customers through the authorisation process. If necessary, they’ll recommend what action is needed for a successful decision: this could be as simple as making a change to terms and conditions or a delivery policy. In contrast, most providers use an automated process, simply giving a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer and offering no help or advice if the result is negative.
- GR8PAY are PCI level 1 compliant, and their system uses Artificial Intelligence to scan continuously for potential fraud. Our client conducted robust testing of the GR8PAY system to check it could not be breached.
- GR8PAY’s standard pricing is competitive, but they are also able to create bespoke deals for high volume/high value customers.
- GR8PAY customers have a dedicated account manager they can email or call any time within business hours.
Let Wicko Design Help You Set Up Your Payment Gateway
Wicko can help with all aspects of setting up an e-commerce website, including recommending and integrating a payment gateway that’s right for your business.
If you already have a website and want to add a payment gateway to sell your products or services online – or if you need to set up an online store from scratch, we can help you.