Taking payments online there and then is one of the easiest ways to increase conversions.
The second you ask your customers to phone, send a cheque or wait for an invoice you're putting another barrier between them and the sale.
Taking payments online doesn't work for every business (like ours for example) but for the ones that it does work for, having the right people dealing with your money is essential.
Using the best payment processors will increase levels of trust and also help your cash flow situation as well as offering other more obvious benefits.
A lot of businesses go down the more traditional route of using merchant services from the bank they hold their business account with and whilst this isn't a terrible idea if you're doing a lot of online trade, it's not cost effective for the little guy and there are plenty of better alternatives out there today.
Here's a few you should take a look at if you're not going down the expensive merchant road...
PayPal are the biggest (and to a certain extent the best) online payment processor out there today.
With over 100 million active users world wide and millions going through their system everyday, they know how to deal with money.
Their base rate is 3.5% of every transaction which is competitive and if you're using them regularly you'll be able to get this to under 3% making them very competitive indeed.Their customer service can be difficult at times but if you're trading ethically then you shouldn't run into too many problems once you've jumped through their hoops.
They're only trying to look after you as much as your customers at the end of the day.
Being able to withdraw money on the spot makes managing cash flow a lot easier and the fact that PayPal are a name that people trust will also aid your cause to make sales online.
Take a look at their business services information and see if this is a payment processor that can help your business grow.
SagePay could be described as the online equivalent of using merchant services and with 45,000 active users in the UK & Ireland they're well equipped to handle your money.
They claim to be the “Most comprehensive overall solution for the lowest overall cost” and it's pretty hard to argue with this.
Their facilities will set you back from as little as £25/month and this low fee will ensure you have everything you need to handle credit/debit card payments online.
They offer excellent integration options and have 24/7 customer support (that is very good when compared with others) so should a problem arise, it's dealt with very quickly.
They're a recognized name which again, increases levels of trust with your buyers and offer a top quality “all in one” solution to taking payments online.
Transaction charges can reach as low as 10p/sale if you're doing the right volume and this small charge is well worth paying for the overall convenience SagePay offer their users.
GoCardless is a relatively new online payment processor which is really tailored for businesses in the service industry and more specifically, businesses that charge customers on a monthly basis.
Whilst the other payment processors are geared towards accepting credit cards, GoCardless is designed to take direct debits at a fraction of the cost a bank would charge.
There is no monthly fees, no hidden fees and no contract. You simply pay 1% per transaction and this is capped at £2.
It's mightily affordable and payouts are made every 7 days like clockwork so you never run into cashflow problems.
This is a UK-only service so businesses in the global marketplace may not see much value in using it but if your entire customer base is in the UK and you want leading technology in the recurring payment department then this is absolutely brilliant.
A Couple To Avoid...
Ultimately, by the time you're on board with our top three recommendations you can process any payment you wish and there would be no need to look at other options but whilst we're here, let's take a look at a few others that are more “miss” than “hit”...
Moneybookers is now called Skrill and the changeover will perhaps see them come to the party a little bit more in the future but for now, they remain well behind the leaders.
It's perhaps a little harsh to file them under the “avoid” bracket as they don't do much wrong but they offer very little that PayPal don't already (and PayPal do a much better job 99% of the time) and also don't offer that “trust” factor that is all important when users are typing in personal information on the web.
Not terrible by any means but equally, it's not really worth your time signing up.
2Checkout has been a popular choice with digital sellers but running into problems is more common with them.
The $50 sign up fee immediately puts them at a higher price than better competitors and whilst they'll happily accept the sign up fee, they'll just as happily suspend your account with little to no warning further down the line.
A Final Note
Generally speaking, you just need a payment processor that can handle your needs and perhaps only PayPal, SagePay, GoCardless and WorldPay (who we have not discussed but are very good also) are companies that can offer that with minimum hassle.
The second you start dealing with the smaller payment processors you can run into monthly limits, money being held and additional verification processors which can cause serious stress as well as damage to your reputation.
If you're not sure about a particular service then you can always contact us for our advice or even better, speak directly with the company and see if they can offer you the assurances you need to make an informed decision on whether they're going to be easy to work with moving forward...