eCommerce is steadily becoming the most commonplace method of sales in the United States. eMarketer sales will total $349.1 billion with a 14.2% increase, according to eMarketer. However, this is still not much compared to brick-and-mortar sales: eCommerce makes up just 7.1% of total retail sales.
This might come as a bit of a shock to those of us who spend our lunch breaks perusing the web for sales, but the growth is an indication of the valuable impact eCommerce will be making on our shopping habits. We are shopping online, and this isn’t going to change.
eCommerce is the trade of products and services online, which often includes technologies like electronic payments via ACH or credit card in order to facilitate the trade. eCommerce involves a wide variety of players and requirements, but payments are a huge part of this endeavor.
Most eRetailers require some trade of goods and services for currency, and this is precisely where payments step in. If you’re planning on running an eCommerce site, you’ll need to select a payment gateway. Choosing is no easy task, but here are some top things to look for in your gateway provider.
You can take payment information from customers in three different ways.
- Using your own payment form, posted to your own server
- Using your own payment form, posted to a secure payment gateway
The first of these methods is the easiest, but the least secure. This means you manage all of the payment information on your own, which increases your likelihood to not be PCI compliant – something all merchants need to consider seriously.
The second method redirects customers to a hosted payment page, where a third party will take and store the sensitive payment information. This addresses the security issue, but it is not as streamlined. It will likely be obvious to the consumer that the hosted page does not match your page, and this may increase chances of cart abandonment.
Finally, the compromise. You can use your own form but reroute the payment information to secure gateway’s server, which is the best of both worlds. You can ensure continuity between your form and site, but will be alleviated of PCI burden. Gateway providers like Forte can offer solutions like this for eCommerce sites.
Single source solutions
When shopping for a payment gateway, you also will need a merchant account in order to accept payments. Some providers only offer the gateway, which requires that you find another provider to supply the merchant account. This can mean you are working with two different entities, which can complicate things.
It is possible to find an all-in-one provider who supplies both the payment gateway and the merchant account, such as Forte. This means one invoice for everything. Additionally, there may be the added benefit of a single login to manage all reporting, transactions, users, and other data. This type of convenience can be a real benefit for many merchants, especially those just starting out.
Contracts and fees
When it comes to payments, one thing that is not simple is the fees. There are various fees that range from per transaction fees to monthly fees, chargebacks fees, and fees for using special cards or unusual payment methods. You’ll want to inquire with the gateway provider about their fees and make sure you understand the way these things work.
Additionally, contracts can range from short-term, flexible contracts to long-term ones with hefty termination fees. Be sure to ask about the contract when shopping around.
Choosing the right payment gateway for your business is no easy task, but most providers will make this information transparent. If you need additional help finding a gateway, don’t hesitate to call one of our payment specialists at 866.290.5400 and visit our website here.
Photo credit: Bench Accounting