Most businesses these days have websites. If you do and you want to be able to accept online payments, it’s never been easier to set up a basic operation. Here’s what you need to know.
The ability to trade online has given companies a superb opportunity to expand their businesses across borders, both national and international. Literally, the world can be your oyster these days.
An ecommerce strategy might sound rather grand but it just comes down to being able to offer your products or services online. And as part of your ecommerce package, usually provided by your website builder or host, you need to be able to take online payments, a seamless operation where your customers can pay via credit or debit card.
It used to be that you would need a merchant account (a business account that allows you to accept card payments) and then an online payment gateway that acts as a go-between, between the various parties involved in such transactions (for example your bank and your customer’s bank).
Nowadays, you can great all-in-one solutions that are far easier for you. They are offered by online companies who have developed systems that are seamless for you and your customer, and are usually quick. The costs for running such systems are minimal and if you use these, there is no need for a merchant account or a payment gateway.
The customer enters the payment and it is instantly processed – it’s as quick as that, no fuss and no pain. This not only helps your clients pay quickly (it’s amazing how many people change their minds if they cannot access the payment system with the minimum of fuss) and it gives your business a professional feeling that should translate into increased sales.
Two words of caution, though – firstly, if you are thinking about online sales, ensure you use a system that helps spot fraudulent transactions. These are on the increase and there is always someone out there who is determined to get your products without paying for them.
The key here is to work with your online payment provider and ensure you use their anti-fraud and checking systems.
Secondly, be careful what you do with people’s card details. Use a system that doesn’t put the onus on you regarding the collection of payment and address details. Shift this to your provider, because there are stringent rules about the use and collection of a person’s data.
In short, you must be extremely careful and vigilant when it comes to online payments – one careless error could at best bring you a nasty fine, or at worst mean your business gets closed down.
The internet has brought us new freedoms but it has also brought new worries.
Accepting online payments
We spoke to Paul Hyman, founder of Active360, a paddle boarding business and general sports business. His business looks at sport from every angle, from participation right through to equipment and staff training. Uppermost in his mind is how to give his customers the best possible sporting experience.
As for he how approaches the subject of online payments, he said: “We have an online booking system which allows you to go in, register yourself and then pay online for your activity.”
Paul makes the point that their online system has given them a great deal of flexibility and allows their customers to use their cards to pay for activities.
Does your business accept online payments or is that something you’re planning to add in the future? Let us know in the comments below.