10 tips to start taking digital payments

Published: 16/09/2020

The amount of sales made through digital platforms has been on the rise for many years, thanks to the technological boom of recent decades. In fact, research into online shopping shows some pretty mind-blowing stats:

  • In 2019 the number of internet users shopping online was 82%, an all-time high, and up from 53% in 2008. 
  • Experts predict online shopping will have doubled its share of the retail market by 2028.
  • Consumers are not only shopping more but spending more online than ever before.

Anyone not living under a rock’s aware that 2020 hasn’t been your average year (understatement of the decade), and the impact of COVID-19 on online sales and digital payments has been astronomical:

  • In March 2020 there was a 74% growth in average online transaction volumes compared to the same period last year.
  • Online shopping rates have continued to grow by a whopping 129% week-on-week across the UK and Europe.
  • Experts believe this change in habits is likely to outlive the pandemic, i.e. these changes are here to stay.

No doubt then, as a business owner, you want a slice of the pie. The ability to accept digital payments could help you recover from the effects COVID-19 has had on many businesses, and help to boost your bottoms lines and bolster your sales in the long-term. 

Here at takepayments, helping businesses thrive is our bread and butter, so buckle in for our 10 top tips when starting your digital payments journey.

1. Evaluate your business

First things first you need to step back and take a look at your business and answer some important questions:

  • Will you be online only?
  • How big is your current consumer base?
  • Where are you located?
  • What are you selling?

And so on and so forth. Answering these questions will help you work out what form of digital payment is best suited to your business needs as different solutions work better for different products and environments. 

For example, if you’re setting up a website from scratch and don’t require a high street presence, a payment gateway is likely to be the best fit. On the other hand, if you already run a shop but want to start taking orders over the phone, a virtual terminal would probably suit you better.

2. Plan for growth

It’s always a good idea to consider your future plans when setting up a digital payment solution as a means of future-proofing your business.

While you’ve always got the option to switch up your payment solution, it would save you a lot of time and effort down the line if you prepared in advance, and lord knows growing businesses have enough to deal with as it is.

To give you an example, let’s say your business is making and selling cushions online and after doing some research you decide pay by link is your best option, since to begin with you’ll only be dealing with a handful of customers per month. 

But what if your top-notch marketing efforts mean the orders come flying in six months down the line? Will manually invoicing 10x as many customers really be the best use of your time?

A payment gateway, on the other hand, would work both at the beginning and in the future, and if you opt for a payment provider who offers personalised pricing (spoiler, like us!) you’ll only ever pay what you need to.

3. Research your options

With the above in mind, do your research on the options available on the market for taking digital payments, and the good news is you’ve got plenty to choose from.

We’ve already briefly alluded to a few digital payment methods, but let’s take a closer look at each:

  • Payment gateway - the most well-known form of digital payment system is the payment gateway. It goes on your website and allows customers to browse at their leisure, add what they want to their basket and pay using their card. Payment gateways mean you’re open for business 24/7 as there’s no need for you to be involved in the payment process once it’s set up.
  • Pay by link - pay by link is a super-simple way of getting paid by email. It’s perfect for the likes of tradespeople and mobile services such as venue dressers who want to offer their customers a way to pay digitally but for whom a shopping cart doesn’t make sense. You simply create a custom invoice, pay now button, or link, and pop it in an email to your customer who enters their card details to pay.
  • Virtual terminal - virtual terminals allow you to take card payments digitally over the phone. All you have to do is log-in to a secure page on an internet-enabled device and type in the customer’s card details while they’re on the line. Virtual terminals are a great way for the likes of antique dealers and boutique owners to broaden their customer reach beyond their immediate location. 
  • Beepaid - the takepayments beepaid app is a hot off the press digital payment solution. It’s suitable for a broad range of businesses, from tradespeople and takeaways to those in the hospitality sector with beeorder. To take payment with beepaid, all you do is open the app and create an invoice, send it to your customer and once they’ve entered their details, you get paid. 

Remember: there’s no rule on how many payment options you can offer, so if you think a combination of solutions is right for you, there’s nothing stopping you!

4. Identify the right fit 

Once you’ve gone through the first three steps you’ll be armed with all the information you need to work out which digital payment solution is the right fit for your business. 

For some businesses, it’ll be an easy decision and for others, there might be a couple of contenders - that’s where we can help. We have a team of UK-based experts who can come and visit you, chat about your needs, and help you work out which option is best for you based on your specific needs.

And if you aren’t at that stage yet, our dedicated support team is always available for advice and support over the phone or by email.

5. Set up a merchant account

Any business who wants to accept card payments needs a merchant account, so to start taking digital payments you’ll need to set one up.

A merchant account is essentially a holding pen for funds - when a customer pays, their money is held in your merchant account while the bank runs all the checks necessary before the funds are deposited into your business account. 

It can sound more complicated than it really is, but don’t worry, here at takepayments we’ll get you up and running with a merchant account for free as part of our service.

Top tip: take a deeper dive into the world of merchant accounts with our article - what is a merchant account?

6. Research providers

With so many options on the market these days, our advice is to do your research before signing up with a digital payment provider and be on the lookout for things like:

  • Sign-up fees
  • Length of contract
  • What pricing packages are on offer
  • Support services
  • Exit fees
  • Customer reviews

We already mentioned planning for growth, and that’s just as important when it comes to your provider too - you want a provider who fits your business size now and will also stay with you - and support you - as you flourish.

7. Build a website

Digital payments don’t have to be taken through a website, but nonetheless a top-notch website is a sure-fire way of attracting customers to your business and highlighting what you’ve got to offer. 

If you’re not a tech whizz, the idea of setting up your own site from scratch can be a bit daunting, but don’t panic! There are now plenty of great website hosts who make it easier than ever to create a seamless site.

Top tip: check out our guide on how to create a website for your business, which breaks down the best options on the market. 

Some of the most important elements of a great website are:

  • Offering a seamless customer experience
  • Quick load time
  • Readability
  • Security 

If you do decide to add a payment gateway or link your payment system (like beepaid) to your site, any payment provider worth their salt will hold your hand through the whole process - needless to say, we do just that. 

8. SEO

On the subject of websites, don’t forget the all-important element of search engine optimisation (SEO). 

Search engines are the first port of call for the majority of people on the hunt for a product or service, in fact, Google alone is used to make 63,000 searches every second, and SEO is key to making sure your business is found in those results. 

Essentially, SEO is the process of optimising the content on your website so the likes of Google rank it highly. There are several elements involved so we won’t go through it all in this article, but to find out more about SEO and how it can help your business head here. 

What we will say though, is to start taking as many digital payments as possible and boost your business’ bottom lines, don’t forget about SEO. 

9. Safety

While digital payments are super popular and gaining momentum all the time, there are still consumers who’re wary of the safety of handing their details over online.

Trust in internet safety has been described as the ‘lifeblood’ of online shopping, so to be sure your digital payment system is used to its full potential, you need to make sure it’s safe and secure.

To give you an example, here are the safety features you’ll find with takepayments solutions as standard:

  • Our payment gateways are SSL certified meaning the connection protects your customers’ details, as well as your own.
  • We use 3D secure technology so cardholders are asked to provide a pre-agreed password, set up with their bank, when making a payment.
  • Our virtual terminals are PCI DSS compliant and adopt AVS and CV2 security features.

10. Advertising & marketing

Last but not least, don’t forget the importance of marketing - without it, all your effort setting up digital payments won’t reach the widest audience possible. 

You’ve got heaps of options when it comes to spreading the word about your top-notch new offering, including:

  • Social media
  • Emails
  • Flyers
  • Posters
  • Google ads

Top tip: For a deep dive into advertising and marketing, check out our guide to advertising your small business online.

Here at takepayments, we don’t charge sign-up or exit fees, we offer short 12 month contracts, and all of our packages are personalised to meet the needs of the businesses we serve - after all, no two businesses are the same, right?

To find out more about any of our digital payment options, or to discuss which solution is the best fit for your business, chat to one of our dedicated experts today on 08082 393 254.

Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce

Copywriter

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