For small or fledgeling businesses, it’s not uncommon to start off accepting in-store, face-to-face payments only. But, to widen your audience, maximise your profits and reach your potential you’ll probably want to expand your offering into the online arena at some point too.
It might seem like a complex thing to wrap your head around, maybe you wouldn’t consider yourself a tech boffin, or perhaps you even feel out of your depth, but don’t worry, we’ll hold your hand through the process.
Whether you’re an online business start-up or a brick and mortar store looking to jump online, check out our five must-know facts about online payments to get on the right track.
Let’s start with the basics of how online payments work. In order to accept card payments online (in-person or over the phone), you’ll need a merchant account. Some of you might already have one, but for beginners here’s the low down.
At its core, a merchant account is one that allows businesses to accept payment via credit card, debit card, or e-wallet. Payments made in this way are deposited into your merchant account before being transferred to you. Essentially, a merchant account is a holding pen for your online transactions while checks are made to ensure the payment is legitimate.
So, what does an online payment look like in action?
Simple, right? But seriously, as complicated as it might sound, most of these steps will take place behind the scenes and all you’ll need to do is set yourself up with a merchant account and online payments system - leave the rest to the experts.
If a transaction is successful, the money will be in your business account within a few days. If it’s declined, you’ll be informed but there’s nothing you need to do.
Top tip: For a more in-depth look at merchant accounts head to our handy guide.
As recently as 10 years ago, people were still pretty hesitant to hand their card details over online, but not anymore. Online payments, like a lot of new technologies, have been rapidly adopted by joe public, meaning they’re now in high demand.
Yep, consumers have done a full 180 and now expect an online option and view businesses who don’t offer them as being out of touch. Why are they so popular? Here are just a handful of reasons:
We’ll forgive you for thinking you need a dedicated system on your website in order to accept payments online, granted that’s one way to do it, but we’re happy to tell you you’re wrong. There are three ways you can offer online payments, so let’s have a quick look at each.
The most well-known way to accept online payments is through your website using a payment gateway. Your customers fill their online shopping baskets, head to the checkout page which is hosted by your payments provider, and enter their details. It really is as simple as that.
Choose the right payments provider and they’ll help you or your website developer at every step of the way, so there’s no need to worry if technology isn’t your cup of tea, you can just sit back and watch the payments roll in.
Not all businesses need their own online shop but might want to add online payments to their toolkit. For example, a venue who takes bookings might meet their customers to discuss requirements and then send an invoice at a later date, and that’s where pay by link comes in.
It involves creating an invoice and emailing it to your customer with a link through which they can pay online. Any decent pay by link provider (spoiler, us) will still accept all major card issuers, so you can offer an online payments option that’s a perfect fit for your business while keeping your customers happy.
This one flips online payments on their heads because it’s you who enters the customer’s card details online. With a virtual terminal, all you need to do is log in to a secure page, aka the virtual terminal, while you’ve got your customer on the line and pop in the details they provide.
Maybe you’re a plumber and your customer wants to pay an invoice - say goodbye to the painstaking wait to receive your cash, the customer can simply give you a ring with their details and bob’s your uncle, you’ll get paid.
For you and your customers, online payments are very secure and protect both your and their details when buying things online. The security systems used will vary between methods and providers, but to give you an idea here’s an overview of our measures:
Let’s start by saying that accepting payments online isn’t free (what is these days?), but, it’s a super cost-effective method because the additional income it inevitably brings outweighs the small associated outlay.
We’re sure you’re already aware of the fees charged (including chargeback and interchange fees) when accepting payment by card, and the same applies for online card payments. It’s also important to remember you’ll be required to be PCI compliant if you want to accept card payments from any source.
However, set up your online payments with a provider who doesn’t tie you down to a lengthy contract, won’t charge you sign-up or exit fees and offers personalised pricing and packages, and you’ll squeeze every last bit of profit out of your online sales.
Now, we don’t want to toot our own horn, but here at takepayments we offer all of the above with a cherry on top, and our online payment systems - including virtual terminals, payment gateways and pay by link - are some of the finest on the market.
What’s more, if you need help setting up your merchant account or some top-class developer support, we’ve got you covered for that too. Get in touch with our team of friendly experts on 08082 393254 to see what we can do for you.