Expert advice on the business of running a garment decoration company
What advice do you have for accepting payments online?
There are two elements to processing payments online, namely the payment gateway and the merchant account. It’s important not to get the two mixed up, so let’s look at how they work.
The payment gateway can be described as the safety net that encrypts customer card data, so that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Choosing a gateway that is suitable to your business needs means that transactions will be handled safely and securely, therefore building customer trust and ultimately repeat business.
When choosing a gateway provider it’s important to consider the following elements:
Security Make sure your gateway provider works with you to ensure you are PCI-compliant. Payment gateway security is measured in levels, with number one proving the safest.
Integrations Not all gateways integrate with web platforms. For example, if you have built a site using WordPress, Wix or WooCommerce, make sure your preferred payment gateway and shopping cart software will work alongside that.
Reliability The beauty of shopping online is that customers have access to products 24 hours a day, seven days a week, therefore choosing a reliable payment gateway is imperative to the smooth running of your online business. Can you afford to lose sales due to ‘downtime’?
Fraud detection We work alongside a lot of high-risk businesses. The reason most of them have received that label is due to the amount of fraud experienced within their chosen industry; finding a gateway which detects fraudulent transactions within high risk markets is essential. Having said that, the balance of fraud detection can be a tricky one – if the system is too sensitive businesses can end up declining genuine sales.
Payment options With the technology developing at an incredibly fast pace, payments are no longer restricted to just debit and credit cards: considerations such as cryptocurrency payments and Apple Pay need to be catered for. Are you up to date on how you accept payments?
Currency Are you a UK-based firm wanting to expand? What currencies would you like to accept? Giving clients and customers the option to pay in their preferred currency can increase sales.
Once you have considered these factors and chosen a payment gateway that’s right for your company, you then need to find a merchant account to work alongside it. Often, businesses are sold merchant accounts through their payment gateway provider. We, however, suggest shopping around for your merchant account as the gateway provider may only work with a selected few merchant accounts, which could prove to be more costly for the business long term.
When searching for both a merchant account and a payment gateway, we advise clients to use independent brokers as they can negotiate on your behalf and ultimately save on processing costs. If you prefer to do the legwork yourself, then ensure you get at least three quotes.
Industry terminology can be confusing, so to help, we’ve put together a guide at www.merchantadviceservice.co.uk/merchant-accounts/merchant-account-fees-explained
Libby James is a director at Merchant Advice Service, a team of industry experts based in the Midlands that offer advice and information to businesses operating across the UK.