12/04/2021

eCommerce Payments 101: What to consider before choosing a provider

The rise of online shopping has seen many businesses change the way their customers transact with them in recent years, with this shift fast-tracked thanks to COVID. But one thing that is often an afterthought when setting up your online store is how you plan to process payments and what needs to be considered when choosing a provider.

The rise of online shopping has been happening for years now, and the last 12 months has seen this growth significantly accelerated by 4 to 6 years according to sources such as the UNCATD. It’s been a period of growth and change with many retailers being forced to shift online or significantly improve their existing eCommerce capabilities.

With eCommerce, comes eCommerce payments. It’s often the last thing that merchants think about as the focus tends to be on picking the best platform to set up your store. However, keeping the need for a payments provider in mind when selecting your eCommerce platform can save you time and money in the short and long-term.

 

What is a payment gateway?

An online payment gateway is a secure connection or application that connects your eCommerce platform and the bank that will authorize or decline a customer’s card transaction, facilitating the money moving from their account into your merchant account.

Aside from a standard payment gateway or plug-in that can process card payments, there are other payments solutions such as buy now pay later (e.g. AfterPay, Zippay, Klarna), and accelerated checkout options (e.g. ApplePay, GooglePay) that can work alongside each other. This means that with most eCommerce platforms you can offer a number of payment options to your customers.

 

Considerations When Choosing a Payment Provider

Security

You should always ensure that any payment provider you work with is PCI DSS compliant. This means that they are held to the highest standards for securing your business’s information as well as that of your customers. The PCI DSS regime sets out requirements which any company that processes, stores, or transmits credit or debit card information must comply with in order to maintain a secure environment.

Accepted Payment Methods

Does the provider only accept certain credit cards, or all credit cards but not debit cards, or only domestic cards but not international cards?

Finding a provider that accepts the range of card types that your customers choose to pay with is critical. It can be a barrier to purchase that is easily avoided, so it is important to consider ahead of time. Further to this, consider whether you might need to offer other payment methods, such as buy now pay later (BNPL), which are becoming increasingly popular. While they can be a more expensive option for you to provide, it is possible that you will increase your customer base by implementing them. Just keep in mind, the more you add, the more you need to manage.

Associated Fees

Fees can be confusing, and when setting up or maintaining an eCommerce store there are a number of factors affecting your bottom line to think about.

In addition to your eCommerce platform’s fees, a payment provider will charge you fees to process payments for you. There are a number of different types of fees that are common in the market, and you may be charged a combination of the following:

  • Merchant Service Fee (MSF) – this is the rate or percentage (%) of each sale that you will be charged by your payment provider.
  • Flat fee – there may be a flat fee charged in addition to your MSF. This could be for each transaction, or each transaction below a certain amount (e.g. for transactions below $100).
  • Additional fee charged by eCommerce platform – while this is not a common occurrence, some eCommerce platforms will charge an additional flat fee or percentage for each transaction processed through their platform. This is particularly important to consider, as it could significantly increase the cost of processing an order.
  • Third party processing fees – similar to the additional fee above, but specifically relating to the processing of payments, some eCommerce platforms will penalize merchants for using a third party payment provider instead of their “in-house”/own payment solution by charging an additional rate/percentage on top of your preferred payment provider’s rates. This can limit a merchant’s ability to obtain the most competitive payment processing rates, as volumes of transactions grow.

Settlement Time

The time it takes for funds to reach your account can vary considerably and can impact your cash flow, accounting and reconciliation processes. Take this into consideration when selecting a provider so that the money from orders is making it into your account sooner rather than later.

Payment Needs for Your Whole Business

Do you have bricks and mortar sites as well as eCommerce? Do you accept payments over the phone or via invoice? Do you need to pay suppliers overseas?

Consider what a payments provider can offer beyond just eCommerce payments and see if they can assist with supplying you with terminals, virtual terminals or even foreign exchange capabilities. While many don’t have all of these options, some will (like Mint), and there could be opportunity to save on costs for you and your customers with better rates.

Surcharging

Your options for surcharging will vary depending on the provider you select. Some will force you to absorb the Merchant Service Fee (MSF), while others give you the choice to pass it on and set the surcharge yourself.

For more information about surcharging and how to calculate your cost of acceptance, read our recent blog post. You’ll find information including what costs you can legally include and pass onto customers in line with the RBA’s rules.

 

There are a range of payment providers and options available, and you can offer a mix of them depending on how your customers want to pay. It is beneficial to offer a variety of options, but it’s a good idea to try and add these based on what your customers (or potential customers) are looking for.

Finally, keep in mind that pricing is not the only thing that matters. Choose the right provider for your business and your customers.

To find out more about Mint’s eCommerce payments solution or any of our other products, get in touch today.