Would adding online payments help your business grow? Giving customers the option to make quick and easy payments directly through your website puts you in a position to convert online traffic into sales.
Even if your business isn’t solely e-commerce, you can still make the most of digital payment methods. One option for small businesses who want to take payments when their customers are not present, is a virtual terminal. This is a convenient web-based facility that allows you to enter your customer's card and transaction details, and take their payment over the phone. However, this method is not secure, so if you require secure online payments you will need to explore alternative methods.
In this handy guide, we’ll discuss some of the best ways to introduce online payments, as well as assess the best type of payment solution for your business.
Ways to take payments online
There are a host of businesses that can benefit from introducing online payment methods on their existing website, even if you aren't a digital-first company. Just some examples of businesses that currently take advantage of online payment solutions include:
- Retail stores
- Medical suppliers
- Telecoms companies
- Energy suppliers
- Contact centres
- Educational institutions
- Gyms and fitness facilities
If your company takes regular payments and would like to streamline the process online, it may be time to consider an online payment solution, so that customers can pay when they are not present.
If you feel your business would benefit from the introduction of an online payment system, there are a handful of options available to you. These all provide customers with different ways to pay online, increasing your chance of a conversion. The most common are:
- Pay by link. This facility allows you to send a customer a secure link via text, WhatsApp, email, or social media for the exact payment amount. Your customer then clicks on the link to settle their bill. Each payment link is unique to an order, which makes it much easier to stay on top of what has or hasn’t been paid for. Invoices can be sent directly to a customer’s email. Zero technical integration is required for this option and the setup is swift and simple.
- Hosted payment solution. This option gives you a ready-made payment page where all online payment processing is managed by your provider. It's a great option for startups or newly opened online stores that need fast and secure transactions. Your customer will be taken to a third-party web page, where the transaction can be completed. This is a quick, easy, and secure process for the customer. As a business owner, your PCI compliance will be handled by your provider with this option. If you think this might be a suitable option for your business, you will need a payment gateway to facilitate that.
- Direct integration. Often referred to as a fully customised integration, this option allows you to create a payment form that seamlessly fits within your current website via direct API. With complete control of the design, you can tailor the page to match your brand and UI. You can also capture and store the customer’s payment information on your own internal, secure server. Fraud checks are sent to the customer themselves, before the merchant’s bank acquires the final payment. With this option, you have full control over the check out and customer experience and can incorporate your own branding on the payments page. This option requires the most development work and further details about how it works can be found on and the support available can be found on the online payments page of our website.
Once you’ve wrapped your head around the different types of payment methods available, it’s time to decide which is right for you. For a hosted or direct integration, you will need a payment gateway.
What is a payment gateway?
A payment gateway is a system that allows the collection and transfer of a payment from a customer to a vendor. In essence, it’s the path through which a smooth and easy transaction can be made on a business’ website.
The process takes four key parties into account:
- The merchant – This is you, the owner of the business. You’ll need to create a merchant account with the gateway supplier of your choice in order to manage financial transactions.
- The customer – Your customers are cardholders who want to purchase your product and initiate a transaction.
- The issuing bank – This is the bank that releases the funds needed to make the payment on behalf of your customer.
- The acquiring bank – This is your bank account (the merchant account), which receives the payment if the gateway thinks the transaction is safe.
The gateway is the safeguard against fraudulent payments in the case of card-not-present transactions, as well as protecting merchants from expired cards, closed accounts, insufficient funds and anything which might exceed a customer’s credit limit.
Ultimately, it exists to make receiving payments as seamless, safe and secure as possible for your business.
Which online payment method best fits with your current website and business?
With all the options to choose between, it might be difficult to know exactly which type of payment method will work best for your business. Luckily, there are a series of questions you can ask yourself and your payments provider to find out which is the best fit.
Questions that will help choose the most suitable online payments solution for your business include:
Remember to also ask a potential payments provider important questions when considering online payments solutions. Some useful queries are:
- What kind of set-up support do you get?
- How easy is it to set up?
- Are there any set-up fees?
- How much does it cost to transact?
- What kind of functionality does each option provide?
- How quickly will I get paid?
Best practices for collecting payments online
Just as with any changes you make to your website, you’ll want to make sure what you’re doing is going to have the greatest (and safest) impact possible. Some of the best ways to maximise the efficiency of your online payment system include:
- Using multiple payment methods. Giving customers the chance to make payments in the manner they want is vitally important. Figures show that as many as 6% of all baskets are left abandoned on e-commerce sites due to a lack of payment options. That means making options like credit, debit, digital wallets, American Express and even club cards accessible as potential payment options, will likely improve your chances of closing the sale.
Having a wide variety of payment methods improves trust, has the potential to attract new customers and, most importantly, reduces the number of transactions missed by carts being left abandoned by unhappy shoppers.
- Accepting payments without a customer account. The same figures show that a whopping 34% of people leave their cart because they’ve been forced to create an account to pay. This step might not feel like much to a merchant, but for a user who’s in a hurry and isn’t totally comfortable committing to one website, it can be a timely and off-putting step.
- PCI (Payment Card Industry) Compliance. If you’re worried about how to safely optimise the introduction of a payment method on your site, it’s important to look for a supplier that has measures in place for the safe collection of data and the prevention of fraud. PCI compliance means a merchant site must comply with 12 core principles. Those being:
- Install and maintain a firewall to protect cardholder data
- Protect stored cardholder information
- Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters
- Use and regularly update anti-virus software
- Encrypt the transmission of cardholder data across public, open networks
- Develop secure systems and applications, and maintain them
- Restrict all access to cardholder data by third-parties
- Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access
- Restrict physical access to cardholder data
- Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
- Regularly testing your security systems and processes
- Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all parties
How to get your website set up for payments
While it might be tough to wrap your head around how online payments work, you should have a good idea about which option is most suitable for you. When considering setting up your payment system, it’s not quite as challenging as it may first seem. We have a team of experts on hand to guide you through the more technical aspects of integration, but it is also worth asking them about which option is most suitable for you. With the relevant information, we can offer advice on the most suitable and most cost-effective option for you.
The key to success is to optimise your virtual fields to show and collect the information that matters. Here are some of the core aspects of an online payment setup:
- Transaction process. This gives you the chance to choose between taking payments instantly or sending a link to the customer.
- Transaction action. This lets you decide if you want to take the full payment or just a deposit.
- Merchant country. The country you operate from.
- Amount. The total sum you want to charge the customer for the transaction.
- Capture/settle. This gives you the chance to add a delay when the transaction is settled.
- Unique reference. Most often an invoice or part number, which serves as an identifying reference point for both the customer and merchant.
- Order description. An explanation of what has been ordered, which is again for both parties.
Card payment details
- Card number. The 16-digit card number of the customer’s card.
- Expiry date. When the card is due to expire.
- Security code. The last 3 digits are on the back of the customer’s card. This is also called a CVV.
Pay button details
- Button text. This is what the customer sees when clicking on the button to pay.
- Redirect URL on success. The page to which a customer is redirected when a successful payment is made.
- Redirect URL on failure. By contrast, where a customer is sent if the payment fails. It’s best to make this page actionable for the user and explain why the payment didn’t process.
These are the personal details of your customers. That means their name, address, email, location (both regional and national), postcode and phone number. In order to be able to take this, you’ll need to comply with GDPR.
Are you ready to start taking payments online?
For any specific design and development questions about taking payments and optimising your website, you’ll need to talk to us. We are well placed to guide you through the steps you need to take to resolve an issue or make your payment system more user friendly.
Making it possible for customers to buy directly from your website can be tremendously valuable. When you make a decision to take payments online, be sure to speak to a member of our support team who will explain your options, and be able to guide you through the process.
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