How to Accept Online Payments on Your Website

Learn how to accept payments on your website and make it easy for your customers to purchase from you using the payment method of their choice.

As ecommerce becomes increasingly popular and consumers continue the trend of buying everything online, it’s crucial for ecommerce merchants to understand how to accept payments on your website. You want to make it easy for customers to browse your site and end up buying your products. But you also want to make sure that you receive payments in a quick, efficient and safe manner.

The increase in online activity unfortunately brings with it massive increases in fraudulent behavior and cybercriminals who are constantly on the lookout for security breaches and ways they can make a quick buck. This concern means it’s more important than ever for you, as the owner of an ecommerce site, to make sure that when you accept payments on your website, you are taking all the precautions necessary. 

There is, however, no need to panic, as there are plenty of ecommerce payment systems that are designed to help you. In this article, we will walk you through the seven simple steps you need to take in order to start accepting online payments

1. Choose Online Payment Methods for your Website

There are tons of different payment methods available for consumers to use when making a purchase either online or in person. With the rise of fintechs and ebanks, new methods are cropping up all the time. And, today’s consumers are used to getting what they want and expect to be able to use the payment method of their choice when shopping online. 

The first step in accepting payments on your website is to decide which payment methods you will allow buyers to use. Of course it’s up to you as the merchant to decide which types of payments you will accept, but it’s worth your while to set yourself up to accept many different types. You definitely want to offer the most common payment methods, which include the following:

  • Credit and Debit Card Payments - it’s safe to assume that the vast majority of online shoppers will want to pay with a credit or debit card, be it Visa, MasterCard, AmericanExpress or Discover. Each has their own process and fees so you’ll want to make sure you know exactly how much each transaction will cost you, but it’s likely to be worth it for you to accept all of the major credit cards. In order to accept credit card payments, you first need to set up a merchant account. When you accept a credit card payment, the money first goes to the merchant account where it waits until verification is received that the buyer has the funds to make the purchase. 
  • Payment Gateways - a payment gateway connects your website directly to another platform’s checkout. Paypal, for example, is a popular payment gateway that you will probably want to offer on your site. When a customer chooses this payment method, they are automatically rerouted to the payment gateway’s site and they complete the purchase there. The money is then transferred from the payment gateway to you. 
  • ACH Payments - some customers may not have or may not want to use a credit or debit card online, but would prefer to pay via check. Because paying by paper check is not feasible to do in an ecommerce setting, the next best option is an electronic funds transfer (EFT) also known as an eCheck. When someone pays with an eCheck, Automated Clearing House (ACH) software is used to transfer money directly from the customer’s bank account to your business account. 
  • Direct Debit - while direct debit is something you can offer, it’s not generally recommended for an ecommerce site. With direct debit, the consumer authorizes a business to withdraw a certain amount of money from their account on a monthly (or other regular time frame) basis. This may be a good option if you offer subscription services or a membership, but for most ecommerce sites that are selling products, you can probably leave this one off your list of payment methods that you will accept. 
  • Mobile Wallets - Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay are probably the most well known of the up-and-coming mobile wallets. Mobile wallets are apps that store payment information on a user’s smartphone making it easy to make payments online quickly and efficiently without entering the card information each time. As mobile wallets become more popular, it will be increasingly important to offer customers on your site the option to use this payment method.

When you use a full-service payment service provider like Pay.com, you’ll be able to choose from any number of payment methods and easily integrate them with your site. This way, you’ll accept payments on your website using the methods that your customers are most comfortable with. And as we all know, happy customers are returning customers!

2. Integrate Custom Checkout 

Once you’ve chosen the payment methods that you are going to accept on your website, your next step is to integrate them into your customized checkout page. This means setting up the back-end of your site so that when a customer fills their cart with your products and then wants to pay, they are taken to a checkout page that is easy to use and lets them easily checkout using the payment method of their choice.

When you are choosing a payment service provider, make sure you choose one that allows you to customize your checkout page so that it matches the rest of your website and branding. Nothing will send a customer flying away from a site faster than a suspicious looking checkout page that has a completely different look and feel from the rest of the site. Remember what we said about all of the hackers lurking out there? Consumers are fearful, and something as simple as a customized check out page can make them feel secure. 

3. Integrate Email Payment Notifications

It’s common business practice to send out a receipt or payment confirmation once payment has been made and received. At the beginning, you may find yourself doing this manually, sending personalized emails to each and every one of your customers. But, as your business grows, that will become way too overwhelming of a task and is something you will want to automate. 

There are plenty of products out there that will let you set up an automated invoicing and receipt process. You’ll also be able to track exactly which customers have purchased which items, how much money they have spent, and when each payment was received by you. 

4. Calculate Your Fees 

Running a business includes managing your expenses, and the fees that you will be charged when accepting payments on your website can add up to quite a large expense. It’s important that you go through the terms and conditions of each and every payment method that you have chosen to accept and understand exactly how much you will be charged each time that method is used.

Over time, you can track the frequency that each payment method is used so that you will be able to better predict what your monthly or yearly expenses will be for each method, and if one is costing you more than you think it is worth, you may decide to remove that option from your site. Be aware that whatever payment services provider that you use may also charge a fee on top of that charged by the credit card company, payment gateway or other method. This is something to keep in mind when exploring different options so that you can be sure to work with a provider who is up front and honest about what the fees will be. You don’t want to be hit with any surprises! 

If you are going to charge your customers any processing fees, make sure you include that information on your website so that they will always know exactly how much they will be charged and what they are paying for. 

5. Set up your Payments on your Website

Next comes the technical part of actually connecting up your site to all of the payment methods that you have decided to accept. You can do this the hard way, and manually set up accounts and relationships with each company whose payment method you are going to offer. Or, you can do what most ecommerce merchants opt to do and select a full-service payment infrastructure that already has the relationships with the major payment methods. 

Once you choose the infrastructure provider, it’s usually just a matter of clicking to select the payment methods you wish to offer. For some, like PayPal, you will also need to create an account so that the funds can be transferred to you, but this is not a difficult extra step to take. 

6. Conduct Test Orders

Never go live with anything on your ecommerce site without first testing it. Create some fake orders and test each and every payment method, trying to anticipate all of the different ways consumers might behave on your site. The goal of this testing is to identify and then remediate any bugs or unexpected problems that arise and make the process less than seamless. 

Once testing is complete and all the kinks are worked out, you’ll be ready to go live and offer your customers a frictionless purchasing process. 

7. Customize and Personalize Payments

An ecommerce site is not dynamic - you’ll always be adding new products to attract new customers proactively. And you’ll also be reactive to changing customer needs and demands. So too when it comes to accepting payments on your website. This is an area where you can continuously improve the customer experience - you can experiment with different customizations and offer different payment methods based on what you think your customers will want.  

Pay.com offers hundreds of payment methods and makes it very easy for you to add or remove methods at the click of a button. You can make changes as often as you would like to be sure that you are always offering your customers the best possible experience. 

FAQs

How can I receive free payments on my website?

The short answer is, you can’t accept online payments on your website for free. You can choose to use payment service providers that don’t charge a set-up fee, but you’d be hard pressed to find any payment method provider that doesn’t charge a transaction fee.

How do I add a payment method to my website?

Depending on your payment infrastructure, it should be relatively simple to add a new payment method to your website. If you use Pay.com, for example, it’s just a matter of selecting the payment method you want to offer and then the system automatically sets it up for you. In some cases, you will be prompted to set up an account with the specific provider so that funds can be transferred directly to you.

How can I accept website payments without fees?

You will not be able to accept website payments entirely without fees. There will always be transaction fees to pay, but what you can do is choose payment methods that charge lower fees. For example, Visa and Mastercard have lower transaction fees than American Express. You can also choose a payment infrastructure provider that charges lower fees.

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