The Top 5 Questions To Ask About a Payment Processing System

Choosing a payment processing system for your online store is one of the most important choices you’ll make for your business. After all, choosing the right payment processing system ensures that you’re paid on time and in full, and that your customers have a quick, simple experience as they purchase your product. Customers are more likely than ever to spend their shopping dollars online, so giving them the best possible experience is key for your success.

But with so many different payment processing systems available on the market today, it can be difficult for a small business owner to figure out which system is best for his or her needs.

Here are six of the most important questions to ask yourself as you comb through the different payment processing systems to determine which one is best for you and your company.

Question #1: How much does it cost?

For some online merchants, the most important question is simply how much up-front capital it will take to get the payment processor on board with their company. Luckily, most online merchants feature very low up-front costs to get started.

Up-front costs are usually extremely low, and often free (Stripe, for example). These companies make money through their transaction fees and monthly dues.

Speaking of transaction fees, all payment processing systems charge fees after your initial purchase. But the way they collect those fees and how they’re calculated can vary slightly. There are a number of ways to calculate transaction fees. Square costs 2.9% + $.30 of each online purchase and features no monthly or annual fees. PayPal takes the same cut, but also requires a monthly fee.

Question #2: How simple is integration?

Is the payment processing system you’re considering simple to integrate into your existing website? This factor can be a dealbreaker for some business owners. A processor like PayPal requires a simple button added to your website, and Square integrates easily with numerous third party vendors. Those processors require a much lower degree of technological know-how than a company like Stripe, which prides itself on being “built for developers” according to its website.

Do you want to spend a significant amount of time ensuring that your payment processing system is operating correctly? Or do you want to be able to integrate the system quickly and trust the processor to ensure effective payment?

In addition, some payment processing systems can double as payroll tools

Question #3: Is it safe for users?

Many customers are wary of giving out credit card numbers, addresses, and other personal information often required to complete an online transaction. So when you’re considering a payment processing system, be sure to consider how that system protects the data and buying experience of your customers.

PayPal, for example, not only encrypts user data, but also offers fast, easy refunds for those occasions when there’s an error or other problem with shipping. Square offers nonstop transaction monitoring and data encryption, which automatically detects suspicious activity.

Question #4: Is it convenient for users?

In addition to being safe, it’s important that a payment processing system is simple for users. Many online transactions are ended prematurely for the simple reason that the potential customers were impatient with a frustrating or confusing experience at the end of the transaction.

So when you’re reviewing various payment processors, look at their interfaces from the perspective of your potential customers. Are the interface simple, clean, and obvious? Are they attractive? Does a transaction require multiple pages? Can you use a debit or credit card already saved to your computer, or does the customer need to re-enter data?

Before you choose your payment processing system, put yourself into your customers’ shoes and make sure that nothing about the user side of the processor could affect their willingness to make a purchase.

Question #5: How’s their customer service?

Finally, remember that you’re not only choosing a payment processing system for your customers, you’re choosing one for YOUR business. You are a customer. So make sure that the system you choose provides the sort of customer service that you provide to customers of your own.

Determine how fast and efficient the processing system is when it comes to deal with the sort of troubleshooting that is most common with online retailers. Does their customer service begin and end with a vague FAQ page? Is it easy (or possible) to get a human being on the phone to help you with a problem?

Or if you do manage to wrangle a human to help you with your troubles, are they helpful? Patient? Knowledgeable?

You’ve got lots of options for payment processing systems.

It goes without saying that financial transactions are vital to the success and longevity of online merchants of every shape and size. Most of the more popular systems – PayPal, Square, Due, and Stripe – offer roughly similar features at roughly similar prices.

So make sure that you’re asking yourself the sorts of questions that will help you understand which payment processor is best for your business. Which one will give you the sort of service you need to make sure that your customers’ payments are simple, effective, and will continue into the future? Which offer the security that you’re looking for? Which meets your level of simplicity?

Sam Osterling
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Sam Osterling

Sam Osterling is a freelance writer whose work has been published in The Oklahoman, American Way, Renovator Magazine, and Hook & Barrel. Sam writes on small business management, marketing and technology. He’s based on Long Island, New York.