If you have an eCommerce business model, you can become successful if you have goods and services that people want. Maybe you have a brick-and-mortar location too, or perhaps you’re keeping things exclusively online.
In either case, you should learn all you can about merchant accounts because they’re something that many businesses need these days. Let’s dive into what merchant accounts are, why you need them, and what you can do with them.
What Exactly is an Online Merchant Account?
Before you decide whether to set up a website merchant account, you should understand precisely what one is. An online merchant account:
- Can accept customer credit card payments over the web
- Does not need the credit card or user present to process a payment
If you set up your online merchant account, you can take credit card payments for your services and goods. If you don’t set up one of these accounts, that’s a significant eCommerce business model flaw.
If someone comes upon your website and sees something they want to buy, they’ll have to use other payment methods. Some people don’t mind paying with non-credit card payment options, like Google Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal, etc.
However, most people like paying with a credit card more than anything else, provided they find your site trustworthy.
What Are Some Different Online Payment Options?
If you have a total or partial eCommerce business model, there are several ways you can accept online payments. You can:
- Utilize several different online payment entities
- Use PayPal
- Use Google Checkout
If you’re going to use one of the online payment companies, you should research them first. You’re looking for customer reviews and what kind of fees they charge. Some charge higher transaction fees, while others might not have as much positive online feedback as you’d want to see.
If you go with PayPal, some online merchants like their Website Payment Standards option. You set up a free account, but then you have to pay transaction fees. There is also the Website Payment Pro option, where you pay a monthly fee and accept payments directly through the site rather than going through PayPal.
Google Checkout is like PayPal in that you don’t have to pay an upfront fee. You just integrate a shopping cart into your existing website, and you pay Google a transaction fee each time.
Which One Should You Choose?
When trying to figure out which payment method or methods you should feature on your site, one thing you’ll have to think about is how big your company is and what kind of operational budget you have. The more payment methods you have, the more likely you’ll get sales, which you want more than anything else.
However, the more payment methods you have, the more fees you’ll have to pay. You either pay a monthly subscription fee with each one, like with PayPal’s Website Payment Pro plan, or else you pay transactional fees, like with PayPal’s “free” option or Google Checkout.
The other thing you can do is a little customer or potential customer research. You have to figure out what payment methodology your niche will most appreciate. If you’re not certain about this, you can use focus groups to find out.
Why Go with a Lesser-Known Online Merchant Account Provider?
As you look around online, you’ll see plenty of other online merchant providers, some of which you might not know. You might wonder why you’d want to use one versus PayPal or a better-known service.
Usually, the answer is that you’re offering a service or product that the online payment processing community considers to be more high-risk. You might have something like an online pawnshop, gold or jewelry buying or selling, gambling, selling knock-off designer handbags, etc.
These things are not necessarily illegal, but some online payment providers might not want your business. You also may want to go with a lesser-known or specialty provider if you process a very high transaction volume every week, month, or quarter.
One more reason you should go with a lesser-known online merchant account provider is if you have poor credit history. If you do, there’s no reason your business can’t still function. It’s just that an entity like PayPal, Apple Pay, etc., might turn you down.
If you’re going to have a successful eCommerce business site or sites, you need payment methods. Before you unveil your business and try to attract customers, this is one area where you need resolution.