Busy Merchant's Guide to Payment Processing

Linc Wonham
by Linc Wonham 02 Jul, 2012

While most merchants understand the importance of this key element of Web retail success, few have the resources to maximize their investment. Offering a variety of payment options and maintaining a secure checkout are just two of the many important features that a payment processing platform should provide its merchants.


The Web retail experience demands high-performance payment processing.


Before committing to a platform, merchants should be aware of available features, payment options and security promises. Learn more about these topics, as well as how offering alternative payments can help boost conversions, below:


Finding a Platform


Most payment processing platforms provide merchants with myriad options for accepting payments, however there are many factors to take into consideration before choosing a solution - and these factors may change depending on a merchant's experience with accepting electronic payments according to SHAZAM's SVP of Marketing and Merchant Services, Dan Kramer. 


"Merchants that haven't previously accepted credit and debit cards should find a provider that offers excellent service, an easy-to-understand rate structure, low cost software options. This helps ease the transition into the payment processing world," says Kramer. "For merchants that already accept credit and debit cards, the priority should be excellent service, as well as competitive rates and compatibility with their existing equipment."


One way merchants can lower their rates is by offering consumers the option to make purchases via PIN debit or electronic check. Platforms such as SHAZAM and ChasePaymentech offer PIN debit, a rapidly growing payment option that and is more secure than other payment methods and can help consumers get through the checkout faster. Other platforms, such as Authorize.net, offer the payment option of electronic checks, which typically offers lower rates than both credit cards and PayPal.


However, retailers can further maximize profits by taking their business overseas and accepting international payments with platforms like 2Checkout and Globalcollect. These solutions enable merchants to conduct business all over the world. For example, merchants that leverage 2Checkout's international payment processing solution can accept payments in more than 20 currencies, while Globalcollect merchants can process payments in almost 200 countries.



Alternative Payment Processing


Although credit cards are typically the most popular online payment method for consumers, merchants should also take into consideration new selling channels, such as mobile, and offer the type of payment options that are preferred by the customers using these avenues.


In fact, PayPal could become the leading payment method for mobile ecommerce sites, because a recent ShopVisible study reveals that 67 percent of customers chose an alternative payment method, such as PayPal, over making a purchase with a credit card when completing a transaction on a mobile device. This is important for merchants to note, especially because the rapid adoption of mobile may turn mobile commerce into a $31 billion industry by 2016, according to Forrester research.


Other alternative payment methods worth checking out (no pun intended) include Amazon Payments, Google Wallet and Dwolla.



Maintaining Security


Although payment options are an important aspect of payment processing solutions, the most important aspect is security, and the only way merchants can make sure their shopping cart is secure is by becoming Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant.


While most payment processing solutions claim to be PCI compliant, merchants should still take it upon themselves to go through all of the necessary steps to ensure that their site is secure. However, a big problem is that merchants don't want to be held accountable for card holder data, according to CEO of Secure128 Anthony Ricci.


"In today's world, merchants think that they want to lower their rates," says Ricci, "But they really should think, 'How am I going to protect my customers?'."


One way merchants can protect their customers is with the Trustwave PCI Compliance solutions from Secure128. For example, the TrustKeeper solution scans up to 10 IP addresses, tests more than 5,000 vulnerabilities and provides retailers with compliance status reports.


Yet another way merchants can ensure compliance is by visiting pcisecuritystandards.org. PCI assessor Charles Denyer calls this site, "a resource rich portal" that contains all essential information for merchants to understand PCI compliance, as well as provides merchants with tools and supporting information about becoming PCI compliant. Additionally, merchants can contact a licensed PCI qualified security assessor (QSA) to help them obtain compliance. According to Denyer, a QSA will help guide merchants through the self assessment questionnaire (SAQ), point out any deficiencies in the areas they need to correct and help them with the overall process of filling out the questionnaire.