June 1, 2010

Setting up Online Payments for Services


Hostway Team

By Simon Wright

The days when Web sites just acted as glorified online brochures are well and truly over. These days, if you aspire to being a successful business, you require a mechanism to take orders and receive payments via your Web site.

Many small businesses will already have established payment mechanisms in their stores, such as card terminals. The process of setting up an online payment mechanism isn’t any more complex than it is for these more traditional payment mechanisms but will open up your business to a much wider audience.

The Importance of Familiarity:

When online users go to make a payment, they will consciously or subconsciously be looking for reassurance, through each step of the process, that they are dealing with a genuine company. Given this, it’s important that the payment checkout facility that you implement is recognized as an Internet standard.

Before committing to your online payment solution, therefore, it’s important to check what payment brands are recognized and respected by consumers. This can be achieved by checking out some Web sites from your market sector or you could consult with your bank or with a Web site usability company.

Offering payment choice:

Another factor that will increase your online sales is allowing consumers to choose how to effect their payment to you. For example, some consumers may prefer to make the payment using their debit card rather than their credit card, so facilitating that choice will enhance your prospects of securing a sale. Others may be wary about having to enter their card details online and may prefer a payment system such as PayPal where they are just required to login using a password to confirm the payment transaction. Their card details are then held in the background and don’t have to be re-keyed with each transaction.

Technical Implementation of Your Online Payment System:

Having evaluated the payment options (and their associated costs), it’s time to implement your chosen payment solutions onto your Web site. This may involve the necessity to open an Internet Merchant Account with your bank, so that funds can be transferred through to your business bank account. However, some payment partners can take the hassle out of the process by providing a merchant account, as well as any necessary SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificates.

It will be necessary to physically integrate the payment screens into your Web site’s online sales flow. Your Webmaster will need to co-ordinate this and can obtain guidance from the payment system’s provider if required. Additionally, you will need to co-ordinate any contractual elements that are involved in implementing a payment systems solution. And before you go live with your new payment mechanism to the world, you should check whether it’s possible to do some user acceptance testing to make sure that the process is working as expected!

About the Author

Simon Wright works as mobile delivery manager for Royal Bank of Scotland and has extensive experience across ecommerce and mcommerce including the launch and promotion of Web sites.

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