In order to accept online payments, your company will need to set up a merchant account. Selecting the right one can be an onerous task, with service levels and costs often difficult to compare. Yet without a merchant account you will not be able to process online payments, and you will be missing out on the fastest growing sector of the retail environment today.
Here we look at the five key factors to review when deciding upon the merchant account you need in order to process online payments from your customers, wherever they are located.
Why approval ratings are important when applying for a merchant account
The approval rating is a measurement of the number of merchant account applications a merchant account provider approves. The higher this number, the more likely your business is to be approved. This is especially important if your ecommerce business is considered high risk.
Being declined for a merchant account could have a negative impact on future applications, in the same way that a decline on a personal loan for an individual reduces their ability to procure a loan elsewhere.
Look for low merchant account start-up costs, but beware loading of running costs
Some providers charge no initial fees to set up and open a merchant account, though often any saving is transferred onto running costs. Running costs will include a per transaction charge, perhaps a minimum monthly fee, as well as an expected minimum amount of transactions per month.
These costs are likely to be one of your main factors in the decision making process, so you should take time in estimating levels of business accurately and running the numbers accordingly.
How fast can a merchant account be up-and-running?
Most businesses which expand into online transactions need the ability to accept online payments very quickly. Set-up times for merchant accounts range from a single day to several weeks: the longer the set-up time, the bigger the cost impact to your business.
Does the payment gateway integrate with your website?
When setting-up a merchant account, you’ll need to ensure that the payment gateway used can be aligned with your website. The payment gateway will offer a range of internet services to your website and customers – the more options here, the better the flexibility for customers.
Customer service and merchant accounts
Some merchant accounts will offer account holders only limited access to a customer service desk, while others will provide twenty-four hour access to a ‘live’ person. Depending on your business profile and target customer base, this may be an area of major concern: problems need to be fixed as soon as possible when they occur.
The bottom line of your merchant account options
The smooth operation of online payments depends upon your payment gateway and merchant account. We find that new and existing ecommerce businesses benefit from discussing their needs and aligning them with their goals and business strategy, before making their merchant account decision. It’s probably the most important decision your business will make, and will impact not only your profits but your standing with customers, too.
To find out more about merchant accounts, click here.