As businesses everywhere race to prioritize eCommerce in a world ravaged by COVID-19, payments giant Square has launched a new online payment tool called Square Online Checkout. This service is intended to condense the eCommerce experience down to a simple link or button, making online selling easier than ever for both the merchant and the customer. If you want to sell items or services online — or even accept donations — without building an online store, you’ll want to read on.
In this article, we’re going to explain just what Square Online Checkout is, how it works, and how using it can benefit your business.
We should mention that Square Online Checkout is not to be confused with Square Checkout, a separate hosted payment page solution built on top of Squareâs API.
What Is Square Online Checkout?
Seen as an effort by Square to compete with the flexible eCommerce capabilities of PayPal, Square Online Checkout allows all would-be online sellers — particularly those who don’t have a full online store and aren’t looking to build one — to accept payments from customers via a simple link. The buyer does not need to have an account with Square. All the buyer needs to provide is their name, email address, and credit card number.
Let’s look at how this works in practice.
How Square Online Checkout Works
When you use Square Online Checkout, you generate a link or button that can be posted to an email, a text message, your social media accounts, and/or your blog or website. This link can be clicked on by a buyer to purchase whatever product or service you’re offering. It can also be used by the buyer to pay for a prior purchase or to offer a donation — essentially, the link can be used to transfer money for any legal purpose.
An important caveat: Square Online Checkout links can only be used domestically within the US.
How To Set Up & Accept Payments With Square Online Checkout
Let’s walk through the steps required to set up an Online Checkout link and accept payments. Don’t worry — it’s pretty easy!
1. Create A Square Account
To create a Square Online Checkout link, you’ll need to have a Square account. Luckily, Square is free to use, so this step won’t cost you anything.
Here’s our complete guide to creating a Square account. I’ll summarize it thusly:
Go to Square’s home page and click the “Get Started” button
Enter your email address, create a password, and select your country of residence (only US residents can use Online Checkout links)
Enter the information Square will subsequently ask of you (the last four digits of your Social Security number, your home & shipping addresses, your phone number, and some basic questions about how you intend to use Square)
Congrats — you now have a Square account!
2. Get A Link
Once you have a Square account, you can create Online Checkout links from your online Square Dashboard on the website or from the Square app (available for iOS and Android devices).
Square’s guidelines for creating Online Checkout links are as follows:
Head to the Homepage of yourÂ online Square Dashboard.
ClickÂ Create a checkout linkÂ in the Online Checkout section.
Next toÂ Purpose of link, choose eitherÂ Collect payments,Â Sell itemsÂ orÂ Accept Donations.
Enter a name for your link – this will be displayed to the customer.
If prompted, enter the amount you want to charge.
ClickÂ SaveÂ to create a checkout link.
SelectÂ Copy, and share the link anywhere.
And if you want to create an Online Checkout link from the Square app, here’s how to do it:
Enter the amount you want to charge in the keypad
TapÂ Online Checkout.
Write in the details of what is being paid for.
TapÂ Get link. Have your customer scan the QR code with their phone, or share the link anyway you want â text, email, social, etc.
You can also create Online Checkout links through the Settings tab or the Edit Item page.
3. Embed The Link On Your Website Or Blog
After you’ve created the link via the process outlined above and selected Copy (or Get link if you’re using the app), embedding the link on your blog or website is as simple as going to your blog post editor or website editor and pasting in the link the same way you would copy & paste anything else. If you’re using a Windows PC, you just right-click where you want to put the link and then select Paste from the menu. That’s it!
4. Or, Share The Link
To send the link directly to someone or to a group of recipients, you just go through the process of creating the link and then paste it into an email or a text message. You can also post it to your social media channels. Include the link in a post, put the link in your bio, or send it to someone in a DM using any platform you wish. You can share your link just as you would share any other kind of message.
5. Start Accepting Payments
Once you’ve created and shared your link, you can immediately start accepting payments, assuming you’ve correctly entered your bank account number when setting up your Square account. It’s that simple.
Of course, your ability to accept payments won’t be unlimited. Square has a $50,000 per-transaction limit, so you won’t be able to accept massive payments via Online Checkout. And if the transaction is a donation, there’s a $5,000 per-transaction limit.
On the customer end, the process couldn’t be simpler. Whereas PayPal’s checkout buttons require the buyer to have a PayPal account, your customers will not need a Square account in order to make a payment via a Square Online Checkout link. All the customer is prompted to provide is their name, email address, and credit card number.
Once the payment is made, the customer will be emailed a basic receipt. As of now, you can’t create a customized receipt for customers when they make a purchase via an Online Checkout link.
How Much Does Square Online Checkout Cost?
Payments accepted via Square Online Checkout links will be subject to Square’s standard online processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. That’s the only fee involved here — there are no monthly or annual fees associated with having a Square account.
One thing to keep in mind: Square discounts don’t work with Online Checkout links.
The Benefits Of Using Square Online Checkout
Here are some of the advantages of using Square Online Checkout:
Easy to use, simple to set up
Customers don’t need a Square account — just a credit card
You can run reports to track the number of sales generated from each checkout link — easily see which links are performing best
New sellers can create subscriptions checkouts
You can customize the Checkout Button style and text to reflect your branding
You can create a marketing campaign with checkout links from your online Square Dashboard
Square Online Checkout FAQs
Let’s answer some basic questions about Square’s new Online Checkout service.
Do I have to have a Square account to use Square Online Checkout Links?
In order to set up an Online Checkout link and receive payments, yes, you do need a Square account. Luckily, you can easily and freely get yourself a Square account by signing up on their website.
In order to make a purchase or donation using an Online checkout link, no, you do not need a Square account.
Is there a transaction limit for Square Online Checkout Links?
Yes. Square’s transaction limit for Online Checkout links is $50,000 for purchases and $5,000 for donations.
How much do Square Online Checkout Links cost?
It’s free to set up the link, but Square will take a 2.9% + $0.30 fee from each transaction.
Can I create subscription checkout links?
Yes, but only if you are a new seller. If you’ve just set up a Square account to start selling online, you can set up a subscription checkout link with Online Checkout to accept weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual payments from buyers — all from a single link. Here’s how to create a subscription checkout link.
Existing Square sellers will have to use Square Invoices to set up recurring payments.
Can I send the same Online Checkout Link to different customers?
Yes. You can send one link to an entire mailing list or even post it to social media for the use of anyone who sees it.
A company just sent me an Online Checkout link. What do I do?
Just enter your name, email address, and credit card number (that is, if you want to pay it!).
Is Square Online Checkout safe?
Yes. Square is regarded as having a high degree of security by eCommerce standards and is fully PCI compliant.
Is Square Online Checkout Right For Me?
If you’re looking for an easy way to sell items or services (or accept donations) online, Square Online Checkout makes eCommerce simpler than ever — for both you and your customers.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking to set up a full eCommerce website, sell internationally, or if you want to take advantage of Square’s more advanced eCommerce features like discounts and customized receipts, you might want to take advantage of Square’s other eCommerce tools. You can also check out Merchant Maverick’s shopping cart software reviews to get an idea of the full range of options available.
The post What Is Square Online Checkout? Your Guide To Using This New Square Payment Option appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
So you want to start a subscription box company. I bet you’ve come here with questions, and if so, you’re in the right spot! We’ve got answers, inspiration, and plenty of resources ready for you to check out. Keep reading to discover how you to find niche subscription box ideas that will turn heads, how to keep your company running like a well-oiled machine, and how to reach more customers and expand your business once you launch. Let’s get going!
Step 1: You Need An Interesting Subscription Box Idea To Succeed
How will you find that amazing idea to dazzle your would-be subscribers? In part, the foundation of a successful subscription box company is that extra something that sets you apart. Interestingly, one of the most successful boxes in the last few years started with a regular old hygiene product we all probably purchase. I’m thinking about what the Dollar Shave Club did with a simple self-care item: the razor. Their campaign used visual textures, packaging, and smart, fun messaging to connect with potential subscribers. While they initially marketed to men, their brand has grown to target both men and women. The idea is that people sign up to save on a razor (something everyone needs anyway) and soon enough they’re adding non-essentials to their box as well. While you might have more of a whimsical idea than just a plain razor, this company shows that anything is possible with the right planning and execution.
There are a lot of exciting possibilities out there, so get a notepad out, grab a refreshing beverage, and let’s explore how to create a very successful subscription box business.
14 Subscription Box Business Ideas To Get You Started
The sky is the limit when it comes to curating a subscription box. It’s true that subscription boxes are becoming a competitive market, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach a particular group with a new angle. As we saw with the Dollar Shave Club, sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that take off when coupled with a good message and imagery.
First, you’ll want to figure out your target audience and demographic and do the needed research on these folks. Will your box provide convenience, discovery, whimsy, and/or special interest? Here are some general ideas to help you narrow down the focus and come up with something unique for your subscribers:
Gourmet foods, exotic snacks, coffee, tea, candy, etc.
Pregnancy and baby
Arts and crafts
Gaming and “geek” interests
Fitness and health
Curated clothing and accessories
Self-care and pampering
Inspirational / encouraging
Beauty and grooming
Pet care and toy
Home (plants, cleaning, candles, art)
If you are feeling inspired, keeping brainstorming those ideas and write them down — you’ll need them for the research and discovery steps coming up. Keep reading to find out what you need to know to expand your business or start a brand-new business based on the subscription box model.
Step 2: Before You Start Planning In Earnest, Make A Business Plan
A business plan acts as a blueprint for success. It keeps you on track, aligns your goals, and helps you cover the basics. You’ll also need a business plan should you seek out funding or investors for your subscription box endeavor. The most important person this business plan serves is you, however.
Of course, you’ll need to do some more preliminary research and get your ducks in a row before creating your plan, but it certainly does not have to be complicated. We suggest starting with a lean business plan, which is a one-page document that follows this basic structure:
If you need a little more direction, check out our post, The How-To For One Page Business Plans
Research The Competition & Check Out Other Subscription Box Companies
As a part of your business plan, you’ll want to research the competition. The best way to start that is via a Google search. Go through the first few pages and click through the businesses there. The most important thing you can learn here is the average price point. You also can find product ideas there, but it’s more useful to identify what’s not in those boxes so that you can provide a unique angle.
Step 3: Consider How To Fund Your Subscription Box Business
There are several ways to go about funding expenses. You’ll need to consider a few things to help you assess what exactly you’ll need here.
Will you be paying the full price for some or all items?
Can you source wholesale to save costs?
Can you approach local artists or specialty shops for unique and specially priced inclusions?
Can you reach out to pitch suppliers for special pricing or free samples (more on this later)?
You can certainly do a combination of the above list. But whatever you decide, you’ll need to cover initial costs in marketing, setup, shipping, and inventory. Once you have an idea of what’s going in the box and your costs to fill it, then you can consider how you’ll go about funding the business.
Here are some options to consider:
Borrow money with a startup loan.
Use funds from advanced orders from subscribers.
Utilize a business credit card.
Another approach is to start small and limit quantities initially so you can cover your own costs. By doing this you can reduce your financial risk, not to mention create some urgency in the sale thanks to limited inventory.
Should You Crowdfund Your Subscription Box?
You could think about crowdfunding your fledgling business idea. Crowdfunding certainly has its advantages, along with some unique challenges. For one, you’ll need to devote marketing dollars to outreach and exposure for your campaign. And with that, you’ll need to lead with a great story to stand out and get attention. The best part of all this strategy, however, is that if you get your backers to support your start-up costs, you can reduce your debt and gain supporters while you’re at it. This strategy would likely be best for unique, cause-related, and highly niche ideas, as you’ll have the most potential for excitement from your backers.
There are several types of crowdfunding and (even more platforms to choose from), but rewards-based crowdfunding is likely the most appropriate choice for your subscription box business. Interested in exploring this option for your business? For more ideas and information on crowdfunding, check out Crowdfunding for Startups: 8 Tips For Launching.
Step 4: Seek Out A Supplier For Your Subscription Box Service
You’ve got a few options on how you’ll actually fill your box. You could choose to purchase directly from a wholesale company, pay full-price, or use a combination of both. For some or all of your products, initiating a long-term relationship with a supplier becomes the smartest option.
You can start finding some amazing things for your subscription box by networking and establishing good relationships with vendors, suppliers, or artists. Those of you who focus on unique or one-of-a-kind items will particularly need to get relationships going with specialty shops, sellers at trade shows, local artists, and crafters. Etsy can be a wonderful source for contacting niche and specialty item sellers in all kinds of categories — not just handmade items. Many sellers would be more than happy to supply samples or a discount, and some may even be open to sharing in exchange for exposure.
If you end up creating a full website for yourself (more on that coming up), make it easy for vendors to get in touch with you through a dedicated page and instructions for how to submit a request. While you may not be fielding a lot of inquiries when you launch, get it set up so you’re ready to respond to those requests when they start pouring in.
Why You Need To Perfect Your Pitch Before You Talk To Suppliers
We recommend creating your one-page business plan (discussed in Step 2) before approaching suppliers. If you already have an email list or social following, lead with these resources; suppliers will be more than happy to work with you if additional exposure to their product is in the mix. Whether you’re asking for sample sizes or a discount, remember that transparency, a good plan, and confidence in your approach will go a long way in your pitch.
Step 5: Build Your Web Presence & Customer Service Channels
You can approach selling your subscription boxes online a few different ways:
Hire a firm or freelancer to build a fully custom site.
Integrate a shopping cart with an existing site.
Choose an eCommerce platform including a site builder with website templates and a payment gateway all in one (e.g. Shopify, Read our review).
Sell via social channels only with a Facebook Store or Instagram Shoppable posts.
If the website part makes you a bit nervous, I have some good news for you. It really has never been easier to sell online — with little to no experience or technical expertise — by going with a website builder. Some platforms even offer all-in-one solutions with payments (including recurring billing), website templates, and a plethora of integrations for easier shipping and tracking built right in, too!
Where To Find eCommerce-Friendly Website Builders
Because they are both feature-rich, easy to use, and provide a lot of room to scale, we recommend Shopify and Square to business owners who are starting from the ground up with little to no tech expertise. And for those that do have coding expertise, you’ll have customization tools at your disposal, too! What makes me most excited about Shopify is that it enables multi-channel selling across platforms, including Facebook stores, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Amazon. With these options, you can take advantage of more opportunities for growth while meeting potential customers where they’re hanging out anyway. And what I love is that everything including your inventory and reporting is all synced no matter where you sell!
Whether you’re looking for just a shopping cart integration or a full all-in-one platform, I recommend checking out The Best eCommerce Platforms For Your Small Business as you can compare options side-by-side and get a lot more information regarding what to look for to match what you need.
I will leave one final thought in regards to eCommerce website builders â take advantage of any trial periods or demos to give yourself time to play around and explore your possibilities.
Why Your Choice Of Payment Processor Matters
Your payment processor is how you’ll actually accept payments, so this is an important business consideration. If you’re a fledgling entrepreneur, you’ll likely find yourself below the monthly volume of what many traditional payment processors serve.
Third-party processors like Square, PayPal, and Stripe (the backend processor of Shopify) make it possible for smaller businesses to start taking payments, and they provide an exhaustive set of (oftentimes free) tools to help you manage your business. ThisÂ convenience comes at a cost however: an increased risk of account freezes if you have an uptick in chargebacks or your account is considered higher risk.
Regardless of what type of merchant account you go with, however, you will have this risk, unfortunately. That’s why we recommend arming yourself with knowledge. Check out How To Keep Your Payment Processor From Holding Funds Or Terminating Your Account.
So what should you look for in a merchant account? Here is what you can keep in mind as you research companies:
Product Features: What comes with the account? Are there any beneficial add-on services like email marketing? Reporting tools?
Recurrent Billing: Allowing your customers to save and automatically be charged is a must!
ACH: Automatic bank transfers can lower your processing costs, and it’s another payment method to offer your customers.
Forms of Payment: Some payment flows like Shopify Payments let you easily add PayPal and digital wallets to your checkout.
Card Automatic Updating: This feature can prevent billing issues and ensures you don’t have to chase someone down for updating billing information if their card expires or gets replaced.
Check The Contract: Always read your contract! We recommend merchants avoid long-term contracts as they are often also laced with lots of fees.
Customer Service: It’s important to get the help you need when you need it. Companies that have several active customer service channels and generous customer service hours are a must for the eCommerce subscription box business.
Check out some of our top picks in payment gateways for online payment processing in our post The Best Payment Gateways For Online Payment Processing.
Solving The Customer Service Question
The customer service issue can also happily be solved with the right eCommerce platform, too. For instance, many web builders, like Wix, for instance, now include chatbots that allow you to communicate in real-time to field any incoming questions. Some companies direct their customers to send any order issues or inquiries via Facebook Messenger.Â If you’ve linked a Facebook business account with Shopify, for example, you can take advantage of order tracking as well. Of course, there are always reliable phone and email options. Whatever you decide, make it clear how your customers can contact you, along with the expected response time.
Regardless of customer service channels you ultimately choose, we suggest making it easy for your subscribers to alter their box or skip a month. Enabling them to easily skip a month may feel like losing a sale, but you’ll likely retain them for longer (and keep them less frustrated).
Step 6: Build A Marketing Plan To Draw In Customers
Getting a marketing plan down on paper is an absolute must, but it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it sounds. The subscription box biz is a bit competitive at the moment, and that’s where being savvy and making the most of the opportunities you already have can go a long way.
Social Media Marketing For Your Subscription Box
Social media can work wonders to establish your brand and get people excited. Follow the strategies below:
Start Posting Regularly: If you already have followers on social, you’re at an advantage, but if you don’t, consider building your following by posting regular content, tagging larger accounts, and networking.
Test A Paid Social Ad: If you’re up to it, I recommend testing a sponsored post or two to get people excited during your pre-launch focus and beyond. Facebook advertising is a very cheap way ($20-30 bucks) to get in front of potentially thousands of people, and your ad will go to Instagram automatically, too. It’s also easy to target your campaign (even down to niche interests).
Excite With a Giveaway: A giveaway is a tried-and-true method of increasing your footprint with every post! Ask your followers to tag friends, share, and direct them to your site to sign up with an email. You increase your reach exponentially while building an email list of people who are interested in you. It’s a win-win.
Tap Into Influencer Marketing: Whether you have a lot of followers or not, an inexpensive way to boost your brand is through influencer marketing. By offering your box to an established YouTube personality in exchange for a shout-out or review on their page, you can reach potentially thousands with your brand name. Influencers will likely be happy about to devote some screen-time to your sub box, as it’s not always easy coming up with fresh content.
Email Marketing For Your Subscription Box
If you already have an established business or a robust email list, email marketing is a great way to promote your subscription box service. Email is still one of the cheapest and easiest ways to advertise new products and services. I love that Square offers this as an add-on service for only $15/month and includes analytics, templates, and targeting.
Don’t have a list? Consider reaching out to another local business and paying a small fee for a shout-out in their next newsletter. Make sure you create an email form on your site to make it easy for people to show their interest in your box. You could even use a credit card number to reserve a spot for a limited quantity of boxes before you’ve even launched! Fanning the flames of FOMO (fear of missing out) is never a bad idea in marketing.
To get the most bang for your buck when it comes to emails, check out How To Create A Successful Email Marketing Strategy (all skill levels).
Step 7: Create A Strategy For Headache-Free Shipping & Fulfillment
There are two major pathways to take with shipping and fulfillment: doing it yourself or outsourcing fulfillment. Of course, the size of your operation and your budget are factors, as well as logistical and space considerations.
Creating a strategy that gets your boxes out on time is key, but you are probably looking for the lowest possible overhead and tools that can help you save time. There are a plethora of integrations that work with Shopify and other eCommerce platforms to make it easy to print labels and ship from your home.
When it comes to costs, your shipping fees can vary widely depending on what’s in your box, size, and materials you need. In your planning stages, do research on which carriers are most economical and if it’s best to use multiple carriers. Most importantly, when it comes to packing up your goodies and shipping out your subscription box, keeping everything protected and beautiful (not to mention eco-friendly) goes a long way in customer retention. The truth is that when you’re starting out, you’re building your reputation one box at a time.
Thankfully, we have a library of comprehensive and easy-to-digest resources to help you find the right solutions and make the best choices for your business. For answers to questions about shipping and fulfillment, check out our posts, 8 Hacks For Saving On Shipping CostsÂ and Learn To Delegate: What It Means To Outsource Your eCommerce Fulfillment.
5 Tips To Keep Your Subscription Box Business Growing
Create Referral Campaigns:Â Make the time-tested and powerful technique of word-of-mouth advertising work for you through a referral campaign. All you need to do is incentivize current subscribers to refer your box to their friends and family. Whether that’s through a bonus box or a few extra treats in their next shipment, those who successfully recruit friends and family to your brand deserve some celebration!
Stellar Customer Service:Â Nothing creates a solid reputation better than stellar customer service. To be the best, it’s not just about answering inquiries or solving problems, it’s about being proactive and listening to your current customers. Send them an email and ask them how they like their box, make amends right away for any issues (even if they weren’t your fault), and generally bring a “service with a smile” approach. Turning a customer into a brand ambassador is the ultimate sign of customer loyalty, and providing excellent care is how you’ll accomplish it.
Check Your Reports & Recognize Trends: Whatever eCommerce platform you go with, take advantage of any and all reporting and insights. Is there a certain geographical area that stands out? A peak time of year for sales growth? What is your “deadzone” in terms of new signups? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you target marketing and encourage growth through marketing when you need it most.
Identify Opportunities & Always Be Closing:Â Knowing what your customers love most about your boxes and looking at your sales reports gives you key insights into what items to purchase for upcoming boxes and new opportunities for growth. Once you have established customers, consider offering related or additional products that you know they’ll get excited about (because you’ve done your research). Remember Dollar Shave Club’s expansion from just the humble razor to a full line of personal care products? You want that potential growth for your business, too! Whether that’s through expanding into a new niche, identifying a new under-served market, or just boosting your sales with your current subscribers, always be closing!
Understand Cash Flow & Plan Ahead:Â Absolutely essential for any small business, including your subscription box company, is knowing your cash flow. You’ll need to figure out your cash flow so that you can make better decisions about your finances. To do this, you must understand how to create a cash flow statement, which breaks down your operating cash flow, cash flow of investments, financial activities, and net cash flow. We make this easier to understand and show you what tools can help in our post, How To Calculate & Analyze Business Cash Flow.Â
Are You Ready To Launch Your Subscription Box Company?
Launching a successful subscription box service requires some smart legwork, including researching your potential customers, curating irresistible products, buzz-building advertising, and structuring a plan of action. With the right eCommerce tools and a well-thought-out business plan, you can whittle down what feels like a giant, overwhelming project into something that’s more manageable.
For more startup resources, check out Small Business Startup Loans: Your 8 Best Options and The Beginner’s Guide To Starting An Online Store.
The post How To Start A Subscription Box: 7 Steps To Launch A Thriving Business appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
If you have a nonprofit organization, providing a completely secure and convenient to accept donations online is probably a pretty high priority on your list. If you’re not sure what types of solutions are out there, you’re in the right place. Whether your charity needs a better online presence with an updated site, or you need to improve engagement with current and prospective donors, you certainly have a myriad of options! In this post, we’ll explore an overview of each approach, so you have a better idea of what deserves more of your attention.
In all of these options, take into consideration who your potential supporters are and how you interact with them. Think about what’s currently working for you, and what you need to develop for growth. For instance, do you need to create a site? Do you need an organized database of customer information? A better process for recurring donations? Let’s dig into the possibilities for taking online payments and much more.
Donation Management Software
In addition to payment processing, donation management software focuses on the CRM (customer relationship management) aspects of running a nonprofit organization. Data collection, tools for outreach, as well as nurturing existing donors are all components of good donation management software.
You’ll find a wide range of pricing when it comes to this type of software. We found companies offering their SaaS (subscription as a service) products as low as $10/month and as high as $15,000 + annually for mid to large organizations for managing complex donor relationships. Of course, which services come along with the core offering also varies significantly, but that means you have a lot of options, too.
Generally speaking, you’re going to pay more for the convenience of an all-in-one software platform than if you were just shopping around for a payment processor, both in terms of monthly costs and transaction rates. Some companies will allow you to choose from a handful of compatible payment processors, while others offer their own built-in processor.
When considering donation management software, consider what you may need for your size organization. In addition to online payment processing, here are a few services that may be included for nonprofit organizations:
Gift Matching Management
Donation management software can be a great tool for your charity to improve in specific areas listed above. However, if you are just looking for a way to process payments in-person and online, and need some tracking and reporting capabilities, payment service providers may be a cost-effective option for you. You’ll get lower rates in exchange for fewer extra frills, so to speak. As you’ll see in the section below, some payment service providers also offer CRM integrations. These options can be nice to have your payment processing and outreach tools working together from the same database, though you’ll pay for the two separately. Let’s take a look at some payment service providers for taking online donations and more.
Payment Service Providers
A payment service provider is first and foremost a credit card processor, but these types of companies typically have very robust offerings that support online charities and merchants as well. While the term payment service provider may not ring a bell to you quite yet, you’re likely familiar with some of the biggest in the business: Square, PayPal, and Stripe. What makes companies like these different from traditional merchant accounts is that they are actually third-party processors. While we could devote a whole post discussing the technical details of this type of arrangement, we’ll say this: Payment service providers may offer more choices in payment processing and fewer hoops to jump through to get started â but they aren’t for everyone. Be sure to follow the links and learn more about each specific option so you can make the best decision for your nonprofit business.
Square (read our review) offers a variety of options for taking payments online. The simplest and fastest way to set up your online store is to pick one of the templates that Square offers and set up a free online shop. Your customization options are limited here, but you can add donation buttons in the Site Editor. Back in the editor, you can add whatever images you like as well as sections for fundraising tickets, merchandise, buttons to accept donations â or a combination including all of the above.
If you already have a site or you are building a custom site, you can also integrate your Square account with popular eCommerce software like WooCommerce, WordPress.com, or Weebly, just to name a few. The integration option requires minimal technical expertise while giving you more freedom to make a site that feels more like your own. However, Square offers yet one more option for customizing your checkout and donation process. You’ll find free developer-friendly tools so that you can customize online and in person with their API.
No matter what solution you choose, you can also send recurring invoices. You can schedule and set donation pledges for your donors, and track all activity right from your dashboard. Of course, you’ll also have a customer directory so you can collect phone numbers and email addresses, and save a card on file for those who opt-in. Square also offers a suite of add-on services like marketing CRM so you can quickly create an email campaign to follow up and engage your contacts for fundraising, donation goals, and more!
Square offers nonprofit organizations the same rates as everyone else, but Square’s rates are some of the most transparent in the business, with no additional fees for PCI compliance (payment security), no monthly fees for processing, and no contract or cancellation fees whatsoever. Setting up an account with Square is also very easy, and is often the best way to dig in to test all of the possibilities. Check out our article, How To Accept Online Payments With Square, for an in-depth look at the company’s ecommerce tools as well.
From adding a button to the top of your website to more in-depth developer tools that integrate with your site, PayPal offers a plethora of support for the nonprofit business.Â Here are a few of the options you might want to check into when it comes to taking donations:
Donate Button: Accept credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal by adding a simple donate button to emails, web pages, and campaigns. Your donors can also select automatic monthly donations, too!
Express Checkout: If you choose to go with a different processor, you can also add a PayPal button to your site with Express Checkout, which simply adds a new option to pay during the checkout process.
PayPal Here: It’s worth it to mention that you also can process in-person payments at events with PayPal, too! PayPal Here is a card reader that allows you to process in-person payments of credit or debit cards.
If you’ve registered your nonprofit as a 501(c)(3) charity, you can also enjoy shaving a bit off of your transaction charges. PayPal’s nonprofit transaction rates are 2.2% + $0.30. For online solutions, PayPal has more than you may expect, so check out our full PayPal Review for pros, cons, and more.
Stripe (read our review) is a great option for your nonprofit if you are looking for virtually unlimited end-to-end customization and have you have access to developer expertise. While Stripe may not have the dinner-table name recognition of Square or PayPal, it’s one of the most prominent payment service providers. Stripe is the behind-the-scenes processor for some of the biggest national and global brands, including Facebook, Adidas, Lyft, and Under Armour.
What makes Stripe different than Square and PayPal is that you won’t have the processor’s payment brand on your button â Stripe is essentially a “white label” option which leaves you to create your own messaging on buttons and customize the entire checkout experience.
While Stripe doesn’t specify the types of fee discounts for nonprofit organizations, their support page instructs any business with a nonprofit status to email support for more information. For more information on basic pricing as well as billing and customer engagement tools Stripe offers, visit The Complete Guide To Stripe Pricing And Costs.
SMS Text Messaging
Engaging donors and accepting payments through text messaging is a growing trend, one that we can’t neglect to discuss. You’ll find a variety of SMS messaging services out there that offer unique levels of support and different pricing structures to boot. So how does it work? SMS text donations essentially direct the customer to an online, secure payment form hosted by the credit card processor. Some credit card processors provide support for SMS; other SMS tools are focused on the customer engagement portion and they integrate with various processors and provide detailed donor tracking and reporting.
Most SMS companies we looked at do integrate with Stripe as a payment processor, but one company, called Pagato, also integrates with Braintree and Quickbooks Payments. For more information about taking donations with SMS payments, check out What Is An SMS Payment And How Does It Work?
Online Donations Through Facebook
Creating a presence on Facebook could be your primary way to reach out for donations online or just a reinforcement. The great thing about this platform is that its entirely free to set up a page, and Facebook doesn’t take a cut of your donations â you keep 100% of every donation. The other thing that may work in your favor is that many people are already on Facebook, and you can get your message (and your donate button) out to hundreds or thousands of people at a time. Reach people through social shares, live feeds, and of course, paid Facebook ads. Keep in mind that Facebook may throttle your page’s visibility to your followers, however; the ultimate goal of Facebook is that you purchase ads to boost visibility. Nothing is free, and that includes visibility to all of your followers on Facebook. That being said, Facebook has some nice tools for charities. Here’s what you can do:
Add a donate button on your page and posts
Set up donation matching
Add a donate button on live videos
To use Facebook’s online donate button, you’ll need to have a Facebook Business Page that’s categorized as a nonprofit. You don’t have any bureaucratic hoops to go through on Facebook’s end, but you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the nonprofit category selected to accept donations online for your organization. If you need to edit your page’s category to a nonprofit, all you do is head to the About section on the left side of your page and edit the category there. You can add up to three categories. Below is a screenshot from Facebook’s help section so you can see how simple it is to edit your category from your Facebook storefront.
If you are having a fundraising event at a physical location, you can also create an event through Facebook or link your Eventbrite page to Facebook, so your followers can click to buy a ticket.
At the beginning of the post, we talked about payment service providers, which are third-party processors that act as one umbrella merchant account with merchants being sub-users. Merchant accounts, on the other hand, provide a more direct solution that has some benefits. While you’ll have to go through a rigorous application process to open an account, and it’s not necessarily instantaneous like Square, you can typically expect good one-on-one customer care and communication if any issues arise.
We definitely have our favorite merchant service providers here at Merchant Maverick, but is this solution right for your nonprofit? Consider your monthly donations. Merchant accounts are best for larger organizations that process close to $10k or more in donations a month. At this volume, you’ll likely start facing significant cost savings by switching from a third party processor to a merchant account. In fact, many merchant accounts will only open an account for you if you’re processing around that range.
One of our favorite merchant accounts for nonprofits is Dharma Merchant Services. You’ll be hard pressed to find a company with more stellar reviews and who really has a heart for the nonprofit mission. In fact, they offer nicely discounted rates for nonprofits! Merchant accounts like Dharma are also typically really good at offering even more ways to take payments like ACH and automatic recurring payment solutions. As far as integrating payments online, Dharma uses Authorize.net, which is quite possibly one of the most compatible solutions to integrate on a wide variety of platforms. You’ll also have a lot of options in Clover hardware for in-person payments. For more information about the services Dharma offers, visit our full Dharma Merchant Services Review.
By now hopefully your gears are turning, and you’re feeling inspired to explore your options. Of course, your solution largely depends on your core needs. Accepting payments online is an integral part of fundraising but ongoing engagement is also a vital part as well. Choosing an option like Square that gives you flexibility in more than just payment processing can help you launch your online presence quickly and continue to engage those who give. But if you’ve already got a site you love, the ease of adding a payment button with PayPal or a fully branded checkout experience with Stripe or Dharma is also a fantastic option. Do you have any questions about accepting online payments for your charity? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
The post How To Accept Donations Online appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Selecting the best ecommerce platform for building your online store can be tough. I find it helpful to keep in mind that shopping for this type of software is similar to shopping for any other product (you just happen to be shopping for shopping cartÂ software, which I’ll grant is slightly strange). You ultimately need your ecommerce software to do two primary things: to serve your particular online selling needs, and to accomplish this for an affordable price.
If you’ve heard of any ecommerce software up to this point, you’ve probably heard of a platform called Shopify. Shopify often receives top billing in this category, and with good reason. Still, it’s by no means the perfect solution for everyone. Along with Shopify, we’ve compiled a few other great options worth considering in your search for an online home for your store.
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$9 – $299
$29.95 – $249.95
$19 – $229
Free – $99
$25 – $40
Ease Of Use
From a bird’s-eye view, our main reasons for recommending these platforms are user-friendliness, a solid feature set, and an accessible price. Notice that they’re also all SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms, meaning you are not responsible for downloading, installing, and hosting the shopping cart on your own server. Instead, you subscribe to the service (most often for a monthly fee), and all the hosting and software updates that underpin your online store are automatically handled for you. Easy! eCommerce software has been trending in this direction over the past several years, and the available SaaS options have only become more robust and customizable over time.
What To Look For In An Ecommerce Platform
Before we discuss the individual recommendations further, here’s a quick overview of the key factors we consider when evaluating ecommerce software:
Pricing: How does the monthly subscription system work (what factors determine the different pricing levels), and what are the options/costs associated with accepting payments from shoppers?
Features & Add-ons: How strong is the core feature set of the software, and how well can these features be expanded upon using the platform’s associated app marketplace?
Ease Of Use: How steep is the learning curve for ecommerce beginners (particularly those without any coding experience)? What is the balance between user-friendliness and the capability of the platform to accomplish both basic and advanced tasks?
Web Design: How attractive, modern, and functional are the available theme templates for designing storefronts? What customization options are available, and how robust/flexible are these tools?
Customer Support: What is the availability and quality of email, live chat, and phone support for the software, along with any other self-help resources provided by the company and user community?
And, of course…
User Reviews: What are real store owners (like you!) saying about the software, both good and bad?
That’s our basic guideline. Now, we’ll take a closer look at each platform, highlighting the main benefits and drawbacks of each one, along with the types of online sellers we think the software typically suits best. We’d definitely recommend reading our full review of each platform before making your final choice. We’ve also posted one-on-one comparisons for several of the platforms if you’d like to check out those in-depth articles as well.
As mentioned, Shopify is our most commonly recommended ecommerce platform. The combination of strong core features, an exhaustive app marketplace, and high ease-of-use put Shopify at or near the top of most SaaS ecommerce platform rankings.
There are technically five Shopify plans, but the three subscription levels in the middle are considered the standard options for most SMB owners needing an online store.Â The price jumps between the three middle plans are based primarily on additional features and the ability to set up more staff accounts. Here are all five levels:
Shopify Lite:Â $9/mo.Â Embeddable cart, but no standalone store website.
Basic Shopify: $29/mo.
Advanced Shopify: 299/mo.
Shopify Plus:Custom pricing. Reserved for enterprise-level customers.
When it comes to accepting payment from your customers, you should note that this is the only platform on our list that charges an extra commission per sale. This goes above and beyond the normal processing fees you’ll need to pay to your credit card processor.Â Shopify’s commission decreases incrementally as you climb the subscription ladder: 2% on Basic, 1% on Shopify, 0.5% on Advanced.
You can avoid these extra Shopify transaction fees if you sign up for the in-house payment processor — Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe) — but this gateway is only available in 10 countries. In addition to eliminating the extra transaction fee, Shopify struck a deal with Stripe to offer lower payment processing fees with Shopify Payments than if you were to use Stripe (or a similar processor) by itself. These discounts apply to your processing if you’re on the Shopify Plan or the Advanced Shopify Plan.
Shopify does provide over 100 alternative gateway options. You’ll just be saddled with that extra percentage Shopify charges per sale when you stray from Shopify Payments.
Features & Add-Ons
Shopify is defined by a quality core feature set that works well for a wide variety of sellers. Moreover, Shopify has a very large app marketplace (of around 2500 apps) that will provide virtually any additional feature you might need. If there is one disadvantage to this system, it is that these integrations can add to your monthly operating costs. Meanwhile, merchants appreciate how many of Shopify’s third-party apps are fully-fledged software platforms that are commonly used to support ecommerce, rather than just simple extensions that add a small feature or two (the app store does have those as well, though!)
Here are a few Shopify features we like:
Abandoned cart recovery
Built-in shipping software (Shopify Shipping)
Real-time shipping calculations
Manual order creation (virtual terminal)
Automatic tax calculation
Shopify POS & other POS integrations
Extensive order fulfillment & dropshipping integrations
Coupons, discounts & gift cards
Ease Of Use
Shopify has one of the easiest learning curves in the ecommerce software market. Simplicity is the name of the game for Shopify — it’s clear they’d rather offer the ability to expand the platform’s capability with optional add-ons than to overwhelm the newbie with a complicated dashboard or intricate customization options from the get-go.
The Shopify dashboard is clear and well-organized, and any built-in feature can be manipulated easily with zero coding knowledge.
Shopify offers 10 free themes (made by Shopify), as well as 67 paid themes (made by third-parties) that range in price from $140-$180. Technically, the total theme count is a bit higher, because each theme has multiple style variations that swap out colors and whatnot. Shopify themes are some of the more elegant and functional options we’ve seen. As a nice bonus, the theme marketplace can be searched by desired theme features.
While the Shopify theme editor may not be as flexible as that of a top-notch website builder (like Wix), the drag-and-drop editor makes it easy to stack and rearrange page elements, called “Sections.” (Perhaps don’t go quite as far as I did with awkward colors and fonts — just showing you what can be changed):
Beyond the theme editor, you also have the opportunity for more customization with a combination of HTML, CSS, and Shopify’s own theme templating language (called Liquid). Most novices won’t open that coding can of worms straight away, but it’s good to know it’s there.
Shopify offers 24/7 phone, email, and live chat support at all subscription levels. Although no customer support system is perfect, we’ve found Shopify’s responses helpful and timely in the grand scheme. On top of this, the strong community of users and developers currently working with Shopify makes finding resources, reviews, and feedback a breeze. The library of self-help articles, tutorials, courses, and videos produced by Shopify is also impressive.
Who Is Shopify Best For?
If this were a little kids’ recreational sports league, Shopify would receive the “Most Well-Rounded Player” award, if not the full MVP as well. Shopify is suited to the widest variety of store types and sizes. When Shopify works for merchants, it works really well. Store owners who benefit the most from Shopify will most likely be based in one of the 10 countries in which Shopify Payments is available, because that’s the only way Shopify’s extra commission per sale is avoided. However, the quality of Shopify’s platform is strong enough overall that many merchants are willing to accept those extra transaction fees, even if they can’t (or won’t) use Shopify Payments.
Of course, we can’t mention Shopify without also mentioning one type of merchant in particular: dropshippers. Shopify is definitely the dropshipper’s go-to platform.
If you asked most experts at large, they’d probably tell you that BigCommerce is Shopify’s most direct ecommerce SaaS competitor. BigCommerce also has an enterprise solution (BigCommerce Enterprise) that’s comparable with Shopify Plus.
Subscription levels with BigCommerce are organized by added features at each level, but also annual revenue caps.Â This means you’re automatically bumped to a higher subscription once you reach a cap. Here are the plans and their associated sales limits:
Standard: $29.95/monthÂ (sell up to $50K/yr.)
Plus: $79.95/monthÂ (sell up to $150K/yr.)
Pro: $249.95/monthÂ (sell up to $400K/yr.)
add $150/mo. for every additional $200K/yr. in sales, up to $3M
Enterprise: Custom pricing
Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce never charges an additional commission per sale. For payment processing gateways, you have about 60 options. One of these is Braintree (a division of PayPal), which gives access to discounted processing rates as you move up the BigCommerce subscription ladder.
Features & Add-Ons
BigCommerce has a particularly strong set of native features, while also maintaining a sizable app marketplace for optional add-ons (ballpark 600 in total). The balance of out-of-the-box features versus add-on apps leans more toward the former, especially when compared to Shopify. Offered features include:
Faceted (filtered) search
Customer groups & segmentation
Abandoned cart recovery
Real-time shipping calculations
Product ratings & reviews
Up to 600 product options/variants
Coupons, discounts, & gift certificates
Square POS integration
Ease Of Use
Some may argue that the balance toward more features included from the get-go can make BigCommerce harder to use at first. Personally, I wouldn’t let fears about user-friendliness stop a beginner from using this software. Extensive out-of-the-box features don’t complicate BigCommerce dashboard beyond reason, and the included features are intuitively configurable without any coding knowledge.
BigCommerce offers aroundÂ 125 themes, along with close to 500 total variationsÂ (or âstylesâ) of those themes.Â Seven of these themes (25 styles) are free; the rest are available for $145â$235. Quality of design is always subjective, but BigCommerce definitely has a wide variety of elegant templates from which to choose.
It’s a good thing this variety and quality of templates pre-exists, because customization options without coding knowledge or adding a separate integration are somewhat limited with BigCommerce. The theme editor lacks a drag-and-drop element, and you’ll be stuck with the theme’s fonts and colors for the most part.
Like Shopify, BigCommerce offers 24/7 phone, email, and live chat support at all plan levels. We’ve had mixed experiences with BigCommerce’s support, but find that more users praise the service than knock it. You can definitely make the argument (and we have) that BigCommerce support is just as good or better than Shopify’s. There are also active community forums and plenty of BigCommerce-produced support materials available online.
Who Is BigCommerce Best For?
The target market for BigCommerce overlaps significantly with Shopify’s. Much of your decision will come down to the appeal and specific fit-to-business of the extra features that come built-in with BigCommerce at your targeted subscription level. For example, I think B2B and wholesale merchants would do well to take close look at BigCommerce’s feature set. Support for more product variants or discount types will be interesting to other sellers. If you’re confident you’ll actually use most of the native features BigCommerce offers, you could definitely end up saving money and headaches. You’ll just need to be prepared for the automatic subscription bumps as your revenue grows.
Perhaps the most obvious appeal for BigCommerce is the freedom to choose your payment processor with no penalty of an extra transaction fee. That extra cut Shopify takes from your sales feels especially unfair if you’re not even based in one of the 10 countries where Shopify Payments is supported.
By the same token, maybe you already have a merchant account and/or payment processor that you like, or are looking for a specialized payment processor for your particular sales volume and/or risk profile. We often recommend merchants processing over around $100K per year look into credit card processors that offer your own dedicated merchant account with interchange-plus pricing. These accounts can provide more transparency and account stability (and often cost savings) than a standard flat-rate processor like Shopify Payments, PayPal or Square. With BigCommerce, your payment acceptance options are quite open.
This platform has been around longer than any other on our list, and I’d actually heard of it before I’d even heard of Shopify. Over the years, 3dcart has developed a substantial and nuanced core feature setÂ and continues to add and improve features at a steady clip. The software’s low monthly cost, extensive features, and plentiful payment gateway options make it worth a look when opening an online store.
Subscription packages with 3dcart are delineated mainly by annual online revenue, number of staff accounts, and available features. You can sell up to 100 products on the Startup plan, while the other plans allow you to list unlimited items.
Startup: $19/monthÂ (sell up to $50K/yr.)
Basic: $29/monthÂ (sell up to $100K/yr.)
Plus: $79/monthÂ (sell up to $200K/yr.)
Pro: $229/monthÂ (sell up to $400K/yr.)
3dcart comes in at a lower starting price than BigCommerce or Shopify (if you exclude the Shopify Lite plan that doesn’t let you build a standalone store website). At the same time, the $29 plan level with 3dcart accommodates twice the annual store revenue of the $29.95 plan on BigCommerce.
On top of this, 3dcart never charges its own fee per sale, regardless which of the overÂ 160 compatible payment gateways you select. For US merchants, there also are several “preferred” processor options (e.g., Square, Stripe, PayPal, and FattMerchant) that may give you access to discounted processing rates at the Plus and Pro subscription level.
Features & Add-Ons
3dcart prides itself on a rich supply of native, built-in features. We can vouch that the feature set is robust, especially for the price. And, while it’s true that 3dcart has managed to avoid some of the excessive “app creep” from which Shopify suffers, you can still connect with lots of useful third-party software via the app store.
We’ve mentioned that packed-in features can result in sacrificed user-friendliness. 3dcart keeps some of its complexity at bay by offering advanced features and modules that can simply be turned on and off depending on whether you need them.
Here are just a few of 3dcart’s noteworthy features:
Unlimited product options/variants
Robust discount/coupon engine
Real-time shipping calculations
Create/print shipping labels in-dashboard
Gift certificates on all plans
Wish lists & gift registries
Customer reviews & product Q&A
Abandoned cart recovery
Waiting list & pre-orders
Ease Of Use
When it comes to actually working with all of 3dcart’s plentiful features, we’re still looking at a user-friendly platform overall. You should just be aware that the learning curve you encounter may be slightly steeper than it is for Shopify (and perhaps BigCommerce as well) depending on your experience.
Like many worthwhile endeavors, 3dcart simply requires you put in a bit more effort in order to get more out of it in the end. The menus go a little deeper, the dashboard screens are more complex, and some advanced functions can be a little tricky to locate and use at first. Still, the basic setup and navigation are comparable to the ecommerce platforms we’ve discussed so far. You won’t need coding knowledge to operate your store.
3dcart recently streamlined its entire theme marketplace, resultingÂ in less quantity and more quality. The revamp brought 3dcart into better stylistic alignment with the ecommerce competitors we’ve discussed so far, but we’re still missing a bit of variety and uniqueness amongst the remaining options.
Of the 45 total themes available, about half are free, and more than half were created by 3dcart. Premium themes range from $149-$249.
With 3dcart, you get a very basic theme editor to change out photos and font colors, but you can’t rearrange any page elements:
Beyond these simple changes, you must use HTML and CSS inside the template editor:
Another key reason 3dcart makes our “best” list is the availability of 24/7 phone, live chat, email support. The only subscription that doesn’t offer phone support is the $19/month plan, but you still have theÂ ability to talk to someone in real time with live chat. Support quality and responsiveness receiveÂ mixed reviews, but this is typical of all the software apps on our list. No ecommerce solution has cracked the code for keeping 100% of customers satisfied, but we’ll let you know if any of them do!
You’ll also have access to plenty of online resources produced by 3dcart, as well as an active community forum. Just note that while the knowledgebase articles are helpful, they’re sometimes low on screenshots and high on text.
Who Is 3dcart Best For?
We think 3dcart is a solid option for small-to-midsize businesses owners on a budget who still appreciate lots of built-in features. If you’ve experimented with Shopify or BigCommerce and felt a little boxed in when it came to flexibility and customization, and as long as you’re not intimidated by a relatively detail-oriented system, 3dcart opens up options for you. Or, if you’re skeptical of jumping on the Shopify bandwagon just because “everybody’s doing it,” and you balk at feeling hemmed into Shopify Payments lest you pay a penalty, 3dcart may be just the alternative you seek. Not to mention, we appreciate your Maverick spirit!
3dcart hasÂ a tried-and-true and even somewhat old school vibe, but without feeling clunky or inflexible. It has managed to stick around amongst an onslaught of newer competitors by quietly improving the quantity and quality of its core offerings over time. Meanwhile, you can still add on plenty of extra features via the app market, or do a bit of template tinkering on your own with basic coding knowledge.
Ecwid diverges the most from the software options we’ve discussed so far. At its core, Ecwid is an ecommerce shopping cart pluginÂ (or “widget,” as the name implies) you can embed into an existing website. In this way, Ecwid is similar to WordPress’ WooCommerce, except you can add Ecwid to any website, not just WordPress sites. Ecwid also allows you to create a very basic standalone website and sell up to 10 products — for free! The company claims over 1.5 million users, which is significantly more than Shopify’s 600,ooo. The availability of a free plan likely has a lot to do with that!
Subscription levels are organized by several aspects: available features, number of listed products, file storage, customer service access, and number of staff accounts. We’ve described the details of each level in our main Ecwid review, but here’s a quick summary:
Free: $0/mo. (10 Products)
Venture: $15/mo. (100 Products)
Business: $35/mo. (2500 Products)
Unlimited: $99/mo. (Unlimited products)
Happily, EcwidÂ does not charge an additional commission per sale. Along with offering around 50 payment gateway options for your store, Ecwid also has a special partnership with a payments provider called WePay. Together, they created Ecwid Payments, which offers discounted payment processing rates for merchants in the US, UK, and Canada. And, if you accept ACH or direct bank payments at your store (which is cheaper than accepting credit cards), you also qualify for discounted rates on those transactions with Ecwid Payments.
Features & Add-Ons
With Ecwid’s freemium pricing model, you can expect several new features unlocked at each subscription level. The free plan will definitely get you started with a small online store, but we don’t see most serious sellers staying on this plan for long. Fairly basic features such as inventory management, discounts, SEO tools, and access to the Ecwid app store require a paid plan. The Ecwid app store is on the smaller side, but you’ll still find several ecommerce staples in the shipping, tax, and accounting categories. And, don’t forget that if you’re embedding the Ecwid shop widget into another website, you’ll have access to that sitebuilder’s integrations as well.
Noteworthy Ecwid features include:
Create & edit orders
Several POS integration options, including mobile POS
Abandoned cart recovery
Branded shopping app for your store
Automatic tax calculations
Wholesale pricing groups
Mobile store management app
Ease Of Use
Intuitive dashboard navigation and foolproof feature manipulation make Ecwid an extremely user-friendly platform. Ecwid’s ease of use closely rivals Shopify’s. The Ecwid backend was clearly designed with the ecommerce beginner in mind.
Remember that Ecwid’s main purpose is to act as a shopping cart plugin for an existing website that already has an established look and feel. That said, Ecwid does provide one theme template for a standalone online store. Here’s my in-progress edit of the starter template:
There aren’t a lot of customizations you can make to this starter website besides adding your own main image, your store name, and your 10 products. If your store is embedded into an existing website, you can purchase a third-party theme that helps your shop tie in with the rest of the site. Basically, unless you’re using the Ecwid Starter Site, web design for your storefront is largely dependent upon whatever existing sitebuilder you’re using.
Availability of customer support with Ecwid depends on which plan you have:
Free:Â Email only
Venture:Â Email & live chat
Business:Â Email, live chat, & phone; 2 hours of custom development (annual plan)
Unlimited:Â Email, live chat, & priority phone support; 12 hours of custom development (annual plan)
Also, note that email and live chat are not open on the weekends, and phone support is on a callback system. Despite these limitations, most users rate the actual quality of Ecwid’s support quite highly. Knowledgebase articles and video tutorials are also good quality.
Who Is Ecwid Best For?
Generally, we think Ecwid is a great option for small-to-midsize sellers. We highly recommend Ecwid for newcomers to online selling — particularly those with an established online presence who simply need to add a store component. If you love the platform your current website is built upon, and you’re already nailing your brand’s image and following, there may be no need to rush off and migrate to an all-in-one “website + ecommerce” system like the ones we’ve covered so far.
If you don’t have a website but would like to dabble in selling a few products online, you could also get an Ecwid starter site going for free while you develop a full-blown website on the side. It’s hard to argue with free! If you’re really on a shoestring budget or you’re just starting out with ecommerce, I’d encourage you to compare Ecwid’s free plan to Shopify Lite (at $9/mo.) to see which system might work best for your needs.
So, Ecwid built an ecommerce shopping cart widget that goes inside other website builders, but Wix is a website builder that actually built its own ecommerce widget (called Wix Stores) to go inside itself. I know, it’s a bit confusing! The point is that Wix began as a traditional sitebuilder, but now has ecommerce capability built in as well. Combining new ecommerce tools with its existing popularity in the no-coding-required-website-design niche, Wix presents quite an attractive (both figuratively and literally) option for online sellers.
You may have heard that Wix lets you create a website for free. While this is true, you need a paid plan to use Wix’s ecommerce features. Below are your ecommerce subscription options, definedÂ by file storage, customer support, and whether or not email marketing campaigns are included:
Business Basic: $25/month (20GB storage)
Business Unlimited: $30/month (35GB storage)
Business VIP: $40/month (50GB storage)
We’ve listed the true month-to-month price here, even though Wix advertises its monthly price if you pay for a full year. This drops the prices to $20, $30, and $35, respectively. All of the other platforms we’ve highlighted also offer discounts when paying annually — Wix just leads with these discounted figures in its advertising.
Regardless of which payment processor you choose (there are currently close to 20 options), Wix never charges an extra commission per sale.
Features & Add-Ons
If you choose to build an ecommerce website with Wix from scratch, the core of your site will be built upon the Wix Stores app. If, however, you already have a different type of Wix website (e.g., restaurant, hotel, photography site, etc.) and want to add an online shop, you simply switch to a Business subscription plan and add the Wix Stores app to your dashboard.
Wix is still working on adding some features that are becoming more standard amongst ecommerce platforms (like abandoned cart recovery), but we like a lot of what it has on offer so far:
Integrate with Square POS
Mobile app for store management
Send & manage invoices
Checkout on your own domain
Create discounts & coupons
Inventory & order management
Library of stock photos for your site
The Wix app marketplace includes hundreds of apps, but not all are ecommerce-specific. You may also notice limited pre-built connections to third-party integrations (shipping and accounting software, for example). These sorts of apps become more indispensable as a store grows, but are not as critical for aÂ store that manages fewer products and orders.
Ease Of Use
Wix Stores integrates seamlessly with the rest of the Wix dashboard. eCommerce features and settings are simply added to the left sidebar menu, like in any other ecommerce platform. Further dashboards open as you explore each individual feature (like adding a product or creating a coupon). Wix is defined in the DIY web design market by its ease-of-use, and this extends to its ecommerce functionality as well.
There are actually two ways to design anÂ ecommerce storefront in Wix. The first begins in a familiar fashion — selecting a template.
Wix offers over 500 templates to choose from, with over 70 of these already built upon the Wix Stores app (although you can easily add the app to any template). A nice perk of Wix’s template system is that all are included free with a Business subscription to Wix. The only tricky part is that you can’t switch templates once get your store up and running!
Wix provides the most flexible no-coding-required theme editor of any ecommerce platform we’ve covered here. Rather than simply dragging and dropping elements up and down your pages, you can adjust and place page elements virtually anywhere.
The second (and even easier) method of creating an ecommerce website with Wix is via Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence). If you choose this option, you’ll be asked a series of detailed questions about your business, and Wix will use this information to draft a storefront for you.
Sites created with Wix ADI also have a theme editor available, but this editor’s flexibility is more limited than the standard WIX editor. Nevertheless, it’s comparable to Shopify’s drag-and-drop editor. You can stack and arrange elements up and down your pages.
If you decide you’d like to micromanage your design a bit more after creating your Wix ADI site, you’re welcome to switch over to the more advanced theme editor. You just can’t switch back to Wix ADI without losing your changes.
Here’s a quick rundown of Wix’s customer support channels:
Phone:Â Callback service open Monday-Friday, 5AM-5PM Pacific
Live Chat:Â None
As you can see, the phone channel is somewhat limited, but we like that you have access to this channel of support on all plans. The Business VIP plan also offers priority support, meaning your emails and callback requests jump to the front of the queue. Wix doesn’t have as thorough a set of self-help resources specifically for ecommerce as some of the other platforms, but the resources it does maintain are well done and useful.
Who is Wix Best For?
Wix may differ from the other ecommerce platforms we’ve discussed, but we see this variety as a very good thing. This platform is a great option for merchants who need a multifunctional (but still user-friendly) website — not just an online store. The way native apps like Wix Stores, Wix Bookings, Wix Restaurants, Wix Hotels, and others weave together to form a seamless dashboard on the backend, plus an elegant web presence on the front end, is really slick.
Speaking of elegance, the other (sometimes overlapping) group of store owners Wix works nicely for are those with a smaller number of visually-detailed products. You’re probably not going to want to run a massive fulfillment and shipping operation with Wix, but small shops with aesthetic priorities are perfect for Wix.
Quick Pricing Comparison
We’ve covered a lot of ground in our comparison of these five good options for building an online store. Before we wrap this baby up, let’s recap the subscription plans for each one, along with the main ways the levels are distinguished from one another. As you’ve clearly seen, pricing is just one component of your final choice, but it’s usually where people start.
eCommerce Platforms Pricing Summary
Differences Btwn. Levels
Number of staff accounts
Payment processing discounts
Shopify’s commission per sale
Annual store revenue
Annual store revenue
Number of products
Number of staff accounts
Number of products
Number of staff accounts
Business Basic: $25/mo.
Business Unlimited: $30/mo.
Business VIP: $40/mo.
Did you find your ecommerce match? We know it’s a lot to take in at once. The great news is that all of these platforms allow you to test the software before you buy. We’d suggest narrowing down our five suggestions to a couple that look like strong candidates for your store and starting a free trial of each. Test drive all the features you possibly can, work on customizing your storefront, and pepper customer support with questions at all hours. That’s the only way you’ll know which is the best fit, even with our attempts to simplify the decision-making process for you.
Generally speaking, the first three platforms we mentioned (Shopify, BigCommerce, and 3dcart) are quite similar and will work for a lot of the same types and sizes of stores. 3dcart is probably the most complicated and detailed of the three out-of-the-box, and typically requires a bit more out of the user. This is not necessarily bad, though. BigCommerce may be a good middle ground between 3dcart and Shopify, combining ease-of-use with a dense set of out-of-the-box features. And, even with Shopify’s super annoying transaction fees (if you don’t use Shopify Payments), Shopify is still a very solid recommendation — it’s just good software.
Ecwid and Wix each have their own advantages as well, especially for smaller stores. Both are well-designed and user-friendly. Ecwid has an enticing free plan and can be embedded in any existing website, while Wix allows you to develop a particularly elegant and multifunctional storefront using your choice of not one, but two different methods.
We think most small business owners will find a good solution from among these five options. And, we’ll let you in on a rather little-known secret: it’s not the end of the world if you end up needing to migrate platforms. That goes for right now if you’re looking to make a switch, or later if you decide your software isn’t working for you anymore. Nevertheless, you can still head into your decision with the confidence that you’ve done your research and tested the software thoroughly before handing over your credit card. (You’re going to test them first, right? Promise? Good.)
Do you have experience with one or more of these ecommerce platforms? Let us know how you think they compare in the comments. We love feedback from real users like you!
ReviewÂ Visit Site
ReviewÂ Visit Site
ReviewÂ Visit Site
ReviewÂ Visit Site
ReviewÂ Visit Site
$9 – $299
$29.95 – $249.95
$19 – $229
Free – $99
$25 – $40
Ease Of Use
The post The Best eCommerce Platforms For Your Small Business appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Whether youâve been in business for a while or are just starting out, you know how important it is to be able to accept credit and debit cards as payment from your customers. Credit card usage has soared over the past twenty years or so, while the use of traditional payment methods such as cash and paper checks has dwindled. Put simply, accepting credit cards will lead to increased sales and happier customers.
Unfortunately, adding credit card acceptance to your suite of business tools is neither easy nor inexpensive. The credit card associations (i.e., MasterCard, Visa, etc.) charge a fee known as interchange every time their cards are used, and youâll need to sign up with a credit card processor to process your transactions and pay those fees for you. Your processor will, in turn, add a markup to your processing charges to cover their costs, and â in most cases â also charge you a bewildering variety of fees for maintaining your account.
In this article, weâll provide a brief overview of the requirements youâll need to meet to set up credit and debit card processing for your small business. There are a huge number of providers out there on the market, all offering different variations on the same basic services that most companies need. Weâll give you a quick and dirty explanation of how credit card processing works, what a merchant account is, and whether you need one to accept credit or debit cards. Weâll explain the various options for taking card payments, including the required hardware and software youâll need to get started. Finally, weâll give you some tips to help you avoid having your account suddenly frozen or terminated â a situation you can and should avoid.
If you’re looking for the best credit card processing companies for your business, you should take a look at our favorite payment processor shortlist to get you headed in the right direction.
How Credit Card Processing Works
You donât need to be familiar with all the intimate details of processing a credit card transaction, but itâs a good idea to have a basic understanding of the steps involved and how they go together. A little knowledge of how processing works can help you avoid some of the common problems that can result when a transaction doesnât go smoothly.
First, youâre going to need a way to accept your customerâs card data. This can be accomplished using either a traditional credit card terminal or a payment gateway in the case of online transactions. Another option is a software service known as a virtual terminal, which turns your computer into a credit card terminal and allows you to either input the card data manually or read it using a compatible card reader.
Once youâve input your customerâs card data, itâs sent to your providerâs processing system for approval. Your providerâs network will check with the cardholderâs issuing bank to confirm that funds are available to cover the transaction. For debit cards, this is a simple check of the remaining balance on the banking account linked to the card. Credit cards require that the cardholder wonât exceed their available credit if the transaction is approved. The processing networks will also run a few anti-fraud checks to (hopefully) detect a suspicious transaction. If sufficient funds are available and there arenât any clear indications of fraud, the transaction is approved, and you can complete the sale.
At the end of the day, youâll upload all completed credit/debit transactions to your processorâs network for processing. This usually occurs automatically if youâre using a payment gateway or a modern credit card terminal. For each transaction, your processor will deduct both the applicable interchange (which is then forwarded to the cardholderâs issuing bank) and their markup. Youâll receive whatever is left over after these fees have been deducted. It usually takes another two to three days for these funds to be transferred back to your bank account.
From our payment processing infographic:
Do You Need A Merchant Account To Accept Credit Cards?
For many years, the only way to accept credit cards was to open a merchant account. At its most basic, a merchant account is simply an account to deposit funds into from processed credit/debit card transactions. Of course, maintaining a merchant account also requires transaction processing services, equipment and software to process the transactions, security features, and numerous other services, depending on the needs of your business. Traditional merchant accounts tend to end up being rather expensive, and merchant services providers often require that you agree to a long-term contract with a hefty early termination fee in case you close your account before the contract expires. As a result, traditional merchant accounts tend to be expensive, especially for a small business thatâs trying to minimize their expenses.
In recent years, an alternative has become available that lowers costs for small businesses while still providing most of the essential features available with a full-service merchant account. Payment service providers (PSPs) allow you to accept credit and debit card transactions without a traditional merchant account. PSPs such as Square (see our review) and PayPal (see our review) have revolutionized the processing industry by offering simple, flat-rate pricing, no fees for basic services, and month-to-month billing that eliminates long-term contracts. Theyâre able to do this by aggregating accounts together, so you wonât have a unique merchant identification number for your business. PSP accounts are easier to set up, but theyâre also vulnerable to sudden account freezes or terminations which can make them a risky proposition for businesses that depend on being able to accept cards without interruption.
Cheapest & Easiest Ways To Accept Credit Cards Without A Merchant Account
There are now quite a few well-known PSPs on the market, each one specializing in providing credit card processing services to particular segments of the business community. Hereâs a brief overview of each of the most popular options:
This is the best all-in-one solution for low-volume users, especially those in the retail sector. Square also supports eCommerce businesses, but doesnât have quite as many features for online enterprises as its competitors. Square features a mobile processing system that uses a new, EMV-compliant card reader, no monthly fees, month-to-month billing, and a simple flat-rate pricing system thatâs more affordable for a small business than a traditional merchant account. See our review for complete details.
This is the best option for eCommerce merchants looking to easily set up a fully-featured webstore. While Shopify has better eCommerce tools than Square, itâs also more expensive. Pricing starts at $29.00 per month for the Basic Shopify Plan, with a flat-rate processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction. Billing is month-to-month, but you can receive a discount if you pay for a year (or two) in advance. See our review for more specifics.
Easily the oldest and best-known option for online credit card acceptance, PayPal is now available for retail merchants also. While a standard PayPal account comes with no monthly fee, youâll have to pay $30.00 per month for the PayPal Payments Pro Plan. This upgraded plan includes a virtual terminal and a hosted payments page. PayPal uses a flat-rate pricing plan for processing fees thatâs nearly identical to what Square charges. See our review for details about PayPalâs services.
Very tech-oriented, Stripe only supports eCommerce businesses. They donât charge any monthly fees and have no long-term contracts. All transactions are processed at a fixed rate of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Stripe offers a huge library of APIs that allow you to customize your eCommerce website just about any way you like. However, utilizing these features will require either extensive coding experience or the services of a developer. Check out our full review for more details about what Stripe has to offer.
Braintree Payment Solutions:
Another eCommerce-only provider, Braintree is very similar to Stripe in terms of features and pricing. The primary distinction is that, unlike Stripe, Braintree is a direct processor. This translates to increased account stability, which is very important for an online business where credit and debit cards are just about the only forms of payment you can accept. Braintree charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, but doesnât require a monthly fee or a long-term contract. They also offer a variety of developer tools to help you customize your website any way you like. For more details, check out our complete review.
When & How To Set Up A Merchant Account
With so many low-cost alternatives available, you may be wondering why you would ever consider the added expense and complication of a full-service merchant account. The primary reason that merchant accounts are still alive and well today is that for many businesses the overall cost of a merchant account is actually lower â sometimes much lower â than using a payment services provider. How is this possible? It primarily comes down to processing rates and how your monthly volume and average ticket size affect them. With a full-service merchant account, you can obtain interchange-plus processing rates that are significantly lower than the flat rates charged by PSPs. Providers such as Square (see our review) have to charge an inflated processing rate to pay for all the ancillary services they arenât charging you for with a monthly fee. A traditional merchant account provider bills for those services separately, so they can afford to offer a lower per-transaction markup.
Unfortunately, thereâs no easy way to determine the point at which itâs more cost-effective to upgrade to a full-service merchant account. The primary factor youâll want to look at is your monthly processing volume. Your average ticket size is also important, but to a lesser extent. Weâve seen providers recommend merchant accounts for businesses processing anywhere from $1500 to $10,000 per month at a minimum, and sometimes even more. Where to draw the line will ultimately depend on the unique needs of your business, and what options for upgrading are available to you. Youâll want to compare your current processing costs with an estimate based on a quote from a merchant account provider to see which option is cheaper. Be sure to factor in all the hidden costs that come with merchant accounts. You can usually uncover these in the fine print of your proposed contract.
For more, see our complete guide to credit card processing rates and fees.
Account stability is also an important factor. With a PSP, a single unusually high transaction can be enough to have your account suspended or even terminated. For some businesses, particularly eCommerce merchants, this can be catastrophic. While this situation can still happen with a traditional merchant account also, itâs far less likely and youâll have better access to customer service to get your account working again if it does occur.
Setting up an account with a PSP is usually very easy. Most PSPs have online application forms that you can fill out and submit without ever having to talk to a sales agent. If you need a card reader, your PSP will mail it to you. Account activation is usually also accomplished online.
Traditional merchant accounts are more complicated to set up. Youâll need to contact the sales team at the provider youâre interested in and negotiate the terms of your agreement. Thereâs also a lot more paperwork, although some providers now offer you the opportunity to complete your merchant application online. Beware that automation can sometimes work against you when setting up a merchant account, as some sales agents are now using tablet devices to get your electronic signature. This practice often locks you into a long-term contract before youâve had any chance to review your contract terms and conditions. Insist on a paper copy of all contract documents and study them very carefully before you sign anything. For some suggestions on making this process go more smoothly, please see our article How to Negotiate the Perfect Credit Card Processing Deal.
How To Accept In-Store Credit Card Payments
For retail merchants, youâre going to need at least one credit card machine per location. These days, you have a choice between a traditional countertop credit card terminal and a point of sale (POS) system. Countertop terminals can process transactions, but most models offer little or no other functionality. A POS system, on the other hand, can handle things like inventory management, employee scheduling, and a host of other features to help you run your business. Naturally, POS systems cost more than most countertop terminals, although tablet-based systems such as ShopKeep (see our review) are more affordable (and mobile) than a standalone POS terminal.
Whatever type of equipment you decide to purchase, make sure itâs EMV-compatible. EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) is now the standard method for accepting credit and debit cards in the United States, and since the EMV liability shift in October 2015, you can be held responsible for a fraudulent transaction if you accept an EMV-enabled card using the magstripe instead of the chip. EMV-compatible terminals are widely available and less expensive than ever. With most customers now carrying EMV cards, thereâs really no good reason to continue using a magstripe-only card reader.
If you want the latest and greatest in card acceptance technology, itâs pretty easy to find a terminal or POS system that accepts NFC-based payment methods. NFC stands for near-field communications, and itâs found on payment systems such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. NFC technology is built into most modern smartphones, tablets, and even smartwatches. While it hasnât seen widespread adoption by the general public yet, itâs gaining in use as more people become aware of its availability and convenience.
Regardless of what type of terminal or POS system you decide to get for your business, we highly encourage you to buy your equipment outright rather than signing up for a lease. Equipment leasing is still being pushed by sales agents, who cite misleading arguments about the low up-front cost and the possibility of writing off the lease payments on your taxes. While these arguments are technically true, they mask the reality that leasing a terminal or POS system will cost you far more in the long run than buying. Equipment leases typically come with four-year contracts that are completely noncancelable. The monthly lease payments will, over the term of the lease, far exceed the cost to simply buy the equipment. Adding insult to injury, you wonât even own your equipment when the lease finally expires. Instead, youâll either have to continue making monthly lease payments or buy the equipment (often at an inflated price). For more details on why leasing is such a bad idea, see our article Why You Shouldnât Lease A Credit Card Machine.
How To Accept Credit Card Payments Online
If your business is eCommerce-only, youâll have it a little easier because you wonât need a credit card terminal or POS system. However, you will need either a payment gateway or at least a virtual terminal to accept payments from your customers. A virtual terminal is simply a software application that turns your computer into a credit card terminal. Mail order and telephone order businesses use them to enter their customersâ credit card data manually. They can also be combined with a card reader (usually USB-connected) to accept card-present transactions. For retail merchants, a virtual terminal can replace a dedicated countertop terminal if you add a card reader. Unfortunately, we havenât seen many EMV-capable card readers that are compatible with virtual terminals yet.
A payment gateway is a web-based software service that connects your eCommerce website with your processorâs payment networks. Payment gateways allow customers to enter credit card data from wherever they are, as long as they have access to the internet. Most merchant services providers charge a monthly fee (usually around $25.00) for the use of a payment gateway. You might also have to pay an additional $0.05 – $0.10 per transaction for the use of the gateway in some cases. Authorize.Net (see our review) is one of the most popular payment gateway providers, but there are many others today as well. Many of the larger processors now offer their own proprietary gateways that include the same security and ease-of-use features that youâd find in a more well-known gateway. For more information on payment gateways, see our article The Complete Guide to Online Credit Card Processing With a Payment Gateway.
Depending on how many products you sell on your website and the options you want to give your customers, you may or may not need to use an online shopping cart in conjunction with your payment gateway. Shopping carts allow you to feature products, conduct secure transactions online, and perform a variety of other functions related to running your business. Youâll want to ensure that your chosen shopping cart is compatible with your payment gateway before you set up your site. Most of the popular shopping carts today are compatible with almost all of the more well-known payment gateways. For more information on online shopping carts, see our article Shopping Carts 101: How to Choose a Shopping Cart for Your Business.
How To Accept Credit Card Payments With Your Mobile Phone
When Square (see our review) first introduced their original card reader in 2009, it was revolutionary. For the first time, merchants could accept credit or debit cards using their smartphones or tablets. Square was (and still is) a great choice for very small businesses, startups, and merchants who operate seasonally. Naturally, theyâve spawned a lot of competitors, and today almost all merchant services providers offer some type of mobile payment system.
These systems inevitably include both an app for your smart device and a card reader. Unfortunately, many of the apps are very basic and donât offer the depth of features that Square does. Card readers have lagged behind current technology, with many providers still offering magstripe-only readers. The current trend among smartphone manufacturers to remove the headphone jack has also caused problems, as most mobile card readers use a plug that fits into the jack to connect to the device. Today, Square and a few other providers now offer upgraded card readers that feature both EMV compatibility and Bluetooth connectivity. These card readers are significantly more expensive than the older models, but theyâre still cheaper than a traditional countertop terminal. For businesses that need to accept transactions out in the field, theyâre lighter and far less costly than wireless terminals, which usually run at least twice as much as their wired brethren and require a separate wireless data plan. For more information on mobile payment systems, please see our article on why accepting credit cards with your phone is the easiest option.
Can You Accept Credit Card Payments For Free?
Whether you ultimately use a PSP or a traditional merchant account, youâre still going to pay several percent from every sale to cover your processing costs. While there are many ways to get this percentage down to a reasonable level and avoid overpaying, at some point youâre going to ask yourself why you have to pay for processing instead of your customers. After all, theyâre the ones who consciously choose to pay with credit and debit cards rather than cash or a paper check. Wouldnât it be nice if there was a way to transfer this expense to your customers rather than having it come out of your profits?
In fact, there is a way to do this. Transferring the cost of processing onto your customers, also known as surcharging, is allowed in 41 states. However, the practice is currently going through a series of legal challenges that will ultimately either lead to it being banned or expanded into all jurisdictions. With surcharging, your processor will calculate the processing charge when a transaction is submitted for approval and add it to your customerâs bill.
Needless to say, your customers arenât going to like unexpectedly having a few percentage points added to their bill just for using a credit card. For this reason, surcharging isnât popular with most merchants, and youâll usually only encounter it in certain industries where itâs become an accepted practice, such as taxi cabs and busses. For most merchants, itâs much easier to âadjustâ your prices to cover your anticipated processing costs rather than passing those costs directly onto your customers. For a more in-depth look at surcharging, check out our article The Truth Behind Free Credit Card Processing.
How To Avoid Account Terminations & Funding Holds
Once youâve got your merchant account up and running, youâll naturally want it to be available and fully functional every day. While this isnât normally a problem, account holds, freezes, and terminations sometimes occur. Youâll want to understand how this happens, and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you.
An account hold usually occurs when a single transaction is held up, and you donât receive the funds you were expecting. In most cases, your processorâs risk department has flagged the transaction as suspicious, and you wonât get your funds until they can investigate and confirm that the transaction is legitimate. A single transaction thatâs for much more money than your average ticket size is most likely to trigger a hold. Fortunately, you should still be able to process other transactions while the matter is being resolved.
This isnât the case with an account freeze, unfortunately. Your processor can and will freeze your account â preventing you from getting paid for previous transactions or processing new ones â if fraud is suspected that would affect your entire account. While the wait can be excruciating, account freezes are usually temporary unless your processor decides to terminate your account.
As the name implies, an account termination is final. Your account is shut down, and you wonât be able to reopen it. The risk of an account termination is higher with a PSP than a traditional merchant account. Account terminations usually occur when your processor determines that youâve misrepresented your business and the type of goods youâre selling. It doesnât matter if this was intentional or just an honest mistake on your part. If your business type is one that usually falls into the high-risk category, save yourself the aggravation and get a high-risk merchant account from a provider who specializes in these kinds of accounts. It will cost you more, but youâll have a much more stable account. For more information on the various hiccups that can affect your merchant account, please see our article How to Avoid Merchant Account Holds, Freezes, and Terminations.
If youâve read this far, youâre probably thinking that merchant accounts and credit card processing are pretty complicated. Youâre right! Thereâs a lot to know, and unfortunately, thereâs also a lot of misinformation out there. The credit card processing industry has a lousy reputation for misleading sales practices, high costs, hidden charges, and long-term contracts that are very difficult to get out of. The main reason that PSPs like Square (see our review) have become so popular is that they offer a simpler, more transparent alternative to traditional merchant account providers, both in terms of costs and contract requirements.
For many businesses, however, Square can actually be more expensive than signing up for a traditional merchant account, even when factoring in the various account fees and the cost of buying processing equipment. While we heartily recommend Square for very small businesses and startups, realize that if your business grows large enough, youâll eventually want to switch to a full-service merchant account. Youâll enjoy lower costs, improved account stability and (hopefully) better customer support. PayPal is also a great choice for eCommerce businesses that are just starting out. Again, if your business grows large enough, a full-service merchant account with a fully-featured payment gateway will be a better choice.
Note that this article only provides a relatively brief overview of the significant factors that affect credit card processing for small businesses. For more information, please take a look at the other articles weâve linked to above for a deeper dive into subjects you arenât already familiar with. For an overview of several highly recommended providers, please see our article The 5 Best Small Business Credit Card Processing Companies. You can also compare several excellent providers side-by-side using our Merchant Account Comparison Chart.
The post How To Accept Credit Card Payments For Your Small Business appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Being able to take payments on the go without having to jump through five million hoops is crucial for mobile businesses, whether you’re a service business that visits customers at home or just a small business without a permanent storefront. That’s where credit card processing apps come in: Combining integrated payments and feature-rich POS systems that run on smartphones and tablets, they’re designed to operate anywhere you can get a cellular or Wi-Fi signal.
We took a look at the most promising credit card processing apps for mobile and service businesses, comparing their features as well as their processing rates. Then, we compiled the best options into a list!
Choosing the Best App Features for Mobile & Service Businesses
If your business is primarily service-based or you tend to do more pop-up sales and events than deal with retail storefronts, you probably don’t need (or want) a whole lot of hardware. What you do need is an EMV-friendly reader and a smartphone or tablet to run the system from.
We used two primary criteria in deciding this list: first, the product has to have integrated payment processing, and the app must be available on a tablet (preferably a smartphone as well).
While hardware may not be a priority, knowing which systems can work as a countertop system as well as mobile is helpful. Invoicing, virtual terminals, solid sales tax management, and decent item libraries were also factors. Take a look at our comprehensive comparison chart to figure out which system might work best for your particular needs.
Yes (Other options available)
Processing Rates (for most swiped/dipped transactions)
Interchange + 0.5% or 0.3%
Plans start at $9/month
$0 / $9.95
Number of Devices
Apple, Android, Windows
Apple, Android, Windows
Receipt Printer Connectivity
Bluetooth, Ethernet, USB
Bluetooth, LAN, Wireless
Bluetooth, USB, LAN
Cash Drawer Connectivity
Yes (Tablet Only, With Printer Connectivity)
Yes (With Star Printer Connectivity)
Yes (iPad Only, with Printer Connectivity)
Yes (with Printer Connectivity)
Offline Processing Mode
Full and Partial Returns
Yes (including store credit)
Yes (monthly fee)
Discounts by $ or %
Tipping by $ or %
Multiple Tax Rates
Adjust Tax Rates In-App
Yes (monthly fee)
Bulk Item Upload
Create Item from App or Dashboard
No (App Only)
You can check out our reviews of each service for more information about features, user experience, and more.
Square made its name with a mobile processing service that anyone could use, and while the company is definitely catering to larger entities these days, small and mobile businesses still make up a good portion of Square’s merchants. Square’s totally free processing app makes it easy to create an item library of physical products as well as services.
Square’s tax rate settings are easily adjustable from within the mobile app and you can pre-program different rates if you find yourself flipping between different locations often.
In addition, Square offers invoicing, recurring invoicing/storing cards on file, and a free virtual terminal. You can even integrate Square’s appointment booking software seamlessly.
Square will charge you 2.75% per swiped transaction, but invoicing will run you 2.9% + $0.30, and virtual terminal transactions will cost you 3.5% + $0.15.
PayPal Here is another staple of mobile businesses with a free mobile app. PayPal has the advantage of massive eCommerce support as well as a solid mPOS so you can seamlessly blend different aspects of your business. Plus, your funds are available almost instantly in your PayPal account, and with the PayPal debit card, you can spend them anywhere. The free mobile app isn’t quite as feature-rich as Square’s, but it’s highly capable.
You’ll also find PayPal Here’s tax settings are adjustable within the app and you can easily accommodate different sales tax rates.Â Like Square, you get free in-app invoicing. However, if you are looking for a virtual terminal or recurring billing, they’re going to run you an additional $30 and $10 per month, respectively, which is a fairly high price tag.
You’ll pay 2.7% per transaction in the app, whereas invoices will run you 2.9% + $0.30. Virtual terminal transactions (not counting the monthly fee) cost 3.1% + $0.15.
Shopify started out as just an eCommerce offering but it’s expanded into a multi-channel solution for business. You can get Shopify’s Point of Sale app for as little as $9/month with the Lite plan, or you can upgrade to a countertop-friendly version with the Retail package, and even add on integrations for appointment booking.Â However, if you don’t /need/ a receipt printer or cash drawer and don’t sell through your own site online, the Lite plan will absolutely get you through.
Shopify isn’t the most advanced credit card processing app out there — for example, it doesn’t support tipping — but overall it has most of the features mobile and service-based businesses need, and its integration with the eCommerce tools is definitely an asset. It even allows invoicing.
Shopify allows you to set a tax rate for a shop location and create overrides and exemptions. One thing I do like that I don’t often see in these sorts of apps is tax rates based on GPS location, which eases the burden on you considerably.
For Shopify Payments (the default processing method), you’re going to pay 2.7% per transaction to start out, though if you opt for the higher-tiered plans you’ll see some savings.
Payline is one of our favorite merchant account providers, and we like their mobile solution because it’s available independently of the other offerings and suitable for low-volume businesses, which isn’t common with traditional merchant accounts.
The app is overall solid, with inventory features, tipping, and discounts. While there’s no invoicing feature, the mobile plans do offer access to a virtual terminal. The app is also designed for mobile use only: it doesn’t support retail/countertop processing features like cash drawers or receipt printers. However, Payline supports multiple tax rates for different items as well as a master tax rate for checkout, depending on your needs.
Payline’s mobile products offer interchange-plus pricing, too: the Start planÂ (formerly Spark Plan) will charge you 0.5% over interchange plus $0.20 per transaction with no monthly fee; the Surge plan charges a 0.3% markup plus $0.20, with a $9.95 monthly fee. The $0.20 per-transaction fee is a little high, but doesn’t put Payline Mobile in the realm of unreasonable pricing. However, it does mean businesses with larger ticket sizes will feel the effects of that per-transaction fee less.
Capital One’s mobile processing solution Spark Pay is part of the larger “Spark” line of businesses solutions, which includes a fairly advanced online store. However, despite that, Spark Pay the mobile app stands alone, with no integrations.
It has all the major features a merchant would need — tipping, custom discounts, an item library, and support for a countertop setup. Unfortunately, there’s no invoicing, and Spark Pay’s virtual terminal is only in beta mode. You can only set one tax rate in the app as well. However, the major shortcoming is simply that while Spark Pay does offer EMV terminals, there’s not currently an EMV-compliant mobile reader, something that all the other options here do offer.
That said, Spark Pay does offer great customer service, and its pricing is competitive. On the Go plan, there’s no monthly fee and transactions cost 2.65% + $0.05. The Pro plan has a $19 monthly fee, but your rates drop to 1.99% + $0.05.
SumUp has been operating in Europe for several years now, but it’s only reached the US in the past year, which definitely makes it the newcomer. The app is overall solid, though more limited than the others on this list.
You do get a free mobile app and free virtual terminal, as well as a fairly unique tool: SMS payments where customers can complete a transaction by opening a link sent through text message.
However, you can only process on one device at a time, so while you can create sub-user accounts, there’s not much of a benefit. SumUp does support multiple tax rates, but tax rates can’t be deleted when they are associated with an item. You’ll have to delete the item first.
The lack of discounts and the ability to make some changes through the dashboard are a bit disappointing — but the fact that you can manage everything from within the app is a major improvement over a platform like Clover Go, which requires you to make many adjustments in the web dashboard.
There are no recurring billing or card-on-file options, though, and no invoicing, either. That said, SumUp charges a simple 2.75% per transaction, and 2.9% + $0.15 for virtual terminal and SMS payments, with no monthly fee.
I’m usually pretty hesitant to recommend one product above all others without consideration of the differences from one business to the next. And that’s true here. If you really only have simple needs, any of the options on this list will serve you well. As your needs get more advanced, it’s definitely worth looking at more advanced setups such as Square or PayPal Here. And as always, the price is a major consideration. Make sure you run the numbers and are confident the rates you will pay are competitive.
The good news is that all of these services have a no-monthly-fee option so you can try them out with no risk. I encourage you to check out our complete reviews of any credit card processing app you’re interested in pursuing. And if you have questions, I encourage you to reach out. We’re always here to help, so feel free to leave us a comment!
The post The Best Credit Card Processing Apps For Mobile And Service Businesses appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Overwhelmed attempting to choose just how to produce your web store?
Wish someone would explain in plain British what all of the options to really run your web store?
I authored this glorious help guide to selecting an ecommerce platforms in 2012. But a great deal has altered previously four years. Online storeowners have better options in virtually every respect.
However that doesn’t result in the choice less daunting. Most ecommerce companies sell with features and cost. But like purchasing a house – cost featuring don’t tell the entire story.
They don’t let you know if miracle traffic bot is a great choice for your store. There’s no such factor because the “best ecommerce platform” or even the “best ecommerce software.” There’s only the best option according to your objectives, sources and preferences.
Here’s my guide – updated for 2016 – to what you ought to know to create an educated choice when selecting a ecommerce software for the online shop – to be able to get the best choice for your store.
Quick Aside – if you would like something simple and quick, I invest these 4 elements right into a Buzzfeed style Ecommerce Platform Quiz. You should check it here. Otherwise, let’s continue reading!
Disclosure – I receive referral charges from companies pointed out on this web site. All data and opinion is dependant on my experience like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.
What You Ought To Know Before Selecting Ecommerce Software
Much like looking for a house, vehicle or business location – you need to take a look at what you’re searching for, what you would like, the thing you need and just what the tradeoffs are of all your alternatives.
Obtaining The Features You’ll Need
In internet marketing’s core – “ecommerce” software is only a bundle of very specific website features. They’re –
Listing & displaying products.
Allowing people to place products inside a shopping cart software.
Allowing people to make an order using the products within their shopping cart software.
Collecting payment safely for that order.
Supplying the storeowner with order information.
But usually you’ll want features far above. You may want design features, better security, marketing tools, and perhaps the opportunity to sync together with your inventory system.
Or otherwise – you may have just one product and wish ultimate convenience and cheapest cost.
However that’s the purpose – you will see tradeoffs that might or might not matter. The finish goal would be to figure the thing you need, what you would like – and what you would like to cover individuals features.
Evaluating Core Tradeoffs
The very first, and many important, tradeoff is between maximum convenience and maximum control. When you choose to, we are able to start searching at tradeoffs among different choices.
The tradeoff between convenience and control is typical in software. Software becomes “easier” if this has less options. The more options a person has – the less convenient software becomes.
Consider it like buying somewhere to reside.
The complete easiest place is hotels. It’s safe and furnished with room service. But could you repaint the area? Not a chance.
Alternatively extreme is raw land. You’ve limitless control to complete anything you want. But could it be convenient? Not a chance.
And in the centre, you’ve got a mix. A condo has some freedom – however, you have landlord. A flat has more freedom…but you’ve got a HOA and shared property.
A home has more freedom…but you’ve more responsibility and also you suffer from a current building.
Here’s a picture as one example of –
Now that you’ve got a feeling of the thing you need and a feeling of the main tradeoffs – let’s take a look at some specific providers to help narrow your research.
Ecommerce Platform Choices
Aside – like every simplification, this breakdown removes some nuance. But, I believe the general tradeoff stands up well. Here’s an array of specific providers for every bucket together with the things they’re doing well and what you need to search for.
100% Convenience // % Control
This area of the spectrum enables you to definitely list your product or service and take orders and payment. But you’ll be able to control hardly any of the customers’ experience. You’re also unlikely to possess your personal website name or perhaps your own brand.
However, you usually can list your product or service without any complications – in most cases without any upfront charges. Furthermore, normally the software provider may also provide customers. It’ll be considered a place where customers arrived at the woking platform and discover you – which means you (ideally) need to do less marketing.
Aside – observe that many storeowners commence with these platforms and keep a name in it even after they’ve launched an outlet on another platform.
Amazon . com
Despite the fact that Amazon . com did away using their Online Store program – you may still sell on Amazon . com. The register process is easy and economical. You control hardly any except your products as well as your cost however, you also make use of Amazon . com’s enormous audience. Browse the Amazon . com Sellers program here.
eBay may be the original ecommerce marketplace. While they don’t possess the hip-liness of the couple of years back, they permit a really convenient platform for online storeowners. And like Amazon . com, they are able to bring lots of people to your page as you take presctiption their platform. Take a look at eBay here…
Etsy is restricted to artisans instead of traders however they make setting ready to go an outlet very simple. You are able to personalize your page somewhat – but it’s and try to is going to be “an Etsy page” rather that the store. Take a look at Etsy here…
70% Convenience // 30% Control
Next around the spectrum are providers that provide additional control – particularly with getting your personal website name. However, as an apartment, you’re still living on another person’s space and also have to ultimately play inside their rules.
Squarespace is best-noted for enabling you to build websites. But – they’ve ecommerce functionality too. They provide some versatility with limits. You could have ecommerce functionality seamlessly built-into an internet site.
However, Squarespace doesn’t have lots of advanced marketing tools and places “soft” limits on you skill together with your website. I reviewed Squarespace here. You should check out Squarespace here.
Weebly is really a direct competitor to Squarespace and it has an identical setup. You are able to change your account to incorporate ecommerce functionality. There is a decent set of features with drag functionality too.
But like Squarespace, they ultimately limit many advanced ecommerce features that some growing storeowners will need. I reviewed Weebly here. You should check out Weebly here…
If you have an internet site, but recycle for cash a couple of products there’s also “bolt-on” solutions that offer ordering and payment functionality.
PayPal has already established a Buy Now button for some time. Shopify, which is pointed out within the 50% // 50% section, offers a control button for purchasers using only their inventory/repayment plan.
All of these permit you to paste a snippet of code in your existing website which reroutes your clients through their payment systems.
It’s super-convenient and offers control button for you personally (since it is by yourself website). However, additionally you don’t control the checkout experience. You can also’t build out a shopping cart software or perhaps a true product catalog.
50% Convenience // 50% Control
This group (usually referred to as “hosted ecommerce platforms”) provides just as much control as possible have before you need your personal server. The greatest advantage here is you have customer care, seamless “onboarding” and advanced tools.
However, you have to abide by the company’s rules – plus they could possibly get a little pricey.
Managing a store using these providers is much like having a condominium or leasing a store inside a mall. The plumbing and “big stuff” is taken proper care of. You are able to virtually do what you would like because you do fully own your home. However, you’re likely to encounter condo association rules and charges.
Shopify is easily the most well-known located ecommerce platform. I reviewed Shopify here. There is a very robust product having a large application store together with advanced marketing and ecommerce tools.
They’re affordable and also have the infrastructure for small shops to worldwide brands. They likewise have features for retailers who sell both on and offline. However – you won’t have root server use of make any change imaginable. Take a look at Shopify here…
BigCommerce is Shopify’s smaller sized direct competitor. I reviewed BigCommerce here. They’re focused on online-only retailers than Shopify.
Their setup is another little more intuitive than Shopify and they’ve a strong set of features – even when their application and theme store is smaller sized. Like Shopify, they are doing have limits like a located ecommerce platform. Take a look at BigCommerce here…
Volusion is yet another well-known located ecommerce platform. I reviewed Volusion here. There is a large following among designers and developers with a few notable features.
However, they likewise have additional parameters and additional charges when compared with Shopify / BigCommerce. Take a look at Volusion here…
30% Convenience // 70% Control
Within this group, we encounter the field of running your personal website by yourself server. It’s not as complicated or as daunting as it might seem. Buying hosting implies that, yes, you possess an additional item to bother with.
However, you’ve considerably additional control over your costs as well as your features.
Options within this group are just like having a house. You have the effect of everything, but you may also do anything you like. You will find the option to call a plumber or take proper care of the issue yourself. You can include on, remove or change anything. Really the only constraint is the budget.
WordPress is easily the most versatile website software on the web. You can also add functionality into it through “plugins” – including ecommerce functionality.
I authored a complete guide on creating an ecommerce website with WordPress + WooCommerce here. It’s simple to install and employ (for beginners). It may be as cheap or as costly as you would like so that it is. Take a look at my guide here…
Magento is among the most used ecommerce platforms available. It’s free for small stores, but compensated for enterprise customers (like North Face).
It’s a lot of features – but in my opinion, it requires a great designer/programmer to obtain the most from it. They provide a little compensated hosting plan where use a “lite” form of this program. Take a look at Magento here…
Other “Plugin” Shopping Carts
There’s a myriad other “bolt-on” solutions that you could increase a current website. These solutions are dying out simply because they don’t possess the ease of the PayPal button plus they still don’t integrate completely to your existing website.
That stated, that you can do anything you want together. Here’s a few options.
OpenCart is probably the simplest (that’s negative and positive) of all of the shopping carts. It’s free, and it is a course that you simply install in your hosting company. It’s based on a wide open-source community, meaning it will likely be around as lengthy as people lead. It’s lots of easy-to-implement templates for that actual website.
Zen Cart is among the earliest and well-supported eCommerce platforms on the web. It’s free, and it has plenty of features, but can also be viewed as quite complicated for somebody without any programming experience.
% Convenience // 100% Control
What for those who have an enormous budget and incredibly specific needs? Well, which will mean getting a developer (or learning code yourself) and leasing a passionate server.
Within our example – you’ll buy land and building even your home on your own. This is actually the route of some ecommerce startups that possess a specific set of features and vision in your mind. Additionally towards the cost, you’ll in addition have a myriad other factors. However this continues to be a route some companies take.
It’s common in the Enterprise ecommerce level, though even at this level, you’ve still got choices & tradeoffs to create.
Define what you’re searching for.
Consider what tradeoffs you are prepared to make.
Evaluate specific providers.
Perform a free trial.
Launch your store!
Make sure to take a look at my ecommerce quiz which supports sort your choices.
Once you launch your store, take a look at my marketing guide for ecommerce websites here.
The publish Essential Help Guide To Selecting An Ecommerce Platform made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.
Whenever you’re just beginning a company, or switch from cash-simply to also accepting charge cards, you have to think about your payment processor. There’s an abundance of possibilities, however your narrow your search will most likely include a free account and also the juggernaut of commerce, PayPal.
Surely they’re not every that different, could they be? Isn’t PayPal yet another credit card merchant account provider?
Really…Â no. PayPal isn’t a free account provider. It’s another-party processor, also it aggregates all its seller accounts into one large credit card merchant account. This can be a not unusual practice, and something that’s utilized by Square and Stripe (which forces solutions for example ShopifyÂ Payments). Although it’s all completely above-board, aggregating does have a tendency to result in a greater quantity of risk for retailers.
PayPal doesn’t spend just as much time vetting applicants as a free account provider does. Which means it’s more prone to terminate your bank account later, once the risk department flags something as high-risk or notes a suspicious transaction.Â It’s this practice (together with PayPal’s status because the default eBay payment option) that have a tendency to leave lots of users very unhappy.
A free account is exclusive for you. Whenever you apply, the organization’s underwriting department will review your industry, your processing history (or no), your individual credit, your company’ creditworthiness, along with other factors. The procedure isn’t as complicated as it was once simply a couple of years back, but when compared with third-party aggregators such asÂ PayPal, it’s much more intensive.
During theory a free account will result in greater stability, not every merchant services are produced equal — not with a lengthy shot. Your processing rates, your car loan terms, the additional services you receive — even the caliber of the client give you support get — will be different pretty considerably.
However, there’s a method to lessen the inconsistencies you may encounter: choose a trustworthy processor. While you still see some variance in car loan terms and also the extra services you can get, you’ll see much more consistency in prices terms and-quality customer care. Frequently, which comes by means of a passionate account representative who’s your go-to make contact with.
It’s time for you to dive in to the many variations you’ll encounter within the Paypal versus. credit card merchant account debate. However, please be aware that our claims about merchant services are generalized and according to probably the most affordable and many ethical credit card merchant account providers available.
You should check out our full PayPal review here, or compare our top-rated merchant services here.
PayPal versus. Credit Card Merchant Account: Cost
The very first factor many retailers consider charge card processing (and even most services) is, “how expensive is this likely to require me to pay?” — that is a wholly reasonable and incredibly real question to inquire about.
PayPal has generated its status (a minimum of among retailers) like a provider of obvious, transparent, flat-rate prices:
Online transactions: 2.9% + $.30
Swiped transaction: 2.7%
Keyed transactions: 3.5% + $.15
Â Invoices: 2.9% + $.30
That’s it, for that fundamental package.Â But PayPal also provides nonprofit and volume reduced prices for prices, along with a micro-transaction repayment plan that may really save retailers cash on transactions which are under $5 typically.
There aren’t any PCI compliance charges with no statement charges. PayPal does assess a charge for chargebacks, and so will many credit card merchant account providers. However, beyond that, you won’t encounter any hidden costs
However, credit card merchant account prices variesÂ considerably. The less-trustworthy processors frequently provide a tiered (or “qualified”) prices plan. Tiered prices plans are confusing and hard to check due to massive inconsistency in one processor to another.
A high-tier credit card merchant account provider will offer you flat-rate processing or perhaps an interchange-plus plan.Â Interchange-plus may be the defacto standard for processing rates since it’s so transparent. Additionally towards the interchange charges assessed through the card systems, your processor charges you a markup — a portion from the transaction in addition to a flat per-transaction fee (between $.05 and $.30 usually). Interchange plus may be the easiest prices plan to create direct comparisons for.
It’s also important to note that some credit card merchant account providersÂ will also assess monthly charges, PCI compliance charges, statement charges, along with other charges thatÂ add up with time and supplment your total cost. Actually, monthly charges could eat away at any savings which come from the lower processing rate. So please think about these costs in deciding which processor offers the most cost effective solution for you personally.
A lot of our favorite credit card merchant account providers by having an interchange-plus plan include:
Some of the best-rated processors that provide membership packages with flat monthly charges include:
Want to understand more about charge card processing rates? Take a look at our articles,Â How Much In The Event You Purchase Charge Card Processing?
Here’s where thinking about cost could possibly get tricky when searching at PayPal versus. a free account.Â Some merchant providers may have optional services that you could add-on (just like an eCommerce suite, an mPOS application, an online terminal or recurring billing). So while evaluating processing rates is a great start, you have to consider the need for these extra services. Prices varies significantly, from “absolutely free” to $80 or even more monthly.
PayPal provides a virtual terminal and located payment page ($30/month) in addition to recurring billing ($10/month). Beyond that, most anything else PayPal offers at no additional charge, including its mPOS. It’s also important to note that PayPal has partnerships having a large range of software vendors too, and also you might be able to make the most of special promotions every so often.
One factor you will be thinking about is the need for customer support. It’s not a secret that PayPal’s services are, well, spotty at the best. As well as in theory, a trustworthy credit card merchant account provider will frequently assign a dedicated representative to become your reason for contact, meaning you’ll get personalized attention.
Merchant services are unique for your business, and also the car loan terms derive from your conditions and credit history. Which means, when you purchase a trustworthy processor, you’re going to get a high amount of reliability.Â Unfortunately,Â it doesn’t imply that you’re totally safe from a hold or termination if their risk department suspects something odd.
Additionally, not every credit card merchant account providers mayÂ approve the application. Your approval depends upon your processing history, your company’ creditworthiness, as well as your industry or products. Some might approve it on the health of applying a reserve fund.
I’m able to’t stress enough it’s vital that you research a business before you decide to apply, after which read car loan terms and get questions. Most of the bigger processors frequently use systems of resellers who advertise retailers the planet to encourage them to sign that sheet of paper. They discover they’re locked into multi-year contracts with pricey early termination charges (ETFs) — or worse, a liquidated damages provision.
Additionally, should you fall under the “high risk” category, you’re likely going to need to get yourself a high-risk credit card merchant account. Included in this are industries for example multi-level marketing (Multilevel marketing), estate sales and antiques, and a number of financial services, to begin with. You’re getting a far more stable account, but pay greater processing rates consequently.
In comparison, PayPal is definitely an aggregator, meaning there’s an natural, inevitable fluctuations. Some retailers will, regrettably, get their accounts ended or encounter holds or perhaps a reserve account. The consumer agreement clearly states that you simply accept these terms whenever you register, incidentally.
This won’t occur to every merchant. I understand lots of retailers which use PayPal and also have no problems PayPal states that itsÂ merchant users list is much more than 8 million — that is four occasions Square’s users list. That’s no minor quantity of retailers.
Frequently what triggers a free account hold is definitely an abnormally large transaction or perhaps a much-greater-than-average monthly volume, a lot of chargebacks (particularly in a brief time period) or perhaps a very suspicious transaction. You clearly should also make certain your organization as well as your business design don’t violate PayPal’s relation to use, and don’t forget that it’s not great for high-risk companies.
LearnÂ know how you can minimize chargebacks, account holds and freezes.
Next, we’re treading into POS territory. It’s not at all something all retailers will consider until afterwards, but which point-of-purchase software you should use (or desire to use) may affect the selection of charge card processor.
Many POS systems are established to use specific processors. They are known as “integrated” solutions. However, you are able to sometimes select a non-integrated solution. The only real major difference backward and forward is really a couple of extra stages in the checkout process. Which POS systems you are able to integrate with depends upon the credit card merchant account provider you select. There’s a many, several choices.
PayPal has additionally selected to accept direct integration approach via partnerships withÂ Lavu and TouchBistro for restaurants, and Vend and Erply for retail. That’s a little pool, only one full of industry-leading names which should be beneficial.
Honestly, if you’re dead-focused on a specific POS, you need to contact the organization and get which merchant services integrate by using it (or look into the website).
Among the greatest benefits of selecting PayPal is its mPOS service, PayPal Here. Although it’s and not the most full-featured option available on the market, it’s certainly a competent option. It’s among the best EMV readers available today. Â You’ll pay just 2.7% per swipe, with no additional charges on the top of this.
Better still, while PayPal Here doesn’t have advanced inventory management, it will support cash drawers, receipt printers, and bar code scanners. You are able to operate a functional — if no-frills — register by doing this. And PayPal does integrate with Shopventory for additional advanced inventory (although it’ll set you back more, clearly).
In comparison, most credit card merchant account providers uses a reseller’s mobile solution. Clover Go (beginning with Data) is a very common one, but you could also encounter Vantiv Mobile, Authorize.internet, Converge, or anything else entirely. Features and price will be different pretty considerably.Â While generally your rates is going to be similar to your standard rates, you could also pay a regular monthly fee for using the service, plus the price of hardware. You need to ask your credit card merchant account provider regarding their mobile solution.
Should you don’t ever intend to sell online, solid eCommerce features will not be considered a concern for you personally whatsoever. However if you simply do, ensuring your card processor is friendly to internet sales is essential.
With a free account, you can find a built-in eCommerce package, or at best one for any low fee every month. At least, to simply accept payments online, you’ll require a gateway (usually for any fee every month and/or perhaps a per-transaction fee, typically on the top of the setup fee). Its keep’s the web site and shopping cart software or eCommerce wordpress plugin, obviously. Your eCommerce package could start adding some or many of these a gateway package (usually for a cheap price) is rather common.
Gateways can differ within their compatibility typically your credit card merchant account provider will explain which gateways you should use. If little else, Authorize.internet established fact, very recognizable, suitable for just about everything, and fairly affordable.
With PayPal, the gateway is incorporated. However,Â unless you go searching for the greater costly pro plan, PayPal directs your clients towards the PayPal web site to complete the acquisition. And also you’ll still your personal website and to locate a compatible shopping cart software. The good thing is that many shopping cart software choices are suitable for PayPal. You can completely construct your own custom website should you wanted, too. PayPal also offers the type of ubiquity and consumer recognition couple of other payments solutions possess, which matches a lengthy way toward creating trust.
All that sounds very good, right? Well, you most likely wish to look harder at processing rates. Online transactions are thought “card not present” and therefore are therefore more costly than “card present” transactions.
PayPal charges 2.9% + $.30 per transaction (that is a not unusual rate). Your credit card merchant account rates will be different. And don’t forget to check the price of the eCommerce package to something place together by yourself with a lot of third-party services.
Your final thought: Online sellingÂ is certainly where PayPal shines — however that doesn’t mean you need to instantly choose a free account simply because you don’t need eCommerce. You’ll get lots of support for in-person ad mobile transactions via PayPal. And, if you would like the advantages of PayPal with increased account stability, there’s always Braintree, which has merchant services but is a member of PayPal.
You should check out our list of the greatest online charge card processors here.
Final Verdict: PayPal versus. Credit Card Merchant Account
Around I love to give obvious solutions, there’s simplye no definitive reaction to the PayPal versus. Credit card merchant account debate. The best option is definitely the one which meets your requirements.
PayPal, like every third-party processor, is inherently unstable. That doesn’t mean your bank account is going to be ended, but there’s an opportunity it may be. Warning flags just like an abnormally busy month or perhaps an very large and unparalleled purchase would mean that PayPal will set a hold. The next thing is to request additional verification (usually by means of invoices, bank statements, etc.). This would make retailers understandably unhappy.
That’s no minor consideration, however it shouldn’t become your just one. Many retailers use PayPal his or her processor (especially through PayPal Here or Vend or among the other POS partnerships). It’s convenient also it’s simple to get began. You’ll have a low processing volume to begin and make your company with time.
A free account will typically provide you with more account stability. But to have it, you’ll likely need to have a recognised processing background and generate a minimum of $5,000 monthly in charge card transactions. (However, $10,000/month is much more appropriate.) Fall below that volume and you’ll pay more per transaction or perhaps be susceptible to monthly minimum charges. Individuals feesÂ can rapidly compare and eat into profits.
Not just that, however, many processors will lock you into multi-year contracts rich in charges connected. Less-than-trustworthy credit card merchant account providers makes it very hard to get away from individuals contracts even inside the cancellation home windows. A higher-quality merchant provider may have more flexible terms, including month-to-month options. PayPal is entirely pay-as-you-go, without any hidden charges or car loan terms.
But when you are past all that, you have to just how you intend to process transactions. It’s also wise to assess what your software/technology needs, are because that’ll be the deciding factor. Like a merchant, you ought to be thinking about your arrange for POS equipment, an mPOS system, and eCommerce. Are you going to use one of these? Two? The 3? Compare features as well as your abilities, and do a price comparison to make certain you’re getting the best offer.
Should you mainly sell online, there’s an absolute benefit to PayPal: its eCommerce suite is extremely, tough to beat, though some premium features can cost you more. However, additionally, it has partnerships with a few very solid POS systems within the retail and hospitality worlds. When you purchase a free account, you can see lower rates and reliability. You’ll alsoÂ potentially get access to a significantly bigger pool of POS systems, a far more diverse choice of rates, and an array of additional tools. However, it depends positioned on the credit card merchant account provider you select, as merchant providers are most certainly not produced equal.
I actually do feel at ease recommending PayPal being an option, though it isn’t a free account provider. It’s in no way an ideal solution — but couple of charge card processors available are. I’d go to date regarding say they are not perfect, actually. Nonetheless, PayPal is really a respectable choice, Â especially for online sellers or individuals who mainly require an mPOS.
If you like the soundness of a free account and also have a high monthly volume, please seek information before you decide to apply.Â Start by looking into our top-rated processors, all whom have earned their rankings for transparent prices, quality service, and exceptional reliability. Make certain that you simply compare the benefits and features, not only the cost, inside your evaluation.
Still want to understand more about payment processing? Take a look at our ebook, “The Beginner’s Help guide to Payment Processing.” If you want help and have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to achieve out! We’re always here to assist!
The publish PayPal Versus Credit Card Merchant Account made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.