Arvixe Hosting Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives

Arvixe Hosting Review

Arvixe is really a website hosting brand of Endurance Worldwide. They provide a complete spectrum of hosting companies from shared web hosting to hosting (even Home windows hosting).

They’ve been around since 2003, making their name within the mid-2000s having the ability to choose from US and European data centers. These were purchased by Endurance in 2014.

Their datacenter is situated in Austin, Texas. Like the majority of shared web hosting companies, Arvixe offers email, an internet site builder, as well as other complementary services to website hosting with round-the-clock support along with a 2 month money-back guarantee.

You should check out Arvixe’s plans and current prices here.

I’ve had several readers email to inquire about my estimation about Arvixe, and so i made the decision to try them out within my recent shopping tour of entry-level web hosting companies.

Here’s my Arvixe Hosting review &#8211 structured with pros &amp cons according to my experience like a customer.

Skip to direct comparisons or skip towards the conclusion.

Disclosure &#8211 I receive referral charges from companies pointed out on this web site. All opinion and knowledge is dependant on my experience like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.

Pros of Arvixe Hosting

There are plenty of Arvixe reviews online &#8211 usually with user-generated reviews according to anecdotes and private experience. That&#8217s fine however i have a different approach. As I’ve stated in other hosting reviews, there’s no such factor like a “best” hosting company. The “best” may be the right fit for the project according to your objectives, budget, experience &amp expertise. Here would be the pros (advantages) for thinking about Arvixe.

Prices &amp Plan Structure

Arvixe’s primary advantage is the prices. Regardless of how your perception &#8211 short-term, lengthy-term, total value or simplicity &#8211 Arvixe comes with an affordable prices and plan structure. Actually, they’re almost from the “too cheap to become true” variety as we’ll see within the disadvantages section.

In either case &#8211 Arvixe is affordable. Before searching in their plans, here’s a little bit of background on hosting industry prices structure.

Searching at prices plans across different hosting providers could be confusing as you would expect.

They all are selling exactly the same factor &#8211 a house for the website &#8211 but every one has different plans with various caps, different bonuses and various renewal prices. Working out their true value needs a breakdown into various parts.

To check “apples to apples”, I break things lower into Core hosting features and Bonus hosting features to be able to see exactly what you’re having to pay for and just how it comes even close to other providers.

Core hosting features would be the “3 D’s” &#8211 domains, databases and disk space. The main reason for a hosting server would be to serve website files if somebody types inside your website name.

  • Domains are the number of domains you are able to indicate your hosting account. If you would like multiple websites, you’ll wish to have multiple domains permitted. You’ll should also take a look at emails per domain &#8211 sometimes individuals are capped too.
  • Databases are the number of bits of website software you are able to operate on your hosting server. A WordPress install requires one database. For those who have any apps, listservs, etc &#8211 you’ll require more.
  • Disk space is the number of files try on some your server &#8211 images, text, PDFs, etc.

Additional features might be everything from built-in website builder software to advertising credits to backend software, etc.

Whenever you break it lower, you can at any rate compare apples to apples and obtain a feeling of value according to the thing you need.

Arvixe makes things simple simply because they have 2 plans. The only real difference is the number of domains you are able to connect for your requirements.

Arvixe Pricing screenshot for my Arvixe Hosting Review

*Aside &#8211 Arvixe offers both Home windows and Linux hosting. They make reference to the operating-system around the server. Unless of course you’ve got a specific need to use Home windows hosting, you’ll need Linux hosting. It’s the most typical and many versatile hosting operating-system. It’s the the type that many every common website software operates on including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc. With this (and extremely all) reviews, I’m searching at Linux hosting.

With Arvixe’s two plans &#8211 they’re cheap both short and lengthy term. It’s $4/mo for any plan that enables 6 domains, and $7/mo for limitless domains &#8211 each of which really are a  bit more costly should you join a shorter time just like a month.

Arvixe Pricing updated for my Arvixe Hosting Review

&nbsp

Arvixe doesn’t seem to inflict temporary discounts (apart from a couple of 10% coupons &#8211 search for &#8220coupons&#8221 towards the bottom menu), that is understandable since their normal prices is as good as most basic level host’s opening prices.

To compare, HostGator’s least expensive (1 domain) plan’s lengthy-term cost is $6.95/mo. Website Hosting Hub’s least expensive lengthy-term cost is $8.99/mo and even GoDaddy is $6.99/mo after their opening prices period.

For those who have a really tight budget and wish lengthy-term hosting for under $50/year &#8211 Arvixe has that advantage.

Clean Backend &amp Installations

Whenever you join hosting, you typically obtain access to a free account dashboard to handle your plans, products and then any add-ons. You’ll also obtain access to your own personal server’s backend where one can install software and obtain server information for whatever you really need it for.

In most cases your server’s backend will offer you a variety of auto-installers which will install common software like WordPress for you personally.

Every webhost approaches all these three areas differently. And also the backends of website hosts can differ broadly.

They have a custom account area &#8211 and it is usually straightforward. For that server backend, a lot of companies use cPanel &#8211 the standard server backend. Some, like 1&amp1 or Dreamhost provide a customized server backend (for much better or worse).

For software installers, some offer straightforward ones some pack it filled with upsells and ads. Many are better or worse than the others.

When compared with other shared web hosting providers, the 3 backend / account areas are refreshingly neat and uncluttered. It normally won’t perform a lot for “onboarding” or new user help. They also keep things neat and simple.

Here’s their account backend &#8211

Arvixe Account Backend screenshot for my Arvixe Hosting Review

Here’s their cPanel backend &#8211

Arvixe cPanel Backend for my Arvixe Hosting Review

Here’s their WordPress installer &#8211

Arvixe WordPress Install for my Arvixe Hosting Review

Here&#8217s the WordPress install (observe that it&#8217s default without any addons) &#8211

Arvixe WordPress Install for my Arvixe Hosting Review

In each and every situation, situations are neat and simple &#8211 even just in places that the as well as their sister information mill relocating to ads &amp upsells such as the WordPress installer. It’s a good advantage for Arvixe.

Miscellaneous Nutrients

Apart from the large benefits of clean backends and economical prices, Arvixe does not have every other big pros. However they will have a few smaller sized pros that aren’t big deals on their own, but they are worth mentioning.

60-day money-back guarantee.

Most hosting providers perform a thirty day money-back guarantee. Whilst not as lengthy as InMotion or Website Hosting Hub’s 90-day guarantee, two months is lengthy and reassuring if you are undecided about Arvixe.

Run anything

Most hosts are (justifiably) cautious about running scripts and automatic software. It normally won’t desire a single customer using as numerous sources as other combined. While Arvixe comes with an abuse policy, they are doing appear to become fairly liberal about what you could elope your shared server. This time could be a be disadvantage as we’ll see in just a minute. But, if that’s what you’re searching for, Arvixe appears to become one to check out.

Choose server location

This time is when Arvixe made their name within the mid-2000s. Between much advanced technology, various other important speed factors, CDNs, and competitors, it isn’t as big of the deal now. However, it’s helpful if you’re serving visitors mainly in Europe or America and wish an information center so that your website files are nearer to your primary readers.

Aside &#8211 for hosting customers within the United kingdom, Australia or India, server location isn’t the only real consideration when searching for hosting, but it’s good to understand about.

Cons of Arvixe Hosting

Like every hosting company, Arvixe has disadvantages. Listed here are the disadvantages which i found while using the Arvixe for hosting.

Mediocre Performance

Like I pointed out before, the main job of the hosting company would be to serve website files if somebody types inside your website name &#8211 but many agree that there is a missing adverb. It ought to be “to serve website files rapidly.

To state website speed is essential is cliche, mainly in the chronilogical age of mobile. While server speed isn’t the only element in overall website speed, it’s an essential aspect.

And critically, it is also a “bottleneck” factor. Quite simply, regardless of how fast you compress or accelerate your site, you are able to only go as quickly as your server can respond.

Calculating server speed and response time is really a complicated issue. Just the network engineers at Arvixe can for sure say what’s happening with server speed. However, anybody can measure a ballpark metric of server performance.

It’s known as Time For You To First Byte (TTFB) &#8211 and shows how rapidly a web server offers the first byte of knowledge after it gets to be a request.

Here’s how Arvixe performed your day I measured it with this site &#8211

Arvixe TTFB

Here’s the exam a couple of hrs later having a different tool &#8211

Arvixe Pingdom Speed Test

Here’s how Website Hosting Hub (an immediate entry-level competitor performed that very same hour) &#8211

Web Hosting Hub TTFB Test

As you can tell &#8211 Arvixe is weak in performance time.

Now, TTFB is better measured like a trend. But, simply searching at Arvixe’s server information causes it to be seem like it normally won’t purchase sources around competitors.

Arvixe Information

Web Hosting Hub Memory

Overall, I wouldn’t buy Arvixe hosting for his or her performance. And given their “too cheap to become true” prices, this case is really a most likely a scenario in which you get that which you purchase.

Customer Care

Like server performance, customer care is notoriously difficult to judge. Usually customer care “ratings” are an accumulation of anecdotes which are rarely helpful or fair.

Rather, I argue that you ought to search for indicators of whether a business treats customer support like a cost or perhaps an investment, quite simply, could they be attempting to keep costs lower and maximize profit for a while or could they be attempting to develop happy, lengthy-term customers?

The 2 best indicators I’ve found are availability across a variety of support channels and purchase of DIY customer care.

Arvixe does poorly on.

For availability, other product phone support along with a consistently lengthy chat wait time. Again &#8211 the issue isn&#8217t always the chat wait time however the lengthy wait combined with insufficient other channels.

Arvixe Wait Time

There used to be attorney at law board, however it no more functions after i checked it.

So far as DIY customer care sources, there is a really small knowledgebase.

And also the help articles they will have are full of typos and damaged links.

Arvixe Knowledgebase

Overall, it appears like Arvixe views support like a cost to become absorbed, which isn’t well suited for customers.

Brand, Design &amp Investment

Associated with customer care &amp investment is logo and design investment.

An internet host’s website design doesn’t have an immediate effect on their goods, but whether they have issues with underinvestment in other locations &#8211 website design could be a confirming indicator.

It’s just like a dirty exterior with an apartment. It isn’t always a poor factor. But &#8211 should you start noticing roof leaks and bugs, the dirty exterior might help confirm that which you already think.

Arvixe was acquired with a Endurance Worldwide (a huge holding corporation) at the end of 2014. Giant holding corporations might help businesses reinvest within their services, update their website design and services. Endurance has been doing this with eHost and somewhat with HostGator and Bluehost.

However with Arvixe&#8230not a lot. They appear to stay in the bucket of forgotten Endurance brands like JustHost and iPage. Arvixe’s design appears like it’s from circa 2006 and except for their simple backend, they appear to be a path to profit maximization not reinvestment.

If their parent company isn’t purchasing them, I wouldn’t purchase them like a lengthy-term customer.

Customer Markets

You are able to tell a great deal in regards to a company by their squeeze pages &#8211 webpages focused on very specific audiences they believe are an ideal fit for his or her products.

You are able to usually locate them by clicking through their HTML sitemap within the footer. In either case &#8211 who Arvixe think it’s target clients are?

Outdoors from the normal, &#8220everyone markets&#8221 like ecommerce, WordPress, etc. Script websites aren’t bad whatsoever. Usually those are the handy little utilities you discover online &#8211 calculators and the like.

But Arvixe appears to focus on lots of grey-ant, spammy and incredibly old-fashioned type web applications.

Arvixe Sketch

Arvixe Sketchy

Remember after i stated within the pros section that Arvixe appears to possess a liberal abuse policy? This is when it may return to as being a bad factor.

Running your site on the shared server with a lot of grey area websites isn’t a bad factor, but it’s a bad factor either. At the best, it may place a stress on your server sources. At worst, it may unnecessarily familiarizes you with a panic attack or perhaps a “bad neighborhood” for IP addresses.

In either case, this disadvantage is just a relative problem with direct competitors. It isn’t inherently bad. It’s like deciding which store to purchase a Coca-Cola at &#8211 the main one with lottery ads, cigarette ads and steel bars within the window or even the vibrant, clean branded store with a lot of traffic while offering for Coca-Cola products.

When compared with competitors that market straight to companies and small startup websites, Arvixe feels a little off.

Just how does Arvixe compare straight to their competitors? Here’s how I’d concisely say &#8211

Arvixe Comparisons

From the best-known web hosting companies that I’ve utilized as a person or consultant, here’s how Arvixe compares straight to each. Or skip towards the conclusion.

Arvixe versus. GoDaddy

Between their TV ads, other offline ads, and lengthy history GoDaddy is easily the most recognized brand in the market. GoDaddy also offers a status for upsells and poor performance. However, unlike Arvixe, they appear to become improving instead of declining. I’d opt for GoDaddy &#8211 see their promo here.

Arvixe versus. Bluehost

Arvixe and Bluehost are sister brands of Endurance Worldwide, though they’ve completely different plans and market focus. Bluehost is really a more full-service host company and it is Endurance’s marquee brand. I believe they’re costly, but I’d certainly opt for Bluehost.

Arvixe versus. HostGator

Like Bluehost, HostGator is an extremely well-known brand within the hosting industry. They’re also of Endurance Worldwide, causing them to be another sister brand to Arvixe. Like Arvixe, HostGator has very economical plans for starter websites. Unlike Arvixe, they’ve very good performance and customer care options. I’d opt for HostGator.

Arvixe versus. Dreamhost

Dreamhost is among the earliest and many respected independent brands within the hosting industry. I reviewed them here. They’re a little costly, but have solid performance and support. I’d opt for Dreamhost over Arvixe every day regardless of the cost consideration.

Arvixe versus. InMotion Hosting

InMotion Hosting is among the largest and fastest growing independent (ie, of employees not really a large corporate holding company) website hosts. This website utilizes a VPS server with InMotion. They will be a little more costly than Arvixe. However, they’ve far better customer care and performance. InMotion’s least expensive plan isn’t that a lot more costly than Arvixe &#8211 and it’d be worthwhile. Take a look at InMotion here&#8230

Side note about InMotion &#8211 additionally they possess a starter hosting brand known as Website Hosting Hub (review) that provides better still limitless prices than InMotion with great performance. They compete mind to mind with Arvixe. They’re a little more costly, but additionally make a great starter webhost if you would like a completely independent webhost. You should check out Website Hosting Hub here&#8230

Conclusion &amp Next Steps

Overall, I discovered Arvixe hosting to be among individuals hosts in which you get that which you purchase. They’re cheap, however their heyday appears to become in it. It normally won’t appear to become positively purchasing their professional services. I’d search for alternatives.

If you’re searching to have an independent shared web hosting company with nearly as good prices, better performance, and customer care, out on another mind having to pay yearly then I’d recommend looking at InMotion Hosting here or (for limitless plans) Web Hosting Hub here&#8230

If you’re searching for any very economical option using the choice to pay monthly, then I’d take a look at HostGator w/ 45% off discount here&#8230

If you’re more confused than ever before &#8211 then take my BuzzFeed style Weblog Web Hosting quiz here, the Website Hosting Quiz here or use this site setup guide here!

Arvixe Hosting

Arvixe is really a host company in Austin, Texas began in 2003 supplying budget hosting companies.
Arvixe Hosting Review
Compiled by: Nate Shivar
Date Printed: 03/29/2016
Arvixe is really a classic you-get-what-you-pay-for provider – they’re cheap, however that&#039s really their only feature.
2.5 / 5 stars

The publish Arvixe Hosting Review: Pros, Cons &#038 Alternatives made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

“”

Square vs. Etsy: Which is Best for Artists and Crafters?

Square-vs-Etsy

Artists and crafters are a unique subsection of merchants, in my experience. And I say this as someone who has worked an artist table at conventions and other events for a few years. Running a business of this type deserves a special sort of consideration: if you are an artist or a crafter, you handle not just the sales, marketing, accounting, and other day-to-day tasks (like order fulfillment), but also the manufacturing! Some artists work on their business full time, while for others, it’s a second (or even third) job, but it is always 100% a labor of love.

But even a labor of love needs the right tools! While artists and crafters are essentially running retail businesses, many of the crucial components of a retail business — a solid POS, affordable retail hardware like receipt printers, and advanced inventory software — don’t always apply. Instead, mobility, flexibility, and affordability are most important. Omni-channel commerce, the ability to sell seamlessly in person and online, is often the best solution, because many people sell online as well as traveling around to events. And if you make your own products (2-D art, 3-D art, knitting/crochet, paper crafts, jewelry, for starters), there are two standouts in this category: Square and Etsy.

Background

SquareSquare review is well known in the arts community because it made accepting credit card payments via a smartphone feasible for the masses, allowing almost anyone to run a business anywhere you could get cell signal or Wi-Fi. More than 2 million merchants of all sizes use Square.

Etsy logoEtsy is the first marketplace that’s truly friendly to artists and other creators. It’s hugely popular with consumers, too, who know they can find tons of vintage and one-of-a-kind creations (not to mention their craft supplies) all in one place. Etsy boasts 1.6 million sellers.

Nowadays, both offer that oh-so-important omni-channel experience — though with a very different feel to each. Square’s biggest draw is the sheer abundance of features it offers, but not all of them are something artisans can or will use, at least not until their business grows a bit. Etsy’s biggest draw is its visibility — the guaranteed traffic to your online shop. It also offers other tools and partnerships to help merchants grow their business.

If you’re just getting started with your art or crafts business, or you’re looking to take it to the next level, Etsy and Square should be at the top of your list for ways to do so. But which is the better option? That depends on a lot of factors.

1. Do you sell (or plan to sell) mostly online and only occasionally in person? Mostly in person and occasionally online? Both? Do you want to change that ratio at all? Some artists and craftspeople sell very well online, while others have much more success at events. Selling online can provide extra money in between events.

2. How much freedom do you want in selling online? If you want to be able to build an entirely custom website, Etsy is likely not a good fit for you. Square has its limitations as well, but they are far fewer. As far as websites go, convenience (and a built-in audience) will always cost you more.

3. How large are your average purchases? If you have a large average ticket size, you might want to consider investing in an EMV reader. EMV is the official name for the chip cards that have been cropping up more often of late. Rather than relying on the magnetic strip (magstripe) on the back of cards, EMV readers encrypts information from the tiny computer chips embedded on the front of the cards. It’s a more secure method of data transmission and also makes it more difficult to counterfeit cards.

That’s important because in October 2015, there was a massive liability shift in terms of who’s responsible for processing any fraudulent cards. Now, any merchant who swipes a chip card that turns out to be fraudulent is responsible for the cost of the transaction. There are a couple of caveats: this doesn’t directly affect eCommerce, and it doesn’t apply to cards that don’t have the EMV chip.

NFC, or near-field communication, is what powers contactless payment methods such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. While it’s not necessary to accept NFC payments (they’re still very much a new thing), if your audience tends to be younger and tech-savvy, it’s not a bad idea to be ahead of the adoption curve (if you have the funds for it).

Generally speaking, artists are at a lower risk for fraud than other retail businesses, especially those who have a lower ticket volume. That doesn’t mean you should assume you’re immune to fraud, but it shouldn’t haunt your thoughts if you don’t have the cash for an EMV-friendly reader right away. (It’s worth noting that Etsy doesn’t offer an EMV reader at all.)

Both Square and Etsy have shortcomings, as well as serious advantages. One issue is that both use aggregate payment processing, which translates to greater account instability. But the same, the convenience of automatic inventory counts and minimal work to create an online shop should not be overlooked.

Let’s take a look at the key elements of Square and Etsy — the mobile apps, the online stores, and the costs — to see how they stack up against each other.

Square vs. Etsy: Mobile Apps

Etsy started as an online sales platform only. Eventually it introduced its own mobile app, called Sell on Etsy. It is partly a dashboard for managing your online sales, and partly an app for taking payments in person.

Square’s app is called Square Register, and it’s honestly the most robust mobile POS (mPOS) app out there right now. It is available for both Android and iOS. However, unlike Etsy, the Register app is almost exclusively for in-person sales. eCommerce sales are mostly controlled through the browser-based dashboard.

Square Register App Features:

square-register-tablet

You may not ever need all of the features Square has to offer, but it has some great ones:

  • Custom Sales Tax: While I wish Square would get around to an auto-detect feature that can pick up sales tax rates based on GPS location, it is still nice that you can toggle sales tax on and off and save multiple tax profiles in the app. You can also set or disable tax for specific items as needed.
  • Item variants and add-ons: Great especially if you have several color options for the same basic item.
  • Record cash and check transactions: Keep all your transactions in one place, which is helpful especially if you are using Square’s inventory option. No fee for either of these options.
  • Inventory sync: if you sell online and have inventory management enabled, the system will automatically adjust your inventory count when you sell an item. So if you sell out at an event, no one can purchase that item from your online store. That’s a useful feature if you only have a limited run of products, or maybe even just a single item. Most mPOS providers allow you to create items and run sales reports for what sold, but they don’t keep track of your inventory like Square does, which can be a very big deal.
  • Invoicing: Do you take custom orders and commissions? Square lets you send invoices directly from within the Register app (or through the online dashboard). The invoice is free to send, and there’s no charge beyond the transaction fee, which is deducted from the total invoice once it’s paid.
  • Apply Discounts: You can apply a percentage discount to one or all items, or apply a dollar-amount discount to the entire purchase. This applies to orders before tax is applied.
  • Email/SMS receipts: Send digital receipts at your customer’s request.
  • Custom purchase amounts: If you don’t use Square’s inventory feature or item listings, you can still just ring up individual purchases by just the amount.
  • Full and partial refunds: Send full or partial refunds from within the app or the online dashboard.
  • Offline mode: Process credit cards even when you can’t get Wi-Fi or cellular signal. Of course, you eat the cost for any transactions that are declined, so use this feature at your own risk. Still, it’s very useful, especially if you’re at a venue where it’s difficult to get signal.
  • Item and category creation: You can create and manage your items in the app using both Android and iOS devices.

Some of Square’s more advanced features (such as the ability to scan item bar codes) are only available in the app if you’re using an iPad. However, most of these are more focused on retail stores, so you likely don’t need them as an artist. Also, you have full control over everything if you log into your Square account in a web browser and head to the dashboard.

Overall, though, the Register app is simple to use and very intuitive. You shouldn’t have much trouble finding your way around it even if the technology is entirely new to you. Remember that you don’t have control over eCommerce sales from within the app. You need the dashboard for that.

Something else I like is that Square keeps a comprehensive list of devices with known issues. This is very helpful because Square offers multiple credit card readers, and not all of them work with every device.

Speaking of hardware: the basic magstripe reader is still free from Square if you order online (or you can get a credit for purchasing it in-store). You can get an EMV/magstripe reader for $29, and the EMV/NFC readers start at $49. Check out our unboxing of the Square chip reader here.

Sell on Etsy App Features:

While Square Register is largely for processing payments and most eCommerce matters must be handled through a web browser, the Sell on Etsy app is much more comprehensive. Available for Android and iOS, It allows you to run your online store and sell in person without having to log into the online dashboard.

Etsy-in-person-payments-1

Here’s a breakdown of features:

  • Alerts: Get a notification when someone makes a purchase or favorites your shop on Etsy.
  • Conversations: Communicate with your customers through the app.
  • Shop stats: Check your reviews and other Etsy shop details
  • Order management: Mark online orders as ship and add tracking details, process refunds (full refunds only), add notes to transactions, and more.
  • Create listings: You can add items to your online store via the mobile app.
  • Inventory sync: You can sell items from your online store and Etsy will automatically adjust your inventory counts.
  • Email Receipts: No SMS option, but if the email is linked to an Etsy user ID, the transaction will appear in their purchase history.
  • Record cash transactions: No fee for this, obviously.
  • Quick Sale: If you don’t want to bother with items and keeping track of your Etsy inventory, or you have items for sale that aren’t in your Etsy shop, you can use the quick sale feature to enter an item name and amount. The nice thing is this won’t incur any listing fees (we’ll come back to this in a bit).
  • Discounts: Apply a percentage or dollar amount off the entire purchase. The percentage deduction is taken off the total purchase, including taxes.
  • Sales tax: Again, an auto-detect for sales tax would be great here. You can set multiple tax profiles and modify taxes on individual items.

It’s worth noting that to use the in-person sales feature, you must have Etsy’s Direct Checkout enabled. There’s also no dedicated iPad app. Etsy recommends, if you’re using an iPad, to enable the 2x zoom so the app takes of the entirety of the screen.

Talking with other artists, their experience is that the Etsy app is a bit clunkier for in-person sales. This may be because the in-person sales feature is buried within the menu, not the first thing you see. At the same time, the mobile app is for more than just processing payments — it is a genuine tool for managing your business on the go. I think it’s safe to assume Etsy thinks you’ll sell more online than in person.

Something I do want to point out is that while Etsy’s card reader is free, it’s just a basic magstripe device. It doesn’t support EMV or NFC payments, and Etsy says it has no plans to introduce an EMV reader at this time. This isn’t quite as terrible as it seems because Etsy is the one accepting the liability for processing any transactions, not you. But it’s still a bit disappointing to see that Etsy isn’t interested in keeping pace with the rest of the payments industry.

Overall, it’s fair to say both of these are pretty robust apps that will serve you well. What you’re looking for in an online store is likely going to be the deciding factor.

Square vs. Etsy: Online Stores

Square really has come a long ways as far as eCommerce is concerned. Its online store is completely free to use, though it can seem a bit limited compared to some of the more comprehensive options out there. You can also integrate Square’s payment processing with some other eCommerce providers (BigCommerce, Weebly and Ecwid). If you can navigate code or have a programmer friend handy, you can even use Square’s API to integrate the payment processing into another eCommerce solution.

Etsy, on the other hand, is a marketplace like eBay and Amazon. That means many sellers on Etsy will have their listings appear next to one another when users search for a product. This is both good and bad, really: One the one hand, marketplaces draw far more traffic than an individual site that’s just starting out. On the other, it puts you at the mercy of the marketplace, which means you could find your shop closed down with little to no warning or recourse.

Let’s see how these two companies compare as far as eCommerce goes:

Square Online Store Features:

square-online-store-screenshot

If you use Square’s store, here’s what you need to know. You get all of the following:

  • Free hosting
  • Free domain (the default is squareup.com/store/your-store-name, but you can edit the URL)
  • The option to purchase a new domain or use an existing one
  • Alternative payment/pickup options (including in-store pickup).
  • Invoicing support from Square dashboard
  • Inventory management: If you enable inventory management you can keep track of what is sold through online and in person. There are also some more comprehensive inventory features such as supplier management.
  • The option to integrate with BigCommerce, Weebly and Ecwid, or use Square’s API to integrate with another shopping cart.

One thing to note is that there’s no real custom order option or integrated communications channel with Square’s stores. You can handle custom orders through product variants or add-ons, or just use Square’s integrated invoicing system. For communication, consider investing in a business email (Google can give you an email to match your domain for $5/month).

Square’s online store option is somewhat limited as far as design options go, but they are at least mobile-friendly, responsive templates. You can create different sections to organize your products by relevant categories, as well. In some ways, the simplicity is an advantage because you have less to worry about.

The only costs you pay are per each transaction, much as with the mPOS app. If you opt for another shopping cart instead of Square’s story, you’ll have to pay whatever fees they charge, too. if you have something already set up, you can just switch to Square for payment processing by integrating the API.

Square will also let you control the status for your shop in two ways: you can set the store as visible or offline, and indicate whether you are accepting orders or not. (Think of it as a “Vacation” mode.)

Etsy Shop Features:

Etsy shop home page

You don’t have much in the way of customization for your Etsy shop, and that’s because as a marketplace Etsy has to create a consistent look. But that means you don’t have to spend a lot of time tweaking things.

Here’s what you get with Etsy:

  • Free hosting
  • Free custom Etsy URL
  • Custom orders option
  • Invoicing through PayPal
  • Mail and “other” payment methods supported.
  • Discounted shipping rates when purchased through Etsy
  • Advertising through promoted listings (for an additional cost)

Etsy has an easy-to-use feature for accepting custom orders. With a couple clicks, you can enable this option for your customers. “Conversations” is Etsy’s equivalent of a messaging system, where customers can reach out to you about your products and their orders.

Something relatively new to Etsy’s suite of services is Pattern, which allows you to sell on your own custom website while all of your inventory is linked to your Etsy shop. Management of both is centralized through Etsy and you pay the same costs as you would on Etsy — plus an additional $15/month.

etsy-pattern-site-screenshot

Like Square, Pattern gives you a limited selection of responsive themes to choose from. However, you can modify color palette, font, and other small aspects of your site. which gives you some creative control that you don’t get with Square.

Honestly, the fact that Etsy felt the need to branch out into payments processing and give sellers an option to run eCommerce stores on their own domains is a pretty powerful indicator of where the entire industry is going (hint: it’s heading toward omni-channel).

I need to stress this: Your own site should definitely be a long-term goal. It will give you much more freedom and stability, and generally costs less than selling through a marketplace, especially as your sales volume picks up. But Etsy will definitely help you get started and make some online sales, and possibly draw in people who otherwise wouldn’t even know where to find you. And there’s certainly no reason you can’t run your own online shop (through Pattern, Square or another service) and sell on Etsy at the same time.

Square vs. Etsy: Costs

Card-processing costs can make or break a business, and here at MerchantMaverick we firmly believe no merchant should pay more for processing than they have to. I’m happy to say that Square and Etsy are both very transparent about their pricing, and their actual card processing rates are competitive among aggregate processors. But, there’s one niggling matter…which is Etsy’s transaction fees.

Square Rates:

Square made a name for itself with its simple, flat-rate processing. There are no monthly subscription fees for using Square itself — just pay a small fee per every transaction. The Square Register app is totally free as well. This is what your rates will look like:

  • Swiped transactions: 2.75%
  • Keyed transactions: 3.5% + $0.15
  • eCommerce transactions: 2.9% + $0.30
  • Invoicing: 2.9% + $0.30 (or 3.5% + $0.15 for cards kept on file)

You can add on monthly subscriptions for addition services, but apart from email marketing, most are targeted pretty heavily at retail stores (loyalty program, timekeeping and payroll, etc).

I like Square’s payment scheme. Its rates are pretty competitive for an aggregate processor (the only way to get lower rates with a comparable value is to get a merchant account). I’m genuinely shocked that Square doesn’t charge more for its POS app, because it easily could.

Etsy Rates:

Etsy offers you several payment methods, which can be a bit complicated. There are two main options:

Direct Checkout allows you to accept credit and debit cards, PayPal, Etsy gift cards and Apple Pay. You pay Etsy’s rates and all of your funds (even PayPal transactions) go into your Etsy account, which will then deposit them into your bank account.

It’s worth noting that some sellers are unhappy about the integrated PayPal option, mostly because it takes longer to get your money.

PayPal allows you to accept credit and debit cards as well as payments from a bank account…so long as your customer has a PayPal account. The funds go into your personal/business PayPal account. Etsy doesn’t allow sellers to enable payments through both Direct Checkout and your personal PayPal.

If you need to, you can set your business up to take orders by mail. You can also set up custom orders and invoicing via PayPal, though the invoicing feature isn’t seamlessly integrated with Etsy.

Fees are as follows:

  • Swiped transactions: 2.75%
  • Keyed transactions: 3% + $0.25
  • eCommerce (Direct Checkout): 3% + $0.25
  • eCommerce (PayPal): 2.9% + $0.30
  • Online transaction fee: 3.5%* 
  • Item listing fee: $0.20**

*All items sold on your Etsy shop or through Pattern are subject to a transaction fee, but in-person sales are exempt.

**Listings are active for 4 months. If you have multiple quantities of an item, you’ll pay the initial $0.20, plus an additional $0.20 for every item after the first that sells. When you sell an item in your shop in person, you’re also charged the listing fee — but not for quick sale items, which aren’t listed in your online shop.

Time to Receive Funds: 

Square deposits funds in your bank account on a rolling basis, typically within 1-2 business days. You can check out more about Square’s deposit schedule here. You can also initiate an instant deposit for 1% of the transaction value and have your money within minutes.

Etsy takes a bit longer to get your money, at least if you use Direct Checkout. For the first 90 days, transactions take 3 business days before they are available in your account (after that point they are available the next day). Funds are automatically disbursed on Mondays, but you can can initiate a transfer to your bank account Tuesdays-Fridays. After that, it takes an average of 3-5 days for the funds to appear in your bank account.

There’s no question that Square is the more affordable option. You’ll pay double on Etsy thanks to that transaction fee (which is still less than what you could end up paying on Handmade at Amazon or even eBay). You’ll also get your funds more quickly, unless you choose to only accept PayPal on Etsy — in which case you will have your money in your PayPal account almost instantly, and can spend it anywhere so long as you have a PayPal debit card.

Square vs. Etsy: Other Concerns

There are other considerations beyond just cost. We’ve already talked about the features and services available, but what about the other stuff, the intangibles that neither company really spells out? What about value-added tools and services that don’t fit neatly into another category?

Visibility: Etsy is a known marketplace, with thousands of visitors daily. Unless you’re a marketing genius with an established name, having your own website just isn’t going to bring you that kind of traffic. Of course, you have to deal with the competition from other sellers, whose products will appear next to your own in the search results. With Square, you don’t have that competition, but you’re also not going to get that kind of traffic. However, since you don’t have to pay for hosting or anything beyond the actual transactions, you can spend some time (and maybe even money) building your reputation and putting your website out where anyone can find it.

Stability: Square does have a reputation for holding funds. There’s no way around that. However, artists and crafters generally seem less affected by Square’s trigger-happy risk department. I’d guess it’s because most transactions are relatively low-volume, but there’s no official word on that. Still, the most likely thing to trigger an account hold or termination is processing an unusually large transaction.

Etsy is a marketplace, and you are subject to its rules. If you break them, or if Etsy thinks you’ve broken them, it will shut your store down the same way Square implements holds. Do a bit of Googling (try “Etsy shop shut down”) and you’ll see this happens, if not regularly, at least with enough frequency to note. If you create fan-art based on popular media, know that some very large companies regularly search Etsy and other marketplaces to issue cease-and-desists. Copyright infringement (even in a nebulous area such as fanart) is just one of the reasons your shop could be shut down.

However, it’s difficult to draw apples-to-apples comparisons between the two because while Etsy is exclusively for artists, crafters, and other small niche retailers, Square serves merchants in a huge variety of industries. This is the risk you run with aggregate payment processors and marketplaces. A merchant account will give you more stability, but is generally not suitable for small, low-volume businesses. Don’t let it keep you up at night, but do have a backup plan.

Customer Support: Things happen. Sometimes you’re going to have questions. Sometimes customers file chargebacks and disputes. That’s why customer service is there.

Square’s support system is based primarily on a very detailed knowledge base and a user forum. You should find most of the answers to your questions there. For more complex issues, there’s phone support. But first you need to obtain a passcode to be able to call in at all. There’s also a dispute management system in case a customer files a chargeback. Square will request documentation. In a handful of circumstances you may be eligible for chargeback protection — which means you won’t pay for the chargeback even if the case isn’t resolved in your favor.

Etsy has a similar setup. There’s both a community forum and teams where like-minded sellers can collaborate and community. There’s also a phone support option, but you submit a request and receive a callback (Etsy says within 30 minutes). There’s also a dispute resolution system for conflicts between buyers and sellers.

The question is whether the support offered is of any use. And that’s not an easy answer. A bit more Google searching and you will find no shortage of complaints against Square and Etsy, and their customer service (or lack thereof, as the case may be). Some are from disgruntled sellers. Some are from disgruntled customers. In short, your experience may vary. Some people have no problem at all; some have lots of trouble.

Marketing Tools: I’ve mentioned before that Square offers several marketing and business tools. Artists and craftspeople likely won’t get much benefit out of them, except the email marketing tool, which starts at $15/month.

Etsy has taken a different approach. There are no email marketing tools (though it allows you to post an email signup link on your shop). Instead, consumers can use Etsy Local to find events featuring Etsy sellers. It also offers an option for you to sell your goods wholesale through Etsy, and to pair with large manufacturers to scale your business.

Mass production on Etsy is a contentious matter — as you might expect on a platform started for independent craftspeople. But if you find these options worthwhile for your business, you should pursue them. If not, there are many, many other platforms and tools out there for you to grow your business.

Final Verdict: Should You Use Square or Etsy?

The right payment processor and online store provider is really a matter of personal preference.

With Etsy, you get access to a huge marketplace with people who are actively searching for products each day, but you pay for the convenience, literally. You’ll pay more than double what you would with Etsy. You can even run your own website with a custom URL…for an additional monthly cost on top of your fees. Still, for business that is just starting out, being visible to customers is a serious concern, and Etsy definitely delivers in that category. The Sell on Etsy app lets you manage every aspect of your business on the go instead of dealing with a browser interface, and you can take payments from within the app.

On the other hand, if you sell primarily in person (at conventions, craft fairs, pop-up sales, etc.) square is in your favor. Square Register is a powerful POS app that even has an offline mode so you can accept credit cards literally anywhere, any time. If you use Square’s online store, you’ll pay less in processing fees per transaction than you would on Etsy, and worry less about competition.

Both have their risks, because they aggregate payments and Etsy is also a marketplace that makes its own rules about what is acceptable for sellers. You aren’t guaranteed stability, but both services are generally friendly to artists and craftspeople. You pay only as you make sales unless you opt for any additional expenses, which means there’s no upfront investment beyond the costs to make your products.

And honestly? There’s nothing that says you can’t use both Etsy and Square! If you prefer Square’s mobile app to Etsy’s but want the traffic that Etsy provides, go for it. If you want to sell on Etsy and Square, that’s absolutely possible! What matters most is that you weigh all the benefits and disadvantages and find a solution that will help you manage and grow your business.

Got questions? Have an opinion about the Etsy vs. Square debate? Leave us a comment and let us know — we love to hear from you!

The post Square vs. Etsy: Which is Best for Artists and Crafters? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Helpful tips for Using CRM in eCommerce


 crm in ecommerce

CRM in eCommerce: What It Really Does

Initially, CRM was nothing more than an automatic Address Book. A CRM application would keep an eye on those who hadn’t been contacted shortly, and give back reminders to achieve to them.

The following iteration of CRM focused more its potential application running a business. Salespeople rapidly saw its possibility of organizing leads and nurturing existing sales possibilities.

Though CRM still dominates the Cubicle, the best CRM eCommerce application will help you together with critical tasks, having a scope broad enough to pay for almost every aspect of your company:

  • Obtaining leads through a number of intake methods
  • Maintaining timely communication with your customers and Business to business partners.
  • Performing e-mail marketing campaigns and newsletters
  • Managing your Social Networking channels
  • Keeping possibilities moving along profits pipeline
  • Advanced Reporting, to obtain a comprehensive look at profits team, sales goals, advertising campaign effectiveness, periodic trends, and much more.
  • Customer Care / Help-desk functionality.
  • Data storage: localized Understanding Base keeps pertinent customer information, support tickets, etc within the cloud for near-immediate access.

And that’s near the top of the my mind. In a nutshell, CRM for eCommerce covers almost everything from prospecting completely right through to a completed purchase. Some CRM solutions even mix the gray area between true CRM and Enterprise Resource Planning. ERP accumulates where CRM leaves off covering sales fulfillment and offer chain, and frequently ending in customer re-engagement. But that’s a subject for an additional article.

Things To Get

Most eCommerce platforms (like Shopify, Volusion, and Bigcommerce) start adding some amount of CRM control. The depth of features offered will be different from cart to cart, and in one subscription level to a different.

If you’re just beginning out, make sure to pick which CRM and E-mail Marketing features is going to be incorporated inside your selected eCommerce platform. Don’t over-buy just to obtain a lot of features! You could change your subscription (even in the center of an agreement) in case your needs outstrip the characteristics you subscribed to.

If you’re already well-established together with your shopping cart software platform, eCommerce CRM features may be when you need it. Otherwise, you may either change your subscription level (when the features you’ll need can be found out of your eCommerce software vendor,) or easily integrate a 3rd party solution. There’s a lot of CRM apps which we’ve curated and reviewed here.

When looking for the numerous CRM eCommerce options available, pick one that concentrates on – you suspected it – actually managing your relationships together with your customers. A lot of CRM apps on the market are aimed at these sales pipeline. That is great, if that’s the thing you need. But companies which be employed in the eCommerce space typically don’t use a salesforce they are driving sales, creating a Sales Pipeline Tracker a little less relevant.

Rather, you need to select a CRM for the online business which emphasizes these targets:

  • Obtaining Customer Data
  • E-mail Marketing
  • Customer Re-engagement (typically through Loyalty Programs)
  • Reporting and Analytics on customer purchases, periodic sales trends, etc
  • Customer Care / Help-desk functionality.
  • Brand Visibility

Within the next section, we’ll take a look at how you can hit all six of these eCommerce CRM targets.

How To Proceed

Acquire Customer Data

The very first, and hardest, a part of making use of your CRM will most likely be the way you start gathering helpful data regarding your customers. There are a number of the way this can be done, but possibly the best way would be to offer users the opportunity to on line and sign in to your website. This accomplishes a number of things at the same time (and who doesn’t love the efficiency of multitasking?)

crm in ecommerce

Offering your customer their very own account in your site enables certain features which benefit them, and eventually produces a lot of happy byproducts that really help you. It’s victory-win! (Though entirely disclosure, it’s not entirely without drawbacks.) Enabling customer profiles out of your eCommerce CRM application brings these benefits:

  • Customers can maintain Wish Lists, get personalized loyalty rewards, shipment tracking, and streamlined checkout (with stored charge card information, shipping address, and order history). Along with a *lot* more, with respect to the eCommerce and CRM apps you select.
  • Like a consequence, your CRM is going to be given probably the most coveted data in Customer Info: current email address, regional location, name, purchase history, and perhaps gender and age. These information will jumpstart your CRM like little else, enabling you to get the most precise and efficient marketing strategies.

With time, you’ll have the ability to:

    • See which marketing efforts were most effective
    • Create upsell strategies tailored to every individual customer
    • Recover sales from abandoned carts
    • Re-engage customers who haven’t visited you lately.
  • Drawbacks. As this is the easiest method to acquire customer data, it’s an more and more common practice. The finish result for that user is the fact that they’ll have too many accounts to handle among the various places they shop, and could be loath to begin yet another account. Each account generates (in the customer’s perspective) a lot of junk e-mail emails. Certain customers should choose Guest Checkout instead of produce a new account, or they might register having a “spam email account” that they solely use to enroll in things. Thus, any junk e-mail (read as: your e-mail marketing efforts) goes completely unseen through the customer.

E-mail Marketing

This is when CRM really proves its worth. The axiom “it takes money to create money” is really a nearly immutable law of economic so wherever business proprietors can reduce costs, it’s money staying with you. Marketing costs can definitely accumulate whenever you include print, postage, and promotions, but all individuals pricing is made virtually nil whenever your CRM can automate mass-email promotions. So when all of individuals emails could be custom-tailored to every customer, you can observe how this beats the socks from mass-mailers cluttering the United states postal service floor.

Using the dovetail of CRM and eCommerce, your customer could be given unparalleled individual attention. If Sally Shoebuyer hasn’t been to your web store shortly, your CRM can instantly send her an e-mail if you have operate a promotion on footwear. Or maybe Billy will get distracted mid-purchase, your CRM eCommerce platform can send him a indication to return and finished buying individuals t-shirts he wanted.

Customer Re-engagement

The options continue. You could have your CRM instantly serve your clients with:

  • Newsletters
  • Notifications concerning the Loyalty Points they’ve accrued
  • Notifications about cost changes on products within their Wish Lists
  • Periodic sales
  • Personal online coupons
  • Blog snippets, local event invitations, or other value-added info
  • As numerous Calls to Action as possible envision to create it well to your website

Reporting and Analytics

Both in eCommerce and CRM, it’s easy to obtain a bird’s eye look at exactly what occur in your retail domain. Need to see all of the products customers have purchased more often than once? Not a problem. Need to visit which promotions helped probably the most during last year’s periodic low tide? You have it. The opportunity to drill lower in to the specific details you have to see is simple.

crm in ecommerce

Customer Care / Help-desk Functionality.

Customer care is frequently an afterthought, or worse, totally overlooked. (That’s, before the avalanche of unanswered customer concerns overwhelms you.) Your online business lives or dies through the status you build on your own, and absolutely nothing affects that status like excellent (or awful) customer support.

CRM towards the save. Not simply will happy customers be asked to your store using your marketing efforts, but unsatisfied customers may yet be appeased if their problems could be resolved. Your CRM application will streamline this method. Support tickets could be flagged with different amounts of emergency so greatest priority issues could be rapidly resolved. Furthermore, a person&#8217s entire history could be when you need it your interactions together is going to be informed by their order history, communication history together with your agents, and then any additional information that you could track. You will never have to inform your customers “I don’t know.”

Brand Visibility.

With simple things like an e-mail or perhaps a publish to social networking, your brand stays fresh within the mind of the existing and prospective customers.

I can’t let you know the number of great websites I’ve seen and assumed I’d remember, simply to ask them to drowned out with a ocean of vendors vying in my attention. Had I had the ability to follow them on Facebook (for instance,) I’d be more prone to revisit them later on after i see their posts.

Conclusion

May be the mixture of CRM and eCommerce beginning to seem just like a quick fix?

It certainly could be, if implemented well. Like the majority of things, what you’ll get from it depends upon that which you put in it. A halfhearted make an effort to tack CRM on your online business will yield small results. However if you simply invest well, CRM can streamline your workflow, broaden your marketing, and shine your brand’s status, all without gouging your income.

Take a look at our CRM software reviews to obtain the right CRM for the online business!

Best of luck, and happy selling!

The publish Helpful tips for Using CRM in eCommerce made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Beyond Mobile: How Square Will Help You Sell Online

Square-sell-online-ecommerce

It&#8217s fair to state, at this time, that Square continues to be instrumental in democratizing the instalments space. Virtually anybody can open a free account and begin accepting payments anywhere, whenever. Nowadays it&#8217s by taking your same attitude and putting it on to some whole selection of business services, creating an ecosystem that enables a business owner to handle almost every facet of the operation — from sales and marketing to worker time keeping — having a single login.

Which includes online retailers. The truth that Square enables you to setup a web-based store for simply the price of payment processing is constantly on the baffle me. Even marketplaces that don&#8217t need you to purchase a domain or hosting still ask you for transaction charges on the top of the payment processing costs.

A part of this is because Square&#8217s Online Shop is very fundamental. That&#8217s not saying it&#8217s not functional, or attractive — it is completely each of individuals things. However the entire Online Shop feature continues to be made with simplicity in your mind. You don&#8217t require the smallest little bit of website design, coding, or software experience to produce your shop. However, you won&#8217t discover the more complicated features that some shopping cart software software providers offer, for example related products and keyword tags.

I believe lots of people know that Square is just for particular categories of retailers: coffee houses and take-out restaurants, or artists and crafters, to begin with. However that&#8217s not necessarily true. Square&#8217s set of features is really expansive, and there are plenty of integrations available, that you could easily run a restaurant, a café or cafe, just a little artist booth, a retail popup store, or even a full-fledged physical retail operation — plus your web store. Which doesn&#8217t include service companies (hair and nail salons, for instance) or nonprofits and occasions.

Which begs the issue&#8230.just what else could you sell through Square&#8217s online shop? Could it be the best option for you personally? Precisely how flexible may be the site builder? Let&#8217s have a look.

What Else Could You Sell Through Square&#8217s Online Shop?

Square is definitely expanding, also it&#8217s focused a lot of that effort on building up its eCommerce set of features. Retailers sell the following:

  • Physical goods
  • Digital goods (music, e-books, pattern files, etc.)
  • Restaurant carryout orders (you may also add delivery through another Square service known as Caviar)
  • Event tickets

You may also collect donations in amounts from $1 as much as $1,000.

Not just that, but Square supports variations of merchandise at different cost points. You may also create modifiers and add-on products for the listings.

Square comes with a summary of prohibited products and companies, and I suggest you make sure that out. But aside from that list, marketing virtually anything you like.

What Features Does Square Offer?

Running your web shop through Square means that you&#8217ll possess a couple of limitations, but overall it is a fantastic way to sell online and keep your costs lower. The setup is friendly to a lot of types of companies, too. You receive the following, at no cost past the payment processing fee for every purchase:

  • Free, limitless hosting.
  • Free URL (may also make use of an existing domain or get one through Google Domains).
  • Responsive web site design.
  • Inventory tracking and management.
  • Supplier management.
  • Integrated, advanced reporting.
  • Seamless integration with Square Register.
  • Support for in-store pickup.

Take a look at full Square Review for a far more in-depth take a look at Square in general. Continue reading for that information on Square&#8217s Online Shop platform and just how it can benefit you receive in to the eCommerce game!

Establishing Your Square Store

This process is only going to get you a couple of minutes to create your site. Probably the most time you&#8217ll spend is going to be on sorting your inventory (that is usually the case with any eCommerce shop).

Whenever you sign in to your Square dashboard, you&#8217ll visit a menu around the left hands side of options. Visit Online Shop, and also you&#8217ll visit a welcome page such as this:

Square Online Store in Dashboard

Click &#8220Get began,&#8221 and Square will begin the entire process of building your website. First of all, Square will request you to select a Store theme. There are just four, so that as you&#8217ll discover later, you don&#8217t have personalization choices for design past the images and text themselves. However, you are able to improve your theme anytime by entering the shop Editor and clicking &#8220Change Theme&#8221 at the very top.

square-online-store-change-theme

&nbsp

Something important to note is the fact that each design should be responsive — it’ll instantly adjust its display according to which device your clients are utilizing. Quite simply, you receive a mobile-friendly website without getting to complete anything.

Next, Square will need you to definitely improve your information. Here’s your opportunity to set your store&#8217s name, add contact details for the people to achieve out, increase your brick-and-mortar hrs (for those who have them).

The 3rd step is establishing your store, the most technical step. And what i mean is Square insists upon choose your URL or incorperate your own domain. This can be probably the most complicated facet of building your website because you have to configure your domain&#8217s DNS settings. You may also set your shipping rates (we&#8217ll return to that), and condition your refund guarantee.

Other Setup Options

Square has invested a great deal in supplying more flexible solutions and providing the features which are most important for any business without emptying your wallet. It&#8217s even expanded its search engine optimization, enabling you to use Square as the payments processor along with other shopping cart software software.

All that you should do is integrate Square with BigCommerce, Weebly, or Ecwid to produce your web shop. If you be a little more tech-savvy (or you’ve got a web programmer within the company, a treadmill you are able to hire to complete work), you should use Square&#8217s eCommerce API to produce a custom payment form in your site.

Adding and Managing Products with Square&#8217s Online Store

Right from the start, among the greatest benefits of running your retail and eCommerce setups through Square may be the automatic inventory synchronization. Whenever you ring something in Register or sell online, Square adjusts your inventory counts for you personally. By doing this you won’t ever finish up selling that which you don&#8217t dress in hands. Obviously, it is really an optional feature — if you need to utilize it, you&#8217ll need to enable inventory management.

Whenever you setup your web Store the very first time, Square pushes you to definitely start adding products immediately. However, now is a great time for you to sit lower and determine what you ought to charge for florida sales tax, how you need to classify products , and just what modifiers you need to offer.

  • Florida Sales Tax: You may create multiple tax settings in Square. This really is helpful should you visit occasions, or run multiple stores, or from time to time have pop-up stores round the area. Make sure to label each tax setting clearly which means you know when it ought to be applied.
  • Modifiers: Modifiers are essentially add-ons. This is an excellent method to have an choice for expedited shipping or upsale products (let’s say you sell tech products, you could include on spare cables for cosmetics, makeup brushes).
  • Groups: Groups can be quite helpful for reporting purposes. Let’s say you sell various sorts of products (clothing versus. accessories, tea versus. tea-making supplies), this might prove useful for seeing what sells better.

Should you don&#8217t take proper care of these first, you&#8217re likely to by hand adjust the items&#8217s settings afterward. Florida sales tax, modifiers, and groups are controlled with the Square Dashboard, and not the Store Editor feature. Sign in to your bank account after which select &#8220Items&#8221 to check out the tabs at the very top right from the screen.

Square Dashboard - Item modifier tabs

 

Once that&#8217s done, it’s insanely easy to add products for your Online Shop. The Shop Editor enables you to create sections with products — you are able to place them all-in-one section or break them lower into multiples. Under each section, click &#8220Add Item&#8221 and also you&#8217ll visit a new box appear. (Note: these sections do not have anything related to anything groups you may have setup).

Square Online Store: Add Item form

Complete the information you have. Give a name, a photograph (or multiple photos), along with a description. This is where one can add variants (for example multiple colors or sizes) and choose a category for the product (note: groups won’t be the same as sections in your website).

Scroll lower around the box a little and also you&#8217ll see more of Square&#8217s advanced options — such as modifiers. You may also disable or enable a person item&#8217s visibility within the store, should you&#8217re less than prepared to launch a specific item.

Importing and Managing Inventory in Square

Should you&#8217ve recently been selling with Square, simply not online, you can include your whole item library in the Register application towards the Online Shop with only a couple of clicks. Visit &#8220Add Item&#8221 and select to import from library.

Had a large inventory?  You most likely want to benefit from Square&#8217s import from CSV feature. See your Square Dashboard after which select &#8220Items,&#8221 not &#8220Online Store. At the very top right from the page you&#8217ll visit a button for &#8220Import/Export.&#8221 Choose &#8220Import products,&#8221 select whether you need to develop your overall item library or change it, after which download the shape.

square-online-store-import-exportSquare Online Store: Import Items

Just load your data in to the template, then upload the file in to the Square Dashboard.

If you are considering tracking inventory levels, you’ve two options: 1. update inventory counts and hang tracking by hand for every item (visit the Square dashboard after which to &#8220Items&#8221 and choose each one of these individually), or 2 make use of a CSV file (choose &#8220Import Inventory&#8221 in the &#8220Import/Export&#8221 menu).

You&#8217ll wish to upload all your products first before you decide to perform the inventory level CSV.

When you&#8217ve enabled this selection, you may also set the reduced-stock alerts, meaning Square will instantly generate emails to show you when stock levels drop below a particular point. You may also check inventory levels using your dashboard.

Quick note: Products offered via invoice or perhaps in-store pickup don&#8217t use inventory management, which means you&#8217ll need to adjust the counts by hand. Should you process returns, you&#8217ll also need to adjust your inventory.

Setting Item Shipping Rates in Square

Square&#8217s shipping features may be frustrating for many retailers. Throughout the initial setup process, the website insists upon choose free delivery or set a set shipping rate for every item inside your store. There aren’t any shipping options according to weight or size.

That&#8217s not saying it&#8217s entirely unworkable. You are able to offer free delivery for those products (just make certain to regulate the cost of the products to pay for the elevated cost), that might attract your buyers, mainly in the chronilogical age of Amazon . com Prime.

Square also enables you to add yet another transportation charge for products. Regrettably, it displays such as this:

Square Online Store: shipping costs display

I recieve that this can be a transparency issue, however i want to just hammers home the concept that you&#8217re having to pay MORE for shipping. I question the number of customers which has driven away, since i would bet it&#8217s a good couple of. It&#8217d be nice if Square just totaled the 2 shipping costs together and presented just one number.

Another factor you&#8217ll see can there be&#8217s no choice for offering multiple shipping speeds/courier options. The best choice is to produce a group of modifiers for just about any other shipping options you would like — such as United states postal service priority or overnight, or UPS ground.

Finishing Orders in Square

Go to your store&#8217s dashboard and also the first factor you&#8217ll see is the listing of pending orders.

Square online store: pending orders

Clearly, our store is empty. Yours shouldn&#8217t be!

You have to mark each order as satisfied by hand to get payment for this. For now, Square supports the funds plus they&#8217ll show up on your statements as &#8220Deferrals Held.&#8221 When you complete an order, they reveal as &#8220Deferrals Released.&#8221

Automatically, Square sets the processing here we are at orders to seven days. You are able to change this yourself by entering your shipping settings. Should you don&#8217t complete an order through the deadline, Square instantly refunds your clients.

Whenever you complete an order, you can add tracking information. However, you are able to&#8217t do that when the order is finished — you&#8217ll need to examine your orders by hand to locate it after which contact the client to supply shipping information. This is a little a disadvantage — but not really a deal breaker. You may also integrate Square with ShipStation to deal with your shipping and order tracking.

With electronic orders, Square instantly generates a confirmation email. Let’s say you sell tickets, that email doubles as a ticket. However, if you sell digital downloads, you&#8217ll need to handle orders fulfillment yourself. That would mean that you give a connect to Dropbox or any other hosting space where individuals can download the files whenever you mark orders as complete.

It&#8217s not really a perfect solution, undoubtedly — it could be great to determine Square give a hosting choice for individuals files. However, I’ll explain that BigCommerce, Ecwid, and Weebly have the ability to greater support for digital downloads.

For in-store pickup products, you can auto-accept all orders, or by hand accept them. That&#8217s entirely your decision, but if you need to by hand accept orders, you must do so inside an hour from it being placed. Square also recommends you receive evidence of ID for choosing at any height-value orders ($250 or even more) along with a signed invoice for orders over $500. That&#8217s a fairly solid practice that may safeguard you against chargebacks.

How you can Increase Your Online Shop

When you begin to market online, don&#8217t forget to benefit from all of the great secondary features Square offers. For instance, Square&#8217s reporting is a terrific way to monitor profits (evaluating online to in-person sales, monitoring which products are most widely used, etc). You may also create custom reports tailored to your demands.

Not just that, but you might like to take a look at all of the integrations Square offers. In case your inventory needs tend to be more complex than Square can hold, take a look at Stitch Labs. You can observe the entire listing of apps here, but don’t forget by using the APIs you may create custom solutions, too.

You are able to&#8217t sell gift certificates online, but marketing them personally and employ them inside your online shop, that is a terrific way to encourage repeat customers. The only real pricing is them themselves and then any processing charges if a person purchases the present card having a charge card.

Square also enables you to setup discounts. You are able to apply these reduced prices for in-person sales only, or create codes for the people to use online, too. That&#8217s helpful if you wish to run holiday sales and have special promotions every so often.

The customer database Square offers (at no additional charge) ties into Square&#8217s e-mail marketing seamlessly. Square&#8217s e-mail marketing service starts at $15/month however it&#8217s a great way to connect with your most loyal customers and achieve to lapsed customers, and you may bring customers out of your emails to your website. If only Square&#8217s loyalty program (also associated with the database and available for the next monthly charge) labored with website purchases too, but provide a little time. That&#8217s something I am certain Square will address eventually.

Lastly, don&#8217t neglect a great social networking strategy. A good presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or perhaps Pinterest will go a lengthy way toward funneling customers to your website, especially coupled with coupons.

Verdict: Is Square Best For You?

If you’re just beginning by helping cover their a web-based store, Square is a superb starter because requires hardly any technical understanding. simple drag interface, you don’t need to ever wreck havoc on code. simple to perform a bulk upload to populate inventory

If you want advanced features, you should use Square to process payments and employ another shopping cart software software and obtain all individuals features. eCommerce rates on componen with many other processors. Really the only method to get substantially lower rates is to buy a free account — but you don&#8217t get free hosting, a totally free URL reely shopping cart software software, not to mention the other value-added goodies Square has packed into its choices (such as the free customer database that integrates seamlessly, or feedback programs, etc.)

To actually get the most from your Square Online Shop, you need to really plan several things out ahead — your shipping options, especially, but additionally your current organization plan and issues for example florida sales tax. Map many of these out before you begin building your store and also you&#8217ll save a lot time and effort. Don&#8217t your investment ease of the majority upload feature, either. It&#8217s only a matter of spreading the word and driving people aimed at your website!

Got questions? Have personal expertise with Square&#8217s Online Shop? Leave your comments below and let’s read your comments!

The publish Beyond Mobile: How Square Will Help You Sell Online made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

Shopify versus. Bigcommerce: Tradeoffs, Comparisons & More

Shopify vs. BigCommerce

Shopify and BigCommerce are two fastest growing and many well-known located ecommerce platforms.

Ecommerce options exist on the spectrum of convenience and control. Both Shopify and BigCommerce are right in the center of the spectrum simply because they bundle all of the technical areas of a web-based store &#8211 hosting, speed, security, inventory, shopping cart software and payment processing &#8211 and bundle it right into a single monthly cost. This contrasts with solutions like WordPress + Woocommerce in which you buy, operate and keep each bit from the store but additionally have true 100% control of your site.

But just like a self-located ecommerce website, Shopify and BigCommerce also bundle in your website in your domain in which you have full charge of product, prices and customer experience. So unlike managing a store on Etsy, eBay or Amazon . com &#8211 you control the build, design and content of the store.

Even if this area of the spectrum has lots of tradeoffs &#8211 services like Shopify and BigCommerce are a great choice for many storeowners. Therefore the question becomes &#8211 Shopify versus. BigCommerce?

I’ve reviewed Shopify here and BigCommerce here. I’ve used both like a customer so that as an advisor to customers of both.

Both are excellent companies by having an excellent product. And like several my other ecommerce and hosting reviews, there’s no such factor being an absolute “best” &#8211 there’s just the best brand out there according to your circumstances, goals and sources.

Here’s how Shopify comes even close to BigCommerce across 6 variables that many customers take a look at &#8211 and what you need to consider with Shopify versus. BigCommerce.

Skip to conclusion here.

Aside &#8211 I built a Buzzfeed style quiz for ecommerce platforms that grades the standards together with your goals. You should check out the quiz here.

Also, a fast disclosure &#8211 I receive referral charges from companies pointed out on this web site. All data and opinions derive from my experience like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.

Cost

Ahh &#8211 cost. It’s both simplest and many complex method to compare two products.

Rapid story on cost is the fact that both Shopify and BigCommerce work on a regular monthly cost structure having a ~2 week free trial offer. They likewise have a really similar “sticker” cost with tiers at ~$29/mo and ~$79/mo or more.

Shopify Pricing for Shopify Review (2016)

BigCommerce Pricing

&nbsp

That stated, their plan structure is simply different enough to create a direct comparison a little difficult.

Aside &#8211 Shopify throws another wrench within the comparison because you can buy Shopify Lite to be used being an inventory &amp order management with no actual website.

If you’re just beginning by helping cover their a fundamental store, you’ll likely save some cash with BigCommerce because (as we’ll see later) &#8211 they include lots of features directly within their setup. They’ve apps and styles &#8211 but both are usually either free or costly.

However, once you begin factoring in apps, styles, charge card rates, and mid-tier features for example HTTPS and cart recovery &#8211 then Shopify is the perfect total value cost for many stores. Shopify includes a more diverse group of apps &amp styles across a variety of cost points and it has some advanced features which are “global” &#8211 for example HTTPS everywhere.

In either case &#8211 cost isn’t the deciding factor for Shopify versus. BigCommerce. Rather, I’d take a look at additional factors.

Customer Care

Customer care is among the most undervalued advantages of choosing a located ecommerce platform.

The entire charge of a self-located ecommerce website is wonderful until it will get hacked and you’re having to pay $$$ to some developer or you are within the WordPress forums wishing someone points you within the right direction.

Both BigCommerce and Shopify have customer care included in their monthly cost. You obtain access to a variety of channels on &#8211 from phone to talk to forums to email tickets.

All customer care is customized since both operate on proprietary platforms.

At register &#8211 both of them come with an “onboarding” sequence along with a consultant to assist with any issues.

BigCommerce Onboarding Email

I’ve had good encounters with and you will find a few variations that I’ve observed &#8211

  • BigCommerce has more thorough and instructive DIY education. They’ve videos and screenshots for small changes around the Dashboard whereas Shopify may have text instructions.
  • BigCommerce results in as increasing numbers of beginner-friendly.
  • Shopify has more thorough and instructive content on running your general business. They invest considerable time and sources in situation studies, lengthy-form guides, tutorials, and helping your company succeed beyond just applying a brand new feature.
  • Shopify also offers a far more well-developed network of third party developers and marketers who focus on Shopify. They’re also known as “Shopify Experts.” It isn’t effortlessly, but it’s a much better beginning point for advanced help than the usual Google or UpWork search.

Overall, I’d state that beginners will probably find BigCommerce’s support system to become less daunting. However a growing store will probably find Shopify’s support system to become handier.

Customer Focus

Shopify and BigCommerce both serve companies that vary from really small retailers selling niche products to multi-billion dollar brands. Have enterprise plans (I authored about Shopify Plus here) plus they have customer care teams educated to help absolute beginners.

That stated &#8211 there’s a significant difference between your companies when it comes to sources and mission. Shopify did an Dpo in 2015 to be a perfectly-funded public company. Their platform should serve all retail companies both on and offline.

Shopify runs their very own payment processing service as well as has their very own Point-of-Purchase (POS) system to ensure that small offline retailers sell offline an internet-based from inside exactly the same system. These were the first one to unveil “buyable buttons” on Pinterest and Facebook to ensure that retailers could sell inventory directly anywhere online &#8211 not only from customers who examined through the merchant’s website.

Shopify’s backend (which I’ll cover within the next section) reflects this focus. These products / orders / customers / inventory area is outside of the “website” area. The concept is your website is just one of numerous sales channels. You are able to certainly run your site as the only sales funnel in Shopify &#8211 however the choices to sell elsewhere happen to be built-in.

BigCommerce’s focus appears to become 100% on online-only storeowners. That’s not necessarily a bad or perhaps a good factor &#8211 it’s only a choice. Their backend and terminology is centered on the storeowner that has an ecommerce website&#8230and that’s the main focus. BigCommerce has lots of integrations with eBay, Facebook, etc &#8211 but they’re still treated being an extension from the website.

BigCommerce’s big business development deal was with Alibaba. It’s focused particularly on helping ecommerce proprietors and dropshippers build out inventory to market online better.

Both BigCommerce and Shopify are fantastic platforms for novices to enterprise. However, Shopify’s focus is on helping everybody sell everywhere. BigCommerce’s focus helps online storeowners sell better.

User-ambiance &amp Onboarding

Associated with Customer Focus would be the problems with user-ambiance and “onboarding” (ie, obtaining a new customer for an active storeowner).

Both BigCommerce and Shopify have excellent onboarding processes and user-friendly management areas. Here’s a relevant video tour of every backend &#8211

The primary difference is when each backend is structured. BigCommerce includes a single Dashboard in which you manage everything &#8211 your product or service, inventory, websites, settings, billing, etc.

Shopify breaks out products/customers/orders as well as your website into separate areas. Furthermore, Shopify has their very own lingo.

For instance, rather of “product categories” &#8211 Shopify has “Collections.” Rather of a &#8220website&#8221 &#8211 Shopify has &#8220Online Store&#8221 that is among your &#8220Sales Channels.&#8221

To have an absolute beginner, it requires a couple of more minutes to determine Shopify’s lingo and structure when compared with BigCommerce. That stated, once Shopify’s lingo clicks, it will provide a little more versatility for daily operations. Shopify’s inventory setup, their product filtering and template editor are faster and much more versatile &#8211 when you figure them out.

For those who have never operate a website before and just possess a promising small to mid-size product collection, then BigCommerce will probably be preferable than Shopify.

If you would like more lengthy-term versatility, you’ll likely appreciate Shopify’s system more when you tackle the training curve.

Method of Features

Both Shopify and BigCommerce have the majority of the tools (marketing, Search engine optimization, inventory, order, etc) a web-based store will have to be effective. They differ though in the way the each approach adding additional features.

Shopify takes the “platform” approach. They’ve essential features that storeowners will require built-in. However for features that does not all storeowners need &#8211 they concentrate on ensuring storeowners can also add feature extensions for their store when needed. There is a large and active Application Store that does not has only well-known extensions (ie, MailChimp) but additionally lots of indie apps for each situation (ie, apps for worldwide tax and shipping features).

Shopify’s template editing language, Liquid, also enables developers to include features straight to an outlet if required.

BigCommerce comes with an Application Store for extensions too. However, BigCommerce includes a bigger concentrate on building plenty of features straight into their software to ensure that there’s you don’t need to add extra time.

For instance, take selling on eBay or importing your eBay listings for your store. Both Shopify and BigCommerce could make these functions happen.

BigCommerce builds the feature to their backend. Should you not require the feature, it adds some clutter and technically enables you to “pay” for something aren’t using. However if you simply require it, it’s already there also it simply works.

Shopify doesn’t have it built-in. However, they are doing come with an application extension (produced by Shopify, readily available for free) that you could supplment your store if you are an eBay seller.

Another example is bulk 301 Redirects. Both Shopify and BigCommerce have 301 redirect functionality built-in &#8211 and it is ideal for most storeowners.

However, some will have to upload a spreadsheet’s price of a large number of redirects. BigCommerce has bulk upload built-all the while Shopify users need to install an application to consider proper care of it.

Bigcommerce Advanced Settings

That stated &#8211 the switch side from the platform/built-in tradeoff is when BigCommerce doesn’t have an element built-in &#8211 they’re unlikely with an application to supply the functionality whatsoever.

For instance, if you’re applying individuals bulk 301 redirects and wish to monitor 404 errors to find out if you missed any URLs &#8211 Shopify’s application will require proper care of that however, you won’t have the ability to it whatsoever in BigCommerce.

It’s exactly the same situation for drag editing, membership shopping and lots of other advanced features. Most storeowners don’t needOrwould like them. However if you simply do, you are more inclined to have it in certain form or fashion in Shopify than BigCommerce.

Shopify Apps

Overall, for those who have fairly core ecommerce needs and just want something to exist and also to work &#8211 then BigCommerce will probably are more effective.

If you would like more versatility (without going the self-hosting route), then you’ll convey more use of features with Shopify.

Aside &#8211 for this reason I suggest carrying out a 2 week free trial offer with BigCommerce and Shopify simply to click around and discover for yourself.

Method of Design

Both Shopify and BigCommerce make use of a system of styles / templates for design. You decide on basics theme after which edit it to appear as you desire.

As the finish result is identical, they are doing have a slightly different approach.

Shopify includes a well-developed “Theme Store” which, similar to their Application Store, has many free and premium styles produced by companies, individuals, and Shopify.

Shopify Themes

Shopify’s backend enables you to definitely make changes towards the theme. Most styles possess a hybrid method of editing. Small customizations (colors, logos, etc) require only a click while bigger changes (layout, widgets, etc) require editing Shopify’s custom Liquid language. Knowing some HTML/CSS, then it isn’t ideal since you need to learn yet another method of making changes.

BigCommerce includes a Theme Store that’s quickly growing. They’ve just added a brand new batch of new styles. However, still it lacks the variety of Shopify. Their cost points for premium styles are often greater too. That stated, BigCommerce theme editing options include both selecting small customizations and editing the HTML/CSS. It’s a far more straightforward editor that you will get with Shopify.

Bigcommerce Design Editing Options

&nbsp

Overall, I believe most storeowners will discover more versatility with Shopify’s method of design. However, if you wish to edit HTML/CSS directly without learning a brand new language and/or wish to download template designs (instead of your development store) &#8211 then you’ll like BigCommerce better.

Shopify versus. BigCommerce Conclusion &amp Next Steps

So Shopify versus. BigCommerce &#8211 who is the perfect fit for who? For those who have time &#8211 I’d really recommend carrying out a free trial offer (no charge card needed) with and merely clicking around.

Obtain a free 15-day free trial offer with BigCommerce here.

Obtain a free 14-day free trial offer with Shopify here.

Personally, i such as the versatility and options of Shopify. They’re likely a much better fit for many online storeowners. Take a look at Shopify here &amp my Shopify Review here.

However, if you are a online-only store and wish a less complicated experience, you’ll prosper with BigCommerce. Take a look at BigCommerce here &amp my BigCommerce Review here.

If you’re undecided &#8211 then take my Ecommerce Platform Quiz here. It will require your requirements and let you know who is the greatest option for your web store.

The publish Shopify versus. Bigcommerce: Tradeoffs, Comparisons &#038 More made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

“”

The Top 7 Things to Look for in a Merchant Account

online transaction

While credit cards have existed in one form or another in the United States for almost a century, it’s only been during the last few decades that their use has become commonplace. It wasn’t all that long ago that most people made just about every purchase with either cash or a personal check. Today, most consumers have a variety of credit and debit cards, and prefer to use them instead of cash whenever possible. As a business owner, it’s more important than ever that you have the ability to accept credit cards, whether you’re running a traditional retail store or selling items online. Simply put, credit card acceptance translates directly into more sales and, hopefully, more profits.

Unfortunately, accepting credit cards is anything but free. Credit card associations, issuing banks, and transaction processors will all get a cut of every credit card transaction you accept. Obviously, you’ll want to minimize the cost per transaction as much as possible, but there are other factors that are equally important. The processor with the lowest processing rates might not provide the best overall service.

In order to accept credit cards, you’ll need a merchant account. This is simply an account with your credit card processor that you can use to both deposit funds from cleared transactions and also to pay the various fees and per-transaction charges that you will incur. Merchant accounts can also include a variety of associated products and services that you’ll need to run your business, such as credit card terminals, mobile credit card readers, point-of-sale (POS) systems, and more.

Selecting the merchant account provider that’s best for you and your business is not an easy task. Too many merchants fall into the trap of simply looking for the provider with the lowest processing rates. This can turn into an expensive mistake over time, as the credit card processing industry is notorious for tacking on a host of pricey – and often undisclosed – monthly and annual fees for just about every service provided as part of maintaining your merchant account. So, don’t get too focused on processing rates – it’s the overall total cost over time that really counts. This includes processing rates, account fees, and other costs (such as chargebacks) that you might have to deal with.

Not all merchant accounts provide the same level of service. Popular small-business processors such as Square, for instance, don’t actually provide a full-service merchant account. While you’ll still be able to process credit card transactions, you won’t get certain features (i.e., a unique Merchant ID number, PCI compliance services, and robust customer service) that full-service merchant accounts include. The lack of these features often create real problems for merchants, with complaints about frozen or terminated accounts and poor customer service being very common. For a very small business that’s just starting out, this might be a reasonable trade-off in exchange for the money you’ll save over a full-service account. However, once your business grows beyond a certain point, you’ll need to transition to a more stable, full-service account and the security features it provides.

We’ve identified seven different features that you need to look at very carefully in selecting a merchant account provider. They’re all equally important, and you’ll want to examine all of them in evaluating any merchant account provider that you’re thinking of signing up with. While it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to come up with a precise estimate of your overall costs, you should be able to get a pretty good idea by evaluating these seven features.

1. Hardware that meets the unique needs of your business

No matter what kind of business you run, you’ll need equipment to process your sales. Even a purely eCommerce venture is still going to need some hardware – even if it’s just your own personal laptop. For most other businesses, however, your hardware needs will be more extensive. Basically, you’re going to need some type of equipment to read your customer’s credit card information and send it to your processor for (hopefully) approval.

Options for reading credit cards are a lot more robust today than they were just a few years ago. In addition to the traditional wired credit card terminals commonly seen in retail establishments, there are now numerous wireless terminals and mobile processing systems that combine a smartphone with a very basic credit card reader to offer the same capabilities as a dedicated terminal.

Wired credit card terminals are still the most commonly-used card readers out there, and they offer a number of distinct advantages. Perhaps most importantly, they’re simply more reliable. You don’t have to worry about your wireless internet connection suddenly going down and leaving you unable to process a sale. Wired terminals are also generally better at supporting newer features such as EMV credit cards and contactless payments using near-field communications (NFC), such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, and others.

Today, wired terminals are more affordable than ever, and we highly recommend that you buy your own terminals outright rather than leasing them from your merchant account provider. Unfortunately, the credit card processing industry figured out a long time ago that they could make a lot of money by leasing terminals to their merchants rather than selling them directly. Here’s how the scam works: You sign up for a traditional merchant account, with comes with a three-year contract. You need terminals to actually process your customer’s cards, so you lease them from your merchant account provider. What you don’t realize (and your sales agent usually won’t tell you) is that the lease agreement for the terminals is actually with a separate company – and it’s for four years, not three. Not only that, but your terminal lease is non-cancellable, meaning that you’ll still have to pay for all of the remaining months on your lease if you try to cancel early. Even if you close your account and send the terminals back, many companies will still charge you for every remaining month of your lease. The end result? You’ll wind up paying literally thousands of dollars for a piece of equipment that you can buy outright today for as little as $100.00.

Some companies will even try to tell you that it’s more cost-effective to lease your terminals rather than buy them. Don’t believe it! In almost all cases, this is simply not true. If you read the terms of your leasing agreement and most importantly, do the math, it should be pretty obvious that, in most cases, those “low” monthly leasing fees and associated charges will add up to far more money out of your pocket than simply buying your own equipment. One possible exception to this general rule is if your business needs a large number of terminals, but you don’t have the capital available to buy them all at once. Given that businesses large enough to need a lot of terminals generally aren’t short on capital, this is a pretty unlikely scenario.

Another very unique exception is if you sign up with CDGcommerce, one of our favorite processors. Rather than lock you into an expensive, four-year contract, CDG provides their terminals in exchange for a $79.00 per year insurance fee. This works out to about $6.59 per month, far less than what most other processors will charge you in leasing fees. This fee also includes any necessary re-programming and software updates, plus you can also exchange your terminal for a newer model. It’s the one exception we’ve found where you’ll get a good deal by “renting” your terminals from your merchant account provider.

When shopping around for terminals, there’s one last thing to bear in mind. With the advent of EMV terminals in the US in 2015, there are a lot of older, magstripe-only terminals still out there. Not only are these terminals essentially obsolete, they’re also potential liability traps with the EMV liability shift that occurred on October 1, 2015. Many of the true bottom-feeders in the processing industry are still trying to push these terminals onto unsuspecting merchants. Sometimes they’re advertised as being “free” (they’re really not), and other times they come with a traditional lease. Now that it’s 2016, there is simply no reason whatsoever to buy or lease a non-EMV-compliant terminal. Yes, some customers will still have magstripe-only credit or debit cards, and this will be true for some time. Nonetheless, since almost all currently available EMV-compliant terminals also include a magstripe reader, you should never accept a terminal that doesn’t include both capabilities.

In addition to EMV, you’ll also want a terminal that supports contactless payments through near-field communications (NFC). NFC-based payment systems allow customers to leave their wallets behind and use their smartphone to make a payment. Apple Watch and Android Wear users can also use the technology to make payments with their smartwatches. Currently, the world of NFC-based payments is very splintered, with Apple Pay only working on Apple devices, Android Pay only working on Android devices, and Samsung Pay being proprietary to Samsung’s Android-based smartphones. Despite the confusing choices out there, NFC payments are currently the most secure form of payment that’s available. Read more about it here.

Wireless terminals are also available, and while they’re not necessary for a traditional retail establishment, they can be very useful for any type of business where you have to go to the customer, rather than having the customer come to you. Plumbers, electricians, and others in similar trades will find them essential. If you’re in a business that needs a wireless terminal, realize that 1) the terminal itself will be more expensive than a wired terminal, and 2) wireless terminals also require a wireless data plan (typically about $20.00 per month). Depending on your needs, it might make sense to go with a mobile processing solution, such as Square, as a lower-cost alternative.

Mobile processing itself is a capability that didn’t even exist just a few years ago. Square, launched in 2009, was the first company to combine a smartphone with a plug-in credit card reader, allowing merchants to process credit card transactions anywhere they had cell phone or Wi-Fi coverage. Today, Square has a lot of competitors and many traditional processing companies are trying to get in on the action by offering their own apps and card readers. Unfortunately, none of them offer anywhere near the robust capabilities that Square offers, and many of them are actually more expensive. Square itself is certainly not perfect – complaints about frozen accounts and poor-to-nonexistent customer service are all too common. Nonetheless, it’s a respectable alternative for very small businesses, startups, and seasonal sellers who neither need nor want a full-service merchant account. It’s also a very economical way to add mobile processing to your existing merchant account.

Point-of-sale (POS) systems are also very popular with merchants today, combining transaction processing with database capabilities that allow you to track not only sales, but also inventory, customer relations, employee performance, and numerous other metrics. Modern POS systems truly bring “big data” concepts to small and not-so-small businesses. Again, your merchant account provider will usually have a POS solution that they’ll want to sell to you. Whether you truly need (or can afford) their “solution” is another matter. While a modern POS system is ultimately a software solution, the hardware required to input and display the data involved can vary from a dedicated terminal (such as Clover) to a tablet-based system that runs on your iPad or Android tablet. For most small businesses, we recommend a cloud-based POS solution rather than a far more expensive dedicated terminal. See our Best Small Business POS article for more specific recommendations.

2. Software to keep track of your business and help it grow

The days of tracking your sales in a paper ledger and collecting a shoebox full of sales receipts are, thankfully, long gone. Today’s merchant accounts harness the power of the internet to track and store your account data digitally. Cloud-based systems make that data available just about anywhere, on any internet-connected device. Physical and eCommerce businesses alike will need the appropriate software to take advantage of these capabilities.

If your business operates out of a physical location and you don’t make any sales online, your needs will be pretty simple. One useful product to consider is a virtual terminal. This is simply a software program or web service that allows you to process credit card transactions on your computer using a USB card swiper. While it won’t be quite as mobile as using Square, it will still allow you to process card-present transactions and access your sales data.

eCommerce merchants will have more extensive needs in order to run their virtual businesses. For online sales, you’ll have to have a payment gateway as part of your merchant account. Payment gateways connect customers wanting to make a payment with the bank or merchant account provider that processes the transaction. Most merchant account providers in business today will offer a payment gateway as part of their services, usually through Authorize.net. One of our highest-rated providers, CDGcommerce, will offer you either their own proprietary Quantum gateway or one through Authorize.net – for free. Most other providers, however, charge a monthly fee for payment gateways.

For eCommerce merchants, an online shopping cart that allows customers to select items and place orders is also essential. Shopping carts integrate directly into your website rather than functioning as a stand-alone feature. Shopify, one of our favorites, is perhaps the most well-known online shopping cart. For a good overview of the best shopping carts available, check out our Shopping Cart Comparison chart.

3. Reasonable, transparent fees

Merchant accounts don’t come cheap. In addition to the processing rates you’ll have to pay on each transaction, your merchant account provider will also charge you a bewildering variety of one-time, monthly, and annual fees for the privilege of maintaining your account. For a small or recently-launched business, these fees can quickly eat up your profits and threaten the growth of your business.

Just as there’s no such thing as a free lunch, you’re also never going to find a free merchant account. Merchant account providers have to make a profit in order to stay in business, and they have to charge reasonable fees in order to do so. Traditionally, merchant account providers have relied on tacking a lot of nickel-and-dime fees onto your bill to compensate for the low processing rates they offer to entice you into signing up with them. These fees allow a processor to make money from a merchant account regardless of your monthly processing volume. In fact, they often still make money even if you’re not processing any transactions at all. Fortunately, a number of newer, more technology-focused merchant account providers are disrupting this old business model by offering accounts with low, fully-disclosed fees. It’s no coincidence that many of our highest-rated providers fall into this category.

In evaluating any merchant account provider, you’ll want to look for a fee structure that is both reasonable and transparent. Fees that are in line with the industry average aren’t necessarily reasonable, as there are still a lot of “junk” fees out there. For our purposes, a reasonable fee is one where the account provider actually provides a valuable service in exchange for that fee, and the fee is reasonably related to the value of that service. Fees should also be transparent, or fully disclosed before you sign up for an account. While all of our favorite providers fully disclose their fees right on their websites, most traditional processors do not. Instead, they’re buried in pages of fine print and often not disclosed by sales agents.

So, what kinds of fees might you be charged? Here’s a brief overview of common fees associated with merchant accounts:

Account setup or application fees: While they’re gradually becoming less common, some merchant account providers will charge you a hefty, one-time fee for setting up your account. We consider this a junk fee because it only requires a few minutes of an agent’s time to set up your account, and both the agent and the account provider stand to make money off of you, not the other way around. Usually running around $150 (!), a setup or application fee is a clear red flag that you should avoid doing business with that account provider.

Monthly or annual account fees: Almost all providers – good and bad alike – charge some sort of fee to maintain your account. This might be billed monthly, or charged as an annual fee. Either way, it’s something of a catch-all charge to cover all the things your account provider isn’t charging you for directly. This can include things like PCI compliance scans, “free” credit card terminals, “free” virtual terminals, and other services that come with your merchant account. What constitutes a reasonable account fee will depend on how many services come with your account and whether or not you actually need them.

Monthly minimums: Not a fee in itself, a monthly minimum is a requirement that your business process a sufficient total amount in transactions to incur at least a specified amount (typically $25.00) in processing charges. As a hypothetical example, if all of your transactions were charged a flat 2.0% processing rate, you’d have to process $1,250.00 in total sales in order to meet the $25.00 minimum. You only have to pay if you fail to meet the minimum, and even then you only pay the difference between your actual processing charges and the amount specified as the monthly minimum. While they’re won’t affect a large, established business, they function as a penalty for very small, part-time, and seasonal businesses. If you fall into that category, you’ll want to avoid any provider that includes a monthly minimum in their contracts.

PCI compliance fees: Your merchant account must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) security standards. This protects both you and your customers who, after all, are entrusting you with their credit card information. Since an in-depth discussion of PCI compliance is beyond the scope of this article, you’ll want to read this post for a good overview of the subject.

PCI-related fees come in two flavors: 1) PCI compliance fees, which are fees for services that your processor provides in order to ensure that your account remains PCI compliant, and 2) PCI non-compliance fees, which are effectively penalties for not being PCI compliant. See our article on the subject for more in-depth information. PCI compliance fees are a reasonable cost of doing business as long as a) your provider is actually doing PCI scans and taking other steps to protect your account and your customers’ data, and b) the fee is reasonable ($99.00 per year is the current industry average). On the other hand, you should never have to pay PCI non-compliance fees. If your provider can’t keep you compliant, find another provider. Also note that some of the newer providers do not charge a discreet PCI compliance fee. In most cases, you’re still paying for this as part of your monthly or annual account fee.

Statement fees and other “junk” fees: Traditional merchant account providers are notorious for adding any number of miscellaneous fees to your monthly bill, often with little or no actual service provided to you in exchange. While most of these fees are pretty minor and won’t add much to your costs, things like statement fees can add up quickly. Although the processing industry is slowly phasing out the statement fee, there are still plenty of companies that continue to charge it. Statement fees are usually around $8.00 per month. Think about that for a minute. That’s an extra $96.00 per year – just for them to send your statement to you every month. Considering that your statement is automatically generated by software and most companies today send your statement via email, it’s a complete rip-off.

Early termination fees: Most of the traditional merchant account providers in the industry will sign you up for a long-term contract (typically three years), and will charge you an early termination fee (ETF) if you try to close your account early – for any reason. ETFs are expensive (typically around $495.00) and are designed to discourage you from switching your account to a different processor. None of our favorite processors charge an ETF, allowing you to maintain your account on a month-to-month basis with no penalty for closing it.

Chargebacks: Any time your processor has to reverse a charge and issue a credit, you’ll be hit with a chargeback. Chargebacks can occur due to technical errors, returned merchandise, or actual fraud. Even though you as the merchant probably haven’t done anything wrong, most processors will still charge you a chargeback fee (typically about $20.00) to investigation what happened and issue a refund. For more information, see our article on avoiding chargebacks.

4. Fair, understandable processing rates

The processing rate is simply the total percentage of a transaction that you’ll have to pay to your merchant account provider in exchange for their processing the transaction. Processing rates can be very complicated and confusing, especially since the processor only keeps a portion of whatever they charge you. Fees (called the interchange) have to be paid to the credit card association (i.e., Visa, MasterCard, etc.) and also to the bank that issued the card, with the remainder going to the processor. Companies have devised several different pricing models to pass these costs onto you, including the following:

Interchange-plus pricing: Like its name, this pricing model consists of an “interchange” and a “plus.” As we’ve noted, the interchange is paid to the issuing bank and also the credit card association. The “plus” is simply the amount that your processor actually keeps from each transaction. Interchange-plus rate quotes are often expressed as “interchange + X %,” with the X % being the “plus.” Some processors also charge a fixed per-transaction fee (typically $0.10 to $0.25) as part of the “plus.” Because you can easily see exactly how much your processor is keeping from each transaction, it’s considered the most fair and transparent pricing model. It’s also usually less expensive overall than tiered or flat rate pricing.

Tiered pricing: This pricing model consolidates dozens of different processing rates into three tiers: qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified transactions. Which tier a transaction will fall into depends on a number of variables, such as whether the card was swiped or manually entered, what the items purchased were, when the transaction was actually sent to the processor, and many others. Companies offering tiered pricing often only advertise their qualified rates, with phrases like “rates as low as…” In reality, most transactions will fall into the mid-qualified or non-qualified categories, where the rates are almost always much higher.

Flat-rate pricing: eCommerce-focused companies such as Square and PayPal offer flat-rate pricing as an alternative to traditional pricing models. Each transaction is charged a flat percentage rate, and often a fixed per-transaction fee as well. Rates are simple, easy to understand, and fully disclosed right on the companies’ websites. Flat rates are usually higher than what you’ll get with interchange-plus pricing, but companies that offer them also charge you a lot less in monthly and annual fees.

Which pricing model is right for you is going to depend on a number of factors, with your monthly processing volume being one of the most important ones. For small or newly-established businesses with a low processing volume, flat-rate pricing is more economical because you’ll avoid most of the nickel-and-dime fees that make maintaining a traditional merchant account so expensive. On the other hand, a larger business that isn’t as concerned about fees will save money with interchange-plus pricing. For more information about processing rates, please see our Complete Guide to Credit Card Processing Rates and Fees.

5. Honest, non-misleading marketing and advertising

“My sales agent lied to me!” It’s an all-too-common complaint we see from merchants who’ve signed up with a traditional merchant account provider – and it’s often true. Rather than hiring and properly training a staff of professional, in-house sales agents, many companies rely on independent sales agents who are only paid on a commission basis. With practically no educational or experience requirements, just about anyone can become an agent. Combine this with generally inadequate training and intense pressure to close a deal, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Independent agents have a bad reputation for failing to disclose some of the more onerous terms of the contracts they’re selling, especially early termination fees. Yes, there are some naturally talented independent agents who have done well and can provide you with quality service. However, the odds are against it. We recommend that you stick with companies that have their own dedicated, in-house sales staff. Some of the best companies will even assign you a dedicated account representative, which is about as good as it gets.

Online advertising has now become the single most important way to market any business, including merchant account providers. A website can tell you a lot about a company, both good and bad. Unfortunately, most merchant account providers have very poor websites. Filled with misleading advertising gimmicks and lacking any sort of educational information, they frequently tease you with claims of low processing rates, while failing to disclose any of the actual rates or fees you’ll be paying. You’ll know that you’re dealing with a good, ethical company if their website includes some (or all) of the following features:

  • Full disclosure of processing rates and all monthly and annual account fees
  • Educational articles that discuss the details of credit card processing
  • A detailed knowledge base for customer self-service
  • Clear options for contacting customer service (telephone, email, and chat)
  • No misleading low rate claims or “lowest rate guarantee” gimmicks
  • Positive testimonials from actual merchants, including full personal and business names

6. Month-to-month contracts

The credit card processing industry has an absolutely horrible (and well-deserved) reputation when it comes to contracts. Signing up for a merchant account typically locks you into a long-term contract, usually for three years. If that wasn’t bad enough, most contracts also include an automatic renewal clause that will extend your contract for an additional year if you don’t take very specific steps to cancel it ahead of time. Most processors will also include an early termination fee in your contract, which serves as a penalty (typically around $495.00) for terminating your contract early. Some of the worst processors will even include a liquidated damages clause in their contracts, which could potentially cost you even more money if you try to get out of your contract.

Naturally, these one-sided contract provisions have generated a huge number of complaints from merchants over the years. Fortunately, the industry is responding in a positive way, albeit very slowly. Most of our highest-rated processors will allow you to sign up for an account on a month-to-month basis. There’s no long-term contract, no early termination fee, and no liquidated damages clause. Given a choice between the two, there’s simply no reason whatsoever to sign up for anything other than a month-to-month account.

7. High-quality customer service and support

Service after the sale is just as important for merchant accounts as it is for anything else – maybe more so. Things can and will go wrong. Credit card terminals will suddenly stop working on a busy day. Mysterious, unexplained charges will show up on your statement. Chargebacks will occur, despite your best efforts to prevent them. For all of these and many other possible issues, you’ll want solid customer service and support from your merchant account provider.

For minor issues, self-service should always be an option. Good providers maintain extensive FAQs and knowledge bases on their websites, allowing you to fix a problem on your own. This is particularly handy during non-business hours.

Most processors (even the bad ones) offer support via telephone or email. Chat support through the company’s website is also becoming more common. Telephone support that’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year is ideal. Realize that many companies offering 24/7 telephone support outsource that function, so you might end up talking to someone who may or may not be able to resolve your problem. Some companies will assign you a dedicated account representative, which is about the most personalized support you can hope for.

Final Thoughts

It’s 2016, and it seems like today just about everyone’s an entrepreneur in one way or another. More people are opening their own businesses than ever before, either as a side gig or a full-time occupation. The advent of eCommerce and low-cost processing options like Square make it easier than ever to start up a business. Whether you’re taking the plunge for the first time or you have many years of experience running a business, selecting the best possible merchant account provider is a critically important decision that can have a real impact on how well your business does.

If you’re just starting out, or your business is never going to be anything more than a side gig, you might not need a full-service merchant account. Low-cost providers such as Square will allow you to process credit cards without having to pay for many of the bells and whistles that come with a true merchant account. At the same time, you won’t have a unique merchant ID number for your account, increasing your risk for account freezes and terminations. Square also doesn’t provide much in the way of customer service, although they are getting better. Larger businesses will definitely need a full-service merchant account for the security features and robust customer service that come with it.

What if your business falls in the high risk category? If you’re a high-risk merchant, your options are more limited and you might not be approved for an account by some of our top-rated processors. Many of the processors that will give you an account will charge you higher rates and fees than the industry average. For a good processor that specializes in high-risk merchants and offers fairly-priced accounts, we recommend Durango Merchant Services.

Despite all the unscrupulous practices in the processing industry, there are some good companies out there that offer high-quality service at a fair, reasonable cost. For a side-by-side comparison of our top-rated processors, see our Merchant Account Comparison Chart. For a more detailed look at the features and benefits of each company, check out this article.

The post The Top 7 Things to Look for in a Merchant Account appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

The Very Best Retail Charge Card Processing Companies

Retail credit card processorRegardless of the growing recognition of eCommerce, retail companies are alive and well within the Twenty-first Century. Customers still need look for groceries, visit a cafe or restaurant for supper, and place their vehicle for their auto technician to achieve the oil altered. For almost any brick-and-mortar business in which the customer comes, you’ll need so that you can accept charge cards as a kind of payment. Payment by debit or credit card is becoming more and more popular in the last 2 decades – enough where it’s somewhat unusual to determine a person pay with cash or perhaps a personal check any longer.

Accepting charge cards means getting to obtain a credit card merchant account. Regrettably, the credit card merchant account provider industry includes a well-deserved status for top charges, lengthy-term contracts, and poor service following the purchase. They’re also well-noted for hiding individuals costly charges deep in the small print of the contracts, and employing shady sales representatives who put tremendous pressure on retailers to enroll in a free account, while easily neglecting to disclose the real price of the accounts they’re selling.

It doesn’t need to be by doing this. When a business will get a poor status such as this, it reveals an chance for fair, ethical companies in the future in and disrupt that industry by providing a much better value. Surprisingly, there are several excellent companies available who’ll treat you a lot better than the majority of the traditional credit card merchant account providers. We’ve identified six account providers who offer a mix of services and products that are perfect for brick-and-mortar retail companies. These have consistently been rated 5 from 5 stars at Merchant Maverick. No, that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. There’s no such factor like a perfect credit card merchant account provider, due to the fact some information mill more appropriate to various kinds of companies than the others. Nevertheless, you actually can’t fail with the companies profiled below.

The Way We Chose:

There are lots of factors to consider in selecting a free account provider, whether or not you’re within the retail or eCommerce sector (or both). Still, retail companies have specific needs with regards to charge card processing. The most crucial require is in hardware. While an eCommerce merchant may never physically handle a customer’s charge card and may literally run their business from the laptop, a retail business needs a minumum of one charge card terminal. If your company is big enough, you will need several. A place-of-purchase (POS) system may also be very handy, whether it’s a passionate POS device or perhaps a tablet-based system. Mobile payments are another capacity that may be important, with respect to the nature of the business.

We’ve identified the next criteria in evaluating our very best retail credit card merchant account providers. All of the providers the following scored high on all these criteria. Here’s what we should checked out:

  • Hardware. At least, you’re have to a charge card terminal. Some traditional credit card merchant account providers will lock you into an costly, four-year terminal lease, the businesses we chose will either sell a terminal outright or permit you to rent one at reasonable cost. A number of them may even supply you with a free terminal as lengthy while you keep the account open. You’ll would also like a terminal that’s EMV-compliant, and perhaps with NFC capacity too so that you can accept contactless payment methods for example Apple Pay. With respect to the nature and size your company, you might or might not require a POS system or perhaps a mobile payments capacity. Should you choose, all the companies the following may have your back.
  • Sales and advertising. Traditional processors have a tendency to treat their websites exclusively being an advertisement targeted at enticing you into contacting certainly one of their sales representatives. Their sites are full of vague promises about how exactly great their professional services are, however with little if any details about prices. Once they do discuss their processing rates, they frequently make use of a sales gimmick of just quoting the cheapest possible qualified rate, and not mention that much of your transactions is going to be processed in a much greater rate. Account charges are hardly ever disclosed, even though some companies attempt to fool you by only speaking concerning the charges they don’t ask you for, but and not mention the rest of the charges you’ll still need to pay. A great credit card merchant account provider should disclose the expense connected using their services, or at best discuss the variables which go into prices. Fortunately, our top providers have excellent, informative websites that construct at length what you’ll be having to pay.
  • Prices. With any credit card merchant account, prices is available in two groups: rates and charges. Rates make reference to the processing rates you’ll pay to process each transaction. Charges would be the amounts you’ll pay on whether monthly or annual basis a account. While it’s perfectly reasonable to count on paying some charges to maintain your account up-to-date, many processors go overboard with nickel-and-diming retailers for each possible service they offer. In some instances, “junk” charges are billed in which the merchant doesn’t even get any take advantage of the provider (i.e., PCI non-compliance charges). Our online merchant account providers providers offer processing rates that derive from either an interchange-plus prices model or perhaps a subscription plan. The very best providers in the market offer low, reasonable charges. They won’t ask you for for such things as establishing your bank account or supplying a paper statement every month. Additionally they won’t penalize you by having an costly early termination fee should you close your bank account before your contract expires. For any more in-depth take a look at rates and charges, see our Complete Help guide to Charge Card Processing Rates and Charges.
  • Contracts. For several years, the conventional practice within the processing industry is to sign retailers up for any three-year contract, by having an automatic renewal clause that extends anything for further one-year periods. Contracts also incorporated an earlier termination fee, which may be enforced when the merchant closed their account prior to the contract term ended. The result of those provisions was to really make it tough to close your bank account and change to a competing provider without incurring a considerable penalty. Retailers happen to be understandably unhappy with this particular arrangement for several years, and also the market is finally beginning in the future around. Our top retail providers sets you track of per month-to-month contract, and not one of them charges you an earlier termination fee. While you’ll be liberated to close your bank account without penalty anytime, you most likely won’t cash reason to do this unless of course you shut or sell your company.
  • Customer care. This is an additional area where traditional credit card merchant account providers don’t have a very good status. Some providers claim to possess a 24/7 phone line readily available for support, the large amount of merchant complaints regarding customer support shows that it doesn’t always work perfectly. Lengthy waits on hold and the inability to achieve somebody that can really solve an issue are typical complaints. After-hrs support is a whole lot worse, with calls usually being routed for an overseas answering services company staffed by representatives who frequently don’t have the training or authority to resolve an issue. However, you won’t have these complaints with this top providers. These possess a status for supplying top-notch customer care and repair. Unlike most traditional providers, additionally they provide a knowledgebase on their own websites that will help you identify (and perhaps solve) common problems by yourself.

Using these criteria in your mind, here’s a far more in-depth take a look at the most popular credit card merchant account providers for retail companies:

Dharma A Merchant Account

Dharma Merchant Services review

Some credit card merchant account providers stick to fairly conservative, business-like names for his or her companies, Dharma A Merchant Account gets into the alternative direction, adopting a Sanskrit term present in several Eastern religions that roughly means “right lifestyle.” Not only an expensive name, it precisely describes Dharma’s unconventional method of merchant services and charge card processing. Dharma enables you to purchase your equipment outright, and just charges an affordable monthly account fee next. Interchange-plus prices can be used solely, and contracts are month-to-month.

If you simply need a fundamental charge card terminal, Dharma will sell the popular Verifone Vx 520 terminal for $299. This rugged, wired terminal accepts magstripe and EMV cards, in addition to Apple Pay. While you’ll find it for any lower cost online, Dharma’s terminal already comes programmed using the software load to utilize your Dharma credit card merchant account. If you purchase elsewhere, you’ll need to pay a $100.00 reprogramming fee to achieve the software placed on your terminal. Dharma also provides more fully-featured terminals, some with wireless capacity. If you may gain advantage from the POS system, they have the Clover Small, our favorite POS systems for small companies. Mobile payments will also be supported using Clover Go, which posseses an application and a range of whether plug-in or contactless readers.

Dharma’s rates and charges are pretty straight forward and clearly typed out online. All transactions are processed utilizing an interchange-plus prices model, with card-present transactions being billed interchange + .25% + $.10 per transaction. A set $10.00 monthly account fee is you’ll purchase a fundamental account. Some features cost extra, like the Clover Go mobile payments service (another $10.00 monthly), along with a wireless terminal data plan ($20.00 monthly). Incidental charges (for example chargebacks and Address Verification Charges) are listed online.

Sounds too good to be real, right? Well, there’s one catch: Dharma is an excellent deal for retailers processing over $10,000 monthly in charge card transactions, but it’s not cost-effective if you’re processing under that. For smaller sized retail companies, Dharma recommends Square as a less expensive alternative.

PROS:

  • Full-range of terminals, POS systems, and mobile payments solutions for retail companies
  • Simple, transparent interchange-plus-only prices
  • No additional charges or lengthy-term contracts
  • Things to look for and support

CONS:

  • And not the best fit for companies processing under $10,000 monthly

To learn more about Dharma, see our complete review here.

CDGcommerce

cdgcommerce-logo

CDGcommerce is yet another excellent option for retail companies. While a number of our favorite providers only have been around for around 10 years approximately, CDG first began up in 1998. Like Dharma, they provide a simple prices structure, with transparent processing rates and minimal charges. With month-to-month contracts and things to look for, they’re a high option for any retail business.

Ordinarily, it is recommended that you purchase your personal terminals instead of leasing them out of your credit card merchant account provider. CDGcommerce may be the exception towards the rule, although the things they offer isn’t a lease. When they don’t ask you for for the terminal, you’ll need to pay $79 per year for terminal insurance. This can be a fraction of the items most terminal leases cost, as well as helps to ensure that your terminals also have the most recent features and software upgrades. If you’d rather purchase your own terminals, they’ll re-program the right results together with your CDGcommerce credit card merchant account for free. Wireless terminals can also be found, but you’ll need to pay yet another $20.00 monthly for that wireless data plan, as well as an extra $.05 per transaction in processing charges.

CDG also provides POS and mobile payment solutions. Their Harbortouch Echo using the CDG POS+ application is really a fully-featured POS system that’s a great option for retail retailers who require some thing effective than the usual simple charge card readers. It may be rented for $49.00 monthly, as well as the $79.00 each year equipment insurance fee. For mobile payments, CDG provides the ProcessNow smartphone application along with a free plug-in card readers. While there’s no additional fee with this service, the present card readers is magstripe-only.

Like Dharma, CDG only charges $10.00 monthly for any fundamental credit card merchant account. That’s it. There aren’t any PCI compliance charges, no annual charges, no monthly minimums, etc. They don’t even charge for Address Verification. If you would like, you may also add some optional cdg360 security package. This particular service provides you with $100,000 in data breach/thievery protection, PCI-DSS vulnerability scans, customized security alerts, along with a couple of additional features. It’s a great investment.

CDG offers interchange-plus prices solely. Retail and mobile payments are billed at interchange + .25% + $.10 per transaction. If you’re a non-profit, you’ll obtain a .05% discount.

CDGcommerce provides things to look for and support via telephone, email, and live chat. When they don’t receive complaints very frequently, they’re the only real company we’ve seen in which the Chief executive officer has personally responded and provided to correct the issue.

PROS:

  • Affordable terminal and POS equipment rentals
  • Exclusive interchange-plus prices
  • Month-to-month billing without any lengthy-term contracts or early termination charges
  • Things to look for

CONS:

  • Mobile card readers doesn’t support EMV or NFC payments
  • Only accessible to all of us-based retailers

For any more in depth take a look at CDGcommerce, make sure to take a look at our full review.

Fattmerchant

fattmerchant-logo

Fattmerchant is really a newcomer towards the credit card merchant account industry, beginning in 2014. Concentrating on transparency minimizing costs for retailers, the organization offers several subscription-based prices plans. Under diets, you’ll pay a greater fee every month, however, you won’t pay any markup percentage in your processing costs. Having a sufficient processing volume, this may lead to significant savings in immediate and ongoing expenses over traditional interchange-plus prices plans. Your monthly subscription fee also covers such things as PCI compliance, eliminating the majority of the additional charges that traditional processors like to increase your bill.

With Fattmerchant, you’re encouraged to purchase your own terminals, and they’ll re-program the right results using their services free of charge. Additionally they offer EMV-compliant terminals and POS systems with a few of their prices plans. For mobile payments, Fattmerchant uses Vantiv’s mobile application and card readers. Regrettably, the credit card readers doesn’t have EMV capacity yet.

Fattmerchant offers a range of three subscription-based prices plans. Monthly pricing is $69, $79, and $99, correspondingly. Using the $69 plan, you’ll pay interchange + $.25 per transaction in processing charges. The $79 plan lowers your processing rates to interchange + $.15 per transaction. The $99 plan lowers them even more, lower to interchange + $.08 per transaction. As you may have suspected, the majority of your monthly subscription fee would go to since the markup that traditional interchange-plus prices plans charge. In case your processing volume is sufficient, you could lay aside a great deal in processing charges using these plans. However, it’s most likely not cost-effective for low volume or periodic companies. Fattmerchant doesn’t charge PCI compliance charges, batch charges, or statement charges, as all of these are included in your monthly subscription fee.

While Fattmerchant claims there are no contracts, the things they really mean is there are no lengthy-term contracts. Their merchant services are billed month-to-month, and there’s no early termination fee should you close your bank account.

Overall, Fattmerchant provides an intriguing option to traditional merchant services. Their processing minute rates are very low, even though this is somewhat offset through the high monthly subscription costs. You’ll wish to run the figures and compare your present processing costs as to the you’d pay together to find out if their plans seem sensible for the business.

PROS:

  • Subscription-based prices offers really low per-transaction processing costs
  • Month-to-month billing without any lengthy-term contracts or early termination charges
  • Things to look for

CONS:

  • Not cost-effective for low-volume companies
  • Mobile card readers doesn’t support EMV or NFC payments

To learn more, see our complete review here.

Helcim

Helcim review

Helcim has lengthy been the most popular Canadian credit card merchant account provider, plus they provide the same high-quality service and transparent prices to all of us-based retailers. The website (both US and Canadian version) is among the most informative ones we’ve seen associated with a credit card merchant account provider.

The organization provides a full-range of EMV-compliant Ingenico terminals at competitive rates. Terminals are for sale to as little as $199, while wireless and NFC-capable models are more expensive. Helcim encourages US retailers to purchase their terminals outright – something we strongly have confidence in. Because Canadian EMV-compliant terminals are not shipped to become transferred or offered, an inexpensive month-to-month rental option (not really a lease) can be obtained for Canadian retailers. If you have your personal terminal, Helcim will re-program it for you personally free of charge (see a list of compatible terminals here).

Helcim will also support mobile payments through Elavon’s VirtualMerchant Mobile application and also the MagTek aDynamo Universal Card Readers. The application can be obtained for android and ios. You’ll pay $30.00 monthly with this service, however, you obtain the same great interchange-plus rates as other retail users. Helcim estimates that you’ll cut costs over using Square should you process a minimum of $2,500 monthly. The very first card readers is free of charge, and extra readers cost $45.00 each. Regrettably, the MagTek readers is magstripe-only and connects to your smartphone’s headphone jack. There’s no EMV capacity yet. The readers also won’t use the iPhone 7 or a few of the newer Android phones.

Helcim is among the couple of credit card merchant account providers in the market to supply a complete introduction to their charges and rates online. For retail accounts, a set $12.00 monthly is you’ll pay when it comes to recurring charges. If you wish to add mobile payments (or go mobile-only), do it yourself $30.00 monthly. There aren’t any account setup charges, and PCI compliance is incorporated inside your fee every month.

Helcim also uses interchange-plus prices (they refer to it as Cost+) solely. All retail and mobile (i.e., card-present) transactions are processed in the following rate: interchange + .18% + $.08 per transaction. These minute rates are for retailers processing under $50,000 monthly. Above that, volume -based discounts can be found which will take the rates lower even lower.

Additionally to transparent, affordable prices, Helcim offers month-to-month contracts without any early termination fee. They likewise have a status for supplying excellent customer care and repair, as well as their website-based understanding-base is among the best and many thorough that we’ve seen. The organization is a superb option for small and big retail companies alike.

PROS:

  • Terminals readily available for purchase at reasonable prices (no leases)
  • Very economical, transparent fee structure
  • Cost+ processing rates
  • Things to look for and support

CONS:

  • Mobile card readers doesn’t support EMV or NFC payments
  • Mobile prices not cost-effective for companies processing under $2,500 monthly

To learn more, see our complete review here.

Payment Depot

Payment Depot merchant services review

Another newcomer around the charge card processing scene, Payment Depot only has been around since 2013. Like Fattmerchant, they provide an innovative subscription-based prices structure that eliminates the markup normally billed for processing transactions and consolidates all of the extra charges for maintaining a free account right into a simple fee every month.

Payment Depot uses First Data his or her backend processor, an agreement which has its pros and cons. Being able to view the sources and equipment of these a sizable processor without having to be bound by their lengthy-term contracts is really a definite plus. Simultaneously, First Data sometimes restricts which companies may use their professional services, from time to time requiring a free account reserve that Payment Depot can’t enable you to get from.

Payment Depot doesn’t lease any terminals or POS systems. If you have your personal terminal, they’ll reprogram results using their system free of charge. Additionally they will sell the Verifone Vx 520, a rugged and popular terminal that supports EMV and NFC payments. Should you prefer a POS system, they offer a number of First Data’s Clover products, such as the Clover Mobile, Clover Small, and Clover Station POS.

When they don’t provide many details about this online, Payment Depot will also support mobile payments via a partnership with SwipeSimple. The organization has lately announced new Bluetooth-based terminals which are both EMV-compliant as well as support NFC payments. Which should help you stay protected from obsolete equipment for some time!

Payment Depot fully discloses their prices right online, so that you can crunch the figures and find out if they’re best for you. All prices plans are subscription-based, with four tiers available. Monthly subscription charges vary from $29.00 for that Fundamental plan as much as $99.00 for that Premier plan. This single fee includes all of the extras that you simply normally purchase individually, including PCI compliance, IRS reporting, monthly statements, etc. While there aren’t any additional charges, you’ll be billed for per-occurrence products for example chargebacks.

Your fee every month includes the markup that you’d normally pay on the per-transaction basis within traditional interchange-plus prices plan. Thus, Payment Depot’s minute rates are really low and straightforward to know. For that Fundamental membership plan, you’ll pay interchange + $.25 per transaction. The greater tiers offer even lower rates, using the Premiere plan only charging interchange + $.05 per transaction.

This sounds great – which is – but you may still find some limitations. Just the Premiere plan enables an limitless monthly processing volume. Another plans have monthly caps that vary from $20,000 for that Fundamental intend to $100,000 to find the best Value plan. Fortunately, Payment Depot will instantly bump you to the next greatest plan should you review these limits.

Although this is a general good deal for a lot of companies, it’s not for everybody. Payment Depot is presently only accessible within the U . s . States. Also, there is a lengthy listing of prohibited companies that basically repel any company within the high-risk category. Lastly, they often won’t be cost-effective for really small or periodic companies.

PROS:

  • Subscription-based prices offers really low per-transaction processing costs
  • Month-to-month billing without any lengthy-term contracts or early termination charges
  • Provides a substantial discount for annual instead of monthly billing

CONS:

  • Only accessible in america
  • Doesn’t accept high-risk retailers
  • Not cost-effective for really small companies

To learn more, see our complete review here.

Pay Junction

PayJunction-logo-square

Pay Junction has been available since 2000, and they’ve created a great status since that time for low overall prices and ideal service. Their primary claim that they can fame is supplying a paperless means to fix transaction processing, using both an online terminal as well as their proprietary Smart Terminal card readers to transmit customers their receipts via email. For that merchant, this eliminates the requirement for paper copies of receipts, as all transaction information is kept in the cloud.

Pay Junction uses TSYS his or her backend processor, however their terms tend to be better. All contracts are month-to-month, and there’s no early termination fee should you close your bank account.

The center of Pay Junction’s payment product is an exclusive, web-based virtual terminal that connects to some payment gateway to process transactions and track sales. Even though many virtual terminals make use of a simple, magstripe-only card swiper that connects for your computer via USB, Pay Junction utilizes a proprietary Smart Terminal. This terminal can accept magstripe, EMV, and NFC-based payments. It’s even suitable for the Apple Watch. It’s readily available for liberated to qualified companies should you provide two months’ price of processing statements to ensure your processing volume.

Pay Junction utilizes a modified interchange-plus prices system. All charge card transactions are processed at interchange + .75%. There’s no per-transaction markup fee as there’s with many interchange-plus plans. As the .75% is a touch high, the possible lack of a per-transaction fee can lead to substantial savings in case your business processes a higher quantity of sales tickets monthly.

Account charges will also be very simplified. As lengthy as you’re processing over $10,000 monthly, there aren’t any. There’s no monthly account fee, no PCI compliance fee, with no payment gateway fee. For companies processing under $10,000 monthly, there’s a $35 monthly account fee that consolidates the suggestions above charges.

Pay Junction includes a status for things to look for and support, and you will find remarkably couple of complaints against them found on the web. Their service works well with companies that process over $10,000 monthly and just require a single terminal.

PROS:

  • Free terminal for qualified companies
  • Simple, transparent interchange-plus prices
  • No account charges for companies processing over $10,000 monthly
  • Things to look for and support

CONS:

  • Less cost-effective as other options for companies processing under $10,000 monthly
  • No smartphone-based mobile payments option

To learn more, see our complete review here.

Conclusion

Retail companies are available in all sizes and shapes, and each business has their own needs. What works well with a car parts store may not be so great for any book shop. All six from the credit card merchant account providers we’ve profiled here offer far better service than traditional, bank-owned providers.

With all of six in our top providers for retail, you’ll have affordable accessibility charge card terminals and POS systems you have to run your company. You’ll also relish transparent interchange-plus prices (aside from Fattmerchant and Payment Depot, designed to use subscription prices). Account charges are extremely low and clearly typed on each provider’s website. On top of that, contracts are month-to-month without any early termination fee, so you’re liberated to switch providers if you discover a much better deal elsewhere.

The majority of our top retail credit card merchant account providers focus on medium-sized or bigger companies, typically individuals processing over $10,000 monthly. If your company is smaller sized than that, a fundamental account with CDGcommerce continues to be a possible option. With regard to added small or periodic companies, you might like to consider Square like a low-cost alternative. Make sure to read our overview of Square first, though, because there are some definite trade-offs between Square’s aggregated accounts along with a full-service credit card merchant account.

If you’ve had any knowledge about any one of our top credit card merchant account providers for retail, don’t hesitate to leave a remark below. You may also compare the majority of our top processors mind-to-mind using our Credit Card Merchant Account Comparison Chart.

The publish The Very Best Retail Charge Card Processing Companies made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

The Best High-Risk Merchant Account Providers

High Risk rubber stamp on white.

Just about everyone in business these days needs to be able to accept credit cards. Finding a reputable merchant account provider to process those credit card transactions for you can be a pretty daunting challenge for any business, but it’s even harder if you’re a high-risk merchant.

So, what is a high-risk merchant? In the simplest terms, it’s any business that for any reason presents an elevated risk of fraud to the credit card processor. While this is usually due to the nature of the business itself, it can also occur if the business owner has particularly bad credit or the business caters to customers that are deemed to present a higher risk of fraud. Every processor has its own set of criteria for deciding whether a business is classified as high-risk. Thus, a business might be deemed high-risk by one processor, but not by another. Examples of businesses that are normally classified as high-risk include those in the adult entertainment industry, e-cigarette and vape shops, and online gambling sites. Those seem pretty obvious, right? Well, there are also a lot of other categories of high-risk businesses that aren’t so obvious. Bankruptcy attorneys, for example, can be classified as high-risk – a good example of how your customers can put you in the high-risk category even if you have perfect credit yourself. Furniture stores are also sometimes classified as high-risk due to their large average ticket size. For a complete discussion of the high-risk merchant category and a full list of businesses that often fall into it, see our article on the subject.

How does being a high-risk merchant affect getting a merchant account? Quite frankly, it makes it a lot harder and more expensive. Despite the intense competition within the merchant account provider industry, getting approved for a merchant account is never a sure thing. Providers have to balance the risk presented by a merchant applying for an account against the potential profit to be made from the account if it is approved. In most cases, they err on the conservative side of things, meaning high-risk merchants simply aren’t approved for an account.

Other providers will approve you, but you won’t get nearly as good a deal as a non-high-risk merchant would receive. Instead, you’ll pay higher processing rates and account fees, and you’ll usually be stuck with a long-term contract and an early termination fee. In some cases, you might also be required to put up a rolling reserve to get approved.

Merchant account providers that are willing to sign up high-risk merchants fall into two categories. On the one hand, there are the companies that indirectly market to high-risk merchants. Unfortunately, many of these companies are among the bottom-feeders in an industry that already has a reputation for being ethically-challenged. Look out for claims such as “instant approval” or similar gimmicks that suggest they’ll approve any merchant, regardless of their credit history or the nature of their business. Sign up with one of these companies, and you’ll be guaranteed to pay higher rates and fees, be saddled with a long-term contract, and receive virtually no customer support or service after the sale.

On the other hand, there are a handful of companies that we call “high-risk specialists.” These are ethical, honest companies that have a lot of experience working with high-risk merchants and will do their best to get you a decent deal on a merchant account. Below, we’ve profiled five merchant account providers that deliver the best service to high-risk merchants. While there are a handful of other high-risk specialists out there, these are the ones that we feel offer the highest quality service available.

How We Chose:

High-risk merchants have essentially the same needs as everyone else when it comes to finding a merchant account – it’s just harder to find them if you’re in the high-risk category. High-risk retailers are going to want to have access to reliable, up-to-date credit card terminals, as well as possibly POS systems and mobile payments solutions. eCommerce merchants in the high-risk category will need a solid payment gateway, and possibly a virtual terminal to go with it. Integration with online shopping carts is another important feature.

You’ll also want the best pricing plans and contract terms you can get. Here’s where a dose of reality comes in. There are several truly outstanding merchant account providers that we’ve awarded 5-star ratings to, and with good reason. They offer low interchange-plus (or subscription) pricing, month-to-month contracts, and excellent customer service and support. Unfortunately, one of the ways they keep their costs down and can offer such great terms to their merchants is by avoiding the high-risk category altogether. In other words, you won’t get approved for an account with them if they decide that you fall into the high-risk category. Getting approved for a merchant account if you’re considered high-risk involves a few compromises. You won’t get the lowest rates. You will pay more in fees than a non-high-risk-merchant. And you probably won’t get a month-to-month contract (although sometimes you can successfully negotiate one). That said, the high-risk specialists we’ve identified below will usually be able to get you a deal that’s above the industry average, even if it’s not the best of the best.

We’ve identified the following criteria in evaluating our best high-risk merchant account providers. Here’s what we looked at:

  • High-risk specialization. This involves more than just marketing toward the high-risk sector. A true high-risk specialist will have a sales staff (preferably in-house) that’s trained and experienced in dealing with high-risk merchant accounts. Likewise, their customer service representatives will also be trained in working with high-risk accounts.
  • Hardware. Unless you’re running a purely eCommerce business, you’re going to need equipment to process card-present transactions. This could be a standard wired credit card terminal, a wireless terminal, a POS system, or a mobile smartphone-based system with a card reader and an app. Regardless of what type of hardware works best with your business, we highly recommend that you buy your equipment outright rather than leasing it. Standard terminal leases run for four years and are noncancelable, meaning you’ll have to buy out the remaining months of your lease if you close your account. Note that some providers offer a “free” terminal with your account. Be wary of this and read the fine print. While this offer might work out if you only need one terminal, you’ll often end up paying a higher monthly account fee (i.e., the terminal isn’t really free), and you could also be locked into a long-term contract with a hefty early termination fee. Don’t accept a magstripe-only card reader! With the switch to EMV, you’ll need equipment that can process both magstripe and EMV cards. Equipment that can process contactless payments using NFC (such as Apple Pay) is also a good idea as this type of payment method is rapidly gaining in popularity with consumers.
  • eCommerce support. If your business has an online presence, you’ll need a payment gateway to process your sales transactions. You might also want a virtual terminal to go with it, as this will allow you to input card-not-present transactions from any internet-connected device with a web browser. Card readers that connect to your computer via USB or Bluetooth expand the usefulness of a virtual terminal by allowing you to process card-present transactions as well.
  • Sales and advertising. Misleading sales gimmicks and dishonest sales agents are common problems in the merchant account provider industry. While we like to see full disclosure of contract terms, processing rates, and account fees right on a provider’s website, even the best high-risk specialists often fall short in this area. There’s a reason for this. High-risk specialists often work with multiple third-party processors to find one that can accommodate your needs. With each processor setting their own rates and terms, it’s practically impossible to spell out all the details on a website. You’ll want to work closely with your sales representative and negotiate to get the best terms available. Just be aware that as a high-risk merchant you’re not going to get as good a deal as a non-high-risk merchant.
  • Pricing. Costs associated with maintaining a merchant account include both processing rates and account fees. Processing rates are assessed on a per-transaction basis, while account fees are billed monthly or annually. Ordinarily, we recommend an interchange-plus pricing plan for processing rates over a usually more expensive tiered pricing plan. As a high-risk merchant, however, you will have a harder time getting approved for interchange-plus pricing. It’s still worth asking for during the negotiation process, though. Likewise, you can also expect to pay higher fees than a non-high-risk merchant would. For a more detailed look at rates and fees, see our Complete Guide to Credit Card Processing Rates and Fees.
  • Contracts. There has been a trend in recent years within the merchant accounts industry to do away with the standard three-year, automatically renewing contract and allow month-to-month contracts instead. Expensive early termination fees are also gradually being phased out as part of this trend. Unfortunately, as a high-risk merchant you usually won’t be able to participate in this positive development. Providers are more likely to sign you up for the traditional long-term contract. It’s worth asking for when negotiating the terms of your account – just realize that the odds are usually going to be against you.
  • Customer support. This is a challenging area for many merchant account providers, especially when trying to provide 24/7 support by phone or email. Many of the better providers are increasingly putting more self-help resources right on their websites, including tutorials and articles explaining in detail how their service works. This allows merchants to solve some of the simpler problems so that support staff have time to deal with more complex issues. While some providers offer better customer service than others, all of our recommended high-risk processors exceed the industry average in this area.

With these criteria in mind, here’s a more in-depth look at five of our recommended high-risk merchant account providers:

Durango Merchant Services

Durango Merchant Services logo

We’ve listed Durango Merchant Services first for a reason. Of all the merchant account providers who specialize in setting up accounts for high-risk merchants, they’re the best of the best. While they aren’t perfect, they are good enough that we even recommend them for non-high-risk merchants. Founded in 1999 and headquartered (naturally) in Durango, Colorado, they have an excellent reputation for honesty, fair rates, and great customer service and support.

Durango doesn’t try to set you up with expensive leases when it comes to processing equipment. Instead, they offer a variety of terminals for sale right on their website. Options include both wired and wireless models, with some offerings that support NFC payments. They also sell the iPS Mobile Card Terminal, which connects to a smartphone to provide mobile payments capability in conjunction with the iProcess mobile app. If you’re using a virtual terminal, they sell the MagTek DynaMag, a USB-connected magstripe card reader that attaches to your computer. Unfortunately, it’s Windows-only. Durango currently doesn’t offer any POS systems for sale.

Durango supports eCommerce through their proprietary Durango Payment Gateway, which integrates with the numerous processors the company uses and includes support for most of the popular online shopping carts. Durango’s gateway also features an Authorize.Net Emulator, which allows it to interface with any shopping cart that works with Authorize.Net. Pricing for the gateway is not disclosed.

Because Durango works with such a wide variety of third-party processors to set you up with a high-risk merchant account, they don’t list rates or fees on their website. These will vary tremendously depending on which processor they set you up with. While we normally like to see more transparency from merchant account providers, in this case, it’s understandable. Depending on your qualifications, you can expect either an interchange-plus pricing plan or a tiered one. Don’t get too excited about the “rates as low as 1.39%” quote on their website – you’ll probably be paying more than that. Merchant accounts through Durango don’t seem to have standardized fees. Again, these will depend on the terms that your backend processor imposes.

Durango assigns a dedicated account manager to every one of their merchants, which means you’ll be talking to the same person every time you have an issue. While this can sometimes be problematic outside of normal business hours and when your account manager isn’t available, overall it provides a much higher level of service than you’ll get from a random customer service representative.

PROS:

  • Direct sales of processing equipment
  • Reasonable rates and fees based on your business and your backend processor
  • Dedicated account manager for customer service and support

CONS:

  • No support for POS systems
  • USB card reader not compatible with Mac computers

For more information about Durango Merchant Services, see our complete review here.

Payline Data

Payline Data high risk merchant accounts

Another 5-star provider, Payline Data isn’t as exclusively focused on the high-risk sector as Durango Merchant Services. However, they do accept high-risk accounts and advertise this prominently on their website. Founded in 2009 and headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Payline is a relative newcomer to the merchant accounts industry, but they’ve quickly established an excellent reputation for honesty and fair prices. They also provide a full range of products and services to get you started, including terminals, POS systems, and mobile payment solutions. Payline uses Vantiv as their backend processor and partners with them for their iPad-based POS system.

Payline doesn’t offer terminal leases, but they will sell you a terminal or re-program the one you already own. The terminals they offer support both EMV and Apple Pay. Their website doesn’t go into specifics, so talk to your sales representative to see what’s available. They also offer the Vantiv Mobile Checkout app to provide either a tablet-based POS system or a smartphone-based mobile payments solution.

For eCommerce merchants, Payline offers a proprietary payment gateway that integrates with over 125 online shopping carts, supports subscription pricing, and offers numerous fraud protection features. Pricing for the payment gateway is not disclosed on Payline’s website.

Payline discloses a simplified interchange-plus pricing plan on their website: all retail (i.e., card-present) transactions are charged interchange + 0.20% + $0.10 per transaction, while all online (or card-not-present) transactions are charged interchange + 0.35% + $0.10 per transaction. There is a monthly $15.00 account fee. There are no application fees and no early termination fees. Contracts are all month-to-month. Customized pricing (with presumably lower processing rates) is also available to merchants processing over $80,000 per month. Unfortunately, as a high-risk merchant, this simplified pricing may or may not be available to you. Depending on the nature of your business and your processing history, you should expect to see higher (but still reasonable) processing rates. You should also expect to have a rolling reserve included in your account.

Payline provides excellent customer service and support by telephone and email. They also have a great knowledge-base on their website for self-help. Online complaints about Payline Data are very few and far between, which is a good indication of the overall quality of the service they provide.

PROS:

  • Full range of hardware options with no equipment leases
  • Minimal account fees, including no early termination fee
  • True month-to-month contracts

CONS:

  • Only available in the United States and Canada
  • Rates, fees, and contract terms may be substantially different than advertised for some high-risk merchants

For a more detailed look at Payline Data, be sure to check out our full review.

Cayan

Cayan (Merchant Warehouse)

Formerly known as Merchant Warehouse, Cayan has been in business since 1998 and is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. While the company doesn’t specifically market itself to high-risk merchants, its broad range of services and competitive terms make it an above-average choice for those in the high-risk category. Effective negotiation is the key to getting a fair, cost-effective deal on a merchant account from Cayan. Note that the company uses First Data as its primary backend processor, and so you can expect to have to put up a reserve in order to establish a high-risk account.

One of Cayan’s best features is their full range of credit card terminals, which are offered for direct sale at very competitive prices. You don’t have to worry about being pushed into an expensive terminal lease. The company offers a number of wired and wireless terminals from Ingenico and Verifone, as well as several other models. All are EMV-compliant, and most either support NFC payments natively or when used in conjunction with a pin pad. Cayan also offers their proprietary cloud-based Genius platform, a terminal/POS hybrid that supports magstripe, EMV, NFC, and QR code-based payments. Cayan also offers a Mobile Chip Card Reader for EMV-compliant mobile payments on an iOS or Android device.

Cayan also supports eCommerce by offering the popular Authorize.Net payment gateway. This can be used by itself, or in conjunction with Cayan’s proprietary MerchantWare Virtual Terminal. Pricing is not disclosed for either of these optional services.

You won’t find any specific information about processing rates on Cayan’s website, but the company offers interchange-plus pricing to all merchants. Account fees aren’t disclosed, either, but you can expect to pay $7.95 per month for a statement fee, $99.00 per year for PCI compliance, and have a $25.00 monthly minimum. As a high-risk merchant, you might also be subject to additional fees and a rolling reserve.

Contracts through Cayan are month-to-month and have no early termination fee. The company’s customer service options include telephone, email, and chat, although the latter is sometimes unreliable. Cayan has an above-average reputation when it comes to customer service, although it’s not as stellar as some of the other providers we’ve profiled here.

PROS:

  • Wide range of terminal equipment for direct sale (no terminal leases)
  • Month-to-month contracts with no early termination fee
  • Interchange-plus pricing

CONS:

  • Above-average number of complaints relative to size
  • Account fees not disclosed on website
  • $99 PCI annual compliance fee

For more information, see our complete review here.

Instabill

Instabill logo

Headquartered in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Instabill has been in business since 2003. The company uses a large number of backend processors to provide accounts to high-risk merchants and offshore companies doing business in the United States. A high-risk specialist, they also provide accounts to non-high-risk merchants as well. Although they’re a fairly small company, they have a strong reputation for being able to provide merchant accounts to businesses that would otherwise have a hard time being approved for one.

Instabill doesn’t provide very much information about credit card terminals and other hardware on their website. They do offer a variety of Verifone and Ingenico terminals, many of which support both EMV and NFC-based payments. Be aware that these terminals are probably being offered through a lease – which you should avoid like the plague. We recommend that you buy your equipment outright and have Instabill re-program it to work with their accounts. You’ll save thousands of dollars in the long run.

The company also partners with CardFlight to provide a mobile, EMV-compliant POS system and a smartphone-based mobile payments system. Pricing for these options is not disclosed on the Instabill website.

For high-risk eCommerce merchants, Instabill offers their proprietary international payment gateway that can process transactions in multiple currencies. If you’re in the MOTO (mail order/telephone order) sector, they also include a free virtual terminal.

Because Instabill works with so many different backend processors and there are so many variables that go into determining rates and fees for a particular business, they don’t advertise any specific fee or rate information on their website. They do, however, provide a Merchant Account Fees and Rates page which explains many of the factors that go into determining these costs. They’re also upfront about the fact that you will pay more as a high-risk merchant. Contracts are also highly variable for the same reasons, but you should expect a standard three-year term with an early termination fee in most cases.

Instabill uses a team of in-house sales representatives to set up accounts and doesn’t rely on independent agents. Customer service is also entirely in-house and includes telephone, email, and chat options. While the quality of customer support is generally very good, it’s also limited to normal business hours. Instabill is a solid choice if you’re a high-risk merchant who’s had trouble getting approved with other providers. Be aware, however, that they don’t accept everyone. Their prohibited list includes business categories such as drug paraphernalia, cigarettes, and weapons.

PROS:

  • High approval rate for hard-to-place businesses
  • International payment gateway with multi-currency support
  • In-house sales and customer service staff

CONS:

  • Offers equipment leases rather than direct sales
  • Customer support only available during normal business hours

For more information, see our complete review here.

Host Merchant Services

Host-Merchant-Services-logo

Host Merchant Services is a relative newcomer to the merchant accounts business, first opening in 2009. The company is headquartered in Newark, Delaware and has a second office in Naples, Florida. While they don’t specialize in high-risk accounts, their website lists several high-risk business categories that they can accommodate. Their interchange-plus-only pricing and a full range of products and services make them an excellent choice if you can get approved. A former web hosting company, HMS is ideally suited for eCommerce merchants. They use TSYS as their third-party processor.

For retail merchants, HMS offers a variety of Verifone and Equinox (formerly Hypercom) terminals. Terminals are offered for sale, and the company does not lease its equipment. While prices are not disclosed on the HMS website, you should be able to negotiate a very reasonable deal on terminals, especially if you need more than one. If you already have a compatible terminal, they’ll re-program it for free.

HMS offers a variety of POS systems that utilize either tablets or touchscreen displays. Choices range from an 8” tablet-based system up to a 17” touchscreen monitor. The company’s Starter, Plus, TouchStation Plus, and Custom POS options should fill the needs of just about any business that needs or wants a POS system.

If you need a mobile processing capability for your business, HMS has you covered. While their website still promotes their proprietary HMSPay app, the company has very recently discontinued this in favor of ProcessNow, which they offer via a partnership with TransFirst. ProcessNow works with either iOS or Android phones, but the current card reader is magstripe-only and requires a headphone jack to plug into.

As a tech-focused company, eCommerce is HMS’ specialty. The company has recently introduced their proprietary Transaction Express payment gateway, which includes a free virtual terminal. (Note that the HMS website has not been updated to show this new product as of this writing). HMS also supports a large number of third-party gateways, including Authorize.Net.

HMS uses interchange-plus pricing exclusively, which is a huge plus. While they don’t disclose their rates on their website, they’re based primarily on monthly processing volume and are very competitive. See our full review for more details. Fees are not disclosed either, but include a $24.00 annual fee, a $14.99 monthly account fee (which includes PCI compliance), a variable payment gateway fee ($5.00 per month for Transaction Express, $7.50 per month plus $0.05 per transaction for Authorize.Net) and the usual incidental fees (i.e., chargebacks, voice authorizations, etc.). Again, you might have to pay additional fees if you’re a high-risk merchant. Contracts are month-to-month with no early termination fee.

HMS provides customer service and support via 24/7 telephone and email. Chat is also available through their website during normal business hours. They also feature an extensive collection of articles and blog posts on their website for customer education. Support quality appears to be well-above-average, based on the almost complete absence of complaints about it on the BBB and other consumer protection websites. Assuming that your business falls into one of the categories of high-risk business that the company can accommodate, HMS is an excellent choice for a merchant account.

PROS:

  • Full range of products and services for retail and eCommerce businesses
  • Exclusive interchange-plus pricing plans
  • Excellent customer service and support

CONS:

  • Rates and fees not disclosed on website
  • Can only accommodate a small number of high-risk business categories
  • Mobile card reader not EMV-compliant

For more information, see our complete review here.

Conclusion

Running a business is a challenging proposition in itself, but it’s even harder if your business is in a high-risk category. We’re all aware that a distressingly large number of new businesses will fail within the first few years of starting up. It’s not hard to believe that many traditional merchant account providers take advantage of this unfortunate reality with their long-term contracts, early termination fees, and expensive terminal leases.

If anything, new high-risk businesses are even more likely to fail than others, which is one reason merchant accounts are more expensive for them. All five of the providers we’ve profiled in this article are good choices for high-risk merchants. Which one is best for your particular business will depend on a number of factors, including your credit history, your processing history, and which high-risk business category you fall under.

For particularly risky businesses that have a hard time being accepted by other providers, we recommend Durango Merchant Services as our top overall choice. Less-risky businesses can also find good service and terms through Payline Data or Cayan. Instabill is the best choice for international businesses operating in the United States. Finally, Host Merchant Services is a particularly good fit for eCommerce merchants, although they can only approve a limited number of high-risk business categories.

None of the providers we’ve profiled offer much in the way of specific information regarding rates, fees, or contract terms available to high-risk merchants. Be aware that the information they do provide on their websites applies to non-high-risk merchants, and you may or may not be eligible for them. Our best advice is to do your research ahead of time, talk to sales representatives from the companies you’re interested in to see what they can offer you, and review your proposed contract thoroughly before signing up. Lastly, unless you have a long and stable processing history, most high-risk merchant accounts will require a rolling reserve. Just remember that your reserve will decrease over time as you build up a processing history.

If you’ve had any experience with any of our top high-risk merchant account providers, please feel free to leave a comment below.

The post The Best High-Risk Merchant Account Providers appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

SiteBuilder Review: 5 Pros & 5 Cons of utilizing SiteBuilder.com

SiteBuilder Review

SiteBuilder.com is among the faster-growing brands within the quickly evolving website builder space. SiteBuilder concentrates on core features along with a clean interface. According to feedback from my Weebly, Wix and Squarespace reviews &#8211 I gave SiteBuilder a go. Listed here are my 5 pros and 5 cons and full SiteBuilder review.

Take a look at SiteBuilder&#8217s current plans &#038 prices here.

Before we glance at SiteBuilder particularly &#8211 there’s a larger concept to bear in mind. Regardless of whether you go drag website builder an installed Cms (CMS), or hands-coded HTML files, there are plenty of factors which go into an creating a website.

Within the finish, you want anyone to key in an internet site address and find out your data, presented well with the proper functionality within their browser. Regardless if you are creating a simple project website or managing a internet business, how you construct your site determines lots of you skill both lengthy-term and short-term.

Within the lengthy-term, the various tools you utilize to setup your site affects your versatility, functionality, and, obviously, your brand. For the short term, it may certainly add/remove lots of headaches. That stated, much like selecting an actual office or house, there’s no such factor being an absolute “best” or “top” choice. There’s only the best choice in accordance with your objectives, experience, and conditions.

What’s SiteBuilder.com?

Website building tools exist on the spectrum having a core tradeoff between control &amp convenience. Usually, the greater convenient something is, the less control you’ve &#8211 and the other way around.

Sitebuilder endures the spectrum more all-inclusive and easy to get began and also be your site. It’s as opposed to solutions in which you buy, install, and manage all of the “pieces” of the website individually by yourself server.

Like other “hosted website builders” like Weebly or Wix, SiteBuilder is kind of like leasing and customizing a condo inside a nice development rather buying and owning your house. You’re still in charge of decor, cleaning, and everything living-wise – however, you leave the development, plumbing, security, and infrastructure towards the house owner. That time is essential because, again, there’s often a direct tradeoff between convenience and control.

All of the functionality and style which are incorporated with SiteBuilder work seamlessly together like a platform. That’s what enables these to have drag design, layout and content.

So far as competition, SiteBuilder competes directly with all of-inclusive website builders like Weebly, Wix, Squarespace and WordPress.com.

Website builders like a group contend with options like WordPress.org (which supplies the disposable software to create a website that you simply own &amp control – see my WordPress setup guide here) completely to options like typing actual Web coding right into a text file. Seem sensible? Awesome, let’s follow the SiteBuilder review.

Another quick aside – a disclosure – I receive referral charges all the businesses pointed out within this publish. My opinions &amp research derive from my encounters as whether having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.

SiteBuilder Advantages

Here’s things i discovered to be the professionals of SiteBuilder – not only to comparison with other website builders, but additionally being an overall website solution.

Speed, Security &amp Convenience

SiteBuilder provides hosting for those their websites. Quite simply, they offer a spot for your site files to reside additionally towards the builder too. That may be bad or good &#8211 however in SiteBuilder’s situation, it’s generally a benefit.

You will find big convenience points for getting to have little concern for hosting, speed and security. SiteBuilder seems to operate their software on Amazon . com and Google servers, that will hardly ever go lower.

SiteBuilder doesn’t the quickest load speeds, but it’s okay, especially because you, because the site owner, don’t have to do anything whatsoever as they are.

SiteBuilder Speed

Just like any website, you will find security risks. However they provide security and backups in their prices package.

Short-Term Prices

Should you not mind getting your site on the subdomain (ie, http://yoursite.myfreesites.internet) then SiteBuilder is free of charge without any trial expiration. It’s an excellent deal for small, temporary sites.

SiteBuilder Pricing Intro

However for more permanent sites, their opening prices is competitive with other all-inclusive website builders.

Since Sitebuilder comes with some fairly hard caps and structures on every plan, you almost need to go using the Pro plan or even more. Individuals is going to be pointed out within the prices section that come in the disadvantages.

Consider everything (software, hosting, security, tools, etc) is bundled, they’ve competitive prices for anybody who simply really wants to begin a website.

Even their ecommerce prices, while more costly than doing exactly the same factor by yourself hosting, is a lot less expensive than comparable plans with direct competitors.

Simplicity &amp Core Features

For just about any product, there is a thin line for brand new features. Sooner or later, additional features no more result in the product better &#8211 they worsen it.

Like I&#8217ve observed in my website builder reviews &#8211 companies possess the issue to be everything for everybody. They add a lot of features their “simple” website builder is actually quite complicated.

SiteBuilder concentrates on the main features that each fundamental website needs.

SiteBuilder Features

It isn’t for everybody (as I’ll mention within the cons), however if you simply do just have an easy, quick, fundamental website &#8211 SiteBuilder’s setup is straightforward and simple.

Site Building Process

On a single theme his or her concentrate on core features is the simplicity the particular site building process.

Regardless of what plan you finish up wanting, everybody will get began with similar setup process.

If you would like &#8211 you are able to create a live website in 3 clicks. There isn’t any purchasing in advance or passing charge card information.

Clicking Get Began, choose passwords, select a base theme, and you’re within the Editor where one can Publish your website.

SiteBuilder Setup

SiteBuilder Web Design

SiteBuilder Editor

The Editor also functions like a site dashboard where one can change your account towards the plan you would like.

The procedure &amp editor is intuitive and well-designed that is a solid pro.

Drag &amp Drop Editor

One marketed benefit of utilizing an all-inclusive website builder is you won’t be required to write HTML or CSS code. You can easily drag elements. A specific item within the builder is what you’ll get online.

However, it’s not always that easy. There’s lots of nuance to “drag and drop.” The majority of us really mean “I wish to click and drag this element and move it to some general area where it’ll look great – you realize, instantly centered, etc.” Quite simply, it’s like playing tee-ball rather of baseball…or bowling with gutter pads up. For you to do the factor, but in addition have a little bit of help.

Typically, SiteBuilder pulls this off. Their drag really works how you would expect it to.

You then have a variety of design options. The parameters and rulers are adjustable. The appearance &amp feel is easy and uncluttered.

SiteBuilder Editor

SiteBuilder Disadvantages

However, no Sitebuilder review could be complete without searching in the downsides. Let’s take a look at specific cons I discovered.

Search engine optimization &amp Marketing Tools

SiteBuilder does fundamental Search engine optimization &amp marketing tools much better than some competitors like Wix. They build in redirects and HTML tag functionality.

SiteBuilder Redirects

But that’s about all they offer. There isn’t any Schema or Sitemaps. That you can do little to completely personalize your website visitor’s experience. And you’re limited about where one canOrcan’t add content.

It normally won’t even get duplicate content right (ie, you’ll have duplicate websites on yourdomain.com and yourdomain.myfreesites.internet)

SiteBuilder SEO Duplicate Content

SiteBuilder acquire some broad strokes right, but it’s remember this that it is a fundamental website solution. Should you employ a professional to assist construct your site out, they’re likely likely to suggest that you progress to some more versatile platform.

This disadvantage is partially because Sitebuilder focuses more about towards convenience over control. And without 100% control of your website &amp server – it can be hard and/or impossible to include advanced marketing tools just like an EV SSL, custom email collection tools, custom analytics packages, custom social shares, specific Schemas along with aOrW testing software.

Lengthy-term Prices

SiteBuilder will a good job with opening prices, but overall, they aren’t an awfully the best value. Other website builders (ie, Weebly) give a less expensive on features and renewal prices.

SiteBuilder Pricing Renewal

And it is not even evaluating SiteBuilder against building your website by yourself server using website builder software like WordPress (or perhaps drag software like WordPress + BoldGrid). With Sitebuilder, you have to pay the fee every month per website. If you’re by yourself hosting server, any extra website is essentially free, so it’s that rather more value.

SiteBuilder Hosting Storage

Use Of HTML / CSS

Although located website builders cannot provide server access, many viewed accessibility “source code” (ie, HTML/CSS) from the website that you’re building.

It may be handy not just for somebody fluent in HTML/CSS, but in addition for anybody looking to get something around the page *just* right.

SiteBuilder provides an array of options within their builder (animations are particularly plentiful).

SiteBuilder Designer

However it doesn’t have means to access the HTML/CSS from the page. The only exception may be the header &amp footer where one can add verification tags for Search Console, Pinterest, AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

This limited access isn’t uncommon within the website builder world, however it does put SiteBuilder in a disadvantage when compared with competitors like Weebly and Squarespace.

Customer Care &amp Onboarding

Like I’ve pointed out in other reviews, customer care is really a tough issue to judge (in almost any industry). Rather of searching at whether customer care is “good” &#8211 I concept what their priority is by using customer care like a company.

Will they positively purchase sources and channels? Will they attempt to upsell? Will they turn to spend less?

With SiteBuilder, it’s a little difficult to say given that they operate a fully located platform where they are able to prevent many customer support issues.

Nonetheless, they are doing possess a small knowledgebase. Tech support team is by email &#8211 though billing support includes a telephone number.

SiteBuilder Customer Support

But all their “onboarding” emails (ie, the entire process of obtaining a new customer began) center around upsells.

SiteBuilder Customer Support

In accordance with other website builder companies, I take their customer care &amp onboarding like a disadvantage.

Growth Path &amp Platform Lock-in

Like I stated within the advantages, SiteBuilder excels like a simple website builder. That stated, for those who have a brand new website that you would like to develop and evolve, that’s additionally a disadvantage.

Competitors like Wix, Weebly and SquareSpace (and ecommerce competitors like Shopify) offer “app stores” or “extensions” that you could supplment your account while you grow. They take proper care of all of the advanced features that you’ll want while you grow. SiteBuilder doesn’t have that.

The characteristics you have would be the features you receive. If you’re planning on growing, you will need to think about that time.

Furthermore, moving from SiteBuilder to a different platform isn’t a straightforward process. They don’t have an information export option (which i may find). As well as their software doesn’t have any Feed that may sync your articles with something similar to WordPress.

Should you ever wish to migrate, you’ll need to element in migration costs and energy. Any design or content that you simply purchase SiteBuilder will have to be by hand moved.

Ecommerce Addendum

An added bonus for SiteBuilder is the ecommerce functionality. Marketing products out of your SiteBuilder website without switching platforms or any special development.

Ecommerce is a fairly little bit of functionality, but bear in mind that it is not really a full-fledged ecommerce that online shop platforms for example Shopify or BigCommerce. SiteBuilder includes a shopping cart software, fundamental inventory management, and payment acceptance.

It’s ideal for websites which are mainly lead-generation, informational, etc but should also sell a couple of products. It is also a great fit for anybody trying out products before relocating to a lengthy term platform. It isn’t a lengthy-term fit for websites which are ecommerce-first. For individuals a web-based store you have with WordPress + WooCommerce or perhaps a niche ecommerce platform like Shopify (review) or BigCommerce (review) will be a better fit.

Next Steps

SiteBuilder is a superb option for an easy, quick, no-fuss website. They’ve competitive prices, good functionality, and good consumer experience. There are plenty of tradeoffs for implementing an exciting-inclusive website builder, but when that route fits your objectives – then I’d take a look at SiteBuilder’s Plans here.

If you’re more confused than ever before – I produced a BuzzFeed style quiz that will help you decide what’s the best website builder for you personally according to your requirements here.

If you feel building your personal website by yourself hosting is the perfect route, make sure to take a look at my step-by-step help guide to setting an internet site with WordPress on your own here.

SiteBuilder

SiteBuilder is among the fastest growing companies within the website builder industry. They concentrate on core website features for fundamental sites.
SiteBuilder Review
Compiled by: Nate Shivar
Date Printed: 11/18/2016
SiteBuilder is really a clean, simple drag located website builder. Ideal for a fundamental site, but take a look at other available choices for something more.
3 / 5 stars

The publish SiteBuilder Review: 5 Pros &#038 5 Cons of utilizing SiteBuilder.com made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

“”

Shopify Review: Pros & Cons of utilizing Shopify For eCommerce

Shopify Review

There are plenty of choices for running a web-based store &#8211 Shopify is a brand-in-one ecommerce solution which i&#8217ve accustomed to run several online retailers &amp consult up with clients since 2009. Here&#8217s my Shopify review &#8211 with 6 pros and 6 cons of utilizing Shopify for the online shop.

You should check out Shopify&#8217s current Plans &amp Prices here.

EDIT 01/02/2017: This Shopify review was initially printed 7/13/2013 and re-printed frequently with updates throughout to mirror additional featuresOrprices/opinion. In 2016 through 2017, Shopify has improved on several fronts, particularly with a significantly improved checkout process. Enjoy!

However, a little bit of intro. There&#8217s plenty of choices for running a web-based store, and the selection of best platform might have just like big of an impact on your company as selecting a structure or place for an actual store. It&#8217s and not the finish all the business &#8211 however it certainly could make or break your company &#8211 and may either expand your chance or seriously kneecap your company.

What’s Shopify?

Shopify belongs to several turn-key ecommerce (also known as &#8220hosted ecommerce&#8221) solutions that gives all you need from finish to finish (without the product and business know-how) to put together and begin selling your products(s) around the world as opposed to you putting all of the pieces together yourself (see Shopify&#8217s plans here).

It&#8217s kind of like getting a contractor to construct your home, over to be the contractor and hiring sub-contractors yourself. You&#8217re still in charge, however, you allow the contractor use their expertise to help make the project happen.

You will find benefits and drawbacks towards the approach &#8211 that is what we should&#8217ll enter into. But essentially realize that Shopify competes mainly with BigCommerce and Volusion &#8211 the 3 which provide turn-key search engine optimization, which competes with non-turnkey solutions (like establishing your personal store with WordPress).

Which located solutions kind of compete and integrate with ecommerce &#8220marketplaces&#8221 like Amazon . com, eBay and Etsy. I authored much more about how Shopify could work with Etsy here.

Shopify also offers a &#8220Buy button&#8221 functionality that enables you to employ Shopify as Reason for Purchase (POS) / Inventory option &#8211 and let customers click to purchase your products anywhere online (Pinterest, Facebook, WordPress blog, Tumblr, etc). I&#8217ll be searching less at this &#8211 and much more at Shopify&#8217s full online shop package. You will get the Buy button only included in the Lite Plan, however it competes with PayPal instead of full online shop options.

Seem sensible? Awesome. Let&#8217s dive in to the actual Shopify review.

Pros of utilizing Shopify

There are plenty of Shopify online reviews &#8211 usually with user-generated reviews according to anecdotes and private experience. That&#8217s fine however i have a different approach. I&#8217ve labored with Shopify not just like a storeowner but additionally like a consultant to stores running on Shopify additionally to stores running on platforms varying from custom made platforms to WooCommerce and a large number of others. There’s no such factor like a &#8220best&#8221 choice &#8211 only the best choice for the store according to your sources and objectives.

Knowing that &#8211 here&#8217s things i discovered to be pros of utilizing Shopify &#8211 not only to comparison to BigCommerce along with other direct competitors, but additionally being an overall ecommerce solution.

Built-in Speed &amp To safeguard Hosting

Listed here are the outcomes of the Speed Test on Shopify Store:

Shopify Review Speed Test

Among the challenges of running a web-based store is you have dual needs out of your hosting: you really need it to become screaming fast and you really need it to become super secure if you’re processing charge cards.

For each extra tenth of the second that the customer waits for the page to load is another they might perfectly leave and see your competition. Actually, most research has shown that individuals is only going to hang on to 4 seconds for any site to load before departing &#8211 which will get even tighter for ecommerce sites.

Around the switch side, you should also route your customer&#8217s charge cards through extra layers of security to stay PCI compliant and process charge cards. Many stores delegate payments to some third-party vendor (for example PayPal or Google Wallet), but that connection could be slowed in case your store isn&#8217t setup right.

An exciting-in-one solution like Shopify enables you to definitely turn that side from the business to the professionals and merely allow them to be worried about online hackers, caching, compliance, along with a whole selection of issues that include hosting a web-based store. Shopify can perform such things as pay bounties to security researchers to compromise-proof their systems.

Since Shopify can handle speed &amp security in a &#8220global&#8221 platform level &#8211 they are able to get it done especially well: provide 100% SSL, maintain their sites screaming fast, and integrate with payment providers well to be able to always will get compensated, and clients are never awaiting their page to load.

All Of The Necessary Features

All The Necessary Features

Regardless if you are building your personal ecommerce solution or looking for an all-in-one solution, getting all of the bits of a web-based store together can really be considered a bit challenging.

Sure, you are able to strip the simplistic lower to getting an item as much as buy, and allowing anyone to pay and provide you with their information &#8211 but to get it done right &#8211 you&#8217re likely to want additional features on the top.

You&#8217re likely to want integrated payments you &#8216re likely to want a good way to include and take away products you&#8217re likely to want so that you can personalize the feel of your store and also you&#8217re certainly likely to wish to have solid, simple to implement Analytics to trace everything (something which Volusion causes it to be difficult to implement).

Whenever I’ve run stores for clients or myself previously, Shopify had everything I desired to operate an incredible online shop &#8211 without having to be nickel and dimed in upgrades or overlooked to dry with no key feature.

Great Customer Care

Shopify Call Customer Support for Shopify Review

After I contrast my encounters between building an ecommerce store myself (with something similar to WordPress + WooCommerce) and running it with something similar to Shopify &#8211 customer care is among my why you should opt for something similar to Shopify.

When you’re building it and running yourself to it &#8211 you’ve got no one to go to, except $$$ developers and frequently unresponsive online forums. With Shopify &#8211 you receive solutions fast. And all sorts of my customer care encounters with Shopify happen to be really fast, correct, and useful &#8211 from both a developer and store owner perspective.

There is a huge database of FAQs, email/chat support&#8230and phone support &#8211 having a real, knowledgeable repetition on the other hand.

When you’re centered on running your web store &#8211 this safety internet of always getting someone at the back with solutions is essentially well worth the Shopify subscription cost alone. As well as on this time Shopify especially shines.

Marketing

What good is definitely an online shop if you’re able to&#8217t get anybody to appear? That&#8217s what marketing is perfect for &#8211 and it is something which Shopify really excels at. Shopify doesn&#8217t provide the fanciest marketing tools in the world (included in the primary package &#8211 they provide more within the Application Marketplace) &#8211 however they do range from the essentials &#8211 plus they make certain they are doing the necessities very well. For instance, Search engine optimization:

Shopify Category &amp Product Content Editor

&nbsp

For marketing campaigns (for example email, AdWords, etc), Shopify enables you to definitely rapidly and simply create squeeze pages, that is a key differentiating factor between other all-in-one platforms (and a few DIY platforms).

As well as for Search engine optimization &#8211 Shopify creates 100% crawlable, clean code. They enables custom Title tags, and meta descriptions (see screenshot) &#8211 even on collections, additionally with other essentials like Search Console, sitemaps, and preventing the perennial ecommerce bug bear&#8230duplicate content (for Search engine optimization geeks, they will use canonicals).

While they don&#8217t allow &#8220root&#8221 or FTP access, being an Search engine optimization consultant, I&#8217ve always had the ability to implement even technical products via their front-finish code editor. Or &#8211 they really curently have all of the advanced technical products accomplished for me (e.g., Schema, SSL, Canonicals, Sitemaps, etc) so will be able to concentrate on such things as content strategy.

Should you&#8217re searching to have an all-in-one platform that does good marketing for Search engine optimization, AdWords, and other things your sleeve &#8211 Shopify is a superb choice in my opinion.

Design

Shopify Review Design Options

I believe so good web platforms must always offer a minimum of 3 amounts of personalization: first, it ought to look fine as they are second, it ought to be easily improvable without getting to use and professional artist or developer.

WordPress is a great one with this &#8211 it appears great as they are it’s a lot of custom styles available and apply it is able to be wielded with a professional designer to produce a through the roof-finish website.

Shopify has this ability too, and that i provide a huge pro to Shopify for your. Shopify runs off a style system. It’s free styles bundled as they are to select from, and a multitude of custom-built styles to buy through their marketplace. Additionally, as you can tell within the screenshot above, Shopify makes its theme system available to ensure that an artist or developer can personalize it and make any kind of shop you would like &#8211 regardless if you are a small niche boutique or perhaps a multi-billion dollar enterprise.

If you’re just beginning, you are able to get by all right having a free theme and upgrade as possible justify/require it.

Add-Ons (Shopify Application Store + Buy Button)

Screenshot of Shopify App Store for my Shopify Review

Shopify has a lot of features built-in, but no platform may possibly accommodate all of the features required by storeowners &#8211 so Shopify required a webpage from Facebook, Apple, Android, and began an Application Store.

Shopify offers the platform and all sorts of core features, and enables developers to provide hyper-specialized items that wordpress plugin seamlessly to Shopify&#8217s platform.

Many are compensated and a few have the freedom. The Chimpified Application is my personal favorite example though. Not every retailers need or do e-mail marketing, however, many like it. It&#8217s not really a core feature of Shopify &#8211 but MailChimp (an incredible e-mail marketing company) built an Application that integrates MailChimp seamlessly with Shopify. It&#8217s free, and awesome.

With this particular setup &#8211 you don&#8217t need to bother about locating a developer any time you desire a certain feature, since it&#8217s most likely within the Application Store&#8230and will always be cheaper and can work just as marketed.

Furthermore, Shopify has truly committed to their Buy button. On a single hands, it&#8217s a little confusing to market product outside of your site. However, it adds lots of versatility for brands which have a name all over the web &#8211 or retailers that simply don&#8217t wish to setup a complete online shop on the domain.

Not every platforms possess the scale to drag this off properly, but Shopify does &#8211 and they’ve a company team of developers that particularly creates developing newly discovered apps and getting new developers to resolve problems. The Application Store is a big pro for me personally with Shopify.

Cons of utilizing Shopify

Its not all platform is ideal though, along with a Shopify review wouldn&#8217t be complete without since the cons of utilizing Shopify to have an online shop. Let&#8217s dive in to the 6 cons of utilizing Shopify for ecommerce.

Prices

&nbsp

Shopify Pricing for Shopify Review (2016)

For those who have a little online shop &#8211 Shopify will probably be more costly than BigCommerce at the start, and obtain less expensive while you grow. The kicker isn&#8217t the $5 difference &#8211 it&#8217s the transaction charges that Shopify charges (that are on the top associated with a charge card feed). They justify it everything about the they disappear while you grow &#8211 however it still represents a barrier to entry for Shopify.

They improve a few of the prices by providing the &#8220Get Began&#8221 option at $14/mo &#8211 but in my experience the transaction charges seem a disadvantage of utilizing Shopify, especially because you can ‘t be sure regarding your product sales or profitability in the beginning.

If you prefer a small online shop &#8211 and intend on remaining small, then you might like to also take a look at BigCommerce (just don&#8217t opt for Volusion due to their Analytics issues). But otherwise, it&#8217s not really a deal breaker for many online shop proprietors &#8211 but is really a disadvantage to understand and arrange for.

In 2014, Shopify has restructured their prices consistent with new industry business models. To place their prices in context which help you choose between competitors (like Bigcommerce &#8211 review here or Volusion &#8211 review here), here&#8217s a rundown of four aspects of prices you should think about.

First, your monthly cost &#8211 the sticker cost you have to pay each month for any certain degree of features. Shopify&#8217s plans begin with the Lite Plan at $9 USD monthly and increase after that, for instance. But observe that the Lite plan’s just for Buy button sellers. Really, I&#8217d state that Shopify starts at $29/mo and rises.

Second, your platform transaction charges &#8211 the extra fee you have to pay to some platform like a percent of sales. Shopify accustomed to charge these on all of their plans, but no more does. Settled to those when mix-evaluating.

Third, your charge card charges &#8211 these was once pretty standardized &#8211 and typically are still. However, Shopify lately setup their very own POS &amp processing network which means you don&#8217t need to go through a third party processor. Which means charges visit Shopify as opposed to a processor like PayPal or Authorize.internet. It may be confusing, and you will find some lock-in issues to think about with Shopify. But make sure you’re evaluating apples to apples.

4th, your add-on charges &#8211 they are third party apps, plugins or items of software that you could purchase to create your store better. These is one-time purchases, but may they elope transaction charges. Shopify includes a huge application store. Most are free, however, many are compensated. Make sure to plan for these when planning your store.

Prices is &#8220con with caveat&#8221 for Shopify. The built-in charge cards &amp no transaction charges are huge, but monthly cost &amp add-on charges can also add up. Essentially, Shopify is slightly pricier than Volusion &amp slightly less expensive than Bigcommerce typically (however, everything depends upon your instalments, apps, etc). The cost variations are close enough that you ought to be evaluating according to features &amp service.

Shopify, like several located platforms, will probably be consistently more costly every month than the usual self-located store you take yourself. However, self-located stores (like WordPress + WooCommerce) generally have really $$$ development needs occasionally &#8211 particularly if you&#8217re managing a bigger setup.

For those who have some technical understand how along with a smaller sized shop, Shopify prices is going to be costly. If you wish to concentrate on running &amp marketing your store (and like known monthly costs), then Shopify&#8217s prices will really be considered a an amazing value. You don&#8217t need to hire developers or perhaps a technically savvy Search engine optimization consultant to consider proper care of such things as Google Merchant Center or Schema.

Hacking around personalization

Shopify Editing Screen for Shopify Review (2016)

I made the purpose earlier that the pro of Shopify is it looks good as they are, has great custom styles available, and is able to be fully customized with a developer/designer.

How to the disadvantage of the personalization setup &#8211 they will use a distinctive setup to personalize their styles versus using something similar to PHP for his or her templates. It&#8217s an enormous plus somewhat, however for somebody that likes to tweak things without having done a complete-on personalization, it may be annoying.

I&#8217m accustomed to tweaking WordPress templates since they’re in PHP &#8211 that is a common language and a lot of forums and support, as the Shopify Liquid setup is foreign in my experience and then any other first-timers.

It’s fairly straightforward to get, plus they provide amazing support within the Shopify forums, however i consider it a disadvantage to need to understand Liquid to tweak my store&#8217s theme.

Content Marketing

&nbsp

Shopify Blog Functionality for Shopify Review

Content marketing is a big marketing medium for ecommerce. You are able to boost you organic traffic, increase social shares, increase your brand, and educate your clients. In my experience, blogging software is essential to have an online shop.

Shopify includes built-in blogging software&#8230but it&#8217s and not the finest &#8211 particularly if you are spoiled for WordPress. It will get the task done, also it&#8217s much better than it&#8217s competitor&#8217s options, but is certainly something I&#8217d like to see enhanced.

Shopify Jargon

???

Every ecommerce platform will have a learning curve, however i discovered that Shopify includes a slightly steeper curve simply because the jargon the utilization is slightly off. Whether or not this&#8217s their Liquid theme setup, using &#8220collections&#8221 over &#8220categories&#8221, or many other small edits &#8211 I’ve found their store setup to become not quite the way i&#8217d set some misconception.

It&#8217s not really a huge disadvantage &#8211 but other solutions like BigCommerce are a little more straightforward using their &#8220user experience.&#8221 This disadvantage is a lot improved though using the discharge of Shopify 2 (as observed in the first setup video below) &#8211 but remains.

Lock-in

Big Decision

Lock-was something I needed to use in my Shopify review, though it may be a disadvantage for those-in-one ecommerce generally. Here&#8217s the offer &#8211 should you ever choose to move your store to a new platform &#8211 it&#8217s not really smooth. This will make selecting an ecommerce platform especially tricky as you have to organize for future years &#8211 and not simply consider costs at this time.

For me, Shopify is definitely an amazing platform to develop with. They’ve the size, features, support, and prices to pay for you regardless if you are a completely new 1 product shop &#8211 or if you wish to function as the next Amazon . com.

However, should you ever wish to leave, the very best you can get will be a CSV export of the product information. Anything else &#8211 gone. It&#8217s exactly the same with BigCommerce, Volusion and any &#8220hosted ecommerce platform&#8221, however it&#8217s still a disadvantage to think about when searching to have an online shop platform.

Initial setup

The final disadvantage of utilizing Shopify for the online shop is the initial setup process. Using the discharge of Shopify 2 &#8211 Shopify has certainly made initial setup of the online shop much simpler &#8211 however it still isn&#8217t a &#8220just add water&#8221 step-by-step. It&#8217s easy in this way, however i think they oversell it a little. It takes some technical know-how (especially to obtain your website name redirecting properly).

For anybody who buys into Shopify looking to make profit fifteen minutes will probably be disappointed. This is because takes much more time, and needs a little bit of technical understanding is the fact that Shopify does still do it, and doesn&#8217t permit you to scrimp &#8211 plus they don&#8217t make real decisions for you personally. However &#8211 to gather the final disadvantage &#8211 here&#8217s a relevant video tour from the Shopify backend to be able to discover for yourself.

Shopify Review Conclusion

If you’re searching to have an all-in-one ecommerce solution for the online shop, and you’re searching to develop and add products &#8211 and you’ve got some technical know-how, then Shopify is a great fit for you personally.

You can examine out Shopify (see their plans here).

If you’re searching for something a bit cheaper, and a bit simpler to put together &#8211 i then would also consider BigCommerce (see their plans here &amp see my Bigcommerce review here). Take my ecommerce platform quiz here that may help you decide.

If you’re a brand searching to have an enterprise solution, I authored about my knowledge about Shopify Plus &#8211 Shopify&#8217s enterprise solution here.

For those who have any comments, questions, or encounters &#8211 tell me within the comments!

EDIT: Because of the remarkable quantity of junk e-mail this publish attracts, I&#8217ve disabled comments. Speak with me via Twitter!

Shopify

Shopify is really a located ecommerce platform that enables anybody to put together a web-based store with hosting and support incorporated.
Shopify Review
Compiled by: Nate Shivar
Date Printed: 01/02/2017
If you’re searching to have an all-in-one solution for the online shop, Shopify is a terrific way to go.
4 / 5 stars

The publish Shopify Review: Pros &#038 Cons of utilizing Shopify For eCommerce made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

“”