In this article…
- Learn what payment gateways are
- Find out why you need a payment gateway
- Understand why you want payment gateways that have ample security, ease of use, flexibility, and live customer support
Running your own business is hard work.
Aside from delivering solid products and services, you need to stay focused on perfecting every piece of the customer experience. From the look and feel of the website to the service they receive, it’s all about creating something unique. And it’s proven to be effective—86% of buyers are willing to pay more for great customer experience.
That’s why you shouldn’t neglect the final part of it all—the payment.
Without a seamless transaction, it’s easy to turn customers off from doing business with you. To ensure everything goes off smoothly, you’ll want to seek the help of the right payment gateway.
What are payment gateways?
A payment gateway is a service that securely sends credit card data from a payment portal—like websites, mobile phones, etc—over to a credit card processor at an issuing bank.
You can think of it as a virtual point-of-sale (POS) terminal. (A full POS system is different, but a payment gateway will likely feel the same to your customers in as much as it’s how they pay.)
Why do you need a payment gateway?
In short, the answer comes down to a combination of three critical factors.
Keeping payment data secure is pretty challenging, but payment gateways can take care of that for you. That helps you stay compliant with secure payment processing standards.
Payment gateways also serve as a much faster way for you to process data. You don’t want to be stuck manually inputting and verifying data on your end as it wastes time and opens up plenty of opportunities for human error.
A solid payment gateway helps your customers check out faster, providing them with better customer experience. When things go off without a hitch, they’ll be more likely to come back to your store.
In other words, you’re making it easier for them to buy from you.
What to look for in the perfect payment gateway for your business
Not all payment gateway services are created equal.
To pick one that fits your needs, you’ll want to do your homework on the features they offer and what benefits they can provide to your business. Here’s what to look out for.
Security is on everyone’s mind—as well it should be. That goes for your customers and the banks who handle payment processing.
You’ll want to research payment processing gateways that are reputable and secure so your customers’ data is always safe and sound. Ensure that they meet the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). Otherwise, you’ll face severe fines from major payment brands. These can range from $5,000 to $100,000 per month depending on the severity and number of violations.
Aside from fines, you also need to consider your reputation. After all, nobody wants to do business with someone that doesn’t take the security of their credit card data seriously.
That’s the exact opposite of good customer experience.
MORE ON SECURITY: Bad Security Practices Can Cost You in More Ways Than One
Ease of use
Even the most secure and competitively priced payment gateways will become tedious if they aren’t user-friendly. Part of choosing the right one for you includes getting training and support on how to use software and hardware.
Integration with other systems also falls into this bucket. You’ll have a much better time with a payment gateway that integrates with the tools you’re already using.
On the customer side, you want to choose one that looks nice and feels seamless. It needs to work when it’s needed, and it needs to remain problem-free when it’s not.
Running a business means things can change from one day to the next. Because of that, you need a payment gateway that can stay just as flexible as you.
As your business evolves, consider that you’ll need to be able to adjust the following on the fly:
- Changes in inventory and availability
- The type of plan you’re on and the costs associated with it
- More services and benefits you can grow into
Payment merchants also evolve in their own right. Take major payment merchant Square for example—they’ve recently changed their pricing model.
While it may benefit some small businesses, it may hurt others. This change is a good example of why you should always keep a close eye on your potential options to ensure they’re still the good kind of flexible.
Customer support (from actual humans)
Things go wrong—problems are bound to happen sometimes.
From chargebacks to simple errors here and there, you’ll eventually need to talk up the chain of command to get some answers.
Depending on your payment gateway, that can be either a breeze… or a nightmare.
The support that’s routed through tickets and endless escalations can drag on forever. Nobody likes being put on hold for hours, either.
Seek out a payment gateway that gives you access to a team of real humans who can help with issues in a timely and professional manner.
WHILE WE’RE ON THE SUBJECT: 9 Ways to Avoid Chargebacks and Credit Disputes
Choosing the right payment gateway
Once you’ve considered all the factors, it’s time to select your payment gateway. With just a bit of research, you’ll be off to the races with a complete and tailored customer experience that will help you grow your business.