Accepting payments

Checkout Process: eCommerce Guide

Having an efficient, secure and appropriate method of accepting payment underpins the very existence of your eCommerce operation. Without a system to collect payments, you have no money coming in. And without any money coming in you have no business.

First, you need to remember that each customer has their own preferred way of paying and their decision to shop with you may depend on the methods of payment that you provide.

Secondly, even if you’ve successfully guided your shopper through to the checkout process, the customer may well balk if there’s the slightest doubt about the security of their card details.

Next you need to ensure that every payment transaction is carried out quickly and smoothly. And if there are any hitches in the payment process, the shopper may not be sure as to whether their transaction has completed properly.

An image of a collection of different payment method companies such as Visa, PayPal and Mastercard

Not only can this cost you in terms of time-consuming customer calls to your helpline number, it’s also highly unlikely to inspire your customer into shopping with you again. Undermining confidence in this way can potentially cost you £1,000s in lost sales.

All this makes collecting payments the most important aspect of any eCommerce website. Yet very few people actually consider this most critical of components of an online retail store when planning and designing their site.

Accepting payment is the last part of the sales process, so it is the point at which you least want to lose the sale.

How do I take payments online?

In most cases you’ll need a merchant account. You’ll then need to choose an appropriate secure payment gateway and integrate it into your site. In simple terms, a secure payment gateway is an online equivalent of a credit card machine, without which you cannot accept card payments online.

However, not every payment made online is by payment or credit card. Some eCommerce sites also allow shoppers to set up a customer account.

Many eCommerce solutions also provide a manual ordering system, which allows the retailer to take orders over the phone. This is useful in more ways than one, as not only does it offer customers an alternative way to order, it also makes it easier for both you and your customer if they need to contact you by phone to amend an original order.

If you do take orders over the phone, you’ll still need a secure payment gateway. What’s more, you’ll also be required to implement tighter security measures for taking this type of payment.