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There's $6 trillion in ecommerce sales taking place in 2023, accounting for nearly 23% of everything humans buy or sell today. Ecommerce business covers a pretty broad spectrum, from strictly online transactions to in-person sales that go through a payment processing service at checkout. 

Whether you're running a 100% online store or selling handmade crafts at a farmers' market and accepting mobile payments at the point-of-sale (POS) location, you need your ecommerce payment processing to be smooth, fast, reliable, and seamless.

A lot goes into payment processing. Some challenges you’ll likely face include:

  • Using your knowledge to craft a positive customer experience and protect customer data.
  • Collecting real-time payment information, preventing chargebacks, and securely processing debit cards and credit card transactions for your ecommerce store or other online business.

With this article, I’ll help you improve your ecommerce payment process to get as much of that $6 trillion ecommerce market as possible by optimizing the total payment experience.

I’ll go over the different types of payments you might be using for your checkout process, from online invoicing to POS credit card payments. I’ll also discuss alternative payment methods and helpful tips to optimize your payment processing system. 

By the end of it, you should be familiar with the different payment processors and credit card processing service providers, as well as have a better grasp on various payment options.

Pick The Right Payment Service For The Job

No matter how you're invoicing, you can't handle the digital payment details alone. A good starting point is to check out our top picks for the best payment processors.

Typically, you'll want to work with a third-party payment processor for credit card payments and other merchant services. There are many available, and figuring out which one is the right payment processor for you might take a bit of detective work. 

Picking a payment service requires you to balance several factors:

  • All of them charge processing fees or transaction fees, which cuts into every sale, but they don't all charge the same rate or do it in exactly the same way.
  • You want something secure so your customer's card information isn't left floating on the internet, and it should have a certain level of fraud detection built into it.
  • Finally, it wouldn't hurt if your processor had decent customer support when you call with a problem.

Here are some of the major payment processing services most ecommerce platforms use, along with some of their strengths and weaknesses:

Apple Pay

Apple Pay is fast and safe, with full tokenization and solid encryption protocols to prevent fraud. Lots of people have an Apple Pay account, which makes it likely your customers will be able to pay you with a single click.

Google Pay

Google Pay comes with security that's just as good as Apple's competing service, but there may be compatibility issues. Access is limited in certain countries, though not in the United States. You might have to hunt around for a bank that will support Google Pay, but once you do you've got excellent recordkeeping. Be prepared for slow and occasionally delayed transfers, especially to smaller merchant banks.

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PayPal

PayPal has really high functionality and tends to be good for different types of invoicing and payment processing. You can set up a personal or professional account with different fee structures on PayPal, and merchant accounts might let you borrow up to $300,000 at a fixed rate rather than compound interest.

Shopify Payments

If you use Shopify Payments, you might get by without incurring any fees. Third-party providers do come at a cost on the platform, which varies depending on whether you're signed up for Basic Shopify, Shopify, or Advanced Shopify plans.

Stripe

Stripe has a really good reputation among ecommerce managers and web developers. It's fast and secure, though a common complaint is that the service is a little quick to approve chargebacks that sellers might dispute.

Amazon

Amazon seamlessly handles authentication and address verification for you at the time of checkout. The site is also a decent ecommerce platform for small business owners who may not have their own online store yet.

Streamline Your Checkout Process

Conversion rates are an issue for just about every ecommerce platform. Nothing is more frustrating than to see a high cart abandonment rate, as a clunky checkout process makes people stop short of typing in their card details and finishing the sale.

Go over your own checkout from time to time as if you were a customer yourself. You can even put in your Visa or Mastercard number to complete the sale and watch for any hangups that could scupper a sale at the last minute.

In particular, try to optimize your checkout flow with these points in mind:

Make it mobile-friendly

A huge number of sales go through mobile devices, mainly phones and tablets. This matters to you, no matter how you're selling, since Google now prioritizes sites that are mobile-friendly, whether people searching for your site are themselves using mobile or not.

Use clean design

Mobile or not, nobody likes a cluttered interface. Too many widgets and functions crammed into a screen can confuse and distract your customers, and it might derail the checkout at any point. Instead of packing in every feature you think you can fit in, discipline yourself and prioritize presenting your customers with a smooth, clean interface.

Resist the urge to ask for unnecessary information

Customer data can be valuable, even just for tracking and marketing purposes. Asking for too much data, however, can easily spook a customer and drive them away, especially if you're a small ecommerce site they may be buying from for the first time.

Allow guest checkout

Not everybody wants to sign up for an account to buy socks, and even your existing customers might want to quickly buy and bounce. Letting people checkout as guests creates a fast lane you can offer to help new and casual buyers, as well as returning customers in a hurry.

Offer multiple ways to pay

While you should keep clutter to a minimum, make an exception for offering multiple ways to pay. While most ecommerce customers have a credit card or debit card, some of them would prefer to use PayPal or Apple Pay to checkout, which could make for extra sales.

Don't surprise your customer with extra costs

Your pricing has to be transparent. Many customers will bounce as soon as they see their $25 purchase will actually cost $32. If you have to charge sales tax or delivery fees, add a window to the side where customers can see those charges throughout the checkout process.

Keep Improving Your Processes

Optimizing your payment processing is an ongoing process you're never really done with.

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By Francois Marchand

Francois Marchand is The Ecomm Manager's content strategist and editor. He is passionate about helping and educating business leaders, ecommerce professionals, and digital marketers grow their skill sets to stay ahead of the competition. Francois holds a BA Specialization in Communication Studies & Journalism from Concordia University (Montreal, QC) and 20+ years of experience in ecommerce, marketing, traditional and digital media, and public relations, including The Vancouver Sun, National Post, CBC/Radio-Canada, Unbounce, and Vancouver Film School. He also hosts The Ecomm Manager Podcast, discussing ecommerce best practices, customer experience, branding, inventory management, shipping and delivery, and analytics with expert guests.