One of the most important parts of your ecommerce website is the payment gateway. It’s a critical component in your site’s sales funnel, and without it you won’t be able to accept online payment for your goods and services. You might have a beautifully designed website chock full of enticing products that the public is eager to get their hands on. You might even be enjoying a steady flow of organic traffic from potential customers searching for exactly what you’re selling. But without a suitable payment gateway in place your online marketplace is all but dead in the water.
Finding the Right Payment Gateway
Of course, finding the right payment gateway is easier said than done. There are dozens of options available to you, and they are not all created equal. This is definitely a case where one size does not fit all. Each payment service has its own advantages and disadvantages, and finding the perfect fit for your business can often be confusing.
In an effort to dispel some of that confusion we’re going to look at a handful of the most popular payment gateway available to ecommerce websites. We’ll look at their pros and cons, and hopefully help you find the payment solution that works best for your ecommerce business. In order to avoid any hint of favoritism we’ll run through them alphabetically.
Authorize.net is one of the oldest, and most established, of payment gateways. Founded in 1996, the firm has been providing payment services to businesses for more than 20 years, working with both online and brick-and-mortar retailers.
Authorize.net supports most major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover), as well as e-checks and contactless payments. They provide immediate funds transfer into the account holder’s bank account, a vital feature for smaller businesses that need to process sales in a quick and timely fashion. Their checkout process is simple and easy to use, allowing vendors to issue invoices, confirm transactions and offer recurring payment options for customers.
Security is a major selling point for Authorize.net. Customer data is securely stored and all sensitive information can be tokenized for enhanced data protection. The company also offers advanced fraud detection to protect vendors from unauthorized payments and other forms of online fraud.
Authorize.net offers three levels of service:
- All-in-One – This is best suited for businesses that do not have a separate merchant account in place. There are no start-ups fees for new clients. The service is offered at $25 per month, with a 2.9% + .30¢ fee per transaction.
- Payment Gateway Only – This is suitable for businesses that already have their own merchant account in place. Monthly gateway fee is $25, after which the merchant pays .10¢ per transaction and .10¢ per daily batch.
- Enterprise Solutions – This service package is designed for businesses processing transactions in excess of $500,000 per year. Fees are calculated accordingly
Payline Data is a relative newcomer in the industry, having been launched in 2009. But don’t let their youthful nature fool you; they’ve already built a strong reputation serving both small businesses and fortune 500 companies.
If your focus is on processing credit card transactions, Payline is one of the better choices. They support most major credit cards, and fees are calculated according to the interchange-plus pricing model. This can make them an affordable solution for smaller enterprises on a tight budget, especially when you consider the breadth of their services.
Payline Data offers the following features:
- Payline Connect – A payment gateway with in-built security and fraud protection.
- Subscription Billing – Ideal for businesses with recurring payment models such as membership fees and monthly subscription services.
- Enhanced Fraud Protection – Payline is partnered with Verifi, Ethoca, and iSpyFraud to help protect their clients and their clients’ customers from data theft and online fraud.
- ACH Payments – ACH payments support direct debiting, allowing vendors to optimize payments and reduce associated costs.
- Seamless Integration – Payline’s payment gateway solutions are compatible with most ecommerce platforms including Shopify, Wix.com, WooCommerce and BigCommerce.
If there is a downside to Payline Data it’s that they do not offer an all-in-one service, meaning that vendors will need a separate merchant account. This can make set-up more complex, and can marginally increase costs (although those costs are typically offset by Payline’s reasonable pricing models).
- Vendors are charged the cost of the specific credit card’s processing plus 0.3% of the transaction amount.
- There is a $10 monthly fee to maintain and active account.
PayPal is, without doubt, the most recognized firm on our list. PayPal offers a full slate of payment solutions for business, including payment gateways and payment processing services. Moreover, a large portion of the buying public has their own PayPal account that they regularly use for online shopping. This gives them a familiarity with customers that translates to trust for online retailers.
PayPal’s features and reputation make them an ideal choice for online retailers, particularly those with minimal online retail experience. PayPal is compatible with the majority of ecommerce platforms, and since you won’t need a separate merchant account set-up is easy. Vendors also have access to a full slate of security and fraud protection. Merchants can also transfer money into their business’ bank accounts quickly and easily, which is especially important for start-ups and smaller enterprises working with a tight operational budget.
PayPal offers three levels of service:
- PayPal Payments Standard – Customers create and customize orders onsite and then are redirected to PayPal to finalize the order and complete the payment. Fees are set at 2.9% + .30¢ per transaction with volume discounts available.
- PayPal Express Checkout – Customers create their orders and are then redirected to PayPal to authorize payment. After the payment is authorized the customer is sent back to the merchant’s website to finalize the transaction. Fees are set at 2.9% + .30¢ per transaction. No volume discounts are available for PayPal Express Checkout.
- PayPal Payments Pro – The merchant customizes all transactions onsite, with the customer never leaving the business’ website. PayPal Pro currently has limited availability. Fees are 2.9% + .30¢ per transaction + a $30 monthly fee.
Square has a long standing reputation for their point of sale systems, and it is in that arena that the company first made its name. However, over the last ten years or so Square has branched out into offering affordable ecommerce payment solutions for small to medium sized businesses. This makes the company a good fit for retailers with both online and real-world interests.
Square supports all major credit cards, as well as e-checks and most mobile pay options. Security features are impressive, with Square offering fraud detection services and dispute management for all of its clients regardless of size.
Merchants can choose from two service levels:
- Standard Payment Services – No monthly fee required. Merchants pay 2.9% + .30¢ per transaction, comparable to most others in the field.
- Paid Payment Service Plans – Squares paid service plans offer additional features plus a reduce fee structure of 2.6% + 30¢ per transaction.
Square is easily integrated into most ecommerce platforms including:
- Zen Cart
Stripe has quickly become one of the more popular payment gateways on the market, and that’s largely due to the product’s wide-ranging versatility. While some payment solution providers seem content to focus on only one aspect of online financial transactions, Stripe has built a service that supports a wider variety of payment scenarios including ecommerce stores, on-demand marketplaces, subscription services and crowd-funding projects.
Stripe’s security features are second to none with customer data subjected to advanced encryption protocols and stored in isolation from the decryption keys. Stripe also has a global reach, operating in 135 countries, which allows merchants to easily conduct business throughout the world. The firm’s payment solutions are compatible with most ecommerce platforms, and can be customized to integrate with purpose built websites. Finally, Stripe offers 24/7 support via email, phone or online chat.
Prices and fees are in line with the majority of the firm’s competitors. Fees currently stand at 2.9% + .30¢ per transaction with an additional 1% added to international transactions
Choosing a payment gateway is one of the most important decisions you will make when building and launching your ecommerce website. While there are many options available, it is vital to choose the payment solution that best supports your online enterprise and your plans for the future.
One last thought to keep in mind. All payment gateways effectively perform the same function – helping you get paid. Naturally, you want to choose the most cost effective solution for your business. However, fee structure is only one part of the equation. You also have to look carefully at the side features being offered. Security and reliability cannot be ignored, and a positive user experience is worth more to your business than the odd penny being saved on a given transaction.
Before you lock into any single payment gateway solution carefully research your options until you find one that works for your bottom line as well as for your customers.