One of the primary points you want to consider when you set up a web store is how payments are going to be handled. Without a good payment system, you can't get paid for your work. There are some obvious things to bear in mind here. A payment system needs to be secure because it will handle your customers' sensitive financial data. It needs to be fast so that your customers are not delayed in placing their orders. It needs to be easy to use because you don't want to lose any customers to confusion over how to enter their payment details.
If you are not a web programmer, taking care of all of these important issues may seem to be far outside your skills. It doesn't have to be, though. Multiple services now exist to streamline this process of handling payments for online merchants. They are called payment gateways, and they can be a big help to the smooth running of your online business.
Payment Gateways Explained
There are multiple gateways now, some of them more familiar than others. PayPal is one well-known service for handling payments, and the Stripe payment gateway is gaining ground with good mobile features. Whichever gateway you choose, however, the process they use for handling payments is similar. The service accepts the credit card or other financial information from your customers and forwards it on through a series of transfers that end with the credit card number being checked by the issuing bank, which verifies the card account and authorizes the payment. The authorization is sent back through the same series of transfers to the payment gateway, which then tells your website that the transaction can be processed. The gateway service takes on the burden of understanding all the relevant information transfers. At the end of the payment process, which generally only takes a couple of seconds, your customer receives verification that the payment has been authorized, and you receive notification that a sale has been made without having to handle the in-between steps of the financial transaction.
Making Your Payment Gateway Choice
There are some things to think about when choosing the payment gateway for your site. Research the gateway's support options in case you will need to track or dispute any payment issues. Make sure their security is solid since they will be handling your customers' important private information. Read the fine print to discover any hidden costs to using the service. Consider whether or not the gateway can be integrated into your site, or whether your customers will be diverted to their site in order to finalize payments. Many gateways can do either, but the best choice for your site depends on individual factors. Finally, be aware of your own level of technical skill and also be honest with yourself about the amount of time and work you are able to invest in learning about a payment service and installing it on your site. Choose a payment gateway that will work with your own needs.