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Maximize Your Sales by Offering a Number of Payment Options...
And Discover New Technology That Your Competitors Don't Know About!
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Maximize Your Sales by Offering a Number of Payment Options...
And Discover New Technology That Your Competitors Don't Know About!
By Derek Gehl
One of the most common questions I’m asked by customers and
subscribers like you who are interested in starting online businesses
is "How do I start accepting payments from my customers over the
The logistics of setting up your web site to accept online payments can
seem like a big hurdle for new business owners. But the fact is, if you
want your business to be successful, you MUST offer convenient and easy
ways for your customers to pay.
Credit cards are currently the 900 lb. gorilla of the online payment
world. In fact, over 90% of all the orders I receive are placed with
credit cards, and no online business can survive without offering this
payment option.The good news is that setting yourself up to accept
credit cards on your web site is way easier than you think, and in this
article I’ll show you how to do it in as little as 48 hours.
However, just because credit cards are the most popular way to pay for
goods and services online, it doesn’t mean that you can sit
back and relax just because you’re already accepting them.
If you’re serious about maximizing your sales,
you’ve got to think about offering other online payment
which has recently improved its service -- making it even easier for
your customers to use, and
which are poised to become the online fundraising vehicle of the future.
Plus, it’s still important to provide traditional offline
payment techniques such as 1-800
numbers, and order
forms that can be printed out and faxed or mailed.
It’s all about giving your customers choices -- and about
capturing every sale you can. Web-based businesses that don’t
offer payment alternatives to credit cards are shutting out millions of
consumers who either don’t own credit cards or are nervous
about using them online.
According to a study by CyberSource Corp., web sites
providing four or more payment methods other than credit cards have a
sales conversion rate that is 12% higher than those offering just one
payment option in addition to credit cards.
But before I get ahead of myself, let’s take a step back and
let me tell you how accepting credit cards will dramatically increase
85% more sales by accepting credit cards online
The simple truth is that you must accept credit cards on your web site
if you expect to stay in business. It’s been repeatedly
proven that if you do NOT accept credit cards on your site, you will
capture only about 15% of your potential sales.
You have to make it easy for visitors to your web site to buy your
products. Internet users expect instant access to information, goods,
or services, and online customers can be very impatient.
If dial-up users have to log off of the Internet to clear up the phone
line in order to call in their order, you can forget about doing a
large volume of sales. This is too much work for most of your
customers, who would be far more likely to find one of your competitors
that accepts credit cards online.
Accepting credit cards will also...
> Give your business a degree of
> Allow you to capture the sales
of impulse buyers, and
> Provide you with a
fully-automated payment and tracking
But before you can start accepting credit cards at your web site, there
are two important things you’ll have to do:
> Establish a secure
server to process credit card transactions,
> and Set up a merchant account.
At this point you may be thinking, "How I am I going to do this? I
don’t even know what secure servers or merchant accounts
are!" Don’t worry -- the concepts are really simple. With
just a little effort and patience, you’ll soon be accepting
credit card payments on your web site and reaping huge rewards.
1) Online ordering via a
For your site to be as professional as your customers expect it to be,
it must feature a secure server that protects your customers’
confidential information and gives them the confidence to safely enter
their credit card numbers.
A secure server is simply a computer server that can accept and
transmit confidential information such as credit card numbers without
the risk of someone intercepting the transmission and "stealing" the
information. The data is kept secure through encryption, which only the
oldest web browsers don’t support.
You can find out more about secure servers by contacting merchant
account providers, which is the next step in getting your site ready to
accept credit card payments.
2) Setting up your
You have a few different options when getting a merchant account. You
> Get your own
merchant credit card accounts with a local bank
If you have a good relationship with your bank -- and they
don’t require a large security deposit -- it’s best
to get your merchant credit card accounts through them.
You may, however, have to go through two different banks to process the
major cards -- Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover --
because some banks deal with only two out of the four.
Another problem with local banks is that they often charge a very high
"discount rate" or require a very large security deposit (between
$5,000 and $10,000).
For those of you who don’t know what a discount rate is,
it’s not really a "discount" at all! It’s the
percentage you pay on each transaction for the privilege of using
credit card services, and it varies according to your credit rating,
business history, and the amount of business your site is doing.
For example, if you have a discount rate of 2.5% and you make a credit
card sale for $100, you’ll only receive $97.50. The remaining
$2.50 goes to the credit card company.
> Get merchant
credit card accounts through a broker
Getting your merchant credit card accounts through a broker is my
personal preference for a number of reasons:
a) They are web-based specialists in getting credit card accounts for
online businesses, and, as should be expected, you can apply over the
b) They have a higher approval rate than banks and should be able to
get you a discount rate of 2% to 3% -- even if you’ve been
c) They are affordable and can often have you accepting credit card
payments on your web site in as little as 48 hours.
Finding a broker is not difficult. Besides searching online, you can
find plenty of brokers in the back of DM (Direct Mail) magazine. But do
some research, and make sure that the broker you choose has a good
There are lots of shady operators out there, so be careful of who you
choose. Check out the broker we currently recommend at http://www.marketingtips.com/creditcards
> Hire a
fulfillment house and use their credit card accounts
If your company is doing only a few thousand dollars of business each
month, a fulfillment house may be a good option for you.
A fulfillment house is a company that will...
a) Take your orders through a 1-800 number with live operators,
b) Process credit cards,
c) Provide some customer service,
d) Ship orders, and
e) Maintain your customer database.
These companies will also let you use their merchant credit card
accounts to process your orders for a fee. The downside is that the fee
is usually a 5% discount rate instead of the 2% or 3% you would pay if
you had your own accounts.
Because of the high discount rate charged by fulfillment houses,
I’d recommend that once your business grows larger, you get
your own merchant accounts and save some money.
A great place to find nearly 100 fulfillment houses is is
Yahoo!’s Fulfillment Services Directory. To get there, just
click on "Directory" at Yahoo!'s homepage and then search for
Use a "third party"
merchant account provider
Like fulfillment houses, companies such as iBill
let you use their merchant accounts. The upside of third party
providers is that they can get you up and running quickly, set up your
order forms, and process your orders.
The downside is that they charge you a processing fee of 11% to 15% of
the selling price -- depending on the volume of business you are doing.
While the discount rate offered by these companies is substantially
higher than the other options I’ve been talking about, most
do not require any setup fees, software, or security deposits, which
make them a simple and convenient option for some.
In addition to iBill, you could also check out:
using PayPal can expand your customer base and increase your sales
PayPal is an increasingly popular way to accept payments online.
Founded in 1998, it enables any individual or business with an e-mail
address to send and receive payments over the Internet affordably,
securely, and quickly.
First of all, I’d like you to know that PayPal has recently
improved its service -- making it an even better payment alternative
for your online business. One of PayPal’s biggest limitations
used to be that customers needed to set up a PayPal account before
making payments...but not anymore!
For new users, signing
up for a PayPal account is now optional. This means your customers can
complete their payments and then decide whether or not to create an
The need for an account used to drive people away, but by eliminating
that requirement, PayPal has dramatically increased your potential
customer base and made buying your product easier -- which always
translates into higher sales and growth for your business.
And in addition to reaching an already established network of over 64
million accounts in 45 countries, PayPal has tons of other benefits for
> It’s secure. After setting up an account, customers
don’t have to give
out credit card details to each individual company. And you
know you’re dealing with
> There is no need for a merchant account to accept credit card
orders, which is convenient and cheap if you’re
just starting out.
> Your customers can choose to pay by credit card, bank account,
or PayPal balance.
> It supports payments in US Dollars, Canadian Dollars, Euros,
Sterling, and Japanese Yen, making cross-border sales
easier than ever.
> It’s FREE for customers and affordable for small
> Set-up is fast, and you can get started in minutes.
PayPal charges you 1.9% to 2.9% of the transaction plus 30 cents per
order, depending on your company’s sales volume. The best
part is that fees are only applied when you accept a payment, and there
are no setup or monthly charges.
To get started using PayPal, just go to their web site
and click the "Sign Up Now" button. The rest is easy.
debit cards are poised to take the world of online payments by storm
If you want to get the edge on your competitors, you may want to look
into setting up your web site to accept debit card payments online.
Debit card use is becoming hugely popular. In fact, according to AllBusiness.com,
credit card purchases have been expanding by about 15% for the last
five years, but debit card purchases have been growing even faster at
more than 50% per year.
And by the end of 2005, credit and debit cards are expected to account
for 43% of all purchases in North America -- proving that you can no
longer ignore customers who want to pay by debit card over the Internet.
But before I tell you how accepting debit cards online will help your
business grow, it’s important that you understand how debit
cards work, as well as the different types that are currently in use.
When a payment is made using a debit card, the funds are immediately
withdrawn from the purchaser’s bank account.
There’s no "pay later" option with a debit card. With a debit
card, you pay now.
There are basically two
types of debit cards:
> The first is a signature-based
debit card that has a Visa or MasterCard logo on it. You can use these
cards anywhere VISA and MasterCard are accepted. If you’re
already accepting credit card payments online, you should be able to
accept this form of payment as well. Just check with your merchant
> The second type is a personal identification number (PIN-based) debit
card. I’m sure that most of you have at least seen this type
of card used at offline stores -- you swipe your card through a small
reader and enter your PIN number, making this type of debit card
impossible to use over the Internet... until now.
A company called UseMyBank has developed software that allows
purchasers to access their own bank accounts and pay for goods and
services in real time. The process is nearly identical to paying bills
online with your bank, and the money is immediately taken from your
account -- just like when using a debit card.
Here’s how it works. If your customer decides to use this
service to purchase a product, they will be asked to select their bank,
as well as which account they want to pay from. You are then
immediately notified of their payment and can start your delivery
One of the best features of this service is that your customers
don’t have to give up any of their credit or banking
information to you, making this one of the most secure options
And in addition to providing another payment option for people who
don’t like to use credit cards for online purchases, this
method also targets teens, who represent a huge market, but who often
don’t have access to credit cards.
UseMyBank is currently available only in Canada, but the company is
launching its service internationally in the second quarter of this
year. That’s why I’m giving you this information
now -- so you can stay ahead of your competitors by providing your
customers with the newest and easiest ways to pay online.
For more information about how you can offer your customers this
payment option, just go to UseMyBank’s web
site and have a look around. Signing up is straightforward,
and the site should be able to answer all of your questions.
forget to include offline payment options
In addition to providing the online payment alternatives I've been
talking about, it's still very important that you give your customers
the option of ordering and paying offline to ensure you capture the
maximim number of sales.
Many people are still nervous about giving out their credit card
information over the Internet, despite secure servers, and some
customers will always want to speak with a live person. Giving your
customers the option of speaking with a "real" person adds credibility
AND a human element to your online business.
Another benefit is that the person taking the call can answer
customers’ questions as well as help "close" the sale by
encouraging customers and giving them the final "push" to buy.
To make sure you are able to capture the orders of these customers, you
Have a 1-800 number available 24/7, and
Offer an order form customers can print out and fax or mail.
If you’re not already accepting credit cards directly from a
secure order form on your web site, you are missing out on a HUGE
number of sales. With 90% of all online purchases being made with
credit cards, you literally can’t afford not to offer this
payment option on your website.
However, even if you are set up to process credit cards online, you
can’t leave your site off limits to the millions of people
who do not have or want to use credit cards.To tap into this lucrative
market, you’ve got to provide some of the alternative payment
methods I have been talking about.
But don't forget that in addition to PayPal and debit cards, there are
still lots of other online payment methods, including e-checks,
e-wallets, person-to-person e-mail payments, etc., that you may want to
Making it easy for your potential customers to do business with you is
essential to your online success. That doesn’t mean you need
to provide all of the payment methods available, but if
you’re serious about maximizing your sales, it’s
good to know what’s out there so you can make sure you're
taking advantage of the options that best suit your type of business
About the Author:
Derek Gehl specializes in teaching real people how to start profitable Internet businesses that make $100,000 to $2.5 Million (or more) per year. To get instant access to all his most profitable marketing campaigns, strategies, tools, and resources that he's used to grow $25 into over $60 Million in online sales, visit: http://www.marketingtips.com/t.cgi/837529
********** Additional References **********
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Simple PHP - easy guide teachs how and why you should add PHP to your web site.
Affiliate Armor - protection for affiliate links against bypass and lost commissions.
Java Scripts Magic - advanced web page design with easy copy and paste codes for those who want to skip all the HTML techie talk.
Absolute Beginners Guide to CGI - step-by-step guide to learning the basics of CGI scripting.
XSitePro - an easy way to create a stream of income-generating web sites in minutes.
MateMedia - puts your business on the web in 4 steps with affordable hosting plans.
Easy Site Magic - adds special features to your web site / free report: "23 Tips to Get Repeat Visitors to Your Site, Build Your Subscriber List and Turn More "Browsers" into Paying Customers".
Best wishes for your online success!
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