7 Tips for Finding the Best Online Payment Merchant

Do you remember when Square was revolutionary? Now there are new companies getting in on the act every day, and choosing the best merchant for your wireless credit card machine involves asking yourself a few questions.

Online Shopping and Payments1. What Kind of Support Do I Get?

A good online payment merchant will have a real live human being available to take your call 24.7. A good merchant understands that you don’t have time to wait for an emailed support ticket to get resolved. You need a solution right that second. Any merchant worth your business will make that available to you.

2. What is the Fee Structure?

Every online and mobile payment merchant has a transaction fee. That’s how the merchant makes money. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to settle for super high fees. Look for a merchant with fees that won’t take too large a chunk out of your sales. Most of the best merchants charge fees in the 2-3% range.

3. What Do Other Sellers Think?

As with anything else, it is important to check out the reputation of any company you are thinking of partnering with—especially if that company is going to have anything to do with your money. Do the research and see what people think of each mobile merchant you’re thinking of using. Make sure that you look for independent reviews, through Google, CNet, etc. Do not rely solely upon testimonials offered through the merchant’s website.

4. What is the Size of Your Sales Force?

Are you going to be processing a lot of transactions, or are you a sole entity who is hoping to sell a few things here and there? The larger your sales force, the more robust a system you need to have in place. For example, a brick-and-mortar shop using the online payment merchant as its register system is going to have different needs than someone selling merchandise at a craft fair or sporadically through a website.

5. Will You Be Charged for the System Components?

Most of the time, the best payment processors will give you a card reader and other system periphery for free. They know they’ll make up the cost of the hardware in fees gained via your transactions. Sometimes, though, especially if your sales force is large and you need a large amount of equipment, you might be asked to pay a reasonable fee. Do not assume, though, that hefty equipment charges are normal. They aren’t.

6. What Kind of Payments Can You Accept?

As mobile and online payment processing technology advances, more and more types of payment are being accepted. Is almost all of your sales volume going to be purchased with a credit card? Do you want to be able to take checks as well? Do you want or need to be able to track your cash payments as well as card payments? Find the merchant system that allows you to easily take and track whatever payments make the most sense for you and what you are selling.

Almost half of your buyers love something quite a lot more than three other somethings!

Almost half of your buyers love something quite a lot more than three other somethings!

7. How Extensive Are the Merchant’s Analytics Reports?

You already know that being able to track your customers’ information is important. You need to track what people are buying, how much of it they are buying, and how often they are buying it. Is one product more popular in one part of the country than it is in another? Does one person buy everything you sell the moment you put it up? This is information that will help you not just track your money but make business, product, and marketing decisions. The better and more in-depth the analytics, the better.

Extra Bonus Tip: Make sure you choose a merchant whose interface is easy for you to use. You don’t want to get lost in the system while you’re trying to process a payment, do you? That just makes you look unprofessional!

Choosing a mobile or online payment processor is more involved than closing your eyes and pointing at a picture of a card reader. It should not, however, be an impossible decision to make. Weigh the pros and cons, figure out what you need, and pick the processor that best matches the two. Viola! You’re done!


Erin Steiner is a freelance writer who covers, among other things, a variety of small business- and internet-related topics such as how to find the best wireless credit card machine.

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  1. Jonathan January 20, 2013
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