There are a few main features that every eCommerce website must have to do business. Perhaps the most essential of them all is a way to get paid. If you can’t take online payments, then the main goal of your business—making money—is impossible.
In the competitive online marketplace, having one way to accept payments is required, but having multiple could put you at an advantage.
eCommerce businesses have a number online payment methods to consider, each promising to provide an intuitive and secure checkout experience.
To make sure you’re providing the best payment methods to your visitors (and capturing as many sales as possible), here’s the main information you need to know about online payment methods and the top options available.
What are Online Payment Gateways?
Online payment gateways are the eCommerce services that process payment information for websites. Online payment gateways offer two main benefits to eCommerce businesses:
1.They make the checkout process fast and easy.
Have you ever started to make a purchase only to realize that the process of buying the item took too long and required more work than you were willing to do?
The average rate of shopping cart abandonment—people who expressed a clear intent to buy and then didn’t—is around 70%. If your checkout process puts barriers in the way of making a purchase, the likelihood that you’ll lose sales because of it is high.
A good online payment gateway makes the process simple and intuitive so you capture most of those sales rather than losing them.
2. They provide encryption to keep your customer’s information secure.
The threat of identity theft means that every online transaction a customer makes requires trust. You have to make sure that the sensitive information they provide you is protected from hackers around the web that seek to steal credit card information from vulnerable sites.
Since online payment gateways specialize in processing financial information, they have the proper encryption and safety features to keep your customers’ information safe.
Why Offer Multiple Online Payment Methods?
While it’s possible to get by with one safe and easy online payment method, many customers are starting to have the expectation of using their favorite payment methods on sites across the web.
With the growing popularity of services like PayPal, Square, and Apple Pay, customers are increasingly able to checkout on a variety of websites without having to spend time adding all their payment and address information for each purchase. Instead they only have to log into an account they use regularly, and in many cases may not even have to do that if their device remembers it.
That creates a more seamless and convenient experience for them—especially on mobile, where a growing number of online purchases are taking place. The more your visitors come to expect this kind of convenience, the less likely they are to bother with a website that makes them do more work.
Is It Really Worth the Time and Effort to Add New Payment Options?
Bayard found that 19% of shoppers who have abandoned a cart said they didn’t trust the site with their card information. And another 8% directly said there weren’t enough payment options.
So, let’s do some quick math: for the average eCommerce store, 70 out of every 100 shoppers who add an item to their cart will bail. And anywhere from 8-19% of those will do so because they’re not satisfied with the current online payment methods you offer.
By adding additional online payment options, you could convert up to 13 (that’s 19%) of those 70 shoppers. And if you add the payment methods your target audience prefers, you could convert another 5 or so (the 8% who want other options).
Earning up to 18 more conversions per 100 potential shoppers seems like a worthwhile use of your time. Let’s look at some methods to consider.
10 Online Payment Methods to Consider
The online payment services on the market all aim to offer easy and secure ways to pay. Each has different reasons to consider using them.
Paypal is one of the biggest and most familiar of all the online payment options. The site has over 254 million users. That’s a lot of people who would have an easier time making a purchase on your website if you let them check out with Paypal. The service boasts that it’s currently used by over 17 million businesses and that customers who use PayPal to check out convert at 82% higher rates than with other payment options.
That’s a pretty compelling reason to use PayPal. Luckily, adding a PayPal button to your checkout process is pretty simple (although you may need to work with a developer if you don’t use an eCommerce solution). Expect to pay 30 cents plus 2.9% for each purchase processed through PayPal.
2. Amazon Pay
Paypal may be popular, but Amazon is undisputedly one of the most popular sites across the whole web, and one that almost all your customers will have accounts with already. Adding Amazon Pay to your store can make it easier for Amazon customers to shop with you without having to key in their payment data in your checkout.
You’ll reduce barriers to purchase for hundreds of millions of customers, while also offering a payment option that the company promises has proven fraud protection. Amazon’s payment method works well on mobile devices, offering a seamless experience where it matters most.
Setting up an Amazon Pay button your website with their Express Integration option can take a matter of minutes. Or you can use their API, which takes a little longer, but allows you to customize the experience to better fit in with your website. As with PayPal, the cost of using Amazon Pay is 30 cents plus 2.9% for each purchase.
3. Google Pay
If anyone can compete with PayPal and Amazon for market share, it’s Google. The company now offers their own online payment method, Google Pay. Google says hundreds of millions their users already have card information saved to their Google accounts, which means providing a Google Pay option offers added convenience for a significant number of people.
As with the other options, they promise an intuitive process—on desktop and mobile—and top-notch security through encryption.
Google Pay also lets retailers set up loyalty programs, digital gift cards, and deals for customers so everyone can skip the paper and plastic cards. And Google Pay works with PayPal and Visa Checkout for added reach.
Notably, they don’t charge you anything for using the service. It’s free for both you and your customers.
4. American Express
American Express might not have the market share that our first three online payment gateways do, but it has something just as valuable: consumer trust. While American Express is not as ubiquitous as some its credit card competitors, it has one of the highest satisfaction rates in the industry and tends to target a higher-income consumer than other credit card companies.
As such, the people who would find an American Express checkout option attractive are likely to be some of the top visitors you’d want to attract.
They promise fraud protection, 24/7 customer support, and the flexibility to work with a number of payment processors and consider different add-on features. And they can accept over 120 currencies, so if you’re interested in attracting international customers, that’s a big benefit.
The catch, as you might expect, is that the option costs more than most of your other choices. Prices for American Express’s gateway start at $20 a month for up to 100 transactions, but go up for additional transactions. And they have a setup fee on top of that number which starts at $99.
If you think you’ll have enough high-value customers likely to see a benefit in using the AmEx gateway to check out, the cost may be worth it though.
5. Apple Pay
For people who use Apple devices—and that’s more than 64% of people in the U.S.—Apple Pay works as a mobile wallet when they’re out and about, and a one-click payment option on websites that accept it. For mobile users, customers can even check out with Apple Pay by using their touch identification—it doesn’t get much easier than that.
Apple Pay uses tokenization to keep credit card information secure, meaning that once a user provides their credit card information to the service, the device communicates with the issuing bank to create a randomly generated number (or token) to represent that card. That obscures the information from hackers, keeping consumers’ financial data safe while working quickly.
You can set your website up to accept Apple Pay by using their API, as long as you already use one of the compatible platforms or payment providers. Like Google, Apple’s payment gateway is completely free for both merchants and customers.
Where some of the options we’ve looked at so far are primarily useful as an add-on checkout option, Stripe provides a good basis for other online payment methods to be added onto.
As with some of the other options, Stripe costs 30 cents plus 2.9% for domestic credit card processing, and .8% for ACH payments.
While Square is mostly associated with in-person point-of-sale (POS) payment processing, the company also offers eCommerce options. They have an online payment API that accepts many of the payment methods we’ve included here (Google Pay, Apple Pay, Masterclass), as well as credit card payments.
In addition to payment processing, they offer an easy checkout solution that allows customers to set up profiles at the same time that they provide their payment information. Like many of the other solutions, Square charges 2.9% plus $.30 per payment.
8. Visa Checkout
Like the payment gateway from American Express, Visa Checkout makes it extra easy for all Visa cardholders to check out on your website without having to fill in all their payment information. There are over 2 million people enrolled in Visa Checkout, so you’d be making the checkout process easier for a significant portion of your audience.
That convenience clearly makes a difference, since Visa’s data shows that offering Visa Checkout can increase conversions by 42%. The payment option includes advanced security features and easy setup options.
Mastercard’s Masterpass payment option is similar to those offered by American Express and Visa. It makes it easy for any Mastercard holders to quickly and easily check out from your website. And it provides the kind of advanced security in the payment process you’d expect from a credit card company—including user verification, tokenization, issuer authentication, and fraud monitoring.
Mastercard doesn’t charge any fees to either you or the customer. And the company has developers available to help you get set up.
2Checkout is a global payment processing solution that accepts payments from across the world in a number of different currencies. They provide a customizable checkout that you can design and add to your website, extensive fraud protection, and a responsive design that ensures customers can easily check out across devices.
They offer an API that makes adding the processing solution to your website fairly simple, while also providing the flexibility to customize it as needed. The company charges 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction, with extra fees for foreign customers. Check out their guide to payment processing.
Choosing Your eCommerce Payment Gateway
As you can see, when it comes to getting paid, you have options. But it’s less a matter of finding the right one, and more a matter of determining just how many different online payment methods you want to make available to your customers.
If adding more options to your checkout process makes buying products from you faster and more convenient, you’re likely to see an increase in sales as a result—so the question may really be, can you afford not to add more payment options?
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.