Need to Find a Merchant Services Firm for Your Online Biz? Here are 3 Questions to Ask

by Darwin on April 25, 2017

Whether you’re about to launch an online business, or need to improve the payment options you provide via an established e-commerce store, it is vital that you find a way to give customers multiple payment options. They also need to be secure ones at that. In particular, to properly satisfy consumer demand, you must be able to accept debit and credit card payments, as these are the most popular choice of payment these days.

To do this, you need to find a merchant services firm that will handle transactions efficiently and securely, that is affordable for your needs, simple to set up and use, quick to establish, reliable, and more. With so many different options available though, it can be tricky trying to decide which to go with, particularly when so many of them seem, on the surface, to appear quite similar.

If you’re keen to find the best provider for your needs, read on for three of the most important questions you should put to any payment processing firm before you sign up with them.

What Are the Total Charges Involved?

When it comes to finding the right merchant services firm for taking credit card payments and other methods, price is always going to be one of the main factors you analyze. However, you need to be careful that when you’re comparing providers, you’re actually evaluating total costs and not just the most obvious ones.

When speaking with different companies, ask them what the total charges involved would be if you sign up with them. Different companies have different types of payment structures, as well as different things that are, and are not, included in their plans.

For instance, some companies will charge you a setup fee for creating an account and integrating systems, while others will not. As well, some charge extra if you want to access customer support, or each time you want to transfer funds from your balance into your bank account. In addition, some companies don’t charge extra for taking certain types of payments (such as American Express or Diners Club cards, or PayPal transactions), while others will add fees for this.

When you analyze the costs involved, compare the transaction fee methods closely too. You’ll find that a lot of firms operate using a flat-fee-per-transaction method, meaning you are charged a set percentage rate on every processed transaction. Others, though, have a monthly fee for their service that includes a certain amount of free transactions, plus extra charges for each payment processed above that limit. Alternatively, other payment processing providers have multiple payment plans to choose from that vary according to the level of sales volume or number of transactions processed.

Another thing to keep in mind as far as the money side of things goes is how long the various providers take to clear funds after transactions have gone through. While you might be leaning towards a particular provider to start with, if you find out that they hold onto funds for much longer than other merchant services firms, they could quickly become much less appealing. It is important to find out this information before you sign on the dotted line, as it can quite significantly affect your cash flow, particularly as your sales grow.

What Security Provisions Do You Have in Place?

When deciding on a payment processing provider, the security measures that are in place to protect your business and your customers should also be front of mind. Ask each firm you’re considering about the types of provisions they have in place to keep hackers at bay so that you don’t end up having your business finances and credibility compromised because of stolen data.

The best merchant services solutions are those which have numerous protocols in place to safeguard business and customer information. In particular, look for providers that offer support for the top-level SSL certificates, and that have CVV2 verification in place. They should also use complex encryption algorithms that are very difficult to hack; have data encryption on all transactions; use security to protect billing addresses; and be very strict about how data is sent and stored via the internet.

What Kind of Customer Support Available?

Lastly, don’t forget to ask firms about the kind of customer support they make available for their clients. While of course everyone always has their fingers crossed that the setup of a system and all future transactions will go smoothly, a glitch or two is bound to happen at some stage. As such, you need to be able to contact a customer support help desk when things go wrong or when you need to ask a question.

It pays to sign up with a merchant services provider that has customer service team members on hand 365 days per year, and 24 hours per day. This will ensure that if something happens, you don’t miss out on sales for hours or even days at a time.

As well, try to pick a firm that has multiple contact methods to choose from. For example, you should be able to contact them on the phone, via email, using live chat, and the like.

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