By Peter Harvey, Founder and MD of PayGate
If you’re selling anything online, your payment gateway provider is one of your most important partners. It’s the vital interface between you, your customers and your bank that ensures your customers get to buy what they want, safely and conveniently – and that you get paid on time.
But is your payment gateway really the trusted partner you need – or is it costing you sales? If any of these warning signs is showing in your business, it’s time to look around for a more reliable alternative.
Warning sign #1: Your gateway offers too few payment options
Not everyone has a credit card, and even people with credit cards like to be offered more than one payment option. So if your payment gateway only accepts credit card payments, you’re turning away customers at the till. There are three dominant payment methods in this market and you need to offer all of them: Credit cards, debit cards and direct bank transfers.
A good gateway should not only offer all three payment methods, it should also make it easy for you as the merchant. You should never have to create or log in to more than one account, or download multiple reports: All the information about every transaction through your gateway should be available in one place, where it’s easy to download and interpret.
Warning sign #2: Your gateway is often not available
Things happen, and 100% uptime isn’t necessarily an achievable goal – but if your gateway can’t guarantee at least 99.9% uptime you need to ask them why not. At that level, you can expect eight or nine hours a year of downtime, during which your customers will encounter a locked door. That’s inconvenient, but it’s not going to kill your business. Drop down to 99%, though, and you’re looking at 87 hours of downtime a year – that’s almost four days. Can you afford to lose four days of sales this year?
Warning sign #3: Your gateway forces customers into an extra registration process
The research is very clear on this: The more hoops we have to jump through as customers before we can complete a purchase, the more likely we are to give up. So if your customers have to register on your website before they can buy, they’ll grumble a bit but most of them will stick with you. But if, having done that once, they get asked to register a second time before they can actually pay, they’re far more likely to give up. Your payment gateway should be helping to make purchases easier, not more difficult.
Warning sign #4: Your gateway doesn’t offer reliable support
When you have a problem and you pick up the phone to your gateway partner, can you reliably expect the phone to be answered – by someone who can actually solve the problem? That’s the level of service you should expect – if you’re not getting it, look elsewhere.
Warning sign #5: Your gateway doesn’t offer affordable fraud protection
There are various specialist fraud protection services available, but they can be expensive, difficult and time-consuming to run. If you’re not a large corporate, it’s not going to work for you. That’s where your service provider should step in, offering affordable and easy to use fraud protection at the gateway level. It’s only one of several different ways you can protect yourself, but it’s not one most businesses should ignore. If your payment gateway doesn’t help protect you from credit card fraud, they are not the partner you need.
In the end, it all comes down to customer focus: As an online retailer, you know you have to put in a lot of time and effort to make shopping on your site an enjoyable, easy experience that your customers will tell their friends about. If that effort is being undermined at the last minute because one of your key partners is making it difficult for your customers to complete their purchases, that’s not the partner you need.