How to choose a payment gateway

How to choose a payment gateway

When you decide to start your own e-commerce store with Ecwid, there’s a lot to think about. Out of all the questions you may have when starting up your online business, one stands out: what online payment options are available so you can get paid?

When opening your e-commerce business, it’s important to consider what the best method of accepting online payments to fit your needs. You need to choose from among many systems for processing credit cards, called payment gateways — each one is a type of middleman for e-commerce transactions. An online payment gateway connects your store’s customers to a secure payment processor which transfers money from their credit cards into your bank account. It essentially connects your store to the credit card networks and is necessary for you to get paid..

This article will discuss just exactly what payment gateways are, which payment options are available to you, and help you choose which one is the right fit for your e-commerce store.

You use payment gateways all the time, probably without even thinking about it. Any time you buy something online, use your PayPal account, or even shop in a physical store — when you swipe your card at the coffee shop, your information is being transmitted through a payment gateway. Even though online payment gateways are common in our daily lives, selecting one for your e-commerce store can still feel daunting. With so many providers out there, which one is just right for you?

When choosing the right provider, there are a few important questions to consider:

  • Data security: will your transactions be secure and protected?
  • Reliability: will payments and account transfers work seamlessly?
  • Compatibility: will it meet you and your customer’s payment needs?
  • Affordability: will it sting you with monthly fees?
  • Integration: will it work well with your Ecwid store?

Luckily, you have options: there are a variety of online payment gateways already set up with Ecwid and ready to go. Ecwid never will meddle with your store’s payments in any way and never actually sees the credit card number, it simply connects you with a supported payment gateway provider or offline method established to transfer money from your customers accounts to yours!

What is a payment gateway?

Online payment gateways are simply a service for conducting e-commerce payments. They’re similar to swiping your credit card at a physical store, using a card reader or cash register — but in this case, the card reader is the online payment gateway. Payment gateways charge the customers for purchases from an e-commerce site, take their payment using a credit card or other method, process this payment and then, if accepted, transfer the money into a “merchant” account, which is connected to the seller’s bank account.

For your customers, what will this look like? It depends on the particular gateway — some are native which means the customer never knows they have left your site. Many others require a customer complete their checkout in your Ecwid store, they are re-directed to the secure payment gateway website, outside of Ecwid. Customers submit their credit card or PayPal information and confirm the purchase. For anyone who shops online, this is a familiar scenario. When customers input their payment information into the form the transaction will be processed on the payment side. This ensures that sensitive data is not being transferred through your Ecwid store, but your customers will remain in the online store during the payment process.

Once the payment gateway verifies the card and completes (or declines) the transaction charge, they send that information to Ecwid. Both you and your customer will be sent confirmation of a successful purchase with an updated order status.

You can move on to shipping your product, while the money is added into your merchant account, set up with the payment gateway provider. From there, it usually takes a couple days to transfer into your bank account.

When it’s all said and done, you’ve conducted the full transaction with your customer in just a few seconds through your e-commerce site — even less time than it takes to get through a regular store’s checkout line.

We’ve all heard about fraud threats and security breaches—your customers are thinking about the security of payment transactions, so you should be too. Ecwid works only with secure and trusted payment gateways. There is an increasingly-high standard of data encryption which payment gateway providers must comply with, called PCI. Many use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption and other security precautions in order to protect all data exchanged in a transaction. Ecwid takes extra effort to secure your data: customers must input their information directly in the payment gateway website, so all charges are processed only on the payment side.

Which payment gateway is right for me?

Choosing a payment gateway is a big consideration, and there are many companies that may fit your needs. There are several criteria to consider when choosing a provider company, including ease, security and reliability.

The top four qualifications for a payment gateway are:

  • Ease to set up and get approved for an account
  • The provider accepts payments in your region, using your currency.
  • Their services will meet all the needs of your business (high-risk items, time to deposit money)
  • Their pricing plans and transaction fees fit comfortably in your budget.

If you are new to ecommerce you may want to use a more common, universal payment gateway, like PayPal. If you have a banking relationship that has a standard merchant account they usually work with Authorize.net SIM. Your business might work best with an international gateway, like 2Checkout, to accept worldwide payments. Or you can select a region-specific gateway, like Bancomer if you operate out of Mexico, Square or Stripe if you’re in the U.S., PayUmoney in India, or QIWI if you’re located in Russia. Ecwid is capable of supporting many region-specific payment gateway providers.

Next you need to make sure they’re the right fit for your business. What if you’d like to keep your user in your store, rather than re-directing them to the payment gateway website? Some store owners may prefer an “all-in-one” on-site purchasing experience. You might prefer a native payment gateway for users, you can select one of several, like PayPal’s PayFlow Link and Payments Advanced, or American Express, which do offer on-site purchase and processing.

Finally, you have to consider the cost of a payment gateway which fits the needs of your business. Every gateway has a different fee structure, and offers different features. Consider what your top priorities are for your payment gateway. Accepting international payment? Low transaction fees? No monthly charge?

Many payment gateways charge flat transaction fees, while feature-rich payment gateways charge higher initial charges plus monthly rates. Others offer high-volume or micropayment discounts — like Dwolla, which allows free transactions under $10. Or maybe you want to accept Bitcoin and want to use BitPay to connect. In the next section, we compare five of the most popular Ecwid-compatible payment gateways and their fee schedules.

How do online payment options work?

If you’re selling items in a retail store, you receive a payment at the time you complete a transaction. This payment might consist of cash, a credit card or check and is given to you on the spot.

When selling online, there is an online payment method, which represents an immediate transfer of money from a buyer’s account to a seller’s. If you sell items online, the process of accepting online payments involves three parties:

  • Your Ecwid store: This is where a buyer will go to find and purchase items.
  • Payment gateway: This system is located outside your store but is connected to it on a programming level and allows your company to accept online payments.
  • Your merchant account: This account links a payment gateway to your bank account, ensuring you’ll be able to receive online payments.

With Ecwid, you won’t have to do any programming to accept online payments. After a buyer clicks the “Continue” button during the final checkout step, he or she will arrive at a secure payment gateway site. Here, the buyer can choose an online payment method and submit the payment, and Ecwid will transfer the customer and order information (order total, tax amount, shipping cost and shipping/billing address) to the payment gateway.

The payment gateway connects the buyer’s online payment method to your bank account. That way, money is charged to the buyer, or the transaction is declined (e.g. if a buyer’s online payment method includes incorrect information or there are insufficient funds in a buyer’s bank account.) The payment gateway sends a transaction confirmation back to Ecwid, which will accept the confirmation and update the order status in the control panel. Ecwid then will notify the store owner and customer about the order status via email. Most importantly the merchant account is what sends this money minus any fees to your bank account.

Which payment gateways work on Ecwid?

With all supported online payment gateways, the technology is already integrated into Ecwid, so you won’t have to do any programming work. You can quickly set up your payment gateway, get your store launched and start working. Ecwid supports only known and trusted gateways with a strong security reputation, ensuring the protection of you and your customers’ financial information.

4 popular payment gateways supported by Ecwid

PayPal

Pros: PayPal is widely-used, available in 190 countries, and offers a variety of plans to meet merchant needs no matter the size of their business. It’s easy to use, has name recognition and is considered reliable. For businesses with a high sales volume, PayPal discounts transaction fees. There are many flavors of PayPal — Standard and Express Checkout which are simple to start but lead the customers away from your site. While they have have native gateways (Advanced and Payflow) which keep the customer on the site but require monthly fees and more time to set up.

Cons: PayPal is a large operation and some people had bad experiences in the past — usually from the old eBay days. There are a variety of different options so the negative is figuring out which one works best for you.

authorizeNet

Pros: Authorize.Net is the original payment gateway and has been in business for twenty years, highly trusted and works as a gateway to most of the traditional banking systems. It has a lower transaction fee than average at just $0.10. It accepts international transactions, all major credit cards, and other payment methods.

Cons: Authorize.Net charges high set-up costs: $49 initially plus $20 monthly. It is only available to businesses in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and Europe.

Stripe

Pros: Stripe is a popular new payment gateway that’s rich in features and has a well-documented API that is seamlessly built into the Ecwid checkout process. Transactions are highly secure and automatically PCI compliant. It charges a flat 2.9% + 30¢ transaction fee and low or no service fees. Stripe transfers earnings into your bank account automatically.

Cons: Stripe does not offer high-volume discounts like PayPal. It accepts international payment from customers, but businesses must be based in Australia, Canada, Ireland, U.K. or U.S. Lack of live customer support is a big complaint as well as complaints about the longer time they hold your money before transferring.

2Checkout

Pros: 2Checkout is a global payment processing system, serving over 200 countries. It is an industry leader that has been in business for 15 years. They accept credit cards, PayPal and debit cards in 87 currencies. They offer advanced fraud protection and volume pricing.

Cons: 2Checkout has a simple fee structure, but charges high international transaction fees.

That is just a sample of 4 of the more popular online gateways and payment providers on Ecwid, but there are over 45 options. View the full list of supported payment gateway providers.

What if none of these providers will work for you? If your preferred payment gateway is not currently supported by Ecwid, don’t worry. You have several options. You can submit an Idea for other users to vote on. If enough users vote for your idea, Ecwid will work to integrate it.

You can also use Authorize.Net SIM emulation,if your gateway supports it as many do. Alternatively, you can create a custom integration that can emulate Authorize.Net SIM to serve as a bridge between Ecwid and your payment gateway.

You also have the ability to set up an offline payment method, with options for wire transfers, cash on delivery, checks, purchase orders and more.

In conclusion

When it comes to the big wide world of getting paid, you need to choose a payment gateway with low or reasonable fees, one that works securely, and in a best-case scenario, one that is recognized by the customer so they feel safer giving over their credit card details. As businesses without revenue can’t operate for too long, a good payment gateway is nothing less than the lubricant that keeps the gears of your e-commerce shop churning efficiently and without end.