When you set out on your new business enterprise, you will most likely be offered plenty of nuggets of advice from those who have been there and done it. You will also be furnished with more than a few “golden rules” that will ensure your fledgling enterprise gets off to a flying start. If it is not already on the list, here’s one that is definitely worth adding: Make things as easy as possible for the customer.
Make it easy for them to find you, whether physically or online, make it easy for them to understand your product or service offering, make it easy for them to convert from visitor to customer by placing an order. That leaves out one vital step, and it’s the most important of all if your business is going to thrive – make it easy for them to pay you.
Offering a range of payment options
Cash, debit card, bank transfer, Cash app, PayPal, crypto… There are more ways to pay these days than ever. We have all been in that position when a business doesn’t accept a particular payment method – for example, a restaurant not accepting Amex – and know how inconvenient it can be.
From that perspective, it is tempting to jump in with both feet and set about getting the infrastructure in place so that you can accept every payment method under the sun. That’s laudable from the perspective of our “golden rule” from earlier, but the thing about golden rules is they invariably contain all sorts of caveats.
It’s worth thinking, for example, about why so many restaurants do not accept Amex, when it clearly means they irritate two or three customers each day. You can probably guess the answer. Amex charges significantly higher fees that mean businesses just can’t afford to use it – even if it means losing a few potential repeat customers.
Understand how customers want to pay
Offering every possible payment method could be an own-goal, and not just because providers like Amex charge such high fees. When you are selling online, having a gazillion payment methods available can affect the user experience and the site performance.
70 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned. Even more shocking, more than half are abandoned after choosing what to purchase and having arrived at the checkout. This is the most critical moment from an ecommerce perspective and you have to get things absolutely right to avoid annoying or spooking the customer when the potential sale is on a knife edge.
You will have already put in the hours as part of your market analysis to know the approximate age range and other basic demographics of your clients. Now, you need to understand what payment methods they habitually use. There is already a lot of market data out there that asks this particular question with reference to different demographics and market sectors, so don’t go thinking you need to reinvent the wheel.
Armed with that information, you know which of the following payment methods to shortlist.
Cash – simple and time-proven
For all the talk of the world going cashless, 20 percent of retail transactions in the US are still made using good old dollar bills. Of course, cash is no use for online payments, but if you have a physical shopfront, customers will expect to be able to pay by cash.
The positive is that it is simple, with no need for technology, and there are no fees involved. On the negative side, it can be harder to keep track of from a bookkeeping perspective. Also, having large amounts of cash on the premises presents the obvious security risks.
Card payments are the most popular
Practically everyone has a debit or credit card. It is a quick, easy and secure way to pay, either in person, online or even over the telephone. Getting yourself set up with the infrastructure to take card payments is relatively simple.
Any serious business needs to take card payments, but remember our example from earlier, not all card payments are the same. Ask yourself whether you are ready to take the hit associated with American Express, or whether you will restrict customers to Visa and Mastercard.
Crypto – the casino gambler’s favorite
It is still relatively uncommon for US retailers to accept crypto. However, it is more widely used in some B2B markets and for purchasing digital products and services. For example, practically all US online casinos offer crypto – see gamblingsites.com/banking/ to understand why this is so convenient for casino customers in the USA.
From the seller’s perspective, the speed and security of Bitcoin makes it a tempting idea. You do, however, need a little tech understanding and a basic grip of how it works.
The darlings of eCommerce, online shoppers love the simplicity and speed of platforms like PayPal. Speed, security, simplicity, they have got it all.
For sellers, fees can be on the high side, but that is something you will probably have to live with in most markets.