Smaller merchants wanting a foothold in the vast Internet now have the option to open a Heartland Online Storefront.
Payment processor Heartland Payment Systems and e-commerce platform provider Bigcommerce have partnered to provide merchants an omni-channel website in less than an hour, the companies announced Sept. 19. The online storefront also helps merchants upgrade their existing sites.
"Many merchants do not have an online presence, and some who do have sites that are hard to find or have no interaction with social media outlets," says Ian Drysdale, Heartland's president of network solutions.
The Heartland Online Storefront includes a mobile-friendly website, integrated payment processing and digital marketing tools such as search engine optimization. It also offers promotions, coupons, email marketing, and integration with eBay and social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, Drysdale says.
It could take a merchant 30 to 60 days to set up an e-commerce store, but "through this partnership, we can get these merchants up and running on the spot," says Steven Power, chief revenue officer at Austin-based Bigcommerce.
Merchants use an online portal to set prices and place photos on their sites, as well as interact with customers through various social networks, Power says. Bigcommerce provides advanced shopping cart features, while Princeton, N.J.-based Heartland brings its payments expertise, Power says.
Merchants would continue to receive one billing statement from Heartland for payment processing and the online storefront, which will cost between $79 and $199 a month, Drysdale says.
"It was important for us to create a single statement with a single point of contact," Drysdale says. "We want it very unified because we have our own gateway and own settlement of payments for our clients."
The online storefront is set up in a "future-proof" way because it will eventually be able to convert various currencies, Power says. For now, the U.S. merchants mostly set up the storefront to cover all of North America, he adds.
Other companies are also trying to make it easier for small companies to sell online. In June, Square launched Square Market, an online storefront for users of its Square Register app. And of course PayPal is heavily integrated with parent company eBay's online marketplace.
For Bigcommerce, the speed at which e-commerce is growing drove the creation of the online storefront, Power says. In addition, merchants can see a rise in consumer use of mobile devices to search for and price products, as well as social networks driving transactional revenue, he adds.
"Merchants need to be available at all times on any platform," Power says. "Otherwise, it's like customers having a conversation about you, but without you."
Drysdale says merchants have become confused about which technology path the U.S. payments industry will follow in the coming years.