Picking an e-commerce processor on rates alone is a recipe for failure

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Technology has brought down many costs for e-commerce businesses but the price of payment processors isn’t budging.

Just the average 2.8% processing transaction fee alone could cost e-commerce $28 billion by 2020. Yet for ecommerce companies, there is no way around using a processor. That is why according to Small Business Trends, many companies tend to simply gravitate toward the lowest bidder.

However, the lowest rates could actually be a sign that the provider is not investing in itself, not being entirely transparent, or not providing a wide enough range of services for their clients.
Here’s what businesses should be really looking for instead of just cheap prices:

Choose a provider with fraud and chargeback prevention tools. Chargebacks were initially created to protect consumers from unscrupulous merchants or fraudsters, but are increasingly used to commit consumer fraud against businesses. Unfortunately for e-commerce companies, they are worse hit by fraud and chargebacks than traditional in-store transactions, due to the card not present (CNP) nature of their transactions.

E-commerce businesses lost nearly $7 billion to chargebacks in 2016. By 2020, the losses are expected to reach $31 billion. And last year alone, general ecommerce fraud rates spiked by 33 %. In today’s highly competitive and dynamic business environment, businesses cannot afford to lose their narrow profit margins to fraudulent transactions.

To avoid being the a victim of e-commerce fraud, there are checks that can be made when selecting a payment provider.

Ask if the payment processor has a fraud or chargeback team that can assess your situation and provide advice from payments experts. Small business owners or online retailers already have enough skills to learn in the new digital landscape, they should not be expected to be a fraud expert too.

Make sure the processor understands the fraud landscape of your business type. Different types of business are targeted differently. If you are selling software, for example, the issues you will face will be different to those dealing in retail goods.

Look for a processor with educational tools such as ebooks, video, faqs, tutorials, etc which deal with various topics such as chargebacks, security, and complying with official legislation. This shows that they are invested in these topics and the overall well being of their client’s businesses; check that the provider can offer fraud tools which allow you to limit the transaction process. Some features let you enforce strict payment rules and verification of customers - for example, requiring that zip codes and CVV codes match exactly, or that verified account details and shipping addresses match billing addresses. Also look for tools that provide a risk score for transactions based on IP, location, card history, billing and shipping addresses. 3D Secure is another great way to tighten up security at the checkout.

Choose a provider with dedicated staff for customer service and support. Customers want payments to be processed instantly, so expect them to have little sympathy for the fact their payment failure was the fault of your processor rather than your business.

To avoid a payment crisis or disappointing loyal customers, take the following points into account: Look for processors who will let you talk to real people. Email support is not good enough when your provider suddenly goes down at your peak sales period and you cannot accept your customer’s payments; If they offer 24/7 phone and U.S.-based support this is even better. You never know when issues could arise, so having local support at all times could help you resolve issues quicker, and prevent issues evolving from a technical hiccup into a long-term crisis.

Realtime chat and knowledge base is also a bonus. Online chat is often more convenient and often more responsive than waiting on a call queue to speak to a representative.

Compatibility: Make sure they integrate with whatever platform you're using. Forty-five percent of retailers and suppliers have lost more than $1 million in revenue due to cross-channel commerce challenges and one in ten have lost upwards of $3 million. Put simply, many payment processors are not up to scratch technologically.

If your processor does not offer integration into the systems you are using, for example Quickbooks for accounting, or Wordpress/Magento for your shopping cart, this will require forking out for a developer to carry out that integration for you. Worst of all, you’ll have no idea how well this integration will function until you have already paid for the work to be carried out.

The business world continues to evolve in line with technology, but many processors are lagging behind.

Although payment processors are seen as an expensive cost of doing business for e-commerce companies, they should really be viewed in terms of the services they provide rather than just the fees the charge.

When weighing up a provider consider their abilities to fight fraud, the strength of their customer services, and their compatibility with your own platforms. Failing to take these factors into account could leave you with a provider that fails to cover your back from illegitimate chargebacks, is incapable of resolving a payments crisis, burdens you with extra responsibilities, and ultimately puts you out of pocket.

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