August 23rd, 2013
Your online payment processor. Do you have one set up yet?
You know, to accept money, allow someone to purchase your product, service, or course?
If you’re planning to launch, here’s something to add to your to-do list TODAY.
Figure out how to accept payment online.
Get your payment processor, merchant account, payment gateway – whatever the configuration set up asap. First–if possible.
I know it seems obvious, but if you’re in business, launching something, doing any sort of consulting…then I’m hoping and PRAYING you already have this setup.
Picture this – your launch is only a few days away.
You have what you think is the correct configuration of Paypal set up, Stripe, and a check out page.
Then at the last second (or what feels like one) – you look at your order form and something doesn't look right. You realize there’s no payment plan showing on the form. Hmm…what gives?
You scramble around – asking your email marketing provider and PayPal what to do. You get varied responses, but in the end, there is no solution – nothing is fixed.
So you have 2 choices – you either send them directly to Paypal for the payment plan option…or you create a janky set up that looks like your order form – so they get the experience of the order form and THEN send them to the order form.
The problem for me was this made the buying experience too complex and potentially confusing. There had to be 2 different funnels for people who chose full pay and for people who chose multiple payments. I wanted the experience to be the same and simple. Go to one form – see two options, fill out information, purchase.
By the way – the person in this story is actually me during a launch several years ago before Stripe, before Kajabi, before the easy system, I use now to launch Fearless Launching.
I could have sent them to the PayPal page from the sales page, but I wanted something more elegant that also added people to my system quickly and easily.
I did figure it out – and my “setup” worked eventually, but what it makes me realize is that I neglected following 2 of my GOLDEN RULES for launching:
1. Test your sales process and how you take money FIRST
2. Don’t start “fixing” big processes like this at the last minute.
I made both of these mistakes with this one pretty important part of the launch puzzle.
If you’re launching – you gotta make money. So – let’s talk about a few ways I know that make taking money easy.
But you have to set them up early. You can’t wait until the week or day before you open cart.
Payment Processors Compared
Paypal has been my payment processor of choice for many years. It’s easy to use, set up, and see what’s coming in and going out money-wise. And it’s totally fine for most everything you need. In the end – I went with another processor that’s tied more directly to my business bank account.
Here’s what The Online Seller Blog says about Paypal (make sure to read the pros and cons!):
PayPal is a third-party payer owned by eBay, but you don’t need an eBay account to use its services. If you already offer credit card processing on your website, but you’d also like to give your customers the ability to pay with PayPal, you can use the Express Checkout service. If you’re in the market for a full payment processing service, these options can also be found through PayPal:
- PayFlow is a gateway service that you can use with your own payment processor or merchant account.
- PayPal Payments Standard gives you the ability to accept credit cards on your website. That means your customer doesn’t have to have a PayPal account to buy from you. But you will need a PayPal account because the funds will be deposited there for you.
- PayPal Payments Pro functions in the same way, but instead of being taken to a PayPal page for payment, your customer will remain on your website while paying by credit card. It’s more like a gateway and merchant account setup, and it requires a monthly fee.
PayPal further offers Virtual Terminal and Online Invoicing services.
Fees: PayFlow requires a one-time setup fee and monthly service fees, plus a fee for every transaction over your allotted amount. Express Checkout and Website Payments Standard don’t have setup or monthly fees but will charge you per transaction: 2.9 percent, plus 30 cents for monthly sales under $3,000; 2.5 percent, plus 30 cents for sales between $3,000 and $10,000; and 2.2 percent, plus 30 cents for transactions that are more than $10,000. Website Payments Pro charges the same rate per transaction, plus a $30 monthly fee.
Pros: PayPal offers a shopping cart and a variety of options to fit nearly any business’ needs. Whichever service you choose, it’s easy to set up, and you can even reach customers across the globe. Plus—as with the other mentioned third-party wallets—millions of people trust PayPal enough to pay with their account rather than inputting a credit card number.
Cons: PayPal is not without problems, and a recurrent complaint stems from the way PayPal handles disputes and chargebacks. As a third-party payer, PayPal can set its own rules and freeze or cancel your account if it deems it as high-risk, which is a source of many grievances.[/box_colored]
My experience: Paypal works fine now but at the time I was receiving conflicting set up and integration instructions from both sides of the puzzle!
[I no longer use Authorize.net but it is still used for companies to process credit card payments. I use Stripe now!]
The kind folks over at Lawyerist.com wrote an article about accepting credit cards – the bit about Authorize.net pretty much sums up why I used them to process payments. Here’s what they said:
In addition to being up-front about its fees, Authorize.Net seems to be relatively popular among online merchants. Since that is the nature of the credit card processing I need to do, it seemed like it might be a good fit. It is also supported by Freshbooks, which makes billing smoother for me since I can generate invoices and accept credit cards through a single, integrated portal.
I also liked that Authorize.Net didn’t make me call to find out more; I just filled out the application online and got a call from a very nice sales representative who helped me understand the process and pricing. They also took care of arranging the merchant account, so I didn’t have to figure out how to do that and connect the account to the gateway myself.
Here is the cost breakdown for the services I signed up for:
- Setup fee: $99
- Monthly fee: $29.95 ($20 gateway; $9.95 merchant account)
- Per-transaction fees: $0.35 + 2.19%
- Recurring billing: $10/month
In other words, $99 to set up my account, then $39.95 per month, plus the per-transaction fees every time I run a card.
My experience: As I’ve mentioned before – I did have one prior botched attempt to set up an account and use it properly but – the second time around was easy peasy. My other main requirement was that it integrates easily with Infusionsoft As I mentioned earlier – I wanted an order form with both payment options – one place for customers to choose how they wanted to pay and an easy way for them to be added to my system.
As I mentioned above, I used Authorize.net and to accept and receive payments from customers. My main gripe was the multiple monthly fees plus % of all sales that I paid out!
Stripe allows to you start accepting credit, debit, and other payment methods for your online business really quickly–no application required. Their fee structure is much more reasonable AND you get your deposited fast.
Here is the cost breakdown for Stripe:
- Setup fee: $0
- Monthly fee: $0
- Per-transaction fees: 2.9%+30¢ per successful card charge
- Additional fees for international transactions.
Take Money Checklist
- Do you want a shopping cart or are you okay sending people to another site to make their payment?
- What specific systems do you use for managing customers, sending emails, and connecting with customers on a regular basis?
- Do you offer payment plans?
- Do you want to take payment from people in person?
- Do you offer a monthly payment subscription?
- Try to think of all the types of services, prices, and packages you’d like to offer.
Here’s a quick guide of what you can likely use depending on what you’re selling:
Ebooks + Downloadable products – great to use e-junkie.com (with PayPal), gumroad.com
Coaching + Consulting services – almost anything you want – Paypal is the easiest entry to accepting money, Stripe works well, and Authorize.net works well, but has more fees. Look for something to integrate with your mailing list and your invoicing system – like Freshbooks.com.
Infoproducts – Same as above! The playing field is again wide open. It all depends on how you want your sales process to look and feel. Choose a solution that works now AND that can be scaled as your business grows. I chose Authorize.net for this reason. I know that the reporting allows my bookkeeper to download transactions easily and make sure that what processed in Infusionsoft shows up as a paid charge in my bank account!
Membership sites – I’ve been watching membership programs like Platformuniversity.com and Fizzle.co make some interesting choices for accepting payments. Stripe and Paid Memberships Pro – seems to be a great little set up–because of the subscription/monthly payment set up. I don’t have that type of business model. My suggestion – look at sites you love and see what they’re using. Look for someone who is using some of your tools and see how they set things up.
* I know there’s a lot of opinions about what to use and why especially as new payment processors like Stripe, Square and Gumroad pop up. I chose Authorize.net specifically because it integrates with 2 systems I’m already using – Infusionsoft and Wishlist member. As of this writing – that’s what I use. Like everything else I create and do in my business, it’s up for discussion and I’m always open to a system that works better!
Bottom Line Decision
Your final decision isn’t what’s really important – it’s that you make it early in the launch preparation process. Make it your first marching orders – get the payment and sales process set up asap. You’ll thank me on the day you open cart!
And one final note – you can always cancel it or change it if you discover it’s not working for you. Get the easiest solution set up for YOU and then move on!
Need more help setting up your business e-commerce solution…here are a few resources that have many many articles about the topic:
Once you've got your payment solution in place, get back to the planning and mapping out your launch. Check out the free resources in my Launch Essentials Toolkit. Keep it, use it, enjoy it!