user experience & design

5 Questions To Ask Before Choosing Your eCommerce Site’s Payment Gateway

Sean
November 30th, 2017
3 MINUTE READ

Though often overlooked, the payment gateway you select for your online retail site can make or break your customer experience.

With the increasing popularity of mobile transactions like Apple Pay, modern consumers demands their transaction be fast, easy, and above all, painless. Before selecting which payment provider is right for your business, ask yourself these five key questions, compiled by web design company Codal.

1. Does your eCommerce platform support the payment gateway?

Starting with the easiest way to root out unfitting candidates, simply check your eCommerce platform’s list of supported gateways. While major online retail providers, like Shopify Plus, are going to seamlessly integrate with just about every gateway imaginable, it’s still prudent to check to see if your eCommerce platform offers benefits for choosing a specific one.

5 Questions To Ask Before Choosing Your eCommerce Site’s Payment Gateway

If you don’t find your preferred gateway on the list of integrations, you can still build out a custom plugin or extension—but it will take an exorbitant amount of development work. It will end up costing time, money, and other resources that could be avoided by simply picking an easier option to integrate with.

2. Will this payment gateway improve my UX?

After ruling out any gateways incompatible with your eCommerce platform, the next key criteria should be if it will enhance the overall UX of your retail site. The payment gateway is an indispensable component of your checkout process, which in itself is arguably the most important aspect of your retail site.

As a UX design agency that specializes in eCommerce, Codal has spent years identifying pain points and curbing the dreaded shopping cart abandonment. In our experience, a majority of carts are abandoned during checkout, with a notable percentage occurring due to a poor payment process.

5 Questions To Ask Before Choosing Your eCommerce Site’s Payment Gateway

A majority of the reasons shoppers abandon carts occur during checkout

For typical retailers, this means the ideal gateway yields lightning-fast speeds and has a low rate of failed transactions, both of which can be checked at Spreedly’s gateway index.

3. How much will it cost me?

Probably the first question any eCommerce site runner asks, how much you’ll pay for the payment gateway will obviously be a deciding factor in your choice. At first glance, the pricing seems identical across the board: StripePayPalAuthorize.Net, and many others charge the industry-standard 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

But atop this transactional fee, many gateways stack additional charges. Authorize.net imposes a $25 monthly fee, as does PayPal’s premium services. Authorize even hits you with a one-time setup fee as well. It’s crucial to read the fine print and explore all the pricing options before selecting a gateway.

4. Is a more holistic payment approach right for you? Or should you use three different services?

The payment gateway is actually just the first unit of the three-step transaction process. After the customer inputs their financial information, the gateway serves a middleman, delivering it to the payment processor and eventually your merchant account.

5 Questions To Ask Before Choosing Your eCommerce Site’s Payment Gateway

These three major cogs—the gateway, the processor, and the account—can be from separate providers, allowing you to customize this back-end operation to suit your needs. Alternatively, some companies offer all of these pieces as a bundle to simplify maintenance.

As a rule of thumb, taking a holistic approach and using a service that bundles all three tends to involve less monthly fees and setup charges, though the per transaction costs can be higher. Small businesses may want to opt for this approach until they’ve grown enough to afford a more custom merchant account.

5. Is there a contract I’ll be locked into?

While more and more payment providers are moving away from contracts, it isn’t uncommon for companies offering gateway services to lock their clients in contracts lasting two or more years.

For example, both Authorize.Net and Orbital payment may impose contractual obligations if you purchase through a reseller. Be sure to read the fine print and make sure you’re not stuck with your choice if it ends up not being right for your company.

The Importance of The Gateway

Your customers probably won’t notice or care what gateway provider you use—until it stops working for them. Like so many other facets of UX, when it’s good, it goes largely unnoticed. It’s the pain points, the headaches, the poor usability that attracts (unwanted) customer attention.

But by selecting a payment provider that’s right for your company, you’re enhancing your customer’s experience, streamlining their path-to-purchase, and significantly increasing the chances they’ll return to your online store.

Sean McGowan
AUTHOR

Sean

Sean is a technical researcher & writer at Codal, authoring blog posts on topics ranging from UX design to the Internet of Things. Working alongside developers, designers, and marketers, Sean helps support the writing team to ensure Codal produces engaging web content of the highest quality. When not writing about the latest and greatest in digital design, Sean can be found baking, watching movies, or complaining about the shortcomings of his favorite Philadelphia sports teams.

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