payment gateway

Sponsored by Total Merchant Services

By Rieva Lesonsky

Is paying for purchases on your ecommerce site as simple as it should be — both for you and your customers? If not, a payment gateway might be just the solution you need. Here’s a closer look at what payment gateways are, what benefits they can offer your ecommerce business and how to choose the right one for you.

Make the Connection

Think of a payment gateway as a hub connecting all the elements involved in an online transaction. When your customer places an order on your website, the payment gateway encrypts the credit card information and requests authorization from the payment processor. Then it links your bank to the customer’s bank to get authorization for the payment. Finally, the processor sends the authorization details to the payment gateway, which alerts the customer and your business that the sale has been completed.

Staying Secure

With data breaches making headlines almost daily, data security is top of mind for both consumers and business owners these days. When you use a payment gateway, your customers can rest assured that their information is safe, because it’s encrypted at every stage of the process. You can feel confident you’re protecting your customers, because payment gateways are required to be PCI Level I compliant at all times.

What’s more, the payment gateway assumes the burden of PCI compliance for you. That’s because the payment card data is kept on the gateway’s website, making them responsible for compliance.

Payment gateways can also save you money. They eliminate the need to update software and provide a cost-effective way to keep critical transaction and financial records.

Choosing the Right Payment Gateway

If a payment gateway sounds like a good idea for your ecommerce business, here’s what you should look for when choosing one:

  • Reliability: You don’t want customers to have problems purchasing products on your website. The payment gateway should guarantee network uptime of 99.99% or higher.
  • Industry suitability: Different payment gateways offer different kinds of services for specific industries, such as restaurants or retail. Look for one that has the features your ecommerce business needs.
  • Ease-of-use: Is the payment gateway intuitive to learn and use? What types of reports can it generate and how easily?
  • Integration: Does the payment gateway have connections to the shopping cart software you use, or to your business bank? Look for a payment gateway that works with a wide variety of shopping cart software, payment processors and CRM systems. Some merchant service providers (MSPs) own their own payment gateways; in those cases, the MSP might restrict the features you can access. An MSP-agnostic payment gateway gives you more options.
  • Additional services: Payment gateways can offer ecommerce merchants a wide range of value-added services, including chargeback management, anti-fraud protection, and the ability to set up automatic billing or subscription payments. Before you sign up, find out what extras the payment gateway you’re considering can offer to help your business grow.

The world of ecommerce is getting more and more competitive. Using a payment gateway can help small and midsize businesses keep pace with the big guys.

For more information on Total Merchant Services’ payment processing solutions, call (888) 610-1025.