In a digital-first ecosystem, businesses have one common problem they’re trying to solve: reducing friction points across the online shopping experience. When businesses consider how to accept payments online, this must be the first hurdle to overcome.

Besides attracting customers, growing revenue and building brand affinity, the last item to tackle on a business’ to-do list is determining which payment methods are best for their customer base. Unlike the brick-and-mortar retail experience, online merchants today must think of payments as an extension of the customer experience.

Customers today are rich with options about where they want to shop, which is why businesses must cater their checkout solutions to how their customers want to pay — instead of forcing a specific method. By offering more diverse ways to pay, businesses enable better, faster and more secure ways to pay online. This enhances the customer experience and reduces many friction points when accepting payments online.

Beyond learning the ins and outs of accepting credit cards online, businesses today must look a step further and understand how their payment processing partnerships enable better, smoother and more diverse ways to accept payments online.

 

The Evolution of the E-Commerce Market

E-commerce continues to capture more customer spend each year. Thanks to more innovative payment solutions and better e-commerce platform technology, buying online has become easier than ever. Industry data indicates that online shopping continues to grow at a rapid rate. In 2018, e-commerce sales are projected to hit $461.5 billion. These figures are expected to grow exponentially, increasing by roughly $50 million annually.

What’s paved way for the online payments market is investments in the payments, technology, and e-commerce ecosystems that have allowed businesses to accept payments online easier, faster and more securely. The growth of the online payment processing industry, coupled with investments in e-commerce platform technologies that allow for easier solution integration, have created an e-commerce market ripe for better customer experiences.

What businesses must balance in an online shopping environment is enabling seamless shopping journeys without sacrificing security. Although friction-free shopping experiences are desired, merchants must determine where security protocols fit into the mix. Instead of worrying about how accepting payments online increases risk, businesses should work with payment partners who handle the security side of the equation.

Luckily, industry solutions today have embedded security features that allow merchants to focus their efforts on growing their online presence through more streamlined solutions. This includes technologies that reduce the need for lengthy form fills, and the ability to replace clunky, outdated legacy systems with future-proofed, software-driven solutions. These innovations have provided businesses the ability to customize the payment experience to fit their needs and those of their customers.

Accepting payments online is no longer a perk — it’s a necessity for all businesses. This has paved the way to a more dynamic payments ecosystem, including a need for businesses to invest in better payment processing systems, work with more dynamic merchant account partners and onboard smoother payment gateway solutions.

 

Accept Payments Online and Enable Better Checkout Experiences

One of the greatest points of friction during a payment process comes at checkout. Since payment methods are an extension of the customer experience, businesses must consider the checkout technology they are using to accept payments online. Mastering a better checkout process empowers customers to convert faster and more often.

By reducing the time it takes for a customer to checkout, this enhances a business’ ability to keep a customer happy about their shopping experience. Businesses can achieve this outcome by working with a payment enablement partner that helps them onboard faster online payment methods. Merchants have the opportunity to tailor their checkout solutions to how their customers want to engage with their online payment options.

Merchants today are rich with choices of how they want to accept payments online. From traditional credit/debit to digital payment methods and flexible financing options, there is no shortage of methods to accept payments online. Credit is still king for paying online, but as e-commerce platform technology evolves, this has laid the groundwork for more innovative payment options. From digital payment methods that offer secure quick, one-click checkout options, to mobile payment solutions that are being integrated into more online payment processors on a regular basis, businesses benefit by working with solution providers that offer more card-not-present choices.

Beyond these options, there are also a number of flexible financing providers that allow businesses to offer their customers the choice to pay for an item through lower installments over a defined period of time. What businesses must understand about the ability to accept payments online is that it’s not about which choice customers make, it’s about empowering customers with a greater path to purchase by choosing the method that’s best for them.

 

Accept Payments Online Through Recurring and Subscription Billing

Another way to accept payments online is through recurring and subscription billing options that allow for online payment processing without disrupting payments from your most loyal customers.

Offering recurring/subscription billing allows your customers to checkout without having to enter their payment credentials each and every time. This process not only helps regular revenue flow into your accounts, it also increases the chances of repeat business.

For business owners who conduct regular transactions with a particular customer, they should consider accepting payments online with either a recurring or subscription billing option. These options enhance your cash flow and improve your payment processing efficiencies. Since the customer’s payment credentials are set up to bill on a regular and recurring basis, this ensures less billing errors, which reduces the chance of false declines. Overall, this helps to enhance your customer relationships and simplify your billing processes.

Instead of having to track down late payments from customers, recurring and subscription payments improves your operating flows by ensuring you’re always getting paid on time. This helps your business gain a better sense of who your most valuable customers are, and how your customer base is helping you achieve your revenue targets.

Accepting payments online through a subscription model also eliminates the manual processes that increase the chance for errors, while allowing your business to accept card-on-file transactions. Recurring payments allow businesses to streamline payment processing by better managing customer billing cycles.

Collectively, these methods reduce the amount of friction between you and your customers, creating a win-win for your business.  What’s needed to enable this experience is the right payment gateway solution to help your business securely accept payments online. By relying on Payline’s payment gateway solution, businesses offer better subscription billing and enhanced data security to protect your customer’s information.

 

Accept Payments Online Through Electronic Invoicing Methods

To stay competitive in today’s digital-first ecosystem, businesses must accept payments online through diverse methods — which includes electronic invoicing. Electronic invoicing helps keep your current customer base happy, helps you capture new customers, and also enhances billing and payment flow. That’s a win-win-win for everyone.

There are endless options to enable a frictionless electronic invoicing experience. The key to achieving a positive outcome is working with the right online payments partner. Similarly to accepting payments online through your traditional e-commerce channels, using electronic invoicing methods allow your business to get paid on time and gain peace of mind that funds are regularly flowing into your billing systems.

Electronic invoicing methods also encourage your customers to pay your business online, instead of relying on sending an old-fashioned paper check. From a security standpoint, electronic invoicing ensures your customer’s credentials are submitted on a secure system, that the information is accurate and that the payment will connect to your systems. This method eliminates the chance for error or that a payment won’t come through.

 

How Online Payments Reduces Friction Points

A customer is more likely to engage, and become a repeat customer, with a business that delivers a friction-free payment experience. Businesses can achieve this outcome by working with payments partners that emphasize speed, security, and transparency when integrating their payments hardware and software solutions. For merchants ready to accept payments online, they must consider the entire customer experience — from the first point of interaction to payment and checkout — in order to provide a frictionless process that encourages customers to convert and become loyal customers.

By offering more diverse payment methods, integrating modern checkout solutions, and delivering customers the type of interaction they desire — instead of forcing them to cater their needs to your business model  — merchants can achieve better customer relations and begin to overcome the hurdles that prevent some customers from buying online.

By working with a partner like Payline to power your merchant account, payment gateway, and online payment processing needs, you’ll rest easy knowing you have simple, secure methods to accept payments online without any unnecessary friction.

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Anna Kragie is a content contributor for Payline Data. She previously wrote for PYMNTS.com, as a Sr. Content Producer, where she focused on financial services and payments innovation, fraud and security, emerging payments, and FinTech news, research and thought-leadership content across the payments industry.