Think collecting payment on a local ecommerce sale is easy? All you have to concern yourself with is a local credit card payment service, the product’s price, local taxes, and in-country delivery, right?
On an international transaction, however, you have more issues to contend with, including what currency will be used and what payment methods customers prefer.
No Magic Bullet
If you have a slow-loading site, lousy product photos, poorly written descriptions, or content in something other than a customer’s native language, a perfect payment plan will not make up for those inadequacies. The customer will have left long before getting to the checkout.
But your payment processing system is as important as the right design for your site. After ensuring that your site is designed for your customers, look for an easy method to allow customers to buy something from your ecommerce site.
Here’s what must be available to your customers when they’re ready to check out.
- Gateway: You can set up a gateway processor that integrates completely into your website. Gateway processors tend to be more expensive — with a monthly fee and a per-transaction service fee — and require long-term contracts. (See 2013 Payment Gateway Service Comparisons for more information.) But a gateway processor is more professional looking because it is built into your site. In addition, transactions are quick and simple, and users don’t have to have an account with the third-party credit card processing company to purchase from you. PayPal, CyberSource Corp. (a Visa company), and Authorize.Net (another CyberSource solution) are examples of gateway processors.
- Third-Party: An equally viable option is to establish a non-bank or third-party credit card processing system. On an ecommerce site, customers are redirected to the third party to complete the sale and are then sent back to the main site. However, not all major credit card companies support credit transactions in all countries. You must check. PayPal, Chase Paymentech, and Braintree Payment Solutions are examples of third-party credit processors.While a third-party payment processor isn’t integrated into your website, most customers worldwide are used to this type of transaction and are comfortable when they see familiar payment processor brands, such as Chase Paymentech.
Make sure payment types supported include the major credit cards, country-specific payment cards (including regional cards), bank transfers, and direct debit. Many processors support all of these, but not all. Check before you target a market with your payment system.
One Simple Landed Price
When a customer in Iceland buys a blouse from your ecommerce site, they want to know exactly what the final landed cost will be. The price should include the original cost of the blouse, brokerage and logistic fees, transport costs, customs duties, taxes, tariffs, special packing costs (if any), insurance (if needed), currency conversion, and handling fees — all rolled into one price. That’s what compels customers to buy: simplicity. Don’t leave any loose ends or surprises for your customers. Keep everything airtight. Otherwise, they’ll never come back, and you won’t know why.
Online customers are impulsive and finicky and have choices galore on the Internet. When they are ready to buy, they want products fast, with minimal headaches. Once you have an ecommerce payment method in place, clock it. Do a test run with a stopwatch to see how long it takes you to process a transaction. Conduct the same test in different parts of the world to see what customers experience elsewhere. The shorter the transaction time, the more your customers will love you, no matter where they are located.
Low Processing Fees and Good Service
Make sure to find out what the monthly and per-transaction service fees are. They can add up fast, so shop for the best rate. Find out if there are any volume discounts for purchases made on a regular basis. You may find that the rate per transaction, for example, drops from 2.9 percent to 2.75 percent if you do more than 50 transactions or $50,000 of business a month. The only way to find out is to ask, and then have it spelled out in your contract.
The processor should provide 24/7 customer support, act swiftly on refunds, have a good fraud prevention program, and be compliant on data security measures, as well.
When a customer in China buys from your U.S. ecommerce store, will they have the option to pay in yuan or U.S. dollars? You may prefer U.S. dollars to hedge against currency fluctuations, but your customer may prefer their own currency to exercise better control of the sale.
Look for a payment processing company that funds at least 20 foreign currencies, especially the currency of your target country. Whether the sale takes place in your customer’s or your currency, examine all costs involved. You may find that offering the sale in your customer’s currency is too risky and expensive, for example.
Preferred Payment Methods
Make sure your system can be used for international transactions or a specific market. The last thing you want is for your customer to be ready to buy and have their purchase selection declined. Some banks may also prevent customers from using a card for Internet-based purchases. Inquire.
To boost international ecommerce sales, calculate total landed prices for customers, accept preferred payment types and currencies in your target geographies, and streamline the process to a one-connection payment feature. That way, you will ensure customers find your payment method a breeze to use and will keep returning to purchase more.