The key concept behind the idea of a payment gateway is the “customer-facing” aspect. In other words, any payment processing machinery, software, system, program, or method that buyers use to pay for goods and services can be considered part of the gateway. At least that’s the accepted definition of what a gateway is. But the problems with static definitions is that they don’t distinguish between degrees of quality. All payment gateways are not equal. Some, like the default version that comes with Shopify, is a bare-bones affair. Called “Shopify Payments,” it will get you up and running, but it doesn’t offer reliable fraud protection or worthwhile analytics.
But if you care about your business and its long-term financial health, you should look for a payment gateway that can offer much more than the house version that comes with your Shopify account. What do you want in a gateway? There are all sorts of bells and whistles but four key features stand out. They are delineated below and explained in detail.
Why are payment gateways so important? For starters, they make your customers happy when they work right and process payments quickly. When they don’t work right, or simply don’t include enough features to offer a positive user experience, you stand to lose customers, many of whom will never come back. In addition, you could even end up with negative online reviews if unhappy customers post about their negative encounters with your website and payment portal. In short, a weak or poorly functioning gateway can lead to a cascade of bad results for your bottom line and your company’s long-term reputation.
The bright side of things is this: there are plenty of payment gateways you can use with your Shopify store, many of which meet all the basic requirements and then some. If you want to be certain that you’re getting a platform that does everything you require, spend time investigating the gateway to make certain that it meets your unique needs.
What Are Payment Gateways?
Simply put, payment gateways include all the financial infrastructure that allows customers to purchase something from your online store. Their key characteristic is that they are able to verify that the buyer is providing a valid source of funds, that those funds are being transferred to your company’s bank, and that the entire transaction takes place in a seamless, secure way.
Gateways the “leak” customer or seller account or financial information are said to be non-secure. When the gateway transmits the buyer’s unique account and credit card data to the bank, the bank will be able to either accept or reject the attempt at payment. There’s also the task of calculating additional fees, taxes, and surcharges, if there are any. It’s important to select a payment gateway that is used inside the nation where you do business and is used by many other merchants.
The “Big 4” Payment Gateway Features
There are actually dozens of features you want to look for in a payment gateway for your Shopify store, but the four listed below are perhaps the most vital ones. You can at least get your store’s functionality off to a good start with these four.
Later on, consider adding more features and always being on the lookout for updated security features, advanced analytic techniques, and other forms of enhancing your store as new products and technology become available. The world of e-commerce never sleeps. There are always new developments that change the scenario, but you need to stay abreast of technical news in order to be aware of them.
In any case, the four features you should prioritize in any payment gateway you use should include:
- Support: Customer support is always an essential variable. When it comes to your Shopify store, it’s crucial. That’s because the e-commerce universe is a complex one. It includes millions of customers, hundreds of banks, thousands of participating sellers, and enough high-end technology to do millions of tasks at once. Don’t take the gateway rep’s word for it.
Verbal assurances like, “We have the best customer support in the business,” are not reliable guarantees. Check customer reviews, read the fine print of the customer service brochure, and do whatever you can to find out what the gateway’s support environment is really like. Test periods are always a good way to at least get a glimpse of what you can expect.
- Analytics: Shopify offers crude but acceptable analytical tools as a default for users. For example, you can check your stats and find out how many sales you made this week, what the total dollar volume was, and from where the sales originated. But if you want to dig deeper, and you should want to, you’ll need a gateway that offers extensive customer analytics.
To maximize you profits and add to your customer base, you’ll want to know why some purchases were declined, what the entire demographic picture of your customer base is, what percentage of revenues came from each type of payment method, and more. Never take deep-dive analytics for granted. Information is power, and you need as much data about customers, transactions, sales, and cash flow as possible. Shop carefully for a payment gateway that can deliver a wealth of data to you whenever you want it.
- Fraud Protection: The standard-level industry fraud protection in the e-commerce industry leaves a lot to be desired. That’s too bad because fraudulent transactions rob consumers of vast amounts of funds each year. One estimate stated that identity-based fraud, for example, accounts for more than $16 billion stolen from U.S. customers alone.
When you are ready to commit to a payment gateway, spend plenty of time asking questions about the fraud protection capabilities. Ask for comparisons with other gateways, and don’t forget to inquire about how the gateway’s managers stay on top of the latest anti-fraud features.
- Global Payment Processing: Unfortunately, many sellers experience problems with declined transactions that are based in foreign countries. One of the most common reasons for this profit-killing event is the use of a single payment processing bank for credit cards. When you receive orders from multiple nations, it’s common for your domestic bank to flag such transactions as fraudulent or problematic, simply because they do not originate in your home nation.
That’s why you should find a gateway that uses as many as two dozen banks for credit processing. That way, you’ll rarely have to face the issue of declined transactions because your customers in foreign nations will have their payments cleared by a nearby, regional, or in-country bank. No flagging, not red alerts, and no declined payments. That means more money in your pocket and a happy customer at the same time.
The Right Way To Begin
For merchants who want to explore all the options before committing to a payment gateway for their Shopify store, it makes sense to see what’s available. At Metro Payment Technologies, we offer a full range gateways, terminals, POS systems, eCommerce solutions, e-check processing, wireless terminals, and more. In addition to analytics, support, fraud protection, and agile payment processing, it’s important that the gateway you choose is suited to the unique characteristics of your company.
To make the most of your Shopify store, there’s much more to the equation than four specific features. That’s because your entity has unique needs, serves a specific market, and has its own way of doing things. For those reasons and more, it’s important to test-drive any product you consider, especially those pertaining to payment gateways.
If you have questions about how to optimize your Shopify profits by selecting a payment gateway that makes sense, feel free to speak with one of our Metro team members at 1-800-771-3719. Or simply drop us an email message and we’ll respond to your questions in writing. Our address is email@example.com. You’re always welcome to check out our website for extensive information about our services.