Whether you’re a small business owner currently operating an eCommerce store or looking to sell your products online, finding the right payment platform is a critical– but often confusing– task. This post will guide you through what to consider when choosing an online payment platform, as well as highlight a handful of popular options.
What is a Payment Platform?
A payment platform, sometimes referred to as a payment gateway, is a third-party solution that allows businesses of all sizes to accept online payments. These platforms are critical to small business owners operating online stores. They offer today’s tech savvy consumers a variety of ways to purchase items securely, increasing their convenience and satisfaction, and most importantly, allow businesses a variety of ways to get paid. Payment platforms ensure that transactions are handled safely, quickly and efficiently, offering a layer of confidence to both the buyer and the seller in the process.
How to Evaluate Payment Platforms
As with any business decision, it helps to have a set of criteria against which to assess and compare solutions, so that you’re able to make an informed choice. Some of the factors to consider when selecting a payment platform include:
- Security: What security protocols does the platform have in place to keep your customer’s data secure?
- Price: What is the pricing model? Are there any setup, monthly or transaction fees, or is it a one-time expense?
- Scalability: Does the platform have the ability to grow with your business?
- Supported payment methods: Does it accept a variety of payments, like Credit Cards, Debit Cards, Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Pay Over Time options?
- Ease of use: How difficult is the platform to get set up and/or maintain?
- Third-party integrations: Is the platform compatible with other apps, tools, and plugins that you already use for your online business or may want to employ?
- Customer service: What kind of help or resources are available if something goes wrong?
5 Popular Payment Platforms for Small Business eCommerce
PayPal is one of the most trusted and popular payment methods for small business owners today. There are varying service levels and solutions available for small businesses, all with fast, easy and free setup. There are no monthly fees, just a small fee per transaction.
Recently acquired by PayPal, Braintree is a great option for eCommerce-only wholesale businesses and merchants, or for business owners that require a more custom solution and a wider variety of payment methods than PayPal’s plug-and-play offerings can support. While setup times can take a little longer than some of the other options, Braintree is a secure payment platform with comprehensive payment type support, multi-currency options and extensive integrations and developer tools all included.
For small business owners who haven't already created an eCommerce site, Shopify provides both the website platform and payment gateway all in one, making it a great one-stop-shop to consider. Shopify is easy and quick to set up, automatically integrates with Shopify eCommerce, can accept a variety of currencies and payment methods, and has flat-rate transparent processing rates. While there are little to no technological limitations to this platform, Shopify is limited to certain countries and industries.
Stripe offers several different scalable payment solutions for online businesses and eCommerce websites. Stripe supports a large number of payment methods for consumers with a small transactional fee and has no setup or monthly fees. Stripe is also the most customizable platform, though technical expertise is often required for integration and customization. Overall, Stripe is a great gateway option for small business eCommerce.
Similar to Shopify, Square is another platform that comes as part of a bigger eCommerce solution instead of as a standalone payment gateway. However, in addition to offering small business owners the option to create an online store with Square, the payment solution integrates with other third-party eCommerce platforms like WooCommerce or Wix. Square accepts virtually all payment methods, has one of the lowest transaction rates in the market and delivers on ease of setup and overall user convenience.
Though the choice can seem daunting, hopefully this post helps you narrow down the payment platform best suited to the needs of your eCommerce business.