Best Merchant Account Providers for Ecommerce
This article will give you an overview of what to look for when selecting a merchant account provider for ecommerce. If you are thinking of selling online, read further to see which is the best option for your business.
Ecommerce Merchant Accounts
Ecommerce businesses require merchant accounts to accept debit or credit card payments. You can get a merchant account from a major bank or by online payment processors, and you do not have to choose the bank you use for business banking to provide your merchant account.
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Finding a compatible merchant account provider does have its challenges. If you are a small business you will soon find out that not all providers cater for this sector.
When selecting a merchant provider you will need to make sure that it is compatible with your shopping cart software. There are also different online payment gateway systems for credit card transactions which have to be linked to the shopping cart software.
Setting Up a Merchant Account for Ecommerce
Merchant account providers will require a significant amount of business information before setting up your merchant account, which can take up to a month, so it is important to factor this into your business plans.
The type of information the provider will require depends upon the length of time the business has been established but typically includes accounts, volume and value of transactions as well as cash flow predictions.
Providers will often also use this information to work out the fees they will charge the business for the account. If your business includes bricks and mortar transactions as well as online transactions, it will require a merchant account for each form of sales.
Costs for Setting up the Account
The different suppliers of merchant accounts have their own fee structures and the business will need to calculate which structure is best for their needs. Some providers charge set up fees or monthly fees, although this is not universal. If a monthly fee does exist, it is generally between twenty and forty pounds per month.
The main cost for your merchant account will be the transaction fee. For debit cards, this is a fixed amount per transaction, typically less than fifty pence per transaction.
Credit card transactions usually attract a cost which is a percentage of the transaction value. The percentage depends on the supplier, the amount of transactions the business makes and the value of those transactions. Usually the rate charged is less than three percent of the total transaction value.
Recommended Choices for Ecommerce Merchant Accounts
The following brands are among the best ecommerce merchant account providers operating in the UK today.
Started as UK-based Streamline, and grew to become one of the world's largest merchant account and payment gateway providers, servicing 46m transactions per day in 120 different currencies. They support payments from all major credit cards, and support almost all shopping cart platforms available. Easy sign up (with a minimum contract) allows you to start accepting card payments online easily.
2Checkout is a US-based company that supplies merchant accounts for ecommerce in 200 countries around the world. They cater for VISA, Mastercard, AMEX, Diners and JCB cuctomers, and accept over 20 currencies as payment. They also boast integration with over 24 shopping cart platforms, which makes them a big player in the ecommerce market. Their setup takes less than 24 hours and their phone support is available internationally as well.
Is a great alternative to most merchant account providers, as it is respected worldwide as an easy, secure payment processing system. Although fees are much higher for large volumes of transactions, for those merchants who don't sell often, this is a cheap and easy option. Paypal only accepts VISA, Mastercard and AMEX, but integrates with most shopping carts available and so is an easy alternative to traditional merchant accounts suppliers.
Options for Online Payments
If the business does not already have a merchant account for bricks and mortar transactions and will have a high level of online payments, the business may be more suited to an online payment processing company.
This option is also suited to new businesses without a proven trading record. The disadvantage of using these companies is that it can take up to sixty days to receive the payments which can be a concern if your business has a sensitive cash flow. Additionally the charges are higher than for merchant accounts, although costs are falling fairly quickly.
A third option is the online shopping mall. This is best suited to small businesses who do not have a great amount of IT skills. Shopping malls have several online shops on the same website using the same payment processor.
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