Imagine the following scenario: You're an entrepreneur who runs several furniture stores. You know everything there is to know about selling furniture, but you want to make sure you're providing the best experience to your customers who, in our tech-driven age, have come to expect efficient, seamless  transactions whenever they purchase a product or service, whether online or in a store. You've also seen encroaching competition from giant competitors like Amazon (especially as they move into the physical space) and want to make sure you can compete as the market changes.

As part of this strategy, you've been searching for a software solution that will allow you to better manage customer transactions, but most of them don't do a lot of the things you want them to do, such as storing digital receipts and credit card information, emailing invoices, setting up payment plans for customers, and reducing account reconciliation times. You've started building your own customized software, one designed specifically for your industry, and, since you know other furniture stores could benefit from your solution, are considering packaging your software for sale to others in the industry.

In building the application, you realize that you need to include payment processing as part of the functionality if other furniture stores are going to be able to use it. After all, what's the point of a point-of-sales system that can't process payments? Your software team is expensive, and their time is valuable, so rather than task them with building a payment application into your software, you decide to look for a partner to help you integrate payments into the application. You figure this will be the easiest way to deliver what your customers need.

Finding an integration partner will allow you to create the best product while saving yourself (and your company) time, money, and a whole lot of hassle. But as you search for the perfect partner, you should consider several factors that will ensure your product delivers the best possible service for your clients and provides value over the long-term.

Choose the Right Features

There are two things your clients need in order to accept payments: a payment processor (a third party who ensures the transaction is processed by the bank and paid to the business) and a payment gateway (the software that connects the point of sale or shopping cart to the payment processor). Many companies who specialize in integrated payments combine these two functions into their software, but not always, so it's important to know what you're getting before you buy anything.

If you choose to do your integration with a widely used payment gateway, you can allow your clients the freedom to choose their payment processors. This has its benefits because it allows your clients the freedom to make their own choices and ensures they can find the best deal. But it also makes your product experience less consistent because not all clients will experience the same thing. There is a wide spectrum of payment processors out there. Some are trustworthy and have great client support; others are opaque and will take advantage of your clients.

You should also keep in mind that not all integrations support the same things, such as the ability to store a credit card number for later use or set up recurring billing schedules or e-invoicing. Other features you might want to seek out include e-commerce integrations that can link your website to your point of sale, mobile processing, or all-in-one transaction reporting portals that show transactions across all of your sources.

Know the Price Upfront

The cost of processing credit cards varies greatly depending on your industry, transaction size, and the type of credit cards you accept. It's important to make sure, if you are going to provide only one option to your clients, that the option will allow them to accept payments at competitive rates. If you don't know what these rates should be, find a trusted credit card processor to analyze your clients' statements to see what they would charge and estimate the effective rate (total fees divided by total transaction volume processed) your client would pay.

Get the Right Support

Your clients are going to run into payments acceptance challenges. They will have lines out the door or people trying to purchase items on their sites. If something breaks, you want to make sure someone is going to be around to help them fix it. Before you partner with a particular processor, try calling their customer service department to experience what your clients will experience when they run into an issue. You don't want your business to be associated with subpar service, even if you're not providing it directly.

Secure Your Customers' Info

Most payment gateways and credit card processors have high standards for security, and most breaches occur at the merchant or software developer level. Think about your clients. What support is available to help them adhere to security best practices? Can your partner advise you on best practices and be available to help you and your clients when something happens?

As entrepreneurs we are always searching for that minimum viable product because we want to get the software up and running as soon as possible. But undertaking a payments acceptance integration is a huge task, and it can be hard to change down the road. A little extra time on the front end can give your clients a completely different experience with your product. Before making a decision, take the time to look at the problem from your clients' perspective and consider all the factors that will help make your product the best one available for their needs.

Published on: Apr 18, 2018