05/05/2015

By Zeeshan Feroz, head of marketplaces at Skrill

In today’s digital world, most businesses require an online element. An important part of creating a robust online strategy is providing a payment solution that allows customers to pay for goods and services in whatever way feels right for them.

Here are my top five tips on selecting the best payment solution for your business and how to integrate it in order to achieve the best results for both merchants and their customers

Guiding principles:

When paying for goods and services online, customers want to experience three main things – convenience, comfort in knowing the transaction is secure and, of course, a successful payment at the end of it. When setting up your online operation, having these three factors in mind should help shape the system you choose.

Think global:

A modern online business has the ability to attract customers from anywhere in the world. However, companies crossing borders will find it is much harder to put in place one payment method that meets the needs of every customer. With no ‘one-size-fits-all solution’, businesses have had to adapt and provide a variety of functionality in every aspect of the online operation. From delivery options to payment types, a successful online business caters for a range of needs.

The old adage that the customer is always right is something that applies online as well as in everyday life.

Businesses are investing huge sums getting customers to the point of making a purchasing decision, however, they risk not completing the sale if they only accept card payments. Businesses that have a global customer base need to take into consideration local payment preferences, particularly in emerging economies which are turning to virtual currencies and mobile payments now more than ever.

In addition to this, societal and cultural factors influence payment preferences in different markets, emphasising why internationalising a business is crucial. Even within the Nordics, where you would expect payment preferences to be similar across the region, there are vast differences with an overwhelming majority (80%) of digital buyers in Denmark preferring to pay via credit or debit card, compared with 67% in Norway and 41% in Finland. This demonstrates the importance of making sure you are not locked into one particular system so that you can build on what you have as new options become available and as new consumer preferences become apparent.

The need for speed:

In such a competitive market, a frictionless payment process is fundamental to keeping a customer happy and not drifting to another website or aborting a purchase altogether. Forcing customers to go through the hassle of having to continuously re-enter login details or credit card information every time they want to purchase something is likely to put customers off. This is highlighted in our latest research which found that over a quarter of people who abandon an online purchase do so because the website does not offer their preferred method of payment.

In light of this, having a seamless, smart and speedy payment system will help with customer retention as companies will see repeat business from people who are not required to enter sensitive log-in details each time they return to your site.

Managing mobile:

In the UK there are over 84 million mobile phone subscriptions. People are increasingly using mobile as a platform to browse and shop for goods and services. Therefore, mobile payments provide an ideal way to increase your potential customer base. Of course, it is too early to predict if all customers will embrace mobile payments, but putting in place a strategy that recognises the technology as another way for customers to buy goods and services will undoubtedly help to future-proof your business.

Ask the experts:

The payments market is changing all the time and technology is helping to shape new ways of paying. As a result, it is impossible for most business owners to have a solid understanding of what is out there which is why it’s important to work with partners who can help.

It’s vital that businesses know exactly what their payment provider can offer, both now and in the future. There is absolutely no harm in asking as many questions as possible so you know you are making a well-educated decision. You should also make sure that support from your payment provider will be on hand, whenever you need it.

The right payment providers will be more than happy to walk you through the current market and discuss what might also be on the horizon with regards to payment options. Having that knowledge will ensure that when it comes to making the final decision, it will be one that has incorporated the best advice possible.