As businesses increasingly begin to sell their products and services online, we are getting more and more questions about payment gateways and how you take payment from your e-commerce website.
The first thing to understand is that an online store or e-commerce website is very similar to a physical retail store in some respects. At a physical retail store, you'd walk in, pick a product off the rack, take it to the checkout and either hand over some cash or pay through an EFTPOS/Credit Card machine. The shop owner will be paying someone for the privilege of using that machine (particularly for credit card transactions), so that's while you'll often see stores either charging more for credit card transactions or not offering them at all. Online, it's the same story. A customer will come to your online store, click on the product they want to buy, head through to an online checkout and then provide their credit card details through a payment gateway. That gateway takes care of all the security and the $$ transaction, but as far as the customer is concerned, they've just paid you for the item they are buying. As an online store owner, you'll end up having to pay that payment gateway provider somehow, and how each gateway works for you as the store owner is slightly different in each case. Below are a couple of the options we use both ourselves and with clients.
If you've shopped online you've probably come across PayPal at some point. It's globally recognised, has a very good track record, and is very simple to use.
Stripe is the new kid on the block in New Zealand, but has been established overseas for a while now.
There are a bucketload of other payment gateway providers out there (basically every bank will have some sort of option - Payment Express, PayMark...the list goes on). When you talk to your bank, they'll recommend the one that they use, but they'll all have different pro's and con's. The reason we've looked at PayPal and Stripe are because they are a perfect starting point for small to medium sized businesses. They are robust, easy to use, integrate into the CMS we use effortlessly and only charge per transaction. We've found alot of gateways (particularly with the major banks) charge a monthly fee plus a transaction fee. They'll have other upsides - like payment straight into your account - but the first thing you should always do is chat to your website designer or developer about what will or won't work with the site they are building/have built for you. Technology is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, and while you can mash pieces together to get something to work, it's always best to use gateways and facilities that fit and work well together.
Like anything, do your own research and chat to your designer. Listen to the opinions of the experts, and you're bound to be better off in the long run.